The Mystery of Godliness
Definition of MYSTERY - www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary
a : a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand
b (1) : any of the 15 events (as the Nativity, the Crucifixion, or the Assumption) serving as a subject for meditation during the saying of the rosary (2) capitalized : a Christian sacrament; specifically : eucharist
c (1) : a secret religious rite believed (as in Eleusinian and Mithraic cults) to impart enduring bliss to the initiate (2) : a cult devoted to such rites
a : something not understood or beyond understanding : enigma
b obsolete : a private secret
c : the secret or specialized practices or ritual peculiar to an occupation or a body of people <the mysteries of the tailor's craft>
d : a piece of fiction dealing usually with the solution of a mysterious crime
: profound, inexplicable, or secretive quality or character <the mystery of her smile>
Who doesn't enjoy a good mystery? The suspense! The intrigue! The twists and turns! Then the surprise ending! There are many mysteries recorded within the pages of the Bible. But some of them have been revealed. Let's see what the Apostle Paul had to say about the Mystery of Godliness.
I Timothy 3: 14-16
14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
15 But if I 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.
16 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.
In this chapter Paul advises Timothy of how those in the church should conduct themselves. He specifically speaks of various offices or positions and what the qualifications and characteristics should be. Then in the last verse he speaks of the "Mystery of Godliness". For simplification's sake we will discuss a mystery as something not easily understood by the human mind.
Godliness is the state of being godly. Being godly refers to being devout or devoted to God and His ways and consistently expressing those attributes.
Jesus is the Mystery of Godliness. According to verse 16 above, these are the reasons why.
1. He was God manifested in the flesh. This is not a metaphor
or simply a figure of speech to convey an idea. Jesus was the exact physical expression of the True and Living God presented in a human body (just like ours). He experienced the same weaknesses of the flesh that we do: hunger, pain, fatigue and so on. This
truth is a mystery that is difficult for humanity to comprehend.
Jesus was the Word made flesh. John 1:1-2, 14
He didn't stay hidden from humanity in a secret den somewhere. He was visible and touchable.
He freely communicated and closely interacted with masses of people. He became one of us to help us, to deliver us from sin. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. I don't fully understand it but I sure am grateful!
2. He was justified in the Spirit. The Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead. Therefore, we can conclude that the Spirit verified that the sacrifice Jesus made was
acceptable and sufficient. He fully satisfied the penalty that was required for the sin of humanity for all time. Nothing else is needed. What a Savior!
3. Angels are reported in the Bible to have been involved during crucial times of Jesus' earthly journey: the announcement to Mary that He would be born, when the angels announced His birth to the shepherds in Bethlehem, when He was tempted in the wilderness, in the Garden of Gethsemane and at His ascension.
4. Jesus being preached unto the Gentiles really was a mystery to the Jewish nation. They were astounded by the fact that salvation was not only for them but for the whole world.
5. One man having the impact that Jesus has had, is having and will continue to have was unfathomable to those early believers. Only military leaders who conquered other lands and people had received similar renown. But this Jesus was believed on in the world. He didn't travel the world. Didn't have a website, podcast or tv ministry. But His message and influence are worldwide.
6. Prior to this ascension, the Bible only records one visual of a person being "caught up". That was Elisha seeing Elijah caught up by a whirlwind. Jesus was received up into glory and He had authority over the ascension: where, when, who would see it.
We now know that this "Mystery of Godliness" is revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. But our understanding
is still clouded. However, we do have the joy and anticipation of understanding that someday it will no longer be a mystery. We will understand the same way He understands and we will know the same way He knows. In the meantime, let us continue to study the
Word and declare, "Let this mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus."