1 Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
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(17) Now unto the King.—The wonderful chain of thoughts (1Timothy 1:12-16) which so well illustrate the great assertion of 1Timothy 1:15—“that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners”—St. Paul closes with a noble ascription of praise and thankfulness to the great God.

This doxology is addressed to no one Person of the ever blessed Trinity, but is—as has been said with great truth—“a grand testimony to the monotheism of St. Paul: the Godhead, the Trinity of his worship, is a sublime unity. To this Eternal, Incorruptible One be glory and honour unto the ages of the ages. Amen.”

Eternal.—More accurately rendered, (to the King) of the ages. The King of the Ages is the sovereign dispenser and disposer of the ages of the world. There is no reference at all here to the Gnostic æons.

Immortal (or incorruptible).—This epithet and the following one—“invisible”—are connected with “God,” not, with the preceding clause, “to the King of the Ages.” God is immortal, in contrast with the beings of earth, and—

Invisible, in contrast with the visible creation.

The only wise God.The only God, the most ancient authorities omitting “wise.” “Only,” as in 1Timothy 6:15 : “the blessed and only potentate.” “The only God,” a contrast to the multitude of created spirits, angels, principalities, powers, &c. (See 1Corinthians 8:5-6.)

For ever and ever.—Literally, to the ages of the ages, to all eternity—a Hebraistic expression for a duration of time superlatively (infinitely) long.

1 Timothy


1 Timothy 1:17.

With this burst of irrepressible praise the Apostle ends his reference to his own conversion as a transcendent, standing instance of the infinite love and transforming power of God. Similar doxologies accompany almost all his references to the same fact. This one comes from the lips of ‘Paul the aged,’ looking back from almost the close of a life which owed many sorrows and troubles to that day on the road to Damascus. His heart fills with thankfulness that overflows into the great words of my text. He had little to be thankful for, judged according to the rules of sense; but, though weighed down with care, having made but a poor thing of the world because of that vision which he saw that day, and now near martyrdom, he turns with a full heart to God, and breaks into this song of thanksgiving. There are lives which bear to be looked back upon. Are ours of that kind?

But my object is mainly to draw your attention to what seems to me a remarkable feature in this burst of thanksgiving. And perhaps I shall best impress the thought which it has given to me if I ask you to look, first, at the character of the God who is glorified by Paul’s salvation; second, at the facts which glorify such a God; and, last, at the praise which should fill the lives of those who know the facts.

I. First, then, notice the God who is glorified by Paul’s salvation.

Now what strikes me as singular about this great doxology is the characteristics, or, to use a technical word, the attributes, of the divine nature which the Apostle selects. They are all those which separate God from man; all those which present Him as arrayed in majesty, apart from human weaknesses, unapproachable by human sense, and filling a solitary throne. These are the characteristics which the Apostle thinks receive added lustre, and are lifted to a loftier height of ‘honour and glory,’ by the small fact that he, Paul, was saved from sins as he journeyed to Damascus.

It would be easy to roll out oratorical platitudes about these specific characteristics of the divine nature, but that would be as unprofitable as it would be easy. All that I want to do now is just to note the force of the epithets; and, if I can, to deepen the impression of the remarkableness of their selection.

With regard, then, to the first of them, we at once feel that the designation of ‘the King’ is unfamiliar to the New Testament. It brings with it lofty ideas, no doubt; but it is not a name which the writers of the New Testament, who had been taught in the school of love, and led by a Son to the knowledge of God, are most fond of using. ‘The King’ has melted into ‘the Father.’ But here Paul selects that more remote and less tender name for a specific purpose. He is ‘the King’--not ‘ eternal ,’ as our Bible renders it, but more correctly ‘the King of the Ages.’ The idea intended is not so much that of unending existence as that He moulds the epochs of the world’s history, and directs the evolution of its progress. It is the thought of an overruling Providence, with the additional thought that all the moments are a linked chain, through which He flashes the electric force of His will. He is ‘King of the Ages.’

The other epithets are more appropriately to be connected with the word ‘God’ which follows than with the word ‘King’ which precedes. The Apostle’s meaning is this: ‘The King of the ages, even the God who is,’ etc. And the epithets thus selected all tend in the same direction. ‘Incorruptible.’ That at once parts that mystic and majestic Being from all of which the law is decay . There may be in it some hint of moral purity, but more probably it is simply what I may call a physical attribute, that that immortal nature not only does not, but cannot , pass into any less noble forms. Corruption has no share in His immortal being.

As to ‘invisible,’ no word need be said to illustrate that. It too points solely to the separation of God from all approach by human sense.

And then the last of the epithets, which, according to the more accurate reading of the text, should be, not as our Bible has it, ‘the only wise God,’ but ‘the only God,’ lifts Him still further above all comparison and contact with other beings.

So the whole set forth the remote attributes which make a man feel, ‘The gulf between Him and me is so great that thought cannot pass across it, and I doubt whether love can live half-way across that flight, or will not rather, like some poor land bird with tiny wings, drop exhausted, and be drowned in the abyss before it reaches the other side.’ We expect to find a hymn to the infinite love. Instead of that we get praise, which might be upon the lips of many a thinker of Paul’s day and of ours, who would laugh the idea of revelation, and especially of a revelation such as Paul believed in, to absolute scorn. And yet he knew what he was saying when he did not lift up his praise to the God of tenderness, of pity, of forgiveness, of pardoning love, but to ‘the King of the ages; the incorruptible, invisible, only God’; the God whose honour and glory were magnified by the revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ.

II. And so that brings me, in the second place, to ask you to look at the facts which glorify even such a God.

Paul was primarily thinking of his own individual experience; of what passed when the voice spoke to him, ‘Why persecutest thou Me?’ and of the transforming power which had changed him, the wolf, with teeth red with the blood of the saints, into a lamb. But, as he is careful to point out, the personal allusion is lost in his contemplation of his own history, as being a specimen and test-case for the blessing and encouragement of all who ‘should hereafter believe upon Him unto life everlasting.’ So what we come to is this--that the work of Jesus Christ is that which paints the lily and gilds the refined gold of the divine loftinesses and magnificence, and which brings honour and glory even to that remote and inaccessible majesty. For, in that revelation of God in Jesus Christ, there is added to all these magnificent and all but inconceivable attributes and excellences, something that is far diviner and nobler than themselves.

There be two great conceptions smelted together in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, of which neither attains its supremest beauty except by the juxtaposition of the other. Power is harsh, and scarcely worthy to be called divine, unless it be linked with love. Love is not glorious unless it be braced and energised by power. And, says Paul, these two are brought together in Jesus; and therefore each is heightened by the other. It is the love of God that lifts His power to its highest height; it is the revelation of Him as stooping that teaches us His loftiness. It is because He has come within the grasp of our humanity in Jesus Christ that we can hymn our highest and noblest praises to ‘the King eternal, the invisible God.’

The sunshine falls upon the snow-clad peaks of the great mountains and flushes them with a tender pink that makes them nobler and fairer by far than when they were veiled in clouds. And so all the divine majesty towers higher when we believe in the divine condescension, and there is no god that men have ever dreamed of so great as the God who stoops to sinners and is manifest in the flesh and Cross of the Man of Sorrows.

Take these characteristics of the divine nature as get forth in the text one by one, and consider how the Revelation in Jesus Christ, and its power on sinful men, raises our conceptions of them. ‘The King of the ages’--and do we ever penetrate so deeply into the purpose which has guided His hand, as it moulded and moved the ages, as when we can say with Paul that His ‘good pleasure’ is that, ‘in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ.’ The intention of the epochs as they emerge, the purpose of all their linked intricacies and apparently diverse movements, is this one thing, that God in Christ may be manifest to men, a nd that humanity may be gathered, like sheep round the Shepherd, into the one fold of the one Lord. For that the world stands; for that the ages roll, and He who is the King of the epochs hath put into the hands of the Lamb that was slain the Book that contains all their events; and only His hand, pierced upon Calvary, is able to open the seals, to read the Book. The King of the ages is the Father of Christ.

And in like manner, that incorruptible God, far away from us because He is so, and to whom we look up here doubtingly and despairingly and often complainingly and ask, ‘Why hast Thou made us thus, to be weighed upon with the decay of all things and of ourselves?’ comes near to us all in the Christ who knows the mystery of death, and thereby makes us partakers of an inheritance incorruptible. Brethren, we shall never adore, or even dimly understand, the blessedness of believing in a God who cannot decay nor change, unless from the midst of graves and griefs we lift our hearts to Him as revealed in the face of the dying Christ. He, though He died, did not see corruption, and we through Him shall pass into the same blessed immunity.

‘The King . . . the God invisible.’ No man hath seen God ‘at any time, nor can see Him.’ Who will honour and glorify that attribute which parts Him wholly from our sense, and so largely from our apprehension, as will he who can go on to say, ‘the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.’ We look up into a waste Heaven; thought and fear, and sometimes desire, travel into its tenantless spaces. We say the blue is an illusion; there is nothing there but blackness. But ‘he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ And we can lift thankful praise to Him, the King invisible, when we hear Jesus saying, ‘thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee.’

‘The only God.’ How that repels men from His throne! And yet, if we apprehend the meaning of Christ’s Cross and work, we understand that the solitary God welcomes my solitary soul into such mysteries and sacred sweetnesses of fellowship with Himself that, the humanity remaining undisturbed, and the divinity remaining unintruded upon, we yet are one in Him, and partakers of a divine nature. Unless we come to God through Jesus Christ, the awful attributes in the text spurn a man from His throne, and make all true fellowship impossible.

So let me remind you that the religion which does not blend together in indissoluble union these two, the majesty and the lowliness, the power and the love, the God inaccessible and the God who has tabernacled with us in Jesus Christ, is sure to be almost an impotent religion. Deism in all its forms, the religion which admits a God and denies a revelation; the religion which, in some vague sense, admits a revelation and denies an incarnation; the religion which admits an incarnation and denies a sacrifice; all these have little to say to man as a sinner; little to say to man as a mourner; little power to move his heart, little power to infuse strength into his weakness. If once you strike out the thought of a redeeming Christ from your religion, the temperature will go down alarmingly, and all will soon be frost bound.

Brethren, there is no real adoration of the loftiness of the King of the ages, no true apprehension of the majesty of the God incorruptible, invisible, eternal, until we see Him in the face and in the Cross of Jesus Christ. The truths of this gospel of our salvation do not in the smallest degree impinge upon or weaken, but rather heighten, the glory of God. The brightest glory streams from the Cross. It was when He was standing within a few hours of it, and had it full in view, that Jesus Christ broke out into that strange strain of triumph, ‘Now is God glorified.’ ‘The King of the ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,’ is more honoured and glorified in the forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ, and in the transforming power which He puts forth in the Gospel, than in all besides.

III. Lastly, let me draw your attention to the praise which should fill the lives of those who know these facts.

I said that this Apostle seems always, when he refers to his own individual conversion, to have been melted into fresh outpourings of thankfulness and of praise. And that is what ought to be the life of all of you who call yourselves Christians; a continual warmth of thankfulness welling up in the heart, and not seldom finding utterance in the words, but always filling the life.

Not seldom, I say, finding utterance in the words. It is a delicate thing for a man to speak about himself, and his own religious experience. Our English reticence, our social habits, and many other even less worthy hindrances rise in the way; and I should be the last man to urge Christian people to cast their pearls before swine, or too fully to

Open wide the bridal chamber of the heart,

to let in the day. There is a wholesome fear of men who are always talking about their own religious experiences. But there are times and people to whom it is treason to the Master for us not to be frank in the confession of what we have found in Him. And I think there would be less complaining of the want of power in the public preaching of the Word if more professing Christians more frequently and more simply said to those to whom their words are weighty, ‘Come and hear and I will tell you what God hath done for my soul.’ ‘Ye are my witnesses,’ saith the Lord. It is a strange way that Christian people in this generation have of discharging their obligations that they should go, as so many of them do, from the cradle of their Christian lives to their graves, never having opened their lips for the Master who has done all for them.

Only remember, if you venture to speak you will have to live your preaching. ‘There is no speech nor language, their voice is not heard, their sound is gone out through all the earth.’ The silent witness of life must always accompany the audible proclamation, and in many cases is far more eloquent than it. Your consistent thankfulness manifested in your daily obedience, and in the transformation of your character, will do far more than all my preaching, or the preaching of thousands like me, to commend the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One last word, brethren. This revelation is made to us all. What is God to you, friend? Is He a remote, majestic, unsympathising, terrible Deity? Is He dim, shadowy, unwelcome; or is He God whose love softens His power; Whose power magnifies his love? Oh! I beseech you, open your eyes and your hearts to see that that remote Deity is of no use to you, will do nothing for you, cannot help you, may probably judge you, but will never heal you. And open your hearts to see that ‘the only God’ whom men can love is God in Christ. If here we lift up grateful praise ‘unto Him that loveth us and hath loosed us from our sins in His blood,’ we, too, shall one day join in that great chorus which at last will be heard saying, ‘Blessing and honour and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.’

