Daily Archives: July 30, 2020

27 Part Series on Forgiveness: A Patient Walk through a Painful Journey — Brad Hambrick

This series was written for the person who is mid-journey and struggling to continue to move forward. It is not a memoir from the end of the journey with all the luxuries that hindsight affords. For that reason, this series is not “neat.” That’s because life in a broken world is not “tidy.” Relationships are hard. Simplistic relational formulas only serve to discourage us as we strive to gain our bearings.

With that in mind, there are five qualities this series strives to embody.

  1. Brief – There are many, short chapters instead of fewer, long chapters. When we need to forgive or embrace forgiveness, we already feel overwhelmed. Too many words only make that worse.
  2. Conversational – I write like I would talk in a counseling session. I pose questions and grapple with the implications. You will follow my train of thought better, if you realize I’m writing conversationally.
  3. Honest – My aim is to put into words things we often think but feel bad saying out loud. Our pain and confusion won’t be resolved with silence. Silence only allows pain to echo. If we’re going to find resolution, we have to honest about what makes forgiveness hard.
  4. Vivid –I try to pull from examples of things we already understand. Metaphors, word pictures, and examples fill the pages of this book. You will need to read with your mind’s eye.
  5. Biblical – Forgiveness only makes sense – to the degree it makes sense – in light of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to purchase forgiveness. Calvary isn’t a panacea that makes forgiving easy, but it is the foundation that can support the emotional weight of forgiveness.

I hope you enjoy.

  1. Remember, Forgiveness Begins with Pain
  2. 5 Things Forgiveness Is Not
  3. 3 Dimensions of Forgiveness
  4. 3 Things Not to Forgive
  5. Why We Should Not Forgive Misinterpretations
  6. When Discussing Parables About Forgiveness
  7. When Discussing Narratives Involving Forgiveness
  8. When Using Criminal or Traumatic Offenses as Illustrations of Forgiveness
  9. God’s Forgiveness to Us: Unconditional?
  10. “Forgive and Forget” and an Omniscient God
  11. The Uncomfortable Reality: Forgiveness Is Never Deserved
  12. Can Boundaries and Forgiveness Co-Exist?
  13. Trust as a Proportional Virtue
  14. Identifying Wise Trust on a Spectrum
  15. Forgiveness and Manipulative Repentance
  16. Crisis and Post-Crisis Forgiveness
  17. Remembering Well after Forgiveness
  18. Is Embracing Forgiveness from Others Harder Than from God?
  19. Forgiveness and Shame, Not Just Guilt
  20. Intra-Personal Forgiveness: Should I Forgive Myself?
  21. Forgiveness and Assurance of Salvation: Religious Scrupulosity
  22. The Offensiveness of God Forgiving Sins Against Me
  23. Forgiveness and Emotional Freedom
  24. Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
  25. Forgiveness and Leaving Room for the Wrath of God
  26. Forgiveness and Protecting Other Vulnerable People
  27. Forgiveness and Emotional Maturity: Root and Fruit

via 27 Part Series on Forgiveness: A Patient Walk through a Painful Journey — Brad Hambrick

July 30 How’s Your Faith?


But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
(John 11:22)

Take a moment and visit the funeral of Lazarus. Heartbroken and distraught, Martha says to Jesus, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.” That’s called “if only” faith. It says, “If only we’d lived in the days of Jesus.” “If only we could be prayed for by a certain person.” “If only” faith plans for an epitaph, not a resurrection.

When Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would live again, she replied, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection” (John 11:24). That’s called “some day” faith. People who have it sing, “In the sweet by and by.” With them, everything belongs to the future. But you need to know your rights, your privileges, and your authority—right now. When you do, your life will change radically.

Finally, Martha said, “But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask” (John 11:21, NIV). That’s it—“even now” faith! In spite of all you’ve been through, God has the power to raise you up again. You may have been married and divorced; be struggling with habits; be living in a prison or a penthouse; be black or white, gay or straight; it doesn’t matter.


By God’s grace and power, “even now” you can come out of your grave and live again. All you have to do is open your heart to Jesus today.[1]


[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 211). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

CDC Director: Threat of Suicides, Drug Overdoses ‘Far Greater’ Than COVID Concerns — Faithwire

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is promoting the reopening of schools across the country, noting the serious risks associated with keeping kids out of classrooms.

During a webinar for the Buck Institute, Redfield pointed out the low risk of children spreading COVID-19 and said the spike in suicides and drug overdoses is “far greater” than the number of coronavirus-related deaths among the country’s younger population.

“It’s not risk of school openings versus public health,” he said. “It’s public health versus public health.”

Redfield added, “I’m of the point of view, and I weigh that equation as an individual that has 11 grandchildren, that the greater risk is actually to the nation to keep these schools closed.”

Earlier in July, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he would “absolutely” be comfortable with his grandkids going back to school in-person this fall. Redfield did, though, concede he may have “some reservation” about his grandson with cystic fibrosis returning to the classroom, “depending on how he could be accommodated.”

Data collected by the CDC backs up Redfield’s suggestion there is not a lot of concern children could spread COVID-19. And, according to the agency, the risk of complications for otherwise healthy children is actually “higher for flu compared to COVID-19.” Infants and kids with underlying conditions, though, “are at increased risk for both flu and COVID-19.”

The CDC director made his case by acknowledging the fact that more than 7 million children in the U.S. receive mental health services from their schools. Thousands of kids also get food and nutrition from the academic system.

Redfield is, additionally, concerned about the absence “of mandatory reporting [of] sexual and child abuse” while kids are not in classrooms.

“Obviously, the socialization is important,” the medical expert said. “And, obviously, for some kids, I think actually a majority of kids, their learning in a face-to-face school is the most effective method of teaching.”

He then shifted to acknowledging the major mental health trade-offs that have come from the lingering lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There has been another cost that we’ve seen, particularly in high schools,” Redfield explained. “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as a background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”

“This is why I keep coming back for the overall social being of individuals,” he continued. “Let’s all work together and find out how we can find common ground to get these schools open in a way that people are comfortable and they’re safe. And if there is a need for investment and resources, just like there is a need for some of the underprivileged children that are probably better served if they have certain comorbidities, to do homeschooling, they need the access to be able to have the computer and the internet to do that.”

The ultimate goal, Redfield emphasized during the webinar, is getting children back into “face-to-face education five days a week.” He urged federal, state, and local officials to work together to accomplish that objective.

Redfield’s remarks echoed those issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said via a statement in June that it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

“Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption from supportive services,” the AAP explained, “often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.”

via CDC Director: Threat of Suicides, Drug Overdoses ‘Far Greater’ Than COVID Concerns — Faithwire

Dr. Deborah Birx Now Recommends Wearing Goggles or Face Shield Along With Mask: “You can decorate them”… — The Last Refuge

Nuts. These people are NUTS! In addition to wearing masks, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, is now recommending the use of face shields. Apparently in the bizarre world of Dr. Birx the shields can be decorated with glitter and bling to make them fashionable and fun.



There’s not another country on the planet going this far over the edge into nuttery.  The virus narrative is scheduled to expire on November 4th.

In order to support the most important political objectives of the DNC writ large in the 2020 election, COVID-19 hype is essential:

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot easily achieve ‘mail-in’ voting; which they desperately need in key battleground states in order to control the outcome.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot shut down rallies and political campaigning efforts of President Trump; which they desperate need to do in key battleground states.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot block the campaign contrast between an energetic President Trump and a physically tenuous, mentally compromised, challenger.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats do not have an excuse for cancelling the DNC convention in Milwaukee; thereby blocking Team Bernie Sanders from visible opposition while protecting candidate gibberish from himself.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats do not have a mechanism to keep voters isolated from each-other; limiting communication and national debate adverse to their interests. COVID-19 panic pushes the national conversation into the digital space where Big Tech controls every element of the conversation.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot keep their Blue state economies easily shut-down and continue to block U.S. economic growth. All thriving economies are against the political interests of Democrats.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot easily keep club candidate Joe Biden sealed in the basement; where the electorate is not exposed to visible signs of his dementia.

♦Without COVID-19 panic it becomes more difficult for Big Tech to censor voices that would outline the fraud and scheme. With COVID-19 panic they have a better method and an excuse.

♦Without COVID-19 panic Democrats cannot advance, influence, or organize their preferred presidential debate format, a ‘virtual presidential debate’ series.

[Comrade Gretchen Whitmer knows this plan, hence she cancelled the Michigan venue]

All of these, and more, strategic outcomes are based on the manufactured weaponization of the COVID-19 virus to achieve a larger political objective. There is ZERO benefit to anyone other than Democrats for the overwhelming hype surrounding COVID-19.

It is not coincidental that all corporate media are all-in to facilitate the demanded fear that Democrats need in order to achieve their objectives. Thus there is an alignment of all big government institutions and multinationals to support the same.

Nothing is coincidental. Everything is political.

via Dr. Deborah Birx Now Recommends Wearing Goggles or Face Shield Along With Mask: “You can decorate them”… — The Last Refuge

Fauci The Fraud Is Now Saying That Masks Are Not Enough, We Need Goggles And Full Face Shields For Flu Season And Not Just For COVID — Now The End Begins

Heading into the fall, which health experts have warned may be “one of the most difficult times that we have experienced in American public health” as COVID-19 and influenza converge, Fauci is encouraging people to get vaccinated against the flu.

You didn’t think that they were planning on stopping at face masks, did you? Face masks over your mouth and nose are only the beginning of the silencing, now Fauci the fraud is telling us we cannot be safe without goggles and full face shields. ‘Silent scream’, you say? It gets much worse than that. Today Fauci said that these draconian items should also be worn during flu season. So when exactly will we not be wearing them? If they have their way, that’ll be never.

Bit by bit, we are watching America close down, and not only externally, but internally as well. First they made us afraid, now they aim to have us bound and gagged. There are are sorts of ways of getting rid of the First Amendment without getting rid of the First Amendment. Tens of thousands of mindless sheep have already started lining up to be guinea pigs for the new COVID vaccines, we are losing our freedoms at an astounding rate.

Welcome to the Plannedemic, the new normal brought to us by the New World Order with their COVID-19 coronavirus mass hysteria deception.

Dr. Fauci the Fraud: Wear goggles or eye shields to prevent spread of COVID-19; flu vaccine a must

FROM YAHOO NEWS: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, suggested Wednesday that Americans consider wearing goggles or an eye shield in addition to face masks to ensure more complete protection against the coronavirus.

“If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” he said in an interview with ABC News on Instagram Live Wednesday.

While eye protection isn’t “universally recommended” at this time, he said it could become a standard recommendation “if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces.”

“You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,” he continued. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already recommends wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth in public, the virus can also enter through the eyes.

“If you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can,” he said, noting that the reason eyewear hasn’t been recommended yet is “it’s so easy for people to just make a cloth mask.”

Heading into the fall, which health experts have warned may be “one of the most difficult times that we have experienced in American public health” as COVID-19 and influenza converge, Fauci is encouraging people to get vaccinated against the flu.

He hopes face masks will protect from the flu as well as the coronavirus, ABC reported. READ MORE

Fauci the Fraud: Wear goggles or eye shields to prevent spread of COVID-19; flu vaccine a must

via Fauci The Fraud Is Now Saying That Masks Are Not Enough, We Need Goggles And Full Face Shields For Flu Season And Not Just For COVID — Now The End Begins

COVIDOCRACY: The CDC Is Partnering With The Pentagon And The Department Of Defense In A ‘Joint Venture’ To ‘Deliver A Vaccine’ To Every American — Now The End Begins

Nationwide distribution of any coronavirus vaccine will be a “joint venture” between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which typically oversees vaccine allocation, and the Department of Defense, a senior administration official said today.

So now their plan unfolds just a little bit more…armed troops delivery COVID vaccines…unprecedented partnership between CDC and military…hundreds of millions of doses. Now ask yourself, are they going to go through all this time, expense and troop movements and not make receiving the vaccine mandatory? This is what President Trump told us about three months ago, a COVID vaccine delivered and administered by the military. Are you imagining what that might look like? Does it make you feel safe, secure? What it should do is terrify you.

Right now as I type this, I cannot purchase a gallon of milk anywhere in Saint Augustine without having a face mask on, it is ‘too unsafe’ to walk around without one, we are told. Well, if it’s ‘unsafe’ to buy milk without a face mask, it is a certainty it will also be ‘unsafe’ to be out in public without having received the vaccine. But not just one shot, Bill Gates said earlier this week, multiple shots. And there will be armed soldiers standing by to ‘help me make the right decision’ so everyone can be safe.

Do you feel safe right now? Comment below.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine distribution will be ‘joint venture’ between CDC and Pentagon

FROM POLITICO: The Department of Defense “is handling all the logistics of getting the vaccines to the right place, at the right time, in the right condition,” the official said in a call with reporters, adding that CDC will remain in charge of tracking any side effects that emerge post-vaccination and “some of the communications through the state relationships [and] the state public health organizations.”

The plan breaks with the longstanding precedent that CDC distributes vaccines during major outbreaks — such as bad flu seasons — through a centralized ordering system for state and local health officials.

“We believe we’ve actually combined the best of both,” the official said. A second senior administration official stressed the agencies would be working as “one team” to distribute hundreds of millions of doses if any of the vaccines in development are approved in the coming months.

Private companies are also likely to join the effort. The first official said the government is bringing in people to integrate CDC IT capabilities with “some new applications that we’re going to need that the CDC never had.”


The background: The Pentagon will be guiding not just distribution logistics but also manufacturing and “kitting,” the process of safely packaging a vaccine with its necessary equipment such as syringes and needles.

“The DoD is handling all of those logistics — that is where their comparative advantage is,” said the first senior official. “And the CDC, some of their IT systems, relationships with the states following post-vaccination will belong to them.”

Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman told reporters earlier in the day that distribution would be “a collaborative process” between the private sector and the military.

Operation Warp Speed, the government’s coronavirus vaccine and drug accelerator, is examining “how do we take advantage of the commercial capability of the private sector to handle things like distribution, and where will either DoD step in to help manage that process, or if necessary, will DoD be required to step in and actually physically deliver items itself,” Hoffman said.

The debate: The comments come just one day after McClatchy reported that neither the White House nor Warp Speed officials had formally asked the Pentagon to help with vaccine distribution. While the White House said Defense is ready to assist, an HHS official told McClatchy Wednesday that their involvement would be the exception, not the norm.

State and local government groups have already raised concerns about Pentagon involvement and using new methods in coronavirus vaccine distribution. The CDC “already leads and maintains a highly effective system of vaccine ordering and distribution,” groups including the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials wrote in June. “With time of the essence we strongly recommend against designing new and untested systems of vaccine distribution.”

The state and local officials also questioned whether military involvement in vaccine administration would undermine already shaky public confidence in vaccines.

What’s next: Senior health officials told reporters that they are in constant discussion about first-priority populations for receiving possible coronavirus vaccines, including the elderly and medically vulnerable, but that those plans will depend on which candidates are ready first.

Two vaccines entered the final stage of human trials this month and several more are readying for the sweeping phase three stage. Results are expected later this year or early 2021. In the meantime, an expert committee has been convened by the National Academies of Science to discuss a distribution framework. READ MORE

President Trump: The Military Is Being Mobilized To Distribute A Coronavirus Vaccine Once It’s Ready

Trump gave this interview 3 months ago, and as it turns out, the military really is going to be ‘distributing’ the vaccine. 

via COVIDOCRACY: The CDC Is Partnering With The Pentagon And The Department Of Defense In A ‘Joint Venture’ To ‘Deliver A Vaccine’ To Every American — Now The End Begins

Gary Kah: Deep Trouble for the U.S. if God doesn’t Intervene — Stand Up For The Truth

Gary Kah: Deep Trouble for the U.S. if God doesn’t Intervene
TODAY’S GUEST: Gary Kah of Hope for the World, writes:“The United States is in very deep trouble… If the current downward spiral of wanton sin, chaos and lawlessness continues; our days as a free nation are numbered. I have merely been stating the obvious – that without the direct intervention of God, we are sunk!”

1 Peter 4:17plainly states that “judgment begins at the house of God.” And if this is the case with the church, then what does it mean for non-Christians who have outrightly rejected the gospel of Jesus?

We discuss all the groups and entities coming against Christ, the truth, and against America; some history of BLM, Teen Vogue pushing Marxism, Joe Biden pushing Islam, Pope pushing interfaith prayer, Democrats pushing lawlessness, and the importance of the 2020 presidential election.

Referenced: “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:22-24


God Help Us – the latest from Gary Kah

Joe Biden Quotes Hadith, Wants More Islam in Schools

When Millions of Mail-In Ballots ‘Go Missing’

COVID – a Perfect Storm for Globalists, One World Government (previous interview with Gary Kah)

via Gary Kah: Deep Trouble for the U.S. if God doesn’t Intervene — Stand Up For The Truth

July 30 Peace, Please


Romans 5:1

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

True peace gives not only a calm exterior, but a very quiet inside as well. Peace seems to be an elusive quality that everyone chases after and few people find.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” What does that mean? Is God my enemy? Have I been at war with God? God is holy and humans are sinful. They are on different sides. As creatures apart from God, we are at enmity with God.

But the Bible says God provided Jesus Christ that we might have peace with God. I see that picture so beautifully illustrated by the cross itself. Pointing up to heaven, it pictures that Jesus Christ, the God/Man, reached up and took the hand of the Father. Pointing down toward earth, it pictures that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, reached down and took hold of fallen human beings. With one hand in the hand of God and the other hand in the hand of man, the only unique personality who was God and man brought the two together and made peace between God and man. He is our peace. He is the Prince of Peace because He is the One who solved the enmity between us and God. Accept Him and you have peace with God.[1]


[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 221). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

Pastor John Ortberg Resigns from Menlo Church — Blogs

(RNS) — John Ortberg, popular Christian author and speaker, has resigned as pastor of Menlo Church, a megachurch congregation outside of San Francisco.

His resignation is effective Sunday (Aug. 2).

“I have considered my seventeen years as pastor here to be the greatest joy I’ve had in ministry,” Ortberg said in a statement. “But this has been a difficult time for parents, volunteers, staff, and others, and I believe that the unity needed for Menlo to flourish will be best served by my leaving.”

In November, Ortberg was placed on leave after Menlo Church elders learned he allowed a volunteer who had admitted being attracted to children to work with kids at the church and in the community.

Ortberg had first learned of the volunteer’s admission in July 2018. He did not inform other church leaders or the youth sports team that the volunteer coached. Church leaders did not learn of his actions until Daniel Lavery, Ortberg’s son, sent an email blowing the whistle.

The pastor returned to the pulpit this spring after the elders hired a lawyer to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

But controversy at the church flared up again after Lavery revealed that the volunteer in question was his younger brother and the pastor’s youngest son, a fact that had been withheld from the congregation. Lavery, former friends of the Ortberg family and other critics of the decision have called in recent weeks for the pastor to step down.

Questions were also raised about the inquiry into possible misconduct, as the lawyer the church hired did not speak to parents or to any children or youth whom the volunteer had worked with.

No specific allegations of misconduct on the part of Ortberg’s youngest son have been made.

Earlier this month, a spokesman for the church’s elders told Religion News Service that their pastor had betrayed the trust of church members and leaders. Rebuilding that trust would be difficult if Ortberg remained as pastor, the elders said in the statement Wednesday announcing his resignation.

They also said the church is organizing a new, more extensive investigation.

“Our decision stems from a collective desire for healing and discernment focused on three primary areas,” the elders said in a statement. “First, John’s poor judgment has resulted in pain and broken trust among many parents, youth, volunteers and staff. Second, the extended time period required to complete the new investigation and rebuild trust will significantly delay our ability to pursue Menlo’s mission with the unity of spirit and purpose we believe God calls us to.”

Church elders also said Ortberg will focus on reconciliation in his own family after leaving the church. Lavery and other family members have been publicly estranged since November 2019. In an email to RNS, Lavery said that Ortberg’s departure “brings me no pleasure.”

“More than anything, I wish it had not come to this point,” Lavery said. “I grieve that my father’s departure became necessary to ensure real safeguarding.”

Lavery hopes the church and the rest of the Ortberg family will find healing while dealing with the consequences of his father’s decisions.

“My thoughts are with the community at Menlo Church, which now must rebuild without John Ortberg at the helm,” he said.

On Ortberg’s final days as pastor, he will address the congregation during an online service this weekend. He has served as Menlo’s pastor for 17 years. Before that, he was a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago.

In his statement, Ortberg said he regretted “not having served our church with better judgment.”

“Extensive conversations I had with my youngest son gave no evidence of risk of harm, and feedback from others about his impact was consistently positive,” he said. “However, for my part, I did not balance my responsibilities as a father with my responsibilities as a leader.”

Ortberg tendered his resignation to the church’s elders this week. The decision to end his call as pastor has to be approved at the church’s annual meeting, now set for Aug. 30.

In consultation with denominational officials, church elders plan to bring on a transitional pastor. They also plan to add new elders at the upcoming congregational meeting. The church is affiliated with the denomination ECO, A Covenant Order of Presbyterians.

“The Elder Board acknowledges that it is ultimately accountable for creating an environment of trust and mutual respect which has been sorely tested these last few months,” according to the statement. “We feel called to provide stability to Menlo Church in this time of significant transition but are working to add new and diverse voices on the board.”


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

via Pastor John Ortberg Resigns from Menlo Church — Blogs

July 30, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Message of the Church

And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness:

He who was revealed in the flesh,

Was vindicated in the Spirit,

Beheld by angels,

Proclaimed among the nations,

Believed on in the world,

Taken up in glory. (3:16)

The Word of God is a vast, inexhaustible storehouse of spiritual truth. Out of all that truth, what is most essential for the church to uphold and proclaim? Paul gives the answer in verse 16: The message of Jesus Christ. That is the core of what we teach and preach. In Luke 24:46–47, Jesus said to the disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” That became the theme of apostolic preaching. In Acts 10:37–43 Peter said,

You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.

Paul, too, made Jesus Christ the central theme in his preaching. To the Corinthians he wrote, “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), and, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). In his second epistle to them he added, “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him” (2 Cor. 1:19), and “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). In Galatians 6:14 he said, “May it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Even when Christ was preached from wrong motives, he rejoiced (Phil. 1:18).

Because Paul emphasizes the person and work of Christ in 1 Timothy (cf. 1:1; 2:5–6; 6:15–16), that truth may well have been under attack in Ephesus. In this magnificent six-line hymn, Paul rehearses in familiar terms the central truths about Jesus Christ.

Common confession comes from homologeō, which means “to say the same thing.” This is a truth upon which everyone agrees; it is the unanimous conviction of all believers that great is the mystery of godliness. That phrase may be a parallel to the common confession of the pagan worshipers in Ephesus, “Great is Artemis [Diana] of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28).

As already noted, a mystery was a hidden, sacred truth that is revealed in the New Testament. The mystery of godliness parallels the “mystery of the faith” (v. 9). It refers to the great truth of salvation and righteousness through Christ, which produces godliness (eusebeia) in those who believe. It is also possible to understand the mystery of godliness as a reference to Jesus, who was the very revelation of true and perfect “godlikeness,” since He was God. Godliness, then, first refers to the incarnation and secondly to those who are saved and become the godly in Christ.

As already noted, the lines that follow are undoubtedly from an early church hymn. That is evident from its uniformity (the six verbs are all third person singular aorists), rhythm, and parallelism. The first parallel is between the flesh and the Spirit, the second between angels and nations (men), and the third between the world and glory, or earth and heaven.

The Authorized Version opens the hymn with “God.” The earliest and best manuscripts, however, read hos (He who), not theos (“God”). (For a discussion of the textual issue see Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1975], 641.) Although no antecedent for hos is given, the hymn can only be describing Jesus Christ, who is the purest mystery of godliness—the hidden God revealed perfectly. This marvelous hymn gives us six truths about our Lord.

First, Jesus Christ was revealed in the flesh. God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Phaneroō (revealed) does not mean “to bring into existence,” or “to create,” but “to make visible.” It thus affirms Christ’s preexistence (cf. John 8:58; 17:5). At the Incarnation, Jesus “although He existed in the form of God … emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and [was] made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7). Our Lord Jesus Christ made the invisible God visible to human eyes (cf. 1:17; 6:16; John 14:9; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).

Flesh does not refer here to sinful, fallen human nature, as it does in Romans 7. Rather it refers merely to humanness (cf. John 1:14; Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4). Jesus was “made in the likeness of men … and … found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:7–8). “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (Heb. 2:14), and therefore “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). That does not mean He was sinful, but that He was fully human. “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

It is at precisely this point that the cults and false religions of the world deceive. Satan invariably attacks the Person of Christ, denying that He is the living, eternal God in human flesh.

Second, Jesus Christ was vindicated in the Spirit. Dikaioō (vindicated) means “to justify,” or “to declare righteous.” Though the translators decided to capitalize Spirit, making it refer to the third member of the Trinity, it could also refer to Jesus. That would mean that Jesus Christ was vindicated—declared to be righteous—with respect to His spiritual nature. This reality is why the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). First John 2:1 calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous.” He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Hebrews 5:9 relates that “having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” while Hebrews 7:26 describes Him as “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”

Jesus Christ was a sinless sacrifice on our behalf: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14)? “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21–22).

Our Lord was the God-Man. In His human nature, He was fully man, in His divine nature, He was fully God.

It is also possible that the translation of Spirit in the upper case is correct and is referring to Christ’s vindication by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 1:4 Paul tells us that Jesus Christ “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the spirit of holiness.” His resurrection by the Spirit proved His sinlessness. If He had any sin of His own, He would have stayed dead as the penalty for that sin. The affirmation of His perfect righteousness came when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.

It may well be that Paul here encompasses both realities. Jesus Christ was vindicated both by His sinless life of obedience to God which declared His righteousness, and by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, who affirmed His righteousness again by raising Him from the dead.

Third, Jesus Christ was beheld by angels. Horaō (beheld means “to see,” “to visit,” “to observe,” or “to be attendant to.” Throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry, the angels observed Him, and attended to Him. They were there at His birth, announcing it to Joseph and the shepherds. They ministered to Him at His temptation, and strengthened Him in Gethsamane. At His death and resurrection, which is the focal point of this passage, angels observed Him. The fallen angels saw Him. First Peter 3:18–20 describes that event:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah.

After His death on the cross, our Lord visited the place where certain demons are kept imprisoned, and proclaimed His triumph over them (cf. Col. 2:15).

