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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, June 25, 2021

1 Timothy 4:1-6 (L 17)


Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                             Published: June 25, 2021

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).


1 Timothy 4:1-6 (L 17)

Welcome back to HBS y’all.  I pray each one of you is actively participating in this study of God’s Word, rightly divided, by checking my work (words) to ensure they are in line with what God actually said in “the dispensation of the Grace of God.”  When you do, you’re well on your way to becoming a faithful student of God’s Word.

Let’s Review.

Paul closed chapter three writing about “the mystery of godliness.”  I draw your attention to the fact that in verse 3:9 Paul mentioned: “the mystery of the faith,” and all things considered both of these go together naturally.  Moreover, “the mystery of godliness” here stands against “the mystery of iniquity” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and as “the mystery of iniquity” (lawlessness) doth already work,” so too does “the mystery of godliness.”  Lawlessness is present now, you don’t need me to tell you that, but it will culminate in the deeds of “that man of sin… the son of perdition;  This truth was a “mystery” until the risen Lord revealed it to and through Paul.

All this brings to mind a Bible personality, namely, Satan for most people, even Christians, are unaware of his true character.  He is not the grotesque creature seen in public ads, and he’s not portrayed accurately on T.V. programs and in the movies.  In Ephesians 2:2, Paul identified him as , “the prince the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  Unseen, but not unfelt, he incites people to “lawlessness” (rebellion) against God.  Moreover, in 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul wrote: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” so that they might be saved.  We, i.e., the saved saints in Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:1), were once “the children (huios in Koine Greek meaning grown sons) of disobedience” and therefore, “by nature the children (teknon = born ones) of wrath,”  But now, by His Grace, through faith, we have come to know and be known by God (Galatians 4:9).  This, likewise, has been accomplished, not in some dramatic, outward way, there was no confetti parade, but by the quiet inward working of God the Spirit. 

In contrast to “the mystery of lawlessness,” then, we have here “the mystery of godliness.” FYI: Godliness is the subject of chapter 3 and ungodliness is the subject of chapter 4.  Godliness, of course, is personified in the Lord Jesus Christ, as lawlessness will one day be embodied in Antichrist.  So, once again, by simply reading 1 Timothy 3:16, and not adding or taking anything away from it, the passage does not refer to Christ’s Incarnation or His deity, but to godliness ergo: “great is the mystery of godliness.”  Godliness, in this world that has literally declared war on God, is indeed “a great mystery;” only those who are saved recognize it.  When the Body of Christ is taken up and away from this earth at the Rapture, both “the mystery of godliness” and “the mystery of iniquity” will have run their course on earth.  Then the next event on God’s timeline is the Tribulation (Daniel 9:24-27; Joel 2:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12).

Let us with one voice thank God the Father, that while “the mystery of iniquity” does its work among those who “receive not the love of the truth,” the Word of God too, is doing its work in redeemed hearts as we read in 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”


Please open your Bible at 1 Timothy chapter 4:1-6. 

The Great Apostasy

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.  If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

Verse 4:1.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the (one) faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Which “Latter Times” Would That Be?

That’s a good question.  The prophetic Scriptures have much to say about the “last,” or latter “days” and “times.”  It is clear, however, that Paul does not refer to the “latter times” of prophecy, for these had begun at Pentecost and were graciously interrupted just as sin had risen to its height (the nation of Israel had rejected the Godhead in totality with their rejection of Stephen’s Spirit-filled message – see Acts 2:23, 7; Romans 11), and the judgment of God, i.e., “the day of the Lord” was, according to prophecy, about to be realized.  Nothing can be clearer than the words of Spirit-filled Peter at Pentecost: “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:16-17).

What did the prophet Joel predict re: “the last days?”  I see three things: 

1) The Spirit of God would be “poured out” upon those who are His.

2) God’s judgment would be “poured out” upon those who are not His, i.e., His enemies (Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32).

3) Because the world-at-large has declared war on God there are but two encampments in this world.  There’s the enemy camp and then there’s the friendly camp.  You can be one or the other, but you can’t be as Switzerland, i.e., neutral.  Thus, an individual is either an enemy of God (an unbeliever) or you are God’s own, i.e., a Believer.  No fence-sitting is permitted for no decision is a decision.

Without doubt the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) was poured out upon His apostles just as the Lord Jesus Christ promised (John 14;16; Acts 1:2, 4-8), but the predicted judgment of God upon His enemies did not, has not yet, come to pass.  Instead, when the nation of Israel rejected the kingdom and the Messiah (her King), all was ready for the judgment to become a reality.  But God,” in infinite grace, saved Saul of Tarsus, the leader of the rebellion against the workings of God, and sent him forth as both the herald and the living demonstration of His infinite grace.  Saul/Paul was used of God to usher in a parenthetical period of time known previously only by God until He revealed it by revelation to the Apostle Paul.  We know this to be “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24; Galatians 1:11-24;  Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:1-4).

As part of God’s eternal purpose, Israel’s prophetic program was interrupted; the establishment of the prophesied and literal 1,000 year kingdom on earth was now held in abeyance, and the nation of Israel, although still the apple of God’s eye, as it were, was placed on hold temporarily, “…until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Luke 21:24; Romans 11:15, 25-32).     

Thus, Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 4:1, is not referencing the latter times of prophecy, but “the latter times” of the dispensation of God’s grace.  In the latter times of prophecy there were to be specific signs heralding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth to make war and then to reign as Israel’s King.  Some of these signs were: the appearance of the Antichrist, the signing of the peace treaty with Israel and her enemies, the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (it won’t be as grandeur as the previous structure but it will be functional and operational), and the defiling of that very temple, the sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood, and so on.  It is with respect to some of these signs of Messiah’s return to earth, the mount of Olives to be exact, that the Israelites were told: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28; Zechariah 14:4). 

That being said and supported by Scripture, thus, understood to be true, there are no specific signs that herald the close of the dispensation of the grace of God or the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds to catch-away the Body of Christ (His Church) from the earth (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  The dispensation of grace is timeless; there isn’t even a hint as to how long it will last.  Rest assured the Age of Grace will not continue on endlessly.  But every day is a day of grace, pure grace, and God’s grace is enhanced by the very apostasy which began in the days of the apostles and has continued to the present day.  To Paul the apostasy was already close at hand, and he instructed pastor Timothy as to what to do about it but God, slow to anger and rich in mercy, has allowed it to continue for centuries.

When Paul speaks of the “latter times,” then, he refers to the latter times of the dispensation of grace, speaking of trends rather than of specific events, and leaving the coming of Christ for His saints always imminent and the evangelization and salvation of the lost most urgent (2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Ephesians 5:15-17).  Of these “latter times,” and the apostasy associated with them, the Holy Spirit had “spoken expressly,” through Paul, as in Acts 20:29-31, where he reminded the Ephesian elders that for three years he had warned them “night and day with tears,” that serious spiritual defection from “the truth” of God’s Word was on their doorstep, and that’s what happened.    

Since the dispensation of the grace of God is a parenthesis, a dispensation within a dispensation, so to speak, we should consider briefly the Apostle Peter’s comments on the subject found in 2 Peter 3.  Peter, at Pentecost, had offered the return of the Christ to earth if his brethren would repent of their evil deed (See Acts 2:23, 30-31, 38, 3:19-21).  But with all his preaching, and the preaching of the other apostles, Israel as a nation remained obstinate and unrepentant.  The other thing Peter couldn’t help but notice was the Messiah had not returned to the Mount of Olives as the two angels said He would after His ascension, when he wrote his epistles years later (Acts 1:10-13).  Peter, therefore, knowing that the “last days” of prophecy had begun, looked upon the dispensation of grace as a reprieve, a time-out, if you will, for the unbelieving Jews, so he instructed his people to look to the Apostle Paul for guidance re: spiritual matters. Thus, some 27 years after Pentecost, he prepared his Jewish brethren in advance with regard to this delay writing:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:8-18).

That’s a lot of info but I think it’s necessary for you to know these things going forward. 