1 Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King, &c. — A consideration of the great mercy which God had shown him, in not only pardoning him when he was involved in such great guilt, but in making him an example for the comfort of future penitents, causes him to break forth in a rapture of praise and thanksgiving; eternal — Whose existence had no beginning, and shall have no end; immortal — Or incorruptible, as αφθαρτω also signifies; it is however rightly translated immortal, because what is incorruptible is likewise immortal; invisible — To mortal eyes. By this epithet the true God is distinguished from all those heathen deities who were the workmanship of men’s hands, or the creatures of God, such as the luminaries of heaven, and from all those deified heroes and other human beings who had once been visible on earth, and were made the objects of worship after their decease. To the only wise God — Or, to God only wise; that is, originally, independently, essentially, and infinitely; or, to the wise God alone, (for the reason of which rendering see note on Romans 16:27,) be honour and glory — That is, let these excellences be more sensibly manifested, more seriously and frequently acknowledged, and sincerely venerated.

1:12-17 The apostle knew that he would justly have perished, if the Lord had been extreme to mark what was amiss; and also if his grace and mercy had not been abundant to him when dead in sin, working faith and love to Christ in his heart. This is a faithful saying; these are true and faithful words, which may be depended on, That the Son of God came into the world, willingly and purposely to save sinners. No man, with Paul's example before him, can question the love and power of Christ to save him, if he really desires to trust in him as the Son of God, who once died on the cross, and now reigns upon the throne of glory, to save all that come to God through him. Let us then admire and praise the grace of God our Saviour; and ascribe to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead, the glory of all done in, by, and for us.Now unto the king eternal - This ascription of praise is offered to God in view of the mercy which he had shown to so great a sinner. It is the outbreak of that grateful emotion which swelled his bosom, and which would not be denied expression, when Paul recalled his former life and the mercy of God to his soul. It somewhat interrupts indeed the train of his remarks, but the heart was so full that it demanded utterance. It is just an instance of the joy and gratitude which fill the soul of a Christian when he is led along in a train of reflections which conduct him to the recollections of his former sin and danger, and to the fact that he has obtained mercy and has now the hope of heaven. The apostle Paul not unfrequently, in accordance with a mode of writing that was common among the Hebrews, interposes an expression of praise in the midst of his reasonings; compare Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 11:31. God is called King here, as he is often in the Scriptures, to denote that he rules over the universe. A literal translation of the passage would be, "To the King of ages, who is immortal," etc. The meaning of this expression - "the King of ages" - βασιλει τὼν αἰώνων basilei tōn aiōnōn - is, that he is a king who rules throughout all ages. This does not mean that he himself lives for ever, but that his dominion extends over all ages or generations. The rule of earthly monarchs does not extend into successive ages; his does. Their reign is temporary; his is enduring, and continues as one generation after another passes on, and thus embraces them all.

Immortal - This refers to God himself, not to his reign. It means that he does not die, and it is given to him to distinguish him from other sovereigns. All other monarchs but God expire - and are just as liable to die at any moment as any other people.

Invisible - 1 Timothy 6:16; see the notes on John 1:18.

The only wise God - notes, Romans 16:27. The word "wise" is missing in many mss., and in some editions of the New Testament. It is omitted by Griesbach; marked as doubtful by Tittman, and rejected in the valuable edition of Hahn. Erasmus conjectures that it was added against the Arians, who maintained that the Father only was God, and that as he is here mentioned as such, the word wise was interpolated to denote merely that the attribute of perfect wisdom belonged only to him. Wetstein regards the reading as genuine, and suspects that in some of the early manuscripts where it is missing it was omitted by the transcriber, because it was regarded as inelegant for two adjectives to be united in this manner. It is not easy to determine as to the genuineness of the reading. The sense is not materially affected, whichever view be adopted. It is true that Yahweh is the only God; it is also true that he is the only wise God. The gods of the pagan are "vanity and a lie," and they are wholly destitute of wisdom; see Psalm 115:3-8; Psalm 135:15-18; Isaiah 40:18-20; Isaiah 44:10-17.