The holy angels also were involved. An angel rolled away the stone at the door of His tomb (Matt. 28:2). Angels appeared to the women, affirming that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:4–7). Finally, two angels attended Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:10–11). Angels were involved in our Lord’s earthly life from beginning to end. That, too, signified divine approval of the incarnate Messiah.

Fourth, Jesus Christ was proclaimed among the nations. Before His ascension, He commanded the disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20). In Acts 1:8 He told them, “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” There was to be no nation left without the gospel message. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world (cf. John 3:16; 4:42; 2 Cor. 5:19–20; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).

Fifth, Jesus Christ was believed on in the world. The plan of God was fulfilled as the apostles’ proclamation resulted in saving faith in many lives. At the first public preaching of the gospel after Christ’s resurrection, 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). In the days that followed, thousands more believed on Him. The gospel was preached throughout Judea, then to the Samaritans, to an Ethiopian eunuch, to Cornelius the Gentile, and ultimately across the Gentile world by Paul and his associates.

Finally, Jesus Christ was taken up in glory. Acts 1:9–10 describes the event:

After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

“When He had made purification of sins,” Hebrews 1:3 says, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” To the Philippians Paul wrote,

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:8–11).

Jesus’ ascension showed that the Father was pleased with Him and accepted His work.

In six short stanzas, this hymn summarizes the gospel. God became man, died for our sins, triumphed over death, was honored by angels and feared by demons, and ascended into heaven. This message was preached all over the world and many believed and were saved. That is the heart of the message it is our mission to proclaim to the world.

There once was an old church in England. A sign on the front of the building read “We preach Christ crucified.” After a time, ivy grew up and obscured the last word. The motto now read, “We preach Christ.” The ivy grew some more, and the motto read, “We preach.” Finally, ivy covered the entire sign, and the church died. Such is the fate of any church that fails to carry out its mission in the world.[1]

16 The apostle goes on to cite a confession (homologoumenōs, GK 3935; NIV, “beyond all question”; NASB, “by common confession”; cf. Josephus, Ant. 1.180: “by common consent”; 2.229: “all agree”), which he calls “the mystery of godliness.” (Regarding eusebeia [GK 2354, “godliness”], see comments at 2:2; cf. 4:7, 8; 6:3, 5–6, 11.) Most likely this confession is made up of three couplets, each linking earthly and heavenly realities (flesh/spirit; angels/nations; world/glory), apparently in the form of a chiastic structure (ab-ba-ab; contra Mounce, 217–18, following Walter Lock, who sees two stanzas of three lines each; and Marshall, 502, who postulates the later insertion of lines 4 and 5). Knight, 183, writes that “the first of the three couplets presents Christ’s work accomplished, the second his work made known,and the third his work acknowledged.”

The confession makes reference to Jesus’ incarnation (“appeared in a body”; cf. Jn 1:14) and resurrection (“vindicated by the Spirit”; cf. Ro 1:4; the phrase should probably be rendered, “vindicated in the realm of the Spirit” [cf. K. Easley, “The Pauline Usage of Pneumati as a Reference to the Spirit of God,” JETS 27 (1984): 305; NASB]). In the second couplet, Jesus was “seen by angels” (resurrection appearances?) and became the object of universal proclamation (“preached among the nations”; cf. Col 1:6, 23). Finally, the faith elicited by this proclamation (“believed on in the world”) and Jesus’ ascension and exaltation (“taken up in glory”) conclude the confession. The first and last lines serve as a framing device, with lines 2–5 filling out the confession, which on all accounts is “great” (sublime as well as important; cf. Eph 5:32).[2]

16 This powerful combination of ideas is followed by an equally powerful confession of faith. The Christ hymn (v. 16b) now introduced is the rhetorical and Christological high point of the letter. It expresses a very strongly missiological interpretation of Christian existence that draws its meaning from a Christology that stresses the humanity of Christ. Both these dimensions are perfectly consonant with the Christological and missiological themes of the letter already under construction (1:15; 2:1–7). These themes both point to and emanate from this central confession of “the mystery of godliness.”

While the confession, with its capsule summary of the gospel, appears to expand upon the notion of “the truth” (= gospel) that concluded the description of the church, the opening call to acknowledge the greatness of the mystery releases the confession to stand as a more independent conclusion to the entire description of the church and the call to appropriate conduct of v. 15.

The opening word, translated in various ways (“assuredly, indubitably”), serves as a call for affirmation. In this context of church-related teaching (2:1–3:15), the liturgical tone of a call to confession should be retained. All in Ephesus are called to acknowledge the truth of the confession.

The confession itself follows in two parts, first prose and then poetry. The first part is the acclamation of greatness, which I translate according to Greek word order: “Great is the mystery of godliness.” “Great” (6:6; 2 Tim 2:20; Titus 2:13), here, is a measurement of superior quality, but may also have a specific religious connotation (see below). As a way of describing the following “mystery”-event, the adjective places the mystery into a (divine) class of its own. “Mystery” recalls the statement just made concerning the deacons who must adhere to the “mystery of the faith” (see 3:9 discussion). In each case “mystery” is descriptive of the unveiled (previously hidden) plan of God, and the two phrases are not far apart in meaning. But “godliness” is the term Paul uses in these letters to coworkers to describe the wholeness of Christian existence as the integration of faith and behavior, and the choice of the term “godliness” in this case (see 2:2 Excursus) is determined by the broader focus on a kind of life suitable to God’s household (and as descriptive of all that is dealt with in 2:1–3:13), whereas the concern in the case of the deacons is more specifically fidelity to the apostolic faith. Consequently, the “mystery of godliness” means the revelation of Jesus Christ in which Christian existence has its origin.

Given the Ephesian setting, whether or not the famous riot associated with Paul’s ministry (Acts 19) was still fresh in mind, it is impossible not to hear in Paul’s statement a subversive echo of the city’s bold claim, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” (Acts 19:28, 34; cf. 19:27, 35). And in calling the church to confess so extensive a claim—“Great is the mystery of godliness”—it would be quite appropriate for Paul to intentionally hijack the pagan rhetoric to rewrite this bit of the local religious story in terms of the gospel-promise of a new mode of existence, in Christ.

Now the mystery is spelled out in the theological and historical terms of the hymn—at least most scholars describe the genre of the subsequent material in this way. Unfortunately, despite the generous amounts of attention given to the source and background of this piece, nothing can be said for certain about its origins or structure. Its hymn-like or poetic character is clear from the structural consistency of the clauses (passive verb followed by prepositional phrases employing the preposition en plus an anarthrous dative object; only the third line breaks the pattern omitting the preposition), as well as by the assonance created by the presence in each line of the passive verb ending, –thē.

Attempts to organize the lines further generally divide them into either two strophes of three lines each, or three strophes of two lines each.32 In the former case, each half consists of two lines of opposing nouns (flesh/Spirit, world/glory), with the third line of each half serving as a kind of refrain. In this way the hymn describes salvation history: gospel-creating events of Christ’s death and resurrection/vindication being followed by gospel-preaching events. While this arrangement allows for the parallelism between lines 4 and 5 (“preached among the nations”/“believed on in the world”) to have full weight, it perhaps pays too little attention to other noun pairings. In the latter case, more attention is given to the three contrasting pairs of nouns: flesh/Spirit, angels/nations, world/glory. While the pairs seem obvious enough, there is no overarching meaning-frame to explain them. In the end we are left with the unsatisfying conclusion that while clearly being a poetic piece, in its present state, the organization of its six lines cannot be reduced to either of the most popular schemes. But this need not hinder an effective reading of the hymn. The interests in salvation history, mission and gospel are all detectable no matter how the lines are arranged.

More significant is the fact that each line views these interests through a Christological lens, forcing the whole of salvation history, as well as the preceding “mystery of godliness,” to be understood christocentrically. The hymn accomplishes this by leading off with the masculine relative pronoun, “who” (“he”; TNIV)33 which, in reference to Christ becomes the subject of each of the six verbs of the hymn. Technically, given its neuter antecedent, “mystery,” the relative pronoun should be neuter as well, and this causes some syntactical awkwardness in the transition from “the mystery” to the hymn. Since, however, Paul’s point is that “the mystery” is a person (which the hymn verifies), the masculine pronoun creates the better sense.35

Line 1

After the relative pronoun, the first line of the hymn describes Jesus’ manifestation as a human being (or among humankind). The passive verb, “was manifested” (implying God is the actor), bears some attraction to the theme of “mystery” just announced (Rom 16:26; Col 1:26). What emerges by connecting the two concepts is that authentic Christian existence (“godliness”) is linked to the divine unveiling of Christ “in flesh.” The verb of revelation, rare outside the NT, has a number of uses in relation to God, Christ (John 2:11; 9:3; Rom 1:19), of things they have revealed (Titus 1:3; 2 Tim 1:10), and of the gospel/mystery (Col 1:26; Rom 16:26). A dominant use of the term portrays Christ’s human history as a divine manifestation (John 1:31; Heb 9:26; 1 Pet 1:20; 1 John 1:2; 3:5, 8). And this is its function here. As the broad salvation historical thrust of the hymn suggests, the interest in this line is not on his entrance in human history per se (i.e. incarnation as birth), but on the fact of his humanity and the arena of humanity as the place in which he did his work.

The phrase “in flesh” delimits the manifestation. The question is, how? “Flesh” in numerous cases denotes Christ’s pre-resurrection humanity in one sense or another. One only has to compare Rom 1:3–4, which introduces the similar flesh/spirit contrast as lines 1–2 of this hymn, to appreciate the general way in which the category functions. There is little data here to suggest “in flesh” might focus more precisely on a particular point in Christ’s life, though attempts at greater precision have been made.40 The phrase can be understood to indicate either the mode (as a human being; “in a body” [TNIV] blurs the distinction intended by the flesh/Spirit antithesis)41 or the local sphere (among humankind) of Jesus’ historical manifestation. The former seems more in keeping with the stress on Jesus’ humanity already evident in 1:15 and 2:5, as well as with the reference to his Spirit-stage of existence about to be made (see below). Thus the most obvious sense of the line is as a celebration of the fact of Jesus’ incarnation. As elsewhere in the NT (Rom 8:3; Phil 2:7–8), it will be understood that the crucifixion was the ultimate purpose and climax of this stage of existence, and it forms the natural line of demarcation between the images projected in lines 1 and 2.

Line 2

Whatever is decided about the structure of this piece, line 2 is a response and a completion of the events encapsulated in line 1. It is a response in that within this salvation-historical profile of the Christ event and the gospel, it portrays Jesus’ vindication, God’s response to the crucifixion. It is a completion in that the affirmation of line 2 completes the portrait of Christ’s existence by depicting its second stage.

The verb of line 2 is correctly translated “was vindicated” (Titus 3:7), against the OT background of the term, and indicates God’s demonstration of Jesus’ innocence. The early church consistently regarded the resurrection/exaltation of Jesus to be the historical event in which God demonstrated his son’s vindication.45 But a fuller story is implied in the prepositional phrase that follows.

TNIV translates “by the Spirit,” which understands the prepositional phrase to be identifying the Holy Spirit as the agency of the vindication/resurrection (GNB; cf. Rom 8:11). However, this does not account satisfactorily for the antithesis created in lines 1 and 2 by the phrases “in flesh” and “in Spirit.” The antithesis occurs widely in the NT and tends to stress a distinction between human and supernatural modes or spheres of existence, the latter of which is characterized by the presence and power of the Spirit.47 With this in mind, “in [the] Spirit” better expresses the second stage of Jesus’ human existence, which he entered by means of the resurrection. This is not to say that the Spirit was not fully operative in Jesus’ earthly ministry; rather, it stresses his complete entrance into a final stage of existence for which all believers are destined.

The fuller story alluded to above is simply this: Jesus’ human existence cannot be understood solely on the basis of line 1, which ends in death. Line 2 is God’s response not only to Jesus’ weakness and death, in the sense of a reprieve; it is all the more the completion of Jesus’ humanity, as through resurrection the limited authority of death is overcome by resurrection power and the destined Spirit-abode of humanity is entered. What the tradition goes on to declare is that the Christ event was both a pattern for believing humanity (thus it forms the “mystery of godliness=Christian existence), and the content of the gospel by which people enter into that pattern. The humanity of Christ in its two stages is the means by which God’s salvation mystery is revealed.

Line 3

TNIV’s “seen by angels” (NRSV; TEV; CEV) regards line 3 as a passive experience of Christ. However, the passive verb employed frequently depicts an active exhibition of the one so described, which recommends the translation, “who appeared to angels.” While it is possible to take “angels”50 as a reference to human witnesses of the resurrection, this is a far more likely reference to the rich tradition of Christ’s resurrection appearance(s) before angelic powers. Beyond this, it is impossible to be completely precise. The NT contains the tradition of Jesus’ display of victory before fallen powers. But a more general and positive tradition commemorates Christ’s triumphant exaltation to the heavenly realm and his display of victory there,53 and this background coincides better with the tone of the hymn.

In continuing the theme of vindication (implicitly), line 3 extends the thought of line 2 by displaying the meaning of resurrection for heavenly powers. It may even be regarded as continuing the historical sequence of salvation historical moments (human life/death; resurrection; manifestation to angelic powers). At the same time, the emphasis on display, exhibition or communication reveals a link with the next line, as the implications of the Christ event are proclaimed in the human sphere.

Line 4

Lines 4 and 5 shift the hymn’s focus to the effects of “the mystery” among humankind. Christology develops naturally into missiology. The shift is hardly unexpected, especially within a Pauline rendition of redemption, for the proclamation of the gospel “among the nations” represents the fulfillment of God’s OT promises and the purpose of the Pauline mission—a theme already encountered (2:1–7, 8). “Preached among the nations” regards the human experience of Christ (still the subject of the passive verb) more obliquely as the content of the gospel, with lines 1–2 providing a rough version of the gospel. The aorist passive verb, “preached, proclaimed,” intends to summarize the execution of the church’s evangelistic mission to this point. The prepositional phrase that follows (“among the nations”) explicitly emphasizes the universal scope of the gospel and (with the verb) the prophetic fact of the gospel’s penetration into the Gentile world.55 Thus the hymn sounds the very Pauline theme of the fulfillment of the divine promise to reach the whole world with the gospel (2:1; 7, 8). It may be true that the language of “nations” or “Gentiles” “does not necessarily exclude Jews,” for the Pauline mission was always directed to Jews and Gentiles.57 Nevertheless, as a salvation historical benchmark, the phrase “among the Gentiles” intends to make another eschatological point. In the Pauline mission, the gospel has begun to achieve the universal proportions for which it was designed, and “among the Gentiles” echoes the promise of “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom 11:25–26). Final achievement of this is the condition of the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes; it requires the continuation of this universal mission, and the church’s full involvement in it (2:1–7).

Line 5

“Was believed on in the world” parallels the preceding line, adding to the hymn the necessary stress on the effectiveness of the Christian mission. Christ as the content of the proclamation is now the one in whom “belief” is placed. The arena of this mission fruitfulness, “in the world,” also stands parallel with “the nations” in line 4. “World” here means the community of humankind in need of God (1:15); the fact that Christ has entered this world underlines the church’s continued responsibility to be active in ministry within it. Together, lines 4–5 create the missiological necessity emerging from the Christ event: just as “belief” is the human response to the Christ-event, proclamation is the Christian responsibility. While the hymn indicates success and progress in both the breadth and results of proclamation, it stops short of announcing the completion of God’s redemptive plan.

Line 6

The hymn ends on the note of Christ’s exaltation: “taken up in glory.” The verb suggests an allusion to Christ’s ascension. But the stress is certainly not on the event as a chronological terminus; for if chronology were the organizing theme of the poem, we would expect a line dedicated in some explicit way to the hope in the Parousia (cf. Acts 1:11). Rather, it is the symbolic value of the historical event that predominates: it represents the exaltation of Christ. “In glory” might refer to the destination to which Jesus was exalted (“the heavenly sphere, God’s right hand”), but it is a more likely description of the status of “glorification” conferred in and through exaltation.62 While the allusion frustrates a neat chronological sequence of the events depicted in the hymn, this last allusion to Christ’s exaltation, via the ascension, reinforces the link between the present exalted status of the Lord and the vindication of his humanity.

How then does the hymn function? The first mistake to avoid in answering this question is that of attempting to read the six lines as a discrete piece of dogma. This is a temptation caused not only by the fact of its neat poetic structure (and naming it a “hymn”), which causes it to stand out from the surrounding discourse, but also by tradition- and literary-critical attempts to discern its source and internal structure. These disciplines might indeed shed some light on the meaning of the lines and their interrelation, but all too often they give the impression that the piece, as employed here, has a life of its own.

In fact, the function and message of the hymn must be sought in its relation especially to what has preceded it. This means, first of all, it serves as the climax of the whole concluding section, 3:14–16. As such, it takes its cue from 3:15, which underscores the present behavior of believers as members of God’s household. Secondly, in serving this purpose, it also concludes the entire section beginning (at least) at 2:1—a long section taken up with the aspects of present Christian living that 3:15 intends to summarize as conduct appropriate to God’s household. But what can the Christ-hymn say to this?

As we have seen at 1:15 and 2:5–6, Christ’s humanity is a theme of importance in this letter. It has sometimes been suggested that the Christology that emerges from these statements was calculated to correct some form of Docetism (a denial of the humanity of Christ) being taught by the heretics. While there is really no way to prove or disprove this assertion, it seems on the whole unlikely, since we might have expected a stronger reaction by Paul. I would suggest that the emphasis on the humanity of Jesus Christ, especially as Paul has anchored the gospel precisely in the Messiah’s human experience, intended rather (1) to revive the church’s interest in gospel ministry in the world, outside of the Christian community (see esp. discussion at 2:1–6), and (2) to counteract the anti-flesh views of the opponents (4:1–5) that may well have influenced the church’s theology.

The hymn can be seen to gather together these concerns. First, it continues the theme of the humanity of Christ, re-emphasizing his full participation in the human weakness (line 1). But secondly, the ground of Christian hope, which has thus far in the letter been left as an unnamed assumption, is now more fully expressed—that is, vindication of Christ through resurrection (lines 2–3). In these 2 or 3 lines it emerges that human experience does not end in weakness, suffering and death, but on the contrary in life and vindication. But this dimension of Christ’s existence remains for the church in the present an aspect of hope. Without it, present struggle has little purpose; with it, present struggle is the “suffering with him” (2 Tim 2:11–12) that carries great hope. The real clue that this hymn is about Christian existence, and not just about Christ’s existence—that it truly does explicate “the mystery of godliness” and provide a christological foundation for “conduct in God’s household”—can be seen in lines 4–5. These lines fully implicate human beings in the salvation plan of God, not just as undeserving recipients of God’s grace (line 5), but firstly as messengers who announce the truth en-fleshed in the Messiah. The aorist tenses are not to be read as signaling completion, but rather fact. In God’s salvation drama, Paul (and the church) has proclaimed the gospel, and the mission has produced results. But the ministry and results are characteristic of the church’s present age—as the age continues towards the end, so must the activity.

The hymn establishes a balance that rightly begins with the fundamental Christ event. But the central place of human response and responsibility in mission is essential to the salvation plan of God. It is actually almost a misnomer to call this piece a “Christ hymn,” for its solemn purpose is to reiterate in the present context the intimate connection that exists between Creator and creation—a connection that God has reestablished through the incarnation and death of his son (see further 4:1–5). It is thus a hymn about restoration and wholeness—the reconciliation of the divine and the human into a unified relationship through the human experience of Christ. At present, the church is to identify with the experience of Christ in suffering and witness (line 1, 4), its hope made sure and purpose for doing so grounded in the fact of his resurrection, vindication and glorious exaltation.[3]

3:16 / The mention of the truth (“of the gospel” always being implied by this word) leads Paul to the exclamation: Beyond all question, the mystery (“revealed truth,” as in 3:9) of godliness is great. The word godliness (eusebeia), a favorite in 1 Timothy (see disc. on 2:2), ordinarily refers to “the duty which people owe to God.” But here, as often with “faith” in these letters, it is not referring to the quality of “godliness” as such but “the godliness,” thought of in a more objective way as the content or basis of Christianity.

What follows is an expression of some of the content of the “revealed truth” of the godliness entrusted to God’s people. The passage itself is almost certainly a hymn, or hymn fragment, in six rhythmic lines. Each line has two members, a verb standing in first position, each in the aorist (past) tense, passive voice in Greek, ending with the rhythmic –thē, followed by a prepositional phrase (Gk., en, “in” or “by”). The implied subject of each verb is Christ.

On that much all modern interpreters are agreed; but on the structure itself, the meaning of a couple of the lines, and the meaning of the whole, there has been considerable debate, with nothing like a consensus. It has been viewed as a single stanza of six consecutive lines (see the jb), as two stanzas with three lines each (but in a variety of patterns [cf., e.g., the gnb with the rsv]), as three stanzas with two lines each (cf. niv), or in other, not easily classified combinations. Moreover, three of the lines (2, 3, and 6) are not perfectly clear as to their meaning, a difficulty raised in part by some apparent parallels and/or antitheses between the lines and in part because the whole seems to have a degree of chronology, moving from the Incarnation to further aspects of Christ’s life and ministry, yet breaking down in line 6. In view of so many difficulties and disagreements, one offers an interpretation with some reservation.

Let us begin with what appears to be somewhat certain. Line 1, he appeared in a body (lit. “he was manifested in the flesh”), has been universally recognized as an affirmation of the Incarnation, comparable to John 1:14 or Romans 1:3. Even more than in 1:15, such language implies pre-existence. In Christ, God himself has appeared “in flesh.”

Line 4, was preached among the nations (or “Gentiles”), is likewise generally recognized to refer to the period of early apostolic history when the gospel was proclaimed throughout the nations of the known world.

Line 5, was believed on in the world, seems to accompany line 4 as a word about the response to the proclamation of the gospel.

The content of these lines, therefore, which begin with Christ’s own entry into the world and in 4 and 5 take up the apostolic witness to Christ, has caused most interpreters to view it as some form of heilgeschichtliche hymn, that is, a hymn that tells the story of salvation (cf. J. Wilbur Chapman’s “One Day,” or Fanny Crosby’s “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”). If these observations are correct, then the problem that remains has to do with the meaning of the other three lines and how they all relate to one another.

Let us turn, then, to what is less certain. Line 2, he was vindicated by the Spirit, presents considerable difficulties. Literally, it says “he was justified in spirit [or Spirit].” In the Greek there seems to be a parallel between “in flesh” in line 1 and “in spirit” in line 2. But does it refer to the Holy Spirit or (more likely, given the parallel) to his spiritual nature? If the latter, then the point of this line, with some poetic license, is at least “vindication,” perhaps “exaltation,” referring to Christ’s resurrection. Thus the first two lines hymn Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (incarnation and resurrection) in a manner similar to the splendid prose of Romans 1:3 and 4 (cf. 1 Pet. 3:18).

Line 3, he was seen by angels, is likewise puzzling. This is the only line without the Greek preposition en (“in” or “by”). This verb (was seen by or “appeared to”), with the person(s) to whom he appeared in the Greek dative case (as here), is the regular formula in the nt for resurrection appearances (Luke 24:23; Acts 9:17; 1 Cor. 15:5–8). In this case, however, it more likely refers to the worship given by angels to the ascended, glorified Christ. If so, then the first three lines sing Christ’s incarnation, resurrection, and glorification and form a stanza about Christ himself, as he is seen “from glory to glory.”

In such a scheme, the next two lines (4 and 5) offer a similar parallel to lines 1 and 2, but now sing the ongoing ministry of Christ through his church. But the problem arises at line 6, he was taken up in glory. The word was taken up elsewhere in the nt refers to the Ascension (Luke 9:51; Acts 1:2, 11, 22; cf. Mark 16:19). How, then, does the Ascension follow the apostolic ministry? The answer seems to lie with the phrase in glory, which less likely refers to the place of his exaltation as to its manner, that is, it was “glorious” or “accompanied with glory.” Like line 3, then, this line also emphasizes his triumph and glorification more than the actual event of the Ascension itself, chronologically understood. Indeed, in this view, line 6 is the glorious climax of the whole that begins in line 1 with the humiliation of Incarnation.

On this understanding, then, the hymn has two stanzas of three lines each. The first stanza sings Christ’s earthly ministry, concluding with a word of triumph and glorification. Similarly, the second stanza sings the ongoing ministry of Christ through his church, concluding again with the theme of glorification. In a certain sense both stanzas reflect the theme of humiliation and exaltation.

Thus the great mystery of the godliness we believe in, Paul sings, has to do with Christ’s own humiliation and exaltation and the church’s ongoing witness to him who is now the exalted, glorified one. This double focus, especially the emphasis on the ongoing ministry to the nations, returns to a theme sounded earlier in the creedal words of 1:15 and 2:4–6.

But the question still remains: Why this hymn with these emphases at this point in the letter? The answer to that is not easy, but two possibilities commend themselves (perhaps it is a combination of both): First, the double emphasis on humiliation/exaltation, focusing on the present, triumphant glory of Christ, probably stands in some kind of contrast to the Christology of the false teachers. This is especially so, if, as we have argued in the Introduction (pp. 7–10), there are some affinities between what is going on in Ephesus and what had earlier been afoot in Colossae and Laodicea. Second, Paul is about to return to a censure of the false teachers, with an exhortation to Timothy to stand in sharp contrast to them. This hymn prepares for that censure by boldly expressing what the truth is all about, as a contrast to their demonic errors.[4]

A Hymn Of The Church

1 Timothy 3:16

As everyone must confess, great is the secret which God has revealed to us in our religion:

He who was manifested in the flesh:

He who was vindicated by the Spirit:

He who was seen by angels:

He who has been preached among the nations:

He in whom men have believed all over the world:

He who was taken up into glory.

The great interest of this passage is that here we have a fragment of one of the hymns of the early Church. It is a setting of belief in Christ to poetry and to music, a hymn in which men and women sang their creed. We cannot expect from poetry the precision of statement for which we would look in a creed; but we must try to see what each line in this hymn is saying to us.

(1) He who was manifested in the flesh. Right at the beginning, it stresses the real humanity of Jesus. It says: ‘Look at Jesus, and you will see the mind and the heart and the action of God, in a form that everyone can understand.’

(2) He who was vindicated by the Spirit. This is a difficult line. There are three things it may mean.

(a) It may mean that all through his earthly days Jesus was kept sinless by the power of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives us guidance; our error is that we so often refuse the Spirit’s guidance. It was Jesus’ perfect submission to the Spirit of God which kept him without sin.

(b) It may mean that Jesus’ claims were justified by the action of the Spirit who dwelt in him. When Jesus was accused by the scribes and Pharisees of bringing about cures by the power of the devil, his answer was: ‘If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you’ (Matthew 12:28). The power that was in Jesus was the power of the Spirit, and the mighty acts which he performed were the evidence of the tremendous claims which he made.