God’s Infinite Grace

This element of timelessness is important in the consideration of the continued absence of our Lord and the delay in His coming for us, His Church, the members of His body.  I reiterate for emphasis, some people believe and teach that the Rapture of the Lord’s saints will not occur at all, that it takes place mid-Tribulation, or at the end of the Tribulation, even though Paul has much to say about this Church event that draws nearer with each passing hour.  I say that because we know it’s coming, we just don’t know when.  So, don’t confuse “the day of the Lord” with “the day of Christ.”  The phrase “the day of Christ” or “the day of the Lord Jesus” is unique to our Apostle Paul.  He also called the day of Christ “that day” in his last letter to pastor Timothy.  The phrases are found in 1 Corinthians 1:8, 3:13, 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6, 10, 2:16; and 2 Timothy 1:18, 4:8. 

The phrase “the day of the Lord” (also called “that day”) is common throughout the O.T.  The prophets referred constantly to it.  In the N.T., the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul, and Peter spoke of it.  Some of the passages are: Isaiah 2:12, 13:6, 9, 34:8; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 11, 31, 3;14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14:1; Malachi 4:5; Matthew 24:1-51; Acts 2:20; Romans 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:10;  and “that day” Isaiah 2:11, 17, 20, 3:18.  This day, according to Scripture, is a time of darkness, wrath, and terror like the world has never experienced before.  It is a “day of visitation” (Isaiah 10:3), a “day of the wrath of the Lord” (Ezekiel 7:19), it’s the “great and terrible day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31). 

Looking again at Peter’s words above, what is his explanation for the continued absence of Israel’s Messiah?  It is not “slackness,” slow to act, he said, but “longsuffering” i.e., patience (2 Peter 3:9).  God, unlike us if we’re being honest, is not indifferent to the passage of time and He’s fully aware of the wickedness that permeates this world.  But, as Peter said, the Lord Jesus Christ is “longsuffering” (Psalm 86:15; Romans 2:4).  So then, this delay (identified as the dispensation of the grace of God), does not in any way imply that “God our Savior” (1 Timothy 1:1) is apathetic, forgetful, negligent, or weak, as the false teachers of Peter’s day were proclaiming.  Scripture teaches us that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present, i.e., Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent.  While these three terms are not found in Scripture, the meaning behind each term is certainly applicable to God.  The prefix omni means “all” and is used in the formation of compound words.  Potent means power.  Science means knowledge.  Presence means space.  Adding the prefix omni or “all” to each of the preceding three words captures the all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present nature of God when applied to His Person or Personality.

So then, in 2 Peter 3:9 Peter continues to answer if not rebuke the false message of the men who were actively working among the Jewish Believers trying their best to undermine the apostle’s ministry.  With scorn in their words, they asked, "Where is this coming Jesus promised?"  They say it's been too long, so Christ is not coming.  But in verse 3:8, Peter urged his readers to remember that the Lord is not bound by human time.  For God, a thousand years is like a day and vice versa.  Peter's point is that God does not suffer the limitations of time the way mankind does.  Peter insists that we cannot apply human demands about time to the promises of God saying, “He is not slow in keeping His promise.”  God is the one who made the schedule: thus, He cannot be late.  Instead, God keeps every promise and His timing is always exact.  He’s not a minute early and He’s not a minute late.  Peter’s declaration re: the Lord’s “longsuffering,” then, speaks of God’s infinite grace in this dispensation, that is, His pure grace.  For God is not willing that any should perish or experience “the second death” - “And account that the longsuffering (patience) of our Lord is salvation;” (2 Peter 3:15). 

Then, we note in the very next verse (3:16) Peter declared that Paul, “in all his epistles,” speaks of “these things.”  Thus, we learn Peter’s message had concerned the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (not to receive His saints in the clouds at the Rapture), but to war against His enemies and then rule and reign as Israel’s King on the earth, as promised.

The Future Throne of King David

As promised in the Davidic Covenant, despite Israel’s unfaithfulness and backsliding, the throne of David endures forever.  So what happens in the future?  Before the birth of Jesus, Mary received the following promise: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).

This divine promise is usually ignored or given a symbolic interpretation by the institutionalized church.  In just about every church in this land, and elsewhere, people have been taught to pray the Lord’s prayer and in that prayer the Lord taught His disciples to pray for the promised kingdom on earth, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven… ” (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4).  Millions of Christians unknowingly pray for this promised kingdom every time they pray The Lord’s Prayer.”

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed His disciples to pray for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.  This kingdom was a kingdom in which Israel would be supreme among the nations (Deuteronomy 28:1-13).  It’s hard to miss this fact for there are hundreds of Bible verses in the O.T. that speak of this kingdom.  One will search the Scriptures in vain to find any record that the LORD God (Jehovah) promised the Jews a place in heaven.  Rather, their future hope was and is still today earthly in nature. 

The Kingdom of God will indeed be established in the millennial age, as prayed in the Lord’s prayer, whether you pray for it or not.  It was a promise of God to His chosen people, the Jews, and God does not break or renege on His promises.  But here’s the thing, “the church of the living God,” i.e., the Body of Christ, is not included in this prophesied kingdom on earth (Isaiah 9:7; Zechariah 14:9) for God’s promises to His Church on heavenly in scope.  Because the true Believer is positioned in Christ Jesus the very moment they believe Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) God sees them as already in heaven.  Let’s see what Scripture has to say about this: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (made us alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together (where?) in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Most sincere Believers, poorly taught in the Word of God, rightly divided, are concerned about getting to heaven.  I know more than a few who are wondering if they are truly saved, even after being in a church denomination for many years.  So, let’s be clear, as far as God is concerned, if you heard/read Paul’s gospel and in faith believed (nothing else is required), your citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  You have been “made accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6); God has given you a positionin Christ” and that’s permanent, i.e., eternal. 

As the Lord Jesus Christ took sinful mankind’s place on Calvary’s cross, God now sees the true Believer “in Christ,” seated at His own right hand, the place of favor and honor.  This is why the Apostle Paul says to every Believer in Christ: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

And all this by the God’s infinite grace:

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” (2 Timothy 1:9-10).

So then, as the Apostle Peter’s message had concerned the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to judge and then to reign as Israel’s long-promised King, or His Second Coming to the earth, Paul’s message concerned the continued absence of the Lord Jesus Christ and His extended session in heaven as the great Dispenser of grace to a doomed world in need of salvation, “until the fullness of the gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25) and this too, said Paul, was “a mystery” until the Lord revealed it to him and then to the world through Paul.  The fact of the matter is having recognized Paul as the apostle of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Galatians 2:9; 2 Peter 3:15-16), and all his writings Scripture, Peter closed his second epistle with this exhortation: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and for ever.  Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). 

These are Peter’s last recorded words.

We’ve used up our allotted time for today, so please bookmark your Bible.  We’ll pick up this Bible lesson from here next week. 

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Friday, June 18, 2021

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (L 16)


Home Bible Study©

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

WWW. 2Tim215.Net 

Established November 2008                                             Published: June 18, 2021 

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).


Welcome to HBS.   

For the benefit of y’all, especially those who have recently partnered with our verse-by-verse study of God’s Word, rightly divided, I offer this brief summary of 1 Timothy. 

The Author And Date

The Apostle Paul, as directly named in 1 Timothy 1:1 is the author.  He wrote 1 Timothy circa 62-63 AD from Macedonia (most likely from Philippi) after being released from his 1st Roman imprisonment and prior to his 2nd and final Roman imprisonment (Acts 24-28; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).

The Recipient

1 Timothy is one of only four letters in the N.T. written by Paul to individuals.  The others are 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.  Timothy was the only person to receive two individual letters from Paul in the N.T.  Timothy was from Lystra, in modern-day Turkey, the son of a Greek father and Jewish mother.  His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were women of faith (2 Timothy 1:5).  They taught Timothy the O.T, Scriptures from his youth (2 Timothy 3:15).  He was led to the Lord by Paul in Lystra (1:2).  In Acts 16:1–5, we learn that the brethren in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.  Paul wanted to take Timothy on his 2nd Missionary Journey, but he was not circumcised.  Paul had him circumcised not because of the Mosaic Law but to prevent Jewish malcontents from causing them trouble along the way.  Thus, Timothy became one of Paul’s companions on his 2nd Missionary Journey.