Be honour - Let there be all the respect and veneration shown to him which is his due.

And glory - Praise. Let him be praised by all for ever.

Amen - So be it; an expression of strong affirmation; John 3:3. Here it is used to denote the solemn assent of the heart to the sentiment conveyed by the words used; see the Matthew 6:13 note; 1 Corinthians 14:16 note.

17. A suitable conclusion to the beautifully simple enunciation of the Gospel, of which his own history is a living sample or pattern. It is from the experimental sense of grace that the doxology flows [Bengel].

the King, eternal—literally, "King of the (eternal) ages." The Septuagint translates Ex 15:18, "The Lord shall reign for ages and beyond them." Ps 145:13, Margin, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," literally, "a kingdom of all ages." The "life everlasting" (1Ti 1:16) suggested here "the King eternal," or everlasting. It answers also to "for ever and ever" at the close, literally, "to the ages of the ages" (the countless succession of ages made up of ages).

immortal—The oldest manuscripts read, "incorruptible." The Vulgate, however, and one very old manuscript read as English Version (Ro 1:23).

invisible—(1Ti 6:16; Ex 33:20; Joh 1:18; Col 1:15; Heb 11:27).

the only wise God—The oldest manuscripts omit "wise," which probably crept in from Ro 16:27, where it is more appropriate to the context than here (compare Jude 25). "The only Potentate" (1Ti 6:15; Ps 86:10; Joh 5:44).

for ever, &c.—See note, above. The thought of eternity (terrible as it is to unbelievers) is delightful to those assured of grace (1Ti 1:16) [Bengel].

The apostle falleth out of this discourse with a doxology, or sentence giving glory to God, whom he calls

the King, that is, the Moderator and Governor of all things.

Eternal; without beginning of days or end of life.

Immortal; not subject, as creatures, to any passion, or determination of being.

Invisible; not obvious to our senses, whom no mortal eye ever saw.

Only wise, primitively and originally, and eminently, from whom all wisdom is derived.

Be honour and glory for ever and ever; be given all praises, homage, and acknowledgments, by which he can be made glorious for ever.

Now unto the King eternal,.... This doxology, or ascription of glory to God, on account of the grace bestowed upon the apostle, may be considered, either as referring to all the three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, who are the one and only God; and to whom all the attributes of wisdom, power, eternity, immortality, or incorruptibleness, and invisibility, belong; and who are jointly concerned in the grace bestowed upon any of the sons of men. Or else to God the Father, in agreement with a parallel place in Romans 16:27 who is the only true God, in opposition to nominal and fictitious deities, though not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit; and to whom the several epithets here used may be unquestionably given: he has shown his wisdom in the works of creation, providence, and grace; he is the everlasting King, or the King of ages, or of worlds; he is Maker of the worlds, and the Governor of them throughout all ages and generations; he only has immortality, and is the incorruptible God, and who is invisible, whose shape has never been seen, nor his voice heard: or else this may be thought to belong to Jesus Christ, since it is to him the apostle gives thanks for putting him into the ministry; and from him he obtained mercy, and received abundant grace; and he it was who came into the world to save sinners, and who showed forth all longsuffering in him, see 1 Timothy 1:12, upon which the apostle breaks out into this attribution of glory and honour, and which agrees with Jde 1:25. And everything here said is applicable to him; he is the eternal King, whose is the kingdom of nature, providence, and grace; his throne is for ever and ever, and of his kingdom and government there is no end; he is the "King of ages", as the phrase may be rendered, and so his kingdom is called , "the kingdom of all ages", Psalm 145:13 and which endures throughout all generations; and this distinguishes him from all other kings. Scarce any king ever reigned an age, but Christ has reigned, and will reign throughout all ages. No regard is here had, as some have thought, to the Aeones of the Gnostics and Valentinians; but rather the apostle adopts a phrase into his doxology, frequently used by the Jews in their prayers, many of which begin after this manner,

"blessed art thou, O Lord our God, "the king of the age, or world", &c.

