1 Timothy 1. 16 to 17
W. E. Vine, Bath
Verse 16. howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy,—This confirms the testimony as to Christ’s power to save; “for this cause” bears emphatically upon the object about to be mentioned.
that in me as chief,—This R.V. rendering rightly repeats the word “chief”, though the idea, of his being first of those which were to follow is perhaps also suggested.
might Jesus Christ—For the order of titles see note on 1. 2.
shew forth all His longsuffering,—The word “all” further demonstrates how greatly Paul felt his own sinnership, as if it was such that no greater measure of longsuffering could be shown. It indicates also what patience Christ had exercised during Paul’s persistent resistance while he was ‘kicking against. the ox-goads.’ Longsuffering is the quality of self-restraint, which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.
for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe on Him unto eternal life,—Not that Paul was the specimen of the recipients of Divine mercy, but rather that, since to him mercy was shown, none need hesitate to avail themselves of it. Cp. Ps. 32. 5, 6; 2 Pet. 2. 6. The word hupotuposis, originally a sketch or delineation, is rendered “pattern” in 2 Tim. 1. 13 (A.V. “form”), the only other place in the N.T. where this word is used. As to believing in Christ, epi, “on” is used with the accusative case, e.g., in Acts 16. 31, suggesting direction towards; here and in Rom. 9. 33 and 10. 11, e.g., with the dative case, suggesting reliance upon, or rest in. Both ideas are conveyed in the use of the proposition eis, “in” or “on”; this is the more usual word; en “in”, suggests rest.
Verse 17. Now unto the King—Here the Apostle rises from thanksgiving (verse 12) to praise expressed in a doxology, an example which we do well to follow. Other doxologies in these pastoral Epistles are in 6. 16 and 2 Tim. 4 18. This one ascribes to God
- His sovereignty—He is King;
- His unoriginated, unending existence—He is eternal;
- His essential purity—He is incorruptible;
- His imperceptibility to sight.—He is invisible;
- the absoluteness of His Deity—He is the Only God.
The title “King”, as used of God the Father, is found in 6. 15 and Rev. 15. 3, where again the R.V. has “Thou King of the ages” (lit. king of ages).
eternal,—Lit. “of the ages,” The ages, aeons, are those periods the number, length, and succession of which has been fixed by God (Heb. 1, 2) and has not been revealed to man. The Divine purposes are unthwartably fulfilled throughout them (Eph. 3. 11). Their consummation was marked by the death of Christ, Heb. 9. 26 lit. “the consummation of the ages.” The consummation lies in this, that all previous ages led up to it, and to it subsequent ages will look back. Upon the saints of the present period “the ends of the ages” are come (1 Cor. 10. 11), a phrase perhaps indicating that the issues of preceding ages have reached their culmination in this period in which the Church, the Body of Christ, is being formed. The purposes of God will be fully developed in the ages to come (Eph. 2. 7). The thought stressed, however, in the phrase in the present passage would undoubtedly be the unoriginated and eternally-abiding existence of God. To this the context points. Cp. Jer. 10. 10. See also Psa 10. 16; 29. 10.
incorruptible,—Aphthartos signifies not liable to corruption or decay. The word is formed from a-, a negative prefix, and phtheiro, to corrupt. It is used of God elsewhere in Rom. 1. 23. It does not signify “immortal”, as in the A.V. of the present verse. The word is used also of the future reward of the believer, (1 Cor, 9, 85), of the resurrection bodies of the saints (1 Cor. 15. 52), of the inheritance of the saints (1 Pet. 1. 4), of the Word of God (1 Pet. 1. 23), and of spiritual adornment (1 Pet. 3. 4).
invisible,—See John 1. 18; 5. 37; 6. 46; Col. 1. 15; 1 Tim. 6. 16; Heb. 11. 27; 1 John 4. 12, 20. Cp. John 14. 8, 9. The fact that God has revealed Himself in His Son, eternally and essentially one with Him in Godhood, is not contradictory to this, and the same is true of those Theophanies recorded in the Old Testament, e.g. Gen. 18. 1, 2; Ex. 3. 1, 2; Judg. 6. 11, 22 and 13. 3-22. The two attributes “incorruptible, invisible”, are connected with the following phrase “the only God”, and not with the preceding clause.