(c) It may be that this is a reference to the resurrection. Jesus was taken and crucified as a criminal upon a cross, but through the power of the Spirit he rose again; the verdict of those who killed him was demonstrated to be false, and he was vindicated. No matter how we take this line, its meaning is that the Spirit is the power who proved Jesus to be what he claimed to be.

(3) He who was seen by angels. Again, there are three possible meanings.

(a) It may be a reference to Jesus’ life before he came to earth.

(b) It may be a reference to his life on earth. Even on earth, the hosts of heaven were looking on at his tremendous contest with evil.

(c) It may connect with the belief of everyone in the time of Jesus that the air was full of demonic and angelic powers. Many of these powers were hostile to God and to human beings, and set on the destruction of Jesus. Paul at least once argued that they were intent on the destruction of Jesus through ignorance, and that Jesus brought to them and to men and women the wisdom which had been hidden since the world began (1 Corinthians 2:7–8). This phrase may mean that Jesus brought the truth even to the angelic and demonic powers who had never known it. However we take it, it means that the work of Jesus is so tremendous that it includes both heaven and earth.

(4) He who has been preached among the nations. Here we have the great truth that Jesus was not the exclusive possession of a particular race or nation. He was not the Messiah who had come to raise the Jews to earthly greatness, but the Saviour of the whole wide world.

(5) He in whom men have believed all over the world. Here is an almost miraculous truth stated with utter simplicity. After Jesus had died and risen again and ascended to his glory, the number of his followers was 120 (Acts 1:15). All that his followers had to offer was the story of a Galilaean carpenter who had been crucified on a hilltop in Palestine as a criminal. And yet, before seventy years had passed, that story had gone out to the ends of the earth, and men and women of every nation accepted this crucified Jesus as Saviour and Lord. In this simple phrase, there is the whole wonder of the expansion of the Church, an expansion which by any human standards is incredible.

(6) He who was taken up into glory. This is a reference to the ascension. The story of Jesus begins in heaven and ends in heaven. He lived as a servant; he was branded as a criminal; he was crucified on a cross; he rose with the nailprints still upon him; but the end is glory.[5]

3:16. As all agree, the mystery of godliness is great:

he was revealed in the flesh,

vindicated in the Spirit,

seen by angels,

preached among the nations,

believed in the world,

taken up in glory.

Paul ends this section, and the first half of this letter, by quoting what was probably a common confession in the church. The phrase, ‘as all agree’, seems to indicate that what follows in the latter part of this verse is a common confession among Christians, a creed that the early church recited together. ‘Mystery’, as we have already seen (3:9), refers to God’s revelation that has previously been hidden but now has been revealed. Interestingly, Paul refers to this as ‘the mystery of godliness’. The term ‘godliness,’ which the apostle has earlier used in 2:2, usually refers to conduct or duty that is fitting for worshippers of God. But the ‘mystery’ that follows is a doctrinal formulation. As we have just seen in verse 15, as in the rest of the Pastoral Epistles, theology and ethics, what we believe and how we act, are closely tied to one another.

The six clauses that end this verse are generally recognized to have a rhythmic structure. All the Greek verbs here have the same ending, and all the clauses except the third have the same preposition (en, ‘in’ or ‘by’) and are roughly the same length. The main question of interpretation is how these six clauses fit together and are related to one another. Some see this ‘confession’ as being in two parts. The first three clauses refer to the earthly work of Christ—his incarnation, resurrection and ascension. The last three would then refer to the work of Christ through the church (‘preached’, ‘believed’, ‘taken up’). The problem with this interpretation is that the last clause, ‘taken up in glory’, more naturally refers to Christ’s ascension.

It seems preferable to see these six clauses as comprising three contrasting pairs—flesh / spirit, angels / nations, world / glory. These pairs summarize the totality of Christ’s redemptive work.

The first clause, ‘he was revealed in the flesh’, refers to Christ’s incarnation. The revelation of Christ in the flesh implies his pre-existence. To use John’s language, the eternal Word, God himself, became flesh (John 1:1, 14). Christ was also ‘vindicated in [or, ‘by’] the Spirit’. This is most likely a reference to his resurrection. Paul elsewhere links the Spirit to Christ’s resurrection. He says in Romans 1:4 that Christ was ‘declared [or appointed] Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead’. For the Jews, the crucifixion would have been a sign that Jesus was rejected, even accursed, by God (Deut. 21:23). But for the early Christians, the resurrection was the vindication that Jesus was who he said he was.

The following clause, stating that he was ‘seen by angels’, is difficult to interpret with certainty. Angels were present both at the resurrection of Christ (Mark 16:5–7) and at his ascension (Acts 1:9–11). But angels also would have been part of that heavenly host that gave Christ worship after his ascension (Phil. 2:9–10). The precise event is difficult to pin down (perhaps all of the above are included). Yet George Knight is probably correct in stating the purpose of this clause: ‘Angels are referred to here apparently to emphasize the cosmic nature of Christ’s work and its significance.’ The mention of angels, then, sets up the contrast with the clause that follows—‘preached among the nations’. This is a clear reference to the evangelistic activity of the church, in fulfilment of Jesus’ Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20). The fact that the proclamation of Christ among the nations is part of this early Christian confession reveals how evangelistically-minded the early church was.

Not only was Christ preached among the nations, but he was also ‘believed in the world’. The proclamation bore fruit. Many came to saving faith. This earthly activity is not without its heavenly counterpart—Christ was ‘taken up in glory’. This final clause refers to Christ’s ascension, but it does more than that. It tells us that he is in the realm of glory, enthroned in the place of power and authority (cf. Phil. 2:9–11). There he rules over the nations. It is because Christ is seated at the right hand of God that the gospel can be effective and the church can complete her work.


The church needs to take seriously its role as the ‘pillar and foundation of the truth’. The evangelical church today largely lacks the sense of urgency in guarding and defending the truth that marked previous generations of Christians. This is partly due to abuses of the past, and the angry and bellicose spirit that has characterized certain defenders of the faith. Certainly the church must be characterized by a joyful and winsome spirit. But much of our failure in this area is due to the ‘spirit of the age’, not the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our world tells us that there is no absolute truth. Many American evangelicals agree. Those who don’t agree often reflect the modern attitude by asserting that, while there is absolute truth, none of us has the whole truth. Admittedly none of us can claim to have infallible knowledge of the totality of biblical doctrine, but statements of this type often reflect a laissez-faire attitude with regard to the defence of the truth. Not only does the Bible teach that absolute truth exists, it teaches that the church is the pillar and foundation of that truth, its guardian and defender. The world, compounded by our own sinfulness, has robbed the church of its strength.

This is true not only with regard to doctrine, but also with regard to conduct. As we have seen, these two go hand in hand. The failure to uphold standards in one area will soon lead to lowered standards in the other. The very nature of the church, as the household of God, as the pillar and foundation of the truth, means that the church needs to live by, and promote, biblical standards of behaviour. We need to do things God’s way, not man’s way. Francis Schaeffer has observed, ‘Show me what the world is saying today and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years.’ Sadly, this seems to be all too true.

The evangelism of the nations, an important ‘pillar’ of the early church’s confession, unfortunately suffers when the church fails to uphold biblical truth. It suffers when we believe the world when it tells us that all religions have truth and that there are many ways to God. In fact, many interpreters of the Bible have stripped Jesus’ words, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me,’ of their meaning and import. Evangelism loses its urgency when we are told that there is no hell, that there is no eternal torment for those who do not trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Evangelism loses its edge when the evangelical church compromises on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the doctrine by which, as Martin Luther said, the church stands or falls.

The reverse side of the coin is that other Christians are so intent on splitting theological hairs over issues of little or no consequence that they fail to get on with the task of evangelizing the nations. Somehow we need both to uphold doctrinal purity and to make Christ known to the lost. Paul teaches us in this passage that the church can do no less.

A final comment on this passage and the larger section. Beginning in 2:1, Paul has laid out the proper conduct for the household of God. In chapter 2, he stressed the necessity of prayer in the public assembly of God’s people. He has ended this section with a credal statement that was evidently used in the early church. The evangelical church today generally recognizes the importance of prayer. It has lost a sense of the importance and value of creeds and confessions. But creeds are an important way of establishing God’s people in the truth of Scripture. They can be an important means of ‘godliness’ (3:16). May God give to the church a renewed understanding of the value of creeds and confessions in its public worship.[6]

16. What a rich cluster of mysteries is here! All blessedly hanging together, like some large bunch of the richest grapes, on the most luxuriant Vine! The mystery begins with, God manifest in the flesh: and the verse ends with, Christ received up into glory. God the Son, tabernacling in a body of flesh! Justified in the Spirit; both in the formation of that pure portion of human nature, wrought by his miraculous impregnation, in the womb of the Virgin, in testifying at Christ’s baptism, in all his miracles, when he offered himself through the eternal Spirit on the cross; when risen from the dead, when returned to glory; and when, in exact conformity to the Lord’s most sure promise, God the Holy Ghost came down at Pentecost, in an open display of his Person, and Offices; and now in a private manifestation in the hearts of all Christ’s seed, from the first moment of regeneration, until grace is finished in glory. In all these, and numberless other instances, Christ is justified in the Spirit, when he takes of Christ, and shews to the people. And seen of angels, who saw him at his birth, attended him in his temptations in the wilderness, in his agonies in the garden, at his resurrection, ascension, and return to glory. Preached to the Gentiles. And this became a mystery to the Jewish Church, that God should also to the Gentiles, grant repentance unto life. Acts 11:18. And what was yet, and is now, and ever must be, a greater mystery still, that Christ should be believed on in the world. For such is the natural enmity of every man’s mind by the fall; that nothing short of sovereign grace can gain acceptance for Christ, in a single heart. And there must be the concurring operation of all the Persons of the Godhead, in the drawings of the Father, John 6:44, the manifestations of the Son, 1 John 5:20 and the quickenings of the Holy Ghost, to induce belief in the soul. Ephes. 2:1. And the Lord’s being received up into glory, closeth the wonderful account, in this precious mystery of godliness, which, without controversy, must be acknowledged great! Reader! what a mercy is your’s, and mine, if through grace, we can both subscribe to the blessed contents? Great as the mystery of godliness is, God hath revealed the truth of the whole to our spirit. 1 Cor. 2:10.


Oh! Lord the Spirit! do thou in mercy to the Church, ordain Pastors after thine own heart: and make all such, as thou hast called to the ministry, however known, or distinguished among men, more anxious to win souls, than to gain kingdoms.

Precious Jesus! let the mystery of thine incarnation be the constant, unceasing subject of my meditation! Oh! the love of Christ which passeth knowledge! Didst thou, dear Lord, who when rich beyond all the calculation of riches, condescend for our sakes to be made poor, that we through thy poverty might be made rich! And, oh! the sweet testimony of God the Spirit, in justifying all the works of Christ, both to the Person of Christ, and in the heart of his people, in his finished salvation. Angels, behold; Gentiles, believe; yea, my poor blind and stony heart is made willing in the day of God’s power. And God the Father hath given assurance unto all men of the mystery of godliness, in having raised Christ from the dead, and received him up into glory. Blessed, blessed for ever, be God for Jesus Christ![7]

Ver. 16.—He who for God, A.V. and T.R.; manifested for manifest, A.V. among the nations for unto the Gentiles, A.V. in for into, A.V. Without controversy (ὁμολογουμένως); only here in the New Testament, but used in the same sense in the LXX and in classical Greek, “confessedly,” by common confession. Great is the mystery of godliness. This is said to enhance the glory of the Church just spoken of, to whom this mystery has been entrusted, and so still further to impress upon Timothy the vital necessity of a wise and holy walk in the Church. The mystery of godliness is all that truth which “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Godliness (τῆς εὐσεβείας); i.e. “the Christian faith;” what in ch. 6:3 is called “The words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness (τῇ κατ᾽ εὐσεβείαν διδασκαλὶᾳ),” and in 2 Tim. 1:1, “The truth which is according to godliness.” In ver. 9 it is “the mystery of the faith,” where ἠ πίστις, is equivalent to ἡ εὐσεβεία. Bishop Ellicott, however, does not admit this objective sense of ἡ πίστις, or ἡ εὐσεβεία, but explains the genitive as “a pure possessive genitive;” the mystery appertaining; to, or the property of, subjective faith and godliness; but this is a use not borne out by any passage in which the word “mystery” occurs. It is always mysteries (or mystery) of the king dom of God, of Christ, of God, of the gospel, and the like. In the following passages the objective sense of ἠ πίστις, is either necessary or by far the most natural: Acts 3:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; Gal. 1:23; Eph. 4:5; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:23; 2:7; ch. 1:19; 5:8; 6:10, 21; 2 Tim. 4:7; Titus 1:13; Jas. 2:1; Jude 3. Haying thus exalted the “mystery of godliness,” St. Paul goes on to expound it. He who (ὅς). This is generally adopted now as the true reading, instead of Θεός, (ΟΣ, instead of ΘΣ). Bishop Ellicott satisfied himself, by most careful personal examination, that the original reading of the Cod. Alex. was ΟΣ, and that it had been altered by a later hand to ΘΣ. The Cod. Sinait. certainly has ὅς,, and to this all the older versions agree. The Vulgate has quod, agreeing with sacramentutu and representing the Greek ὁ Accepting this, then, as the true reading, we proceed to explain it. Ὄς, who, is a relative, and must, therefore, have an antecedent. But there is no expressed antecedent of the masculine gender for it to agree with. The antecedent, therefore, must be understood, and gathered from the preceding words, τὸ μυστήριον τῆς εὐσεβείας, It can only be Christ. The mystery of the whole Old Testament, that which was wrapped in types and bidden under veils, was Christ (Col. 1:27). Moses spake of him, the Psalms speak of him, the prophets speak of him; but all of them spake darkly. But in the gospel “the mystery of Christ” (Col. 4:3) is revealed. Christ is the Mystery of Christianity. It is, therefore, no difficult step to pass from “the mystery” to “Christ,” and to supply the word “Christ” as the antecedent to “who.” Was manifested (ἐφανερώθη); a word frequently applied to Christ (John 1:31; 1 John 1:2; 3:5, 8, etc.). The idea is the same in John 1:14. Justified in the spirit. This is rather an obscure expression. But it seems to describe our Lord’s spotless righteousness, perhaps with special reference to the declaration of it at his baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” We have the same contrast between the flesh and the Spirit of Christ in 1 Pet. 3:18. And between the flesh and the spirit of a Christian man in Rom. 8:10, “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” To this clause apparently the remark of Chrysostom applies, “God became man, and man became God.” “The spirit” seems to mean the moral nature—the inner man. Seen of angels. Perhaps the multitude of the heavenly host who welcomed the birth of Christ were permitted to see the new-born Babe, as he seems to have done who described him to the shepherds as “wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12–14). Angels ministered unto him after the temptation (Mark 1:13), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 22:43, where the word ὤφθη, is used), and at his resurrection (Matt. 28:2). The special interest of angels in the “great mystery” is referred to in 1 Pet. 1:12; Heb. 1:6. Preached among the nations (ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν). It would have been better to keep the rendering “Gentiles” here, to mark the identity of thought with Eph. 3:6, 8, where, in the apostle’s view, the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, that they might be fellow-heirs with the Jews of the promises of God, is one main feature of the mystery (comp. ch. 2:7). Believed on in the world. The next step in this ascending scale is the acceptance of Christ in the world as the Saviour thereof. The language here is not stronger than that of Col. 1:5, 6, “The word of the truth of the gospel, which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world, and beareth fruit.” And in Col. 1:23, “The gospel which was preached in all creation under heaven” (comp. Rom. 1:8). The statement in Mark 16:15–20 might almost have been in St. Paul’s mind. Note the use there of the words κηρύξατε, ἐκηρύξαν, τὸν κόσμον, ὀ πιστεύσας, πιστεύσασι, ἀνελήφρη, Received up in glory. The change of “into” (A.V.) into “in” is of very doubtful propriety. In New Testament Greek ἐν, frequently follows verbs of motion, and means the same as εἰς, like the Hebrew בְּ. Our Lord is not said to have ascended in glory (as he appeared at the Transfiguration), but, as St. Mark has it, “He was received up into heaven, and [there] sat down at the right hand of God,” fulfilling John 17:5. This grand burst of dogmatic teaching is somewhat like that in ch. 2:5–7. There is no adequate evidence of its being, as many commentators have thought, a portion of a hymn or creed used in the Church. It rather implies the same tension in the apostle’s mind which is apparent in other parts of the Epistle (comp. ch. 6:11 and following verses).[8]

16. Great is the mystery of godliness. Again, here is another enhancement. That the truth of God might not, through the ingratitude of men, be less esteemed than it ought, he extols its value, by stating that “great is the secret of godliness;” that is, because it does not treat of mean subjects, but of the revelation of the Son of God, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom.” (Col. 2:3.) From the greatness and importance of such matters, pastors ought to judge of their office, that they may devote themselves to the discharge of it with greater conscientiousness and deeper reverence.

God manifested in the flesh. The Vulgate translator, by leaving out the name of God, refers what follows to “the mystery,” but altogether unskilfully and inappropriately, as will clearly be seen on a bare perusal, though he has Erasmus on his side, who, however, destroys the authority of his own views, so that it is unnecessary for me to refute it. All the Greek copies undoubtedly agree in this rendering, “God manifested in the flesh.” But granting that Paul did not express the name of God, still any one who shall carefully examine the whole matter, will acknowledge that the name of Christ ought to be supplied. For my own part, I have no hesitation in following the reading which has been adopted in the Greek copies. In calling the manifestation of Christ, such as he afterwards describes it, a “great mystery,” the reason is obvious; for this is “the height, depth, and breadth of wisdom,” which he has elsewhere mentioned, (Eph. 3:18,) by which all our senses must unavoidably be overwhelmed.

Let us now examine the various clauses in their order. He could not have spoken more appropriately about the person of Christ than in these words, “God manifested in the flesh.” First, we have here an express testimony of both natures; for he declares at the same time that Christ is true God and true man. Secondly, he points out the distinction between the two natures, when, on the one hand, he calls him God, and, on the other, expresses his “manifestation in the flesh.” Thirdly, he asserts the unity of the person, when he declares, that it is one and the same who was God, and who has been manifested in the flesh.

Thus, by this single passage, the true and orthodox faith is powerfully defended against Arius, Marcion, Nestorius, and Eutyches. There is also great emphasis in the contrast of the two words, God in flesh. How wide is the difference between God and man! And yet in Christ we behold the infinite glory of God united to our polluted flesh in such a manner that they become one.

Justified in the Spirit. As the Son of God “emptied himself,” (Philip. 2:7,) by taking upon him our flesh, so there was displayed in him a spiritual power which testified that he is God. This passage has received various interpretations; but, for my own part, satisfied with having explained the Apostle’s real meaning, as far as I understand it, I shall add nothing more. First, justification here denotes an acknowledgment of divine power; as in Ps. 19:9, where it is said, that “the judgments of God are justified,” that is, are wonderfully and absolutely perfect; and in Ps. 51:5, that “God is justified,” meaning that the praise of his justice is illustriously displayed. So also, (Matt. 11:19, and Luke 7:35,) when Christ says, that “Wisdom hath been justified by her children,” he means that they have given honour unto her; and when Luke (7:29) relates that the publicans “justified God,” he means that they acknowledged, with due reverence and gratitude, the grace of God which they beheld in Christ. What we read here has, therefore, the same meaning as if Paul had said, that he who appeared clothed with human flesh was, at the same time, declared to be the Son of God, so that the weakness of the flesh made no diminution of his glory.

Under the word Spirit, he includes everything in Christ that was divine and superior to man; and he does so for two reasons: First, because he had been humbled in “the flesh,” the Apostle now, by exhibiting the illustration of his glory, contrasts “the Spirit” with “the flesh.” Secondly, that glory, worthy of the only-begotten Son of God, which John affirms to have been seen in Christ, (John 1:14,) did not consist in outward display, or in earthly splendour, but was almost wholly spiritual. The same form of expression is used by him, (Rom. 1:3, 4,) “Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared by the power of the Spirit to be the Son of God;” but with this difference, that in that passage he mentions one kind of manifestation, namely, the resurrection.

Seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles. All these statements are wonderful and astonishing; that God deigned to bestow on the Gentiles, who had hitherto wandered in the blindness of their minds, a revelation of his Son, which had been unknown even to the angels in heaven. When the Apostle says, that he was “seen by angels,” he means that the sight was such as drew the attention of angels, both by its novelty and by its excellence. How uncommon and extraordinary the calling of the Gentiles was, we have stated in the exposition of the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians. Nor is it wonderful that it was a new spectacle to angels, who, though they knew about the redemption of mankind, yet did not at first understand the means by which it should be accomplished, and from whom it must have been concealed, in order that this remarkable display of the goodness of God might be beheld by them with greater admiration.

Obtained belief in the world. It was above all things astonishing that God made the Gentiles, who were heathens, and the angels, who held uninterrupted possession of his kingdom, to be equally partakers of the same revelation. But this great efficacy of the preached gospel was no ordinary miracle, when Christ, overcoming all obstacles, subdued to the obedience of faith those who seemed to be altogether incapable of being tamed. Certainly nothing appeared to be less probable—so completely was every entrance closed and shut up. Yet faith vanquished, but by an incredible kind of victory.

Lastly, he says that he was received into glory; that is, from this mortal and wretched life. Accordingly, as in the world, so far as related to the obedience of faith, so also in the person of Christ, the change was wonderful, when, from the mean condition of a servant, he was exalted to the right hand of the Father, that every knee may bow to him.[9]

16. The Christian hymn contained in this verse is introduced by a formula intended to intimate something of the grandeur to follow. The adverb translated Beyond all question (homologoumenōs) means by common consent, which draws attention to what all Christians hold. There is no room for manoeuvre regarding the basic facts of the faith. Some comment is needed on the expression the mystery of godliness, since this occurs nowhere else. The word mystery has already been met in verse 9 in the phrase the deep truths of faith, but here it is qualified by a word which in 2:2 appears to denote religion in general, although clearly the Christian religion is in view. But why does Paul use this unusual expression here? Perhaps the answer may be found in the implied comparison between the practical godliness previously enjoined on church officers and the inner character of its revealed secret described here.

The av, based on the Received Text, reads ‘God was manifest in the flesh’, but modern editors reject this reading in favour of ‘Who was manifest’. niv translates He appeared in a body, based on the second reading. In this reading the masculine relative is taken to refer to Christ. This is most probable. It has been suggested that Christ may have been mentioned in an earlier part of the hymn which has not been preserved in the citation. It was evidently well known and the reference would be beyond dispute.

Much of the lyrical quality of this hymn is missed in the English translation, but it is most impressive in the Greek. The first phrase celebrates the incarnation and presupposes the pre-existence of Christ, a magnificently succinct statement of a profound Christian truth. The mystery has been made known, yet how incomprehensible we discover it to be! The next line, was vindicated by the Spirit, may be regarded as parallel to the previous phrase. In that case, as the phrase en sarki (in a body) denotes the sphere of operation of the verb appeared, so en pneumati (in the Spirit) denotes the sphere of the verb vindicated. By translating the preposition en as ‘by’, niv does not follow this parallelism. If, however, the parallelism is correct, ‘spirit’ could refer to Christ’s human spirit (as in Rom. 1:4), in which case the meaning would be that God had vindicated Christ in the spiritual realm, i.e. when he declared him to be his son. If the parallelism is not enforced, the Greek preposition en could be understood instrumentally (as niv), in which case the Holy Spirit would be declared as agent in vindicating the cause of the crucified, rejected Messiah, and this idea would connect well with the first phrase. But the former interpretation on the whole seems preferable, especially in view of the repetition of the preposition en throughout the hymn.

The next phrase, was seen by angels, is obscure, for it is not certain in what sense the word angels is to be understood. If the reference is to the principalities and powers believed to rule the unseen world (cf. the word ‘elements’ used in Gal. 4:3, 9 and Col. 2:8, 20 and cf. also Col. 2:15 and Eph. 6:12), the idea would be that the triumphant Christ showed himself to his spiritual enemies. But the words may also be taken as a reference to the hosts of unfallen angels, which seems to be supported by such statements as 1 Peter 1:12 and Ephesians 3:10. The hosts of heaven are depicted as eager to receive back the exalted Son of God, but this latter thought is more clearly gathered up in the sixth phrase. At the same time the idea of angelic worshippers of the Son was a popular theme among early Christians as the book of Revelation shows. It has been suggested that an emphatic antithesis exists between the third and fourth phrases, between the revelation to angels and to the nations, both together indicating the extent of Messiah’s manifestations (cf. Bernard). But it is probably better to link the fourth and fifth phrases as parallel. The universalism of the gospel is classed next among the wonders of this mystery, and this factor would have special point for Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. It must never be forgotten that a Hebrew Christ had become a Christ for the nations. As this expression focuses on earth, so does the next, which celebrates the response to the preaching in the world. Some understand the words to mean ‘throughout the world’ and take them as indicating the consummation of gospel preaching as the previous phrase shows its commencement. But they may indicate no more than the fact that the proclaimed Messiah is received by faith in the sphere of the world (here used without moral connotations) as contrasted with the ascension in glory with which the hymn concludes.

The refrain was taken up in glory in line 6 may be regarded as parallel to was seen by angels in line 3. But if the latter phrase is understood to refer to hostile agencies, the former refrain with its triumphal allusion to the ascension would form a fitting conclusion to the whole hymn. In any case there seems to be some thread of thought linking the fifth and sixth phrases, for Christ’s triumph on earth (in the faith of his people) is concluded by his triumph in glory. The hymn could not close more suitably than with the humiliated Messiah’s exalted entry into the heavenly sphere. It is noticeable that nowhere in the hymn is the death or resurrection of Christ mentioned, a surprising thing if this letter is Paul’s own work. But if he is citing a current hymn and citing only a part, it is at least possible that the part not cited contained these great truths. The part preserved can hardly represent a complete Christian creed, and indeed is not intelligible apart from some doctrine of the cross and resurrection being assumed.[10]




“without controversy”




“without any doubt”




“no one can deny”


This is the Greek term usually used for one’s profession or confession of faith. It marks off the following lines as an early creedal affirmation.

© “great is the mystery of godliness” “Mystery” usually refers to the Gentile mission, which may be a key to v. 16. See note at 3:9. This introduces an early confessional statement or a Christian hymn. Another of these is found in 2 Tim. 2:11–13. The chiastic pattern might be: (1) A B C D E F (revealed truths about Christ); (2) AB, BA, AB (contrast between earth and heaven or humiliation and exaltation); or (3) ABC, ABC (revealed truths about Christ and His church).

CHIASTIC PATTERNS within the Bible are becoming more apparent to modern scholarship. The Companion Bible published by Kregel in 1990 and Kenneth E. Bailey’s Poet and Peasant use this approach extensively.




“He who was revealed in the flesh”




“God was manifested in the flesh”




“He was revealed in flesh”




“He appeared in human form”




“He was made visible in the flesh”


This speaks of the Incarnation (birth) of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem: His life, teachings, death, and resurrection, which fully reveal the Father (cf. John 1:14–18). There is also the strong inference of His pre-existence (cf. John 1:1–5; 8:57–58; 2 Cor. 8:4; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:17). This is the central truth of the Gospels about Jesus Christ, that He was fully God and fully human (cf. John 1:14; Phil. 2:6–8; Col. 1:14–16; 1 John 4:1–6).

There is a later Greek manuscript variant in which the relative pronoun hos is changed to theos. This later change may have occurred (1) with the confusion over OC (the abbreviations in uncial Greek for who) read as H C (the abbreviation in uncial Greek for “God”) or (2) as a purposeful theological change by later scribes (cf. MSS אe, Ac, Cc, and D2) wanting to make the text more specific against the adoptionist heresies (cf. Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, pp. 77–78).




“Was vindicated in the Spirit”




“Justified in the Spirit”




“vindicated in spirit”




“was shown to be right by the Spirit”


This phrase has been understood in several ways. Does it mean vindicated or justified? Does this mean that the Holy Spirit was active in Jesus’ ministry (NASB) or that Jesus’ spirit was affirmed by the Father (cf. Matt. 3:17; 17:5) while Jesus lived as a human being (NRSV)?

Some theologians see “Spirit” as referring to Jesus’ divinity, which was vindicated by His resurrection (cf. Rom. 1:4).

© “Seen by angels” The angels longed to know what God was doing with fallen mankind (cf. 1 Cor. 4:9; Eph. 2:7; 3:10; 1 Pet. 1:12). However, it may refer to the angels’ ministering to Jesus, either at His temptation experience (cf. Matt. 4:11; Mark 1:13), in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:43), or immediately after the resurrection (cf. Luke 24:4, 23; John 20:12).

This phrase is so short and ambiguous that several theories have been offered by commentators and all are merely speculation:

  1. angels ministering to Jesus (above)
  2. angels beholding His ascension (godly angels and/or fallen angels cf. 1 Pet 3:19–20, 22)
  3. angels beholding His exalted heavenly enthronement

© “Proclaimed among the nations” This is the worldwide preaching of the gospel which would have been extremely shocking to the Jews of the first century, but this is really the whole point (cf. Matt. 28:18–20). This is the mystery of godliness (cf. Eph. 2:11–3:13).




“Believed on in the world”




“believed in throughout the world”


Not only was it a universal message, but there was a universal response, and now the Church is made up of both Jew and Gentile. This has always been God’s plan. The one true God has fulfilled His promise of Gen. 3:15. Personal repentance and faith in the gospel now, in this life, opens heaven for “whosoever” (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9–13). See Special Topic: Paul’s Use of Kosmos at 1:16.

© “Taken up in glory” This seems to refer to His ascension. It is surprising that Jesus’ death, resurrection and return are left out, but if this was a Christian hymn, quoted possibly only in part, then it is understandable. Also, exactly which rhythmic (chiastic) pattern is followed determines one’s interpretation (cf. v. 16). This hymn/creed linked to the opening statement would powerfully refute gnosticism. The man Jesus was glorified (cf. chiastic pattern #2)! However, following the NRSV the last three lines may refer to the Church (cf. chiastic pattern #3). For a fuller note on “glory” see 1:17.[11]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 138–143). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 531–532). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 276–285). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 92–95). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, pp. 100–103). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.

[6] Barcley, W. B. (2005). A Study Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy (pp. 122–126). Darlington, England; Webster, NY: Evangelical Press.

[7] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary: Philippians–Revelation (Vol. 3, pp. 139–140). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[8] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 1 Timothy (pp. 55–56). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[9] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 91–95). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[10] Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, pp. 103–105). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[11] Utley, R. J. (2000). Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy (Vol. Volume 9, pp. 49–50). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

A Careful Analysis of Todd White’s “I Repent” Video — The Messed Up Church

Here’s a brand new video that explores the content of Todd White’s recent statements about the true Gospel that he admits he hasn’t been preaching for 16 years:

Here are some other thought-provoking videos on the same topic:

via A Careful Analysis of Todd White’s “I Repent” Video — The Messed Up Church

July—30 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion


Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldst take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?—Ruth 2:10.

My soul! dost thou not find continual causes for sending forth the same inquiry as this poor Moabite did, when thou art receiving some renewed instance of Jesus’s favour? Her heart was overwhelmed with the kindness of Boaz, in permitting her to glean only in his fields, and to eat a morsel of food with his servants; but thy Boaz, thy Kinsman-Redeemer, hath opened to thee all his stores of grace and mercy; he bids thee come and take of the water of life freely; yea, he is to thee, himself, the bread of life, and the water of life; and is now, and will be for ever thy portion, on which thou mayest feed to all eternity. When thou lookest back, and tracest the subject of his love from the beginning, in the springs and autumns of his grace; when thou takest a review of the distinguishing nature of these acts of grace; when thou takest into the account thine ingratitude, under all the sunshine of his love and favour; will not the question again and again arise, at every review, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldst take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger!” Stranger, indeed, by nature and by practice; living without God, and without Christ in the world. And, my soul, it might have been long since supposed that, after such repeated unceasing acts of grace, as Jesus hath shown, and even when thou hast caused him “to serve with thy sins, and wearied him with thy transgressions:” yet his compassions have failed not, but have been “new every morning;” it might have been supposed, that long and unceasing grace would at length have produced the blessed effect of living wholly to him, who hath so loved thee, as to give himself for thee. But, alas! the day that marks again his mercy, marks again thy rebellion; so that the heart is constrained every day to cry out, “Why have I found grace in thine eyes?” Precious Jesus! the only answer is, Because thou art, thou wilt be Jesus. Lord! I bow down to the dust of the earth, in token of my vileness, and thy unspeakable glory! It is, indeed, the glorious attribute of thy grace to poor fallen men; “the Lord delighteth in mercy. He will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers, from the days of old.”[1]


[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, p. 228). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

The Burden of a Sinful Government and the Need to Defy Caesar — Christian Blogs – Delivered By Grace

When Paul wrote to the church in the city of Rome, he labored the point of submitting to governing authorities for a reason. All authority comes from God and if we are to remain a faithful light of Christ in a dark world of rebellion, one means of consistent Christian character is faithful submission. Faithful submission to governing authorities glorifies God. Paul goes on to make the point that the government is a blessing for all people—including the church of Jesus (Rom. 13:1-7).

However, it is quite possible for the government to become a burden for the church of Jesus—and at whatever point the ruling authorities demand something from God’s people that would cause us to actively or passively disobey God—we must obey God rather than man. While our primary calling is to submit whenever possible, there are times where submission would be sinful and rebellion would be glorying to God. Wisdom and discernment is necessary at this juncture, because the stakes will be high when it’s time to rebel against the very people who bear the sword and have the authority to use it.

America and the Story of Rebellion

Four hundred years ago, in the fall of 1620, more than one hundred colonists sailed for the New World on a well-known sea vessel known as the Mayflower.  These Separatist Christians renounced the religious practices of the Church of England and believed that the Church of England was beyond redemption.  In 1630, another group would join the Separatists in the New World.  This group is known as the Puritans.

During the “Great Migration” of the 1630s, some 21,000 English settlers came to New England.  This group was made up of farmers, fisherman, merchants, lawyers, and entire families. When they came off the ship, they brought their personal belongings—including an important book. It was the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible was birthed out of the Protestant Reformation and was the very first study Bible—complete with study notes in the margins that pointed out the errors of the Roman Catholic Church.

The United States of America has a rich history of rebellion against ungodly leadership and the pursuit of religious freedom. The First Amendment of the Constitution provides us luxuries that the church in other nations do not enjoy.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We the people have freedom to exercise religion and the US Government is not free to prohibit the practice of our religion. We likewise have an ability to petition the US Government regarding grievances—which is not a luxury for the church in China.

According to the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, we have a right to form a militia and to bear arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

This is a unique freedom established from the beginning in order to have a built-in system of free rebellion against the Government in order to prevent overreach and burdensome rule that would be harmful and potentially dangerous to the welfare and religious freedom of the people in America.

Can God Be Glorified Through Rebellion?

While submission, even during difficult circumstances, is glorifying to God; is it possible to glorify God through rebellion?

When the midwives were given the charge to murder the Hebrew babies, rather than obeying the command of Pharaoh, they defied his wicked command and spared babies (Ex. 1:15-22).  The Hebrew midwives had God’s law written on their hearts and they knew that murdering those babies was wrong. At that point, they chose to obey God rather than the king.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were accused of not falling on the ground and worshipping the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, as they had been instructed to do upon hearing the music from the instruments, they were brought before the king to answer the charges and subsequently threatened with the fiery furnace. At this point, the three men responded by saying:

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Dan. 3:17-18).

In the New Testament, the apostles were arrested for preaching the gospel of Jesus (Acts 5). They were released by an angel in a miraculous covert operation, and the very next scene they’re in open defiance of the rulers by preaching the gospel in the most public venue possible—the temple. After being arrested again and threatened, they responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Five hundred years ago this year, Martin Luther was summoned to stand before the Diet of Worms to answer for his preaching and writing. After requesting for additional time to consider his answer, on the following day as he stood before the hierarchy of the Roman Empire—Luther answered with brilliant clarity by stating the following:

I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and I will not recant of anything since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.  I cannot do otherwise.  Here I stand – may God help me.  AMEN.

As Luther was being escorted out of the room the loud shouts calling for Luther’s life were ringing in his ears.  As he was taken back to his private quarters—upon entering the room he was instantly relieved that he had made his stand.  He then turned to a friend and said, “If I had a thousand heads I would rather have them all lopped off than to abandon my gospel.” The Roman Catholic Church had the authority to execute Luther. They had already done so with Jan Hus in 1415. Yet, Luther openly defied their teaching and their authority. In essence, he was standing on the shoulders of the apostles who were unwilling to disobey God in order to obey man.

Resistance Results in the Sword

Several years ago, I was in Amsterdam and I had the privilege to visit the Rijksmuseum. I was able to stand in front of the famous painting by Rembrandt known as “The Night Watch.” However, one of my most vivid memories of that museum was a painting that was hanging in an adjacent room to the Rembrandt masterpiece. It was much smaller, but it was a painting that delivered a very sobering message. The painting is a vivid picture of Herodias’ daughter holding John the Baptist’s head on a platter. It was a striking reminder of the cost of faithful preaching and the results of resistance. While the sword can be a blessing to God’s people, it can likewise become a burden.

When a wicked plot was devised and set in motion by the servants of King Darius as a trap for Daniel, he was subsequently cast into the den of lions as a result of his faithful daily prayers to God. There are consequences to disobeying laws and orders given directly by the ruling authorities. Although God is the one who places the sword in the hand of rulers—sometimes they will wield the sword in a way that is sinful and ultimately destructive. We see this with Pharaoh, Herod, and various other rulers throughout history such as Hitler and other monstrous figures who surface from time to time.

Paul would eventually be arrested for faithfully preaching the gospel of Jesus. The very man who penned Romans 13:1-7 would be imprisoned in Rome. Paul understood well that no system is perfect and that no ruler is perfect, but when possible we are called to submit to their rule and glorify God. When their rule conflicts with the rule of Christ—a different path is mandated. When the kingdom of darkness clashes with the Kingdom of Christ—we are called to bow to Christ and accept whatever consequences may come our way.

Such persecution was promised by Jesus. This allegiance to Jesus’ throne is what caused James to be cast off the pinnacle of the temple and subsequently clubbed to death, Peter to be crucified upside down on a cross, and Paul to be beheaded in the streets of Rome. Such a commitment to the kingship of Christ is what cost Polycarp his life and is likewise what caused John Bunyan to be imprisoned for 12 years in Bedford, England.

There is a cost to obeying Christ and resisting evil rulers—and yet the cost is well worth it and the persecution—even the bloodshed of saints is particularly glorifying to God.  Tertullian once said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

No matter if it’s imprisonment for “hate speech” or the loss of tax exemption status for openly defying wicked laws and defying government restrictions upon the regular gathering and worship of the local church—we must be prepared to accept whatever consequences will come our way as a result of defying Caesar.

Until Christ comes—we render unto Caesar what belongs to him, and we render unto the Lord what belongs to him. When we understand that principle properly—we see that Christ’s throne is far superior to Caesar’s throne and our ultimate commitment must be to Christ our sovereign King.

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

via The Burden of a Sinful Government and the Need to Defy Caesar — Christian Blogs – Delivered By Grace

July 30th The D. L. Moody Year Book


For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.—2 Corinthians 4:15, 16.

A MAN can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough to-day to last him for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at once to sustain life for a week to come. We must draw upon God’s boundless stores of grace from day to day, as we need it.[1]


[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (p. 129). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

Mid-Day Snapshot · July 30, 2020


“The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to controul one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controuled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society.” —James Madison (1787)

GOP, Dems Attack Big Tech, but With Differing Agendas

Republicans decry censorship, while Democrats are all about greater power for Big Government.

The Democrats’ Urban Violence Strategy: Blame Trump

Demos are fomenting civil unrest and violence — and blaming Trump for it.

The Best Case Ever for Limited Government?

Heather Mac Donald lays bare a four-month run of ruinous public-policy encroachments.

Education Pods Threaten School Union Hegemony

Unfortunately for the unions, American parents are responding by embracing innovation.

Trump Moves Troops, Romney Squeals

The president rightly wonders why we still have 36,000 troops stationed in Germany.

Biden Bodes Ill for Military Readiness

Like Barack Obama, Joe Biden would defund and depress our fighting forces.

Netflix Pushes Transgender Agenda With Kids Show

Yet another example of the insidious strategy of entertainment as indoctrination.

America’s Worldview Matters

A recent visit to the Creation Museum puts our culture battle in perspective.

When Good People Drink the BLM Kool-Aid

A Detox formula for a friend who has been emotionally hijacked by the BLM rhetoric and propaganda.

Video: Dems Demand Barr Testify, but Not Actually Talk

“Reclaiming my time” — the Democrats’ new political slogan.

Video: Sean Parnell’s Epic Congressional Political Ad

Here’s what every Republican needs to be saying about the Democrats.


Our Summer of Cultural Suicide
What Is the Truth About the Soaring COVID-19 Numbers?
Time for the Press to End Its Love Affair With Marxism
Planned Parenthood Is Still Influenced by Racist Founder
Second House ‘Minibus’ Careens Off Road Into a Fiscal, Policy Wreck
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Thursday Executive Summary

Historic GDP contraction, Portland impasse, Big Tech testimony, and more.

Thursday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Ben Shapiro, Gary Bauer, Donald Trump, and more.


For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.


For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

“The Patriot Post” (https://patriotpost.us)

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US Q2 GDP Crashes By A Record 32.9% | ZeroHedge News

The biggest question we had ahead of today’s unprecedented GDP drop was “how do we show it on a chart without losing the impact of all other prints?” Well, for better or worse, this is the best we could come up with: at -32.9% annualized, Q2 GDP just plunged by the most on record, surpassing the previous biggest drop of -10% hit in 1958.

And while the drop – which was generally priced in – was some 5 times worse than the adjusted Q1 GDP of -6.9%, it was just fractionally better than the -34.5% expected. Then again, with a third of the US economy effectively going offline in Q2, a worse outcome than during the great depression, a few percent here and there doesn’t really matter.

Some more details:

The second-quarter decrease in real GDP reflected decreases in consumer spending, exports, inventory investment, business investment, and housing investment that were partially offset by an increase in government spending. Imports, a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

That said, the biggest contributor to the overall GDP drop was the crash in consumption – the decrease in consumer spending reflected decreases in services (led by health care) and goods (led by clothing and footwear).

Breaking down the components of GDP we get the following:

  • Personal Consumption accounted for the bulk, or -25.05%, of the overall -32.9% GDP drop, and 5x more than the -4.75% Q1 GDP drop
  • Fixed Investment subtracted another -5.38% from Q2 GDP, far worse than the modest -0.23% drop in Q1. Nonresidential fixed investment, or spending on equipment, structures and intellectual property fell 27% in 2Q after falling 6.7% prior quarter
  • Change in Private Inventories subtracted another -3.98%, 3x more than the -1.34% in Q1
  • Net Exports contributed 0.68% to GDP, consisting of a -9.38% drop from Exports offset by a 10.06% boost from imports. The decrease in exports primarily reflected a decrease in goods (led by capital goods).
  • Government consumption was a paltry 0.82%, up from 0.22% in the previous quarter

For those following the PCE data, the GDP price index fell 1.8% in 2Q after rising 1.4% prior quarter; core PCE q/q fell -1.1% in 2Q after rising 1.6% in the prior quarter.

Meanwhile, even though we already knew this, real disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income adjusted for taxes and inflation—increased 44.9% in the second quarter after increasing 2.6% in the first quarter. The increase in DPI was more than accounted for by an increase in personal current transfer receipts – i.e., government social benefits. Personal saving as a percent of disposable personal income was 25.7 percent in the second quarter, compared with 9.5 percent in the first quarter.

That said, the GDP collapse was expected, and in fact may be spun as “better than expected.” The real question is what happens next, and is Q3 the V-shaped recovery quarter. Alas, as both the Fed yesterday, and we showed last week, the high frequency data indicate that the US economy peaked  in late June and is once again rolling over.


Source: US Q2 GDP Crashes By A Record 32.9%

All 50 U.S. states issue warnings about unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be from China

All 50 U.S. states have issued warnings regarding unsolicited packages of seeds sent to residents across the country from China.

Source: All 50 U.S. states issue warnings about unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be from China

Communists Use COVID as Pretext for Persecution: Xi’s China Church Crackdown Worse Than Under Mao — Faithwire


By Gary Lane

Christians in China say the latest wave of persecution against them is worse than what the church experienced during the height of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Christians have suffered ongoing pressures under President Xi Jinping, but they say government oppression has intensified since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year.

July 22nd, 2020: A loud knock on the door could be heard at the home of a woman in China’s Xiamen city.  She told the police outside they could not enter her home without a permit.

Moments later, they destroy the lock and entered anyway, breaking up what the government said was an illegal meeting.

Four days later, on Sunday, July 26th, government workers removed the cross from the roof of Small River Christian Church in Xinfeng county, Jiangxi province.

These are just two recent examples – both incidents that occurred just days ago in the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on Christians and their churches.

China Aid President Bob Fu said this wave of persecution actually began in 2015, but now the Chinese Communist Party has a new excuse for targeting Christians.

“Now under this pretext of Covid-19 coronavirus,  the Chinese Communist Party  has intensified its persecution by banning all the church activities – even those worship services, prayer meetings in believers’ own homes with their own family members.”

The government has also used this as an excuse to arrest Christians who called for on-line prayer meetings.

CBN has reported on the removal of crosses from church buildings and this month it picked up steam. In addition to the Small River Church cross removal, on July 7th more than 100 Public Security Bureau (PSB) police and others were sent to oversee the demolition of crosses at Aodi Christian Church and Yinchang Christian Church in China’s Zhejiang province.

Security guards reportedly beat Christians who tried to stop the cross removals. Church members said those injured included a man in his eighties, violently pushed to the ground.

And on July 5th, police interrupted services at Guilin Enguang Church, arresting church elders.

Hours later, church members sang hymns outside the Seven Star Public Security Bureau station as they awaited the release of their leaders.

Fu said it is all a part of a new campaign of Sinicization which means Christians are only considered to be good citizens if they adhere to communist ideology.

“Ironically  Xi Jinping’s portrait was even put on the church pulpit along with Chairman Mao and the first line item of worship by the government-sanctioned church before Covid-19 was to sing the Communist Party National Anthem,” Fu explained.

Examples go beyond churches. In Fuzhou city, a Catholic family was forced out of their government-subsidized housing after they refused to remove religious icons from their home.

And China’s Religious Affairs Bureau (RAB)  has banned “religious funeral ceremonies” and preaching in funeral places.

Meanwhile, Christians aren’t the only ones suffering. Ethnic Uyghurs from East Turkistan – a region the Chinese government calls Xinjiang – are under attack.

“China is home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time. It is truly the stain of the century,”  US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted.

The US Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) goes further, calling it genocide.

For years, the Chinese government has forced Uyghur women to undergo abortions. Now a new development.

The President of the East Turkistan Government in Exile told me on the Global Lane that China is also conducting forced sterilization.

“Hundreds of thousands of Uyghur and other Turkic women have been forcibly sterilized by the Chinese government. China has a long-standing policy of forcibly aborting Uyghur and other Turkic babies. In fact, according to the Chinese government, between 1979 and 2009  they prevented  3.7-million illegal births in East Turkistan.”

Also, Hudayar and the US Department of Defense said China has forcibly detained as many as 3-million Uyghur in re-education and forced labor camps.

“Beijing described Xijiang’s internment camps as vocational training camps. New reports of forced abortions and sterilizations add to a body of evidence that contradicts that,” Pompeo explained.

The US State Department has alerted corporate CEO’s and others about China’s use of Uyghur slave labor so they won’t become involved. Meanwhile, the East Turkistan Government in Exile is taking its case to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But whether it is the persecution of Uyghurs or Christians, China’s communist government is likely to ignore international outrage – describing it as “foreign interference” in Chinese internal affairs.

via Communists Use COVID as Pretext for Persecution: Xi’s China Church Crackdown Worse Than Under Mao — Faithwire

King Dollar Is Testing Strong Support, Gold Bulls Hoping For A Trend Change! — Kimble Charting Solutions

The past several weeks have seen the US Dollar decline sharply and the Euro and Aussie dollar rally.

These swift moves have helped push gold to new highs.

But they have also brought this trio of currencies to a critical juncture, reflected in the charts above. The US Dollar is testing trend support at (1) while the Euro and Aussie Dollar are testing trend resistance at (2).

Currencies Face Big tests of Support and Resistance!

So will these short-term moves end here and allow the broader trend to continue?

Or will the US Dollar break down and Euro / Aussie Dollar breakout higher, causing major trend changes?

Metals want/need to see King Dollar break support and the Euro/Aussie dollar breakout? If these long-term trends do not change, odds are high metals are near a peak in prices.

This article was first written for See It Markets.com. To see the original post CLICK HERE. 

via King Dollar Is Testing Strong Support, Gold Bulls Hoping For A Trend Change! — Kimble Charting Solutions

It’s Official: America Is Following China’s Lead – Contact Tracing Is Here – Say Goodbye to Freedom and Hello to State Control — The Gateway Pundit

In May we reported on our concerns with contact tracing and our loss of freedom as a result of this practice.  We reported that contact tracers will track you and tell you what you can and cannot do. You will be a puppet of the state. You must do what they say for the greater good. Freedom will be lost forever.

We reported that Democrat states were promoting the idea of “contact tracing” and when you realize what it is, you will think you are living in Orwell’s 1984.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot cheered the news that Chicago was hiring 600 tracers to track its citizens using the coronavirus as the excuse.  We then shared an excellent video (which has now been taken down by YouTube) that explained the madness behind contact tracing. In the video the following points were made:

  1. Of course John Hopkins offers contact tracer training (connected to the scary overboard coronavirus chart)
  2. Based on you coming in contact with a person who has COVID-19 you will be placed in total isolation for 10 days
  3. If you have no way of not sharing a bathroom you will need to be isolated
  4. If you are quarantined you will be isolated for 14 days
  5. A contact tracer will take care of your kids but you cannot leave your house
  6. If you eat at a restaurant and someone was found with COVID you will be quarantined
  7. Big government will video conference you and review your place to make sure you are isolated
  8. If you contract it your family will have to be quarantined for 14 days and completely isolated
  9. If you were on a train, at work or in a restaurant then everyone near you will have to be quarantined
  10. They say this is voluntary but will arrest you if you don’t comply
  11. You could be quarantined again, and again, and again
  12. Training encourages contact tracers to know you are doing this for the greater good
  13. The government will mandate you to take vaccines
  14. Apple phones are now upgraded to manage your phone for COVID contact tracing
  15. In India you have to show your app before getting on a train or taking a flight, etc.
  16. New Zealand has a code that will clear you based on your app status

The government is asking for $100 billion to manage this process and force you to take vaccinations – (the video has also been removed by YouTube).

Communist China

Communist China is the role model for contact tracing.  Imagine a world where you can only enter a restaurant, business, taxi or any public or private entity based on your contact tracing score.  This is happening in China now.

According to Nowtheendbegins.com (picture above from their site), China is now implementing contact tracing:

Restaurants and malls are open, but to enter, customers have to activate a health code on their smartphones. The code tracks their movements and determines whether they have been to any risky places. Only those with green codes are allowed in. Many offices insist on green codes, too. A red code, or even an amber one, is the scarlet letter of 2020. You can have concerns about privacy, or you can have a functioning life. You can’t have both. Security guards with temperature guns man the gates at supermarkets and residential compounds, pointing them at the wrists of every person who wants to enter.

Of course, the ratings of individuals are determined by unnamed and unseen individuals.  Your phone tells them where you are.  Your access to everyday life is dependent on the state and how they rate you.  Someone, somewhere is allowing you to leave your house or not.  You can only do so with their permission.


We received an email from a concerned citizen (who we will keep anonymous) from Texas who believes the state is now gearing up for contact tracing.  The individual received a call from a number unknown to them that said the following:

The problem is the individual has not traveled recently and has barely left the house.  The call came from an unknown number and with the above voice message directing the individual to stay home for 14 days after arriving in Texas.  (The individual never left Texas).

After responding to the call and calling the number from which it came, the individual was directed to an individual claiming to be from the Texas DSHS (Department of State Health Services). Later in the day the individual received a response from the main DSHS email address stating that they did not have access to the information but a call from the number supplied would have been from their contact tracing team, ” trying to reach you.”

To think that this massive invasion of privacy is due to a virus that attacks only the elderly and sick and has a seven times less chance of killing a child than the flu!  Welcome to the world of contact tracing – say goodbye to privacy and freedom. 

via It’s Official: America Is Following China’s Lead – Contact Tracing Is Here – Say Goodbye to Freedom and Hello to State Control — The Gateway Pundit

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