Timothy would be with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment.  When 1 Timothy was written, however, Timothy was in Ephesus, serving as a pastor among the various house churches that existed then.  His work included evangelism, teaching, appointing elders and deacons, and standing firm against false teaching.  Paul wrote to outline his responsibilities in the Church and to encourage him in “these things.”


This six-chapter epistle focuses both on Timothy and his work among the church members at Ephesus.  The book of Ephesians discusses this assembly in more detail.

Chapter 1 includes the usual Pauline greeting followed by three areas of emphasis: a warning against false teachings (1:3–11), Paul’s testimony (1:12–17), and his words of encouragement to Timothy, “his own son in the faith” (1:18–20).

Chapter 2 discusses two areas of importance to the Ephesian Believers under Timothy’s care: the role of prayer in the church, and teachings re: the role of women in the Church.

Chapter 3 focuses on three areas: qualifications of elders (3:1–7), qualifications of deacons (3:8–13), and emphasis on the importance of the Church of Christ in the world (3:14–16).

Chapter 4 highlights various dangers in the local house church, while chapters 5-6 highlight duties among various groups of people.  These included the aged and the younger “men” (5:1–2), widows (5:3–16), spiritual leaders (5:17–25), masters and servants (6:1–2), and false teachers (6:3–5).  1 Timothy 6:6–19 addresses the relationship between godliness and finances, and concludes with a word for Timothy to “keep that which is committed to thy trust…” (6:20–21).


Please open your Bible at 1 Timothy 3:14-16.

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.  And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 

The Mystery of Godliness

First things first; it should be understood by all that in 1 Timothy, chapter 3, Paul tendered the standards of character and conduct which should be found in a bishop/elder/pastor and a deacon.  It should also be understood if all of these qualifications were fully met, the situation in the Church of Christ would be ideal today.  But we know it is not.  The fact is there are none who qualify in every way and few, if any, who meet every single one of these qualifications.  The fact of the matter is if we waited for men who fully qualify for these offices in the Church in every way, we would have no spiritual leadership at all.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?  Think about it.  Did Saul/Paul meet all the qualifications of an apostle?  Not so much.  He wasn’t part of the Lord’s ministry to the nation of Israel starting with the “baptism of John” (Acts 1:21-22). What’s more, before his calling he was the main persecutor of those Jews who believed in Jesus’ name, i.e., the gospel of the kingdom (Acts 8:26-38).  So, one would think he would be the last person on earth God would choose to be His steward of the mystery of the Grace of God (Acts 9; Galatians 1:11-17; Ephesians 3:1-9).  In today’s thinking, it would be like picking Osama Bin Laden to be the Prime Minister of Israel.  Based on logic and history that would not end well.  But God did choose Saul of Tarsus and made him His chosen vessel to use for the remainder of his lifetime (Acts 9:15).  So, the truth of the matter is God uses ordinary people for extraordinary things for His glory not ours.  Said differently, the Lord doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies those He calls. 

Clearly said, men do not enter or graduate from seminary with all these qualifications. Therefore, how much better for the pastor-to-be and the deacon under consideration to have a keen sense of their inadequacy from the start having this attitude, “By the grace of God I will do my very best from this day on to fulfill all these qualifications to the glory of God.”  Yet, as insufficient as we all most certainly are, the Lord has made us more than adequate to meet the qualifications of these church offices.  Isn’t that what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (Colossians 1:11).

Verse 3:14.

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

What “things?”  The answer: some say this means everything Paul wrote starting with 1 Timothy 3:1.  Others hold the phrase, “These things I write unto thee” takes us all the way back to Paul’s opening salutation at 1 Timothy 1:1.  The case could be argued with either one, but I hold Paul meant the latter. 

“…hoping to come unto thee shortly:” – there’s no disputing this statement.  It is evident that while Paul “hoped” to come to Ephesus shortly to see Timothy, he was not certain of it.  All (without a doubt) depended on what Caesar’s verdict would be.  As we know from Scripture, Paul was “delivered out of the mouth of the lion” and did, for a time, enjoy a period of freedom before being arrested again.  He would never experience freedom again (2 Timothy 4:17).  Paul was executed in Rome circa 67-68 AD. According to ancient sources such as Clement, Dionysius, Eusebius and Tertullian, Paul was executed by beheading, a death befitting a Roman citizen, which he certainly was.

Thus, Paul wrote this epistle, as he said, “…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (verse 3:15).

Here I want to point out to y’all many religious people misunderstand Paul’s very important message above.  I say this because I’ve experienced what I’m about to say. 

Drawing from two decades of Catholicism I recall that when entering the local church immediately there was a sense of reverence or awe.  I note we first dipped a hand into the holy water provided, made the sign of the cross, walked to a vacate pew but before entering and sitting down, we genuflected (took a knee).  This is because we were taught the church is God’s house and the auditorium (place of worship) is His holy sanctuary, i.e., the place He dwells.  This edict, and others, came from Rome the headquarters of the Roman Catholic faith and were not to be trifled with.  As sincere and religious sounding as this might be, these folks are actually living in another dispensation, when the LORD God (Jehovah) actually had a physical temple on earth and His presence occupied its sanctuary (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:43). 

That being said the truth of the matter is no physical building on earth can properly be called “the house of God” in this dispensation of the grace of God.  In verse 3:15, Paul said “the house of God” today is “the church of the living God,” and “the church” is not a building I don’t care how big or how opulent it may be.  I want to also point out at this time, one of the most misunderstood terms in Scripture is the word “church.”   In the street-language of Paul’s day, i.e., in Koine Greek, the term “church” is the word “ekklesia,” pronounced: ek-klay-see'-ah; Strong’s Greek #1577, and generally means: a people called out of the world and to God; an assembly of Believers.  

For example, Scripture says Barnabas and Saul met with “the church” in Antioch: “And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church (ekklesia), and taught much people” (Acts 11:26b).

And in 1 Corinthians 15:9 Paul wrote: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church (ekklesia) of God.”

The word in the N.T.  is also used to refer to any assembly of people such as the Jewish nation, “the church (ekklesia) in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38), the convening of citizens for the purpose of deliberating (Acts 19:39), and to discuss legal matters pertaining to the Mosaic Law (15:6 ).  But here’s the thing, when Paul refers to “the church” of today, i.e., in the dispensation of the Grace of God, “the house of the living God,” is the true Church, an assembly of Believers, the Body of Christ, in which God dwells by His Spirit (Colossians 1:24-27).  This is why, in Ephesians 2:19-22, the Bible student reads that those who have been reconciled to God through Christ Jesus are built into this living (organic) building:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the (holy) Spirit ” (See 1 Corinthians 6:19, 12:12-14 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

I reiterate for emphasis, “the church of the living God” today is organic (a living, breathing organism) and not an organization.  An organism carries the implication of something that’s alive; it has a head and a body, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Head, if you’re a true Believer, you are part and parcel of “the one body  (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18), and it all derives from Him.  Whereas with an organization, anyone can put one of those together.  One of the problems with that concept is people begin to trust in the organization’s ability and apply techniques to make it more successful.  Sadly, many pastors today act like CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) of a corporation and they manage their church as though that’s what it is.

Then there are church bodies, whether it’s the Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterian gatherings, and the like, they all have their centralized headquarters.  And one of the dangers that I have witnessed first-hand in local fellowships I’ve attended is those men who are selected to be an “elder” or a “deacon,” tend to be people who are more outgoing, successful in business, successful in life, and maybe they have a money or access to money, and they would be good to have on the inside of their organization for the sake of future contributions, and so forth.  

In mentioning all this I’m not trying to muddy any church’s reputation I’m merely citing the difference between an organism and an organization (corporation).  An organism is a living body . . . ; the church is called His body, Christ’s body, and He’s the Head, and we really need to draw our life, our strength, our direction, from Him, and, of course, He has given us His Word to guide us.  And it’s a tragedy when we begin to look beyond His Word, or abandon His Word altogether, as we rely on ourselves to come up with ideas on how to make our church grow in number, and make it more  

effective or acceptable to others, and that’s usually accomplished by watering-down the Word of God so as to make it more palatable to those in attendance.  This might be a sound marketing strategy for the overall health of a corporation but not with “the church of the living God” and Paul cites why that is below:

Verse 3:15b.

