The Mystery of Godliness
For those who believe God, who are willing to believe God, who are willing to change whatever opinions they hold according to what really is the truth, Scripture has this to say:
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me...
"...If ye love me, keep my commandments.
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you...
"...But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:1,15-17,26
Today there are many who say that this Comforter, this Holy Ghost, is more important than striving to understand the Scriptures.
But according to this, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, will teach all things and bring remembrance of all things WHATSOEVER I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU.
In order for this Comforter to teach, one needs to know what Jesus said in the first place.
People criticize the gospel Paul preached, saying he was not really one who knew Jesus. But look at Galations:
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
"For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. " Gal. 1:11-12
Paul claimed he received his revelation from Jesus Christ. If he told the truth, then what?
This becomes the "whatsoever I have said unto you."
Now, is this Comforter, this Holy Ghost, magic? When we read, the understanding mysteriously comes to us?
What saith the Scriptures?
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness." 1 Tim. 2:15-16
The alternative to profane and vain babblings that increase unto more ungodliness is what? Studying to show ourselves approved unto God.
Not unto our deacons, elders, pastors or priests.
Not unto our sense of rightness, our ego, or our previous doctrinal belief.
As workman of the Word, we need not to be ashamed by doing one thing: rightly dividing the word of truth, this Word of God we are to so highly esteem.
As we strive to do so, we have a Comforter, the "Holy Ghost" ("pnuema hagion," "holy spirit") to teach us and bring us into remembrance other things pertinent of whatsoever Christ said.
There is only one way to "rightly divide" the word of truth, and that is to find out what it said when it was first given.
Modern translations often openly admit to being more concerned with paraphrasing and "the gist of what was meant" than with a word for word translation.
I can see their point. After all, some things are not easy for us to understand. It takes work, study, "a diligent effort" to find what was meant and come to a right dividing.
But the Scriptures are God's Word, the Church epistles God's Word through revelation of Jesus Christ, and the only way to make a "right dividing" is to find out exactly what God meant when He first had the stuff written down.
I myself use Berry's Interlinear as my standard N.T. study. I don't criticize other texts, in fact, I encourage the NIV as an excellent source of bedtime reading. Berry's Interlinear points out where the major Greek NT texts disagree.
One can also often see where translators have deviated from the original essense. I wish the translators realized that maybe God did not give His Word in modern English for good reasons.
But I study with Berry's and with King James Version because of the wealth of textual material.
I use Vine's Expository Dictionary as a quick reference to Greek grammar and definition, I use Young's Concordance and sometimes Strong's.
These are materials we as workers should learn to value.
Because God is God Almighty, and when He gave His Word to men, these are some of the things he had to say about it:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Tim. 3:16
"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psalm 12:6
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Psalm 138:2
All Scripture, it says. When 2 Timothy was written, it said all Scripture was "theopnuestos," all Scripture was God-breathed! See what I mean about finding out what was originally meant?
A writer might be inspired, but then it is up to the writer how true to the original they might be.
God's Word was not "inspired," it was God breathed, with holy men writing as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
These God-breathed words were pure words, and the Word they represent is magnified above the very name of God Himself!
Let's look at a few other places that this magnified opinion of the God-breathed Word was not held by the translators:
"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." 1 Tim. 3:16
Now, truth be told, God was manifest, was evident, in Jesus. He said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father."
But most of the texts read "os efanerothe," not "theos efanerothe." Thus texts read "And without contraversy great is the mystery of godliness WHICH 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."
Now, there are many today who are perfectly happy with the "God was manifest" translation.
But we are workman seeking to show ourselves approved to God.
In modern translations, scribes and translators have made it thus: "God was manifest in the flesh, (God was) justified in the Spirit, (God was) seen of angels, (God was) preached unto the Gentiles, (God was) believed on in the world, (God was) received up into glory."
Now we see why someone felt compelled to change the Scripture. It agrees with the doctrine of Constantine and Eusebius that was forced on the Church in 325 AD.
But we want the truth.
"These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:" 1 Tim. 3:14
These things were written by Paul, hoping to come unto Timothy shortly, but understanding he might not.
"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." 1 Tim. 3;15
"These things I write, hoping to come shortly, but if not, HOW THOU OUGHTEST TO BEHAVE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD.
Paul says "How thou oughtest behave."
Believers in God are to behave Godly, in piety, called in the text eusebious or "GODLINESS.'
What this section that has been taken out of context in order to promote the doctrine of Constantine and Eusebius really expounds on is the value of a godly life, the value of a life lived as one oughtest to behave in the church of God.
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness which 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." 1 Tim. 3:16
Godliness is the way Timothy was to behave among the believers.
Great is the mystery of godliness.
As we have seen before in our studies, Biblical mysteries are not the secrets of the Church. They are "mysterion," they are the doctrines freely taught to the faithful.
Great is the doctrine of godliness, which by example has been manifest in the flesh, seen of angels, preached, believed on, received ("anelefthe," a form of "received") to glory.
Now we understand this section in its context, and we are closer to that purified seven times Word of God, as originally God-breathed.
We now can keep this bit of Scripture in the place God intended, and are closer to showing ourselves as workmen needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.