1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
preached among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory' (3:14-16)

Paul had left Timothy work to do in Ephesus (1:3). He hoped to come soon and help share with him again in that work. But he might be delayed in coming, and so wrote to encourage and guide Timothy, and give him a message which he might set before the Christians in Ephesus. Two things stand out m Paul's teaching in these verses. Firstly, his realization of the church of Jesus Christ to which he belongs, and secondly, his concern for the truth of Jesus Christ which the church should proclaim.

a. The church of Jesus Christ

A man is proud of the family to which he belongs. The good name of the family comes to honour or dishonour by what he does. Because God makes us His children by faith in Jesus Christ, we belong to 'the household of God'. We also represent that household in the world. Can people around us see this by the way we 'behave'? That household has two other names here. It is 'the church of the living God'. We are the people called out to know and to serve the living God. We must show that we act in the power of the living God and do not serve useless idols, of wood or stone, or make idols of money or popularity (see 2 Corinthians 6:16 and 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). We must show that our Lord is not uncertain, but the one, true and living God who rules over all. Then another name for the church is the 'pillar and bulwark of the truth'. From one point of view the truth does not need to be held up by us as a building is held up by pillars and supported by bulwarks. It stands firm, and will stand for ever. Once, when the great preacher Charles Spurgeon was called on to defend the Bible, he said, 'Defend the Bible! I would as soon defend a lion.' The truth of God will stand for ever. But from another point of view, if Christian people do not stand for the truth of Jesus Christ in the world, by what they say and by the way that they behave, who will do so? The most beautiful building in Ephesus (the city where Timothy was working) was the temple of Diana or Artemis (see Acts 19: 24-35). It had 127 pillars, which both supported and showed the beauty of the temple. Like those pillars we who are Christians should support and show the beauty of the truth of Jesus Christ.

b. The truth of Jesus Christ

Verse 16 is probably part of an early Christian hymn, putting down simply six things about the truth of Jesus Christ. ('The mystery of our religion' means the revealed truth that God has given us.) 1. 'He was manifested in the flesh.' Wonder of all wonders! 'For us men and for our salvation' the Son of God became man. He was born in Bethlehem. He lived our life. He died our death. Read and think over what is said in John 1: 14; Philippians 2: 5, 6; 1 John 1:1,2 ; 4: 2.
2. 'Vindicated in the Spirit.' Jesus lived so humbly. Yet God lived in Him. God spoke through Him. God showed His power in His miracles. Finally God the Father showed the truth of all Jesus said and did by raising Him from the dead. His words and His life are shown to be true, not only by men but by the Spirit of God. Read Luke 3:22; John 5:36; Acts 2:22-24; Romans 1:4.
3, 'Seen by angels.' Angels, who could see and know His greatness more than we can, worshipped Him at His birth, served Him in His life, announced His resurrection; and they rejoiced and will rejoice in all the amazing purpose of God in Christ. See Luke 2:9-14; Matthew 4:11; Luke 22: 43; 24:4-7; Ephesians 3:10; 1Peter 1:12.
4. 'Preached among the nations.' Through the preaching of' Jesus Christ among the nations comes the greatest blessing; and no one nation has any special privilege now. He does not belong to white more than to black, to Asian, African, American, European, more than to those of the smallest tribe or nation or island people (Matthew 24:14). All are equal before Jesus cross and before His throne (Galatians 3:28). At His call His disciples went (and still must go), and preached to all nations (Matthew 28: 18-20). One day the result of this preaching will be seen, as men and women from every tribe and nation worship before His throne (Revelation 7:9-17).
5. 'Believed on in the world.' The blessing of God comes through the preaching when people in all parts of the world believe the message that they hear. As the hymn puts it, 'Blessings abound where'er He reigns', when 'people and realms of every tongue' believe in Him and receive Him as Lord and Saviour. The Christian faith is unique because there are those who believe in Christ in every part of the world. In this we rejoice and praise God. See Romans 10:12,13; John 1:l2; 3:16.
6. 'Taken up in glory'. In the world there is indeed blessing wherever His messengers preach Him, and men believe. Yet now He is often despised and persecuted by those who do not believe. But if we have to suffer for His sake, we can know for sure that He has been 'taken up in glory'. He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will come again in glory - in power and majesty - and this Lord whom we serve will reign for ever and ever. Read Acts 1: 10,11; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 11:15.


Almighty God, we praise thee for all that we know of Jesus Christ, manifested in our human life, shown to be Thy Son with great power, and revealed as the life and hope and strength of people of all nations who have believed in Him. We praise Thee that He is King and Lord for ever and ever. With the angels we praise Thee, we worship Thee. Help us, that the praise of our lips may also show forth in our lives, to the honour of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Further Study. Consider carefully the passages listed at the ends of sections 1 to 6. Add to them any other similar passages.