and , "Lord of all ages, or worlds", &c. (p). Other attributes and epithets follow, as

immortal or "incorruptible". Christ is the living God, and the living Redeemer; and though he died as man, he will die no more, but ever lives to make intercession for his people, and to reign over them, and protect them: who also may be said to be "invisible", who was so in his divine nature, till manifest in the flesh; and now in his human nature he is taken out of the sight of men, and is not to be beheld with bodily eyes by men on earth: and he is

the only wise God; he is "the only God", so the Alexandrian copy, the Syriac and Vulgate Latin versions, read; not to the exclusion of the Father or Spirit, but in opposition to all false deities, or those who are not by nature God: and he is the only wise God; who is wisdom itself, and of himself; and is the fountain of wisdom, both natural and spiritual, unto others; wherefore to him be

honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen. Christ is crowned with honour and glory, and he is worthy of it; and it becomes all men to honour the Son, as they do the Father: he is the brightness of his glory, and equal to him; and the glory of deity, of all the divine perfections, and works, and also worship, should be given him; as well as the glory of salvation, and of all the grace the sons of men partake of; and that not only now, but to all eternity,

(p) Seder Tephillot, fol. 2. 2. & 3. 2. & 37. 1, 2. Ed. Basil. fol. 2. 1, 2. & 3. 1. & 4. 1. & 5. 2. & passim, Ed. Amsterdam.

{14} Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the {k} only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(14) He breaks out into an exclamation, even because of the very zeal of his mind, because he cannot satisfy himself in amplifying the grace of God.

(k) See Geneva Joh 17:3

1 Timothy 1:17. “Ex sensu gratiae fluit doxologia” (Bengel). With this doxology the apostle closes the digression begun in 1 Timothy 1:11, and returns again to the proper epistolary style.

τῷ δὲ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων] This designation for God is not found elsewhere in the N. T. (even the use of βασιλεύς of God only occurs elsewhere in chap. 1 Timothy 6:15 and Matthew 5:35), but it is found in the Apocrypha of the O. T. in Tob 13:6; Tob 13:10. (Sir 36:19 : ὁ Θεὸς τῶν αἰώνων.) Οἱ αἰῶνες means either “the world,” as in Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3 (see Delitzsch and Lünemann on this passage), or “the times.” The former meaning is adopted by Chrysostom, Leo, etc. (Leo appealing to Eusebius, de Laud. Constant. chap. vi. p. 431, ed. Heinrichs: τὸν μέγαν τοῦ σύμπαντος αἰῶνος βασιλέα); the latter, by Matthies: “the ruler of all times, so that all generations are at the same time concretely included.” In a similar way, Heydenreich has “the supreme ruler of time, and of all that takes place in its course.” This latter explanation is supported as correct both by the preceding μελλόντων (van Oosterzee), and also by the ἀφθάρτῳ following, and by εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων farther on.[71] It is incorrect to take αἰῶνες as equivalent to “eternity,” and translate: “to the king eternal” (de Wette, but tentatively; Hofmann: “the king who is for ever and without end”),[72] for αἰῶνες never has that meaning in itself. Only in the formulas ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων and εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας does the meaning of the word approach that idea. Besides, the apostle would surely have expressed that adjectival idea by an adjective. It is quite erroneous to take the word here in the Gnostic sense of series of emanations, synonymous with γενεαλογίαι in 1 Timothy 1:4; for, on the one hand, no proof is given that this expression had been already used by the heretics alluded to in this epistle; and, on the other, the apostle considered the whole theory of genealogies as belonging to the sphere of myths. It was impossible, therefore, for him in his doxology to speak of God as the king of things which were to Him nothing but the inventions of fancy.

ἀφθάρτῳ] is only used of God elsewhere in Romans 1:23 (Plut. adv. St. 31; Wis 12:1). Matthies: “God is the Imperishable One, because His nature is unchanging and based on itself,” equivalent to ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν, chap. 1 Timothy 6:16.

ἀοράτῳ] comp. Hebrews 11:27 (without Θεός), Romans 1:20, and Colossians 1:15 (with Θεός); equivalent to ὃν εἶδεν οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων, οὐδὲ ἰδεῖν δύναται, chap. 1 Timothy 6:16; comp. also John 1:18.

μόνῳ Θεῷ] chap. 1 Timothy 6:15 : μόνος δυναστής; comp. also John 5:44; John 17:3; Romans 16:27 : μόνῳ σοφῷ Θεῷ. The words ἀφθάρτῳΘεῷ are to be taken as in apposition to τῷ βασιλεῖ. But it is doubtful whether Θεῷ is to be joined with μόνῳ