the only God—There is no definite article in the original; its absence serves to lay the stress upon the word “only.” What is predicated here is the essential unity of the Godhead. The A.V. leading “wise” larks sufficient ins. authority. For Scripture declarations that there is only one God, see Deut. 4. 35; 6. 4; Isa. 43. 10; 44. 6; 45. 5; Mark 10. 18; 12. 29; John 17. 3; Rom. 16. 27; 1 Cor. 8. 5, 6; Eph. 4. 6; 1 Tim. 2. 5; 6. 15, 16. The unity of the Godhead in a. compound unity; see the use of the plural pronoun in Gen, 1. 26; 3. 22; 11. 7; Isa. 6. 8, e.g. This compound unity is expressed, e.g., in the statements in John 1. 1; and in the Lord’s own words in John 10. 30, 38; 17. 11; God is three Persons in the one Godhead, the Three being incomprehensibly united in all the essential attributes of Deity, yet distinguished as Personal Agents, Attributes of Deity are assigned to Each, yet ever so as to maintain the truth that there is one God. The phraseology of Scripture is entirely consistent with this; Scriptures speaks of “God the Father”, but does not use the phrases “God the Son”, “God the Holy Spirit”; that would suggest the existence of three Gods. The Scriptural terms in this respect are “God the Father,” “the Son of God,” “the Spirit of God.” To adhere to the phraseology of Scripture is important.
be honour and glory—The verb is absent is the original; some word like ‘ascribed” supplies the meaning. In Rev. 5. 13, the only other place in the N.T. where these are found together in this order, the definite article is used (see the R.V.). In the preceding chapter they are in the reverse order, the definite article being absent. In 1 Tim. 6. 16 “honour” is combined with “power.”
“Glory” (doxa, whence the English “doxology”) had primarily to do with an estimate concerning a person; conspicuous among its various meanings is that of the visible manifestation of thy Divine excellences of character and power which are inward and essential. Hence to ascribe glory to God is to recognize and acknowledge to Him the excellences which are His essentially in His nature, character, and operations. Nothing can be added to Him in giving glory; to do so is but to acknowledge what He is and what He has done.
for ever and ever,—Lit., “to the ages of the ages” (eis tous aionas ton aionon). The literal translation of this and similar phrases is to be avoided, as it is misleading, and indicates a defined period, an idea impossible in the present instances. Moreover, this sort of phrase, as understood among Greek-speaking people, denoted undefined duration. The Greek philosopher Plato uses this terminology to contrast that which terminates with that which is interminable. Again, the adjective aionios, eternal, is contrasted with proskairos, temporary, in 2 Cor. 4. 18. This phrase is used in a way which indicates its significance, as denoting that which is everlasting. Thus it is used of God in Phil. 4. 30; Heb. 13. 21; 1 Pet. 4. 11; 5. 11; Rev. 4. 9, 10; 7. 12; 10. 6; 15. 7, and here; and of the Lord Jesus, in 2 Tim. 4. 18; Rev. 1. 6; of both in Rev. 1. 18; of His reign. Rev. 11. 15; of the redeemed with Him, Rev. 22. 5. It also describes the duration of the punishment of the great Harlot, Rev. 19. 3, and of the Devil, the Beast, and the False Prophet, Rev. 20. 10; of the worshippers of the Rev. 14. 11.
Another phrase literally signifying “unto the age of the age” is used in Heb. 1. 8 of the Throne of the Son of God. Another literally signifying “unto the ages” is used in Luke 1. 33 of the reign of Christ, His Kingdom being immediately described as having no end. It is used of God in Rom. 1. 25; 9. 5; 11. 36; 2 Cor. 11. 31, and of Christ in Heb. 13. 8. Another literally signifying “unto the age”, indicating permanence and finality, is used, e.g., in Matt. 21. 19; Mark 3. 28; 11. 14; Luke 1. 55; John 4. 14; 6. 51, 58; 1 Cor. 8. 13; 2 Cor. 9. 9; Heb. 5. 6; 6. 20; 1 Pet. 1. 25; 1 John 2. 17; 2 John 2.
Other phrases, literally rendered, are “unto (the) day of an age”, 2 Pet. 3. 18 only; “unto (an) age”, Jude 13 only; “unto all the ages”, Jude 25 only; “unto all the generations of the age of the ages,” Eph. 3. 21 only. All these phrases signify the unendingness of that which is referred to.
Amen.—This is a transliteration of a Hebrew word signifying, when used by men, ‘so let it be.” When said by God it signifies “it is and shall be so.” In lsa. 65. 16 it declares the character of God as a Being Who is faithful to His Word, “The God of truth” (see R.V. margin, “the God of Amen”). In Rev. 3. 14 it is used as a title of Christ, through Whom the Divine purposes are established.