“…which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 

Here, with the local Church in mind, Paul used an interesting symbol to describe a basic function of the Lord’s Church on earth.  He referred to it as  the pillar and ground…” or “the pillar and support of the truth.”  The implication, then, is “the church of the living God” is to stand firm as a witness to His divine Truths.  It is not to hide it, or alter it, or water it down for expediency’s sake; it is to stand, alone if need be, but tall and bold as God’s witness to the truth revealed from heaven. 

This Bible verse is a serious subject requiring serious consideration here at the close of chapter three in which the responsibilities of the bishops and the deacons are listed.  Great responsibility rests upon men of God to seek only to know “the truth,” rightly divided, to obey it, and to make it known to others in “the household of faith” and those without (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 4:4-6). 

I firmly believe one of the questions the Lord Jesus Christ will ask each saved Believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ is “What did you do with My Word?”  For the saved Believer has been entrusted with God’s Word and the ministry of reconciliation: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us (insert your name here if you know Christ Jesus as your Savior) the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Corinthians 5:18). 

What does this mean?  I’m glad you asked because, as for me, I never knew this verse existed until I began studying God’s Word.  I’m saying I didn’t hear or know of many things of God, including the ministry of reconciliation, while attending the Catholic Church even though I spent 20 years of my life in that organization.  Thus, based on my experience this might be the only place you’ll hear it.  That’s why I take the time to explain it to y’all now.

We are commissioned by the resurrected and ascended Lord of glory to tell those in need of salvation, that all obstacles separating sinful man from a holy God were dismantled by the cross of Christ, (Romans 5:8), so that all who remain alienated from their Redeemer, through pride or ignorance, foolishness or folly, carnality or unbelief, unbelief or rebellion may hear the wonderful news of salvation, sanctification, glorification, justification unto eternal life “and be ye reconciled to God.”

It is not God's will that anyone should perish but that all come to faith in Jesus through Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16, 16:25-27).  And so, He has made us His witnesses, His ambassadors for Christ here on earth where the spiritual battle rages.  He has given us the ongoing ministry of reconciliation so that all who trust in Jesus for the salvation may be reconciled to God.  It is as if God Himself were making an appeal to the lost… through us.  And this is one of main differences between Law and Grace.  The Law says “do this” “don’t do that…”  Whereas God’s Grace, in the dispensation of grace, pleads, literally begs the lost, “be ye reconciled to God.”

Just as Jesus reconciled us to Himself... so we have been entrusted with the word of reconciliation.  We have been entrusted with the responsibility of telling the unsaved the glorious gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), so that they can also be restored into a right relationship with God.  How astonishing, we who have been saved have been entrusted with the message of restoring people into fellowship with God the Father.

It was through His work on Calvary's cross that the Son of God, as Son of Man, worked together to bring condemned sinners back to Himself.  Sin had to be punished and the wrath of God was poured out on His beloved Son as payment for our sin so that we might be reconciled back to Him.  And as He cried in triumph, “It Is Finished,” the veil of the temple, that separated a holy God from sinful man, was torn from top to bottom.  Divine justice had been served.  The price of sin had been paid, God was satisfied, so that God, in Christ, was reconciling the world to Himself: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Colossians 2:10, 13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:12).

I ask y’all to think about all that and then think about this.  Does it not stand to reason great condemnation will fall upon those who, though entrusted with God’s Word, have ignored it, tinkered with it, altered it, watered it down, explained it away, in order to maintain and promote their own religious ideals and theories. 

The presence of God and the maintenance of the truth of God are the most important characteristics of “the true church” and when, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the members of Christ’s body are taken up and away from this earth, “the truth” will be abandoned and the world, including those who make up the religious world, will be given up to believing “a lie:” A lie is the direct opposite of “the truth,” is it not? 

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Therefore, it is not strange or difficult to imagine the local church (ekklesia) is called upon to be the very “eye of the storm,” if you will, the very center of “godliness,” i.e., reverence and devotion to God, in a world at enmity with God the Father and His Son, thus, 1 Timothy 3:16 says, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 

The Mystery of Godliness

Confusion reigns in the local churches re: the subject: “the mystery of godliness” this is most likely due to the phrase, “God was manifest in the flesh,” you see, some people assume this is referring to the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ, or His deity.  Thus, to them “the mystery of godliness” is about Christ.  He most certainly was “God manifest in the flesh” but Paul’s talking about “the mystery of godliness,” and not the virgin birth of Christ our Lord.  Godly” is short for God-like, and the Lord wasn’t like God, He is God.  We, the saints in Christ Jesus, are the ones who are supposed to be godly in this dispensation; so this verse is about us, the Body of Christ, and speaks of its present sanctification   There are three degrees or phases of the Believer’s sanctification, positional, present, and ultimate.  Paul has this in mind as, by the Spirit, he wrote:

“… (God) hath chosen us in (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children…” (Ephesians 1:4-5). 

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…” (I Thessalonians 4:3).

But a word of caution is needed, lest in striving to be “holy and without blame before Him,” the Believer leaves themselves open to discouragement and disillusionment because, after all, he or she is human with human frailties.  This brings to mind a close friend of mine because just recently he told me about his prayer life.  He said the first thing he does is confess his sin and then asks for forgiveness.  In other words, he’s been taught to bring his cares and concerns to God, but before you do, make sure you do so with a clean slate.  I pointed out to him that’s not necessary in this dispensation because all sin past, present, and those not yet committed, have been paid for by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:8-13).  I just recently showed y’all that truth when we covered “The Unpardonable Sin.”  I directed his attention to that Bible study so that he could begin walking or living his life in light of those Truths. 

To that permit me to add nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to sanctify the flesh to God – some people think that’s what being “holy” is all about.  But the Scriptures teach that the flesh, our old Adamic nature, is totally corrupt and experience bears witness to this truth.  The flesh cannot be improved, reformed, or converted and “they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).  It is for this reason that God sent His own Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh” to “condemn sin in the flesh” on Calvary’s cross (Romans 8:3).  We are not, then, to seek to improve our old nature but recognize it as condemned by God and crucified with Christ:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him…” (Romans 6:6).

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

But while the Believer’s flesh cannot be sanctified to God, their body can and should be. Paul has much to say about this.  See Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, etc.  For now  

let’s review his statements to the church at Thessalonica:

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:4).

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).

And thus concludes:

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Therefore, my friends, it was no mystery that Christ would be “God manifest in the flesh” (Isaiah 7:14), but it was a mystery that “the church” (ekklesia) would manifest God in our flesh (Ephesians 5:32).  The unnecessary controversy occurs when people say “God manifest in the flesh” isn’t about the Lord.  But here’s the thing, there are many Bible verses that teach Christ is God (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; etc.); this isn’t one of them.  The context here isn’t about Christ’s earthly ministry; it is about the local church, remember (1-15)?  When the Lord was here, He was “the pillar and ground of the truth” (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 3:15).  Now that He’s returned to the Father (Psalm 110:1), we, “the church (ekklesia) of the living God” are or we should be. 

It’s true, God was manifest in the Lord’s flesh (John 1:14).  But that word “dwelt” is the same word for “tabernacle,” i.e., a portable tent designed by the LORD God for His purpose.  When Christ was here, He was a tabernacle, i.e., a tent made of skin with the glory of God inside.  Now that he’s gone, we are a tent made of skin (2 Corinthians 5:1) with God’s glory inside (2 Corinthians 4:8-11).  When we live our lives as Paul directs, we manifest God in our flesh as the Lord did when He walked among His creation: “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?  he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:9-10). 

This Bible guide believes wholeheartedly in the virgin birth and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But, it’s a simple fact that the particular subject Paul discusses here is not the Lord Jesus Christ, it is “godliness;” our “godliness and not His.  Godliness is the subject of this entire chapter, whereas, “ungodliness” is the subject of the one that follows.  That being understood it seems natural for Paul to close this section of Scripture saying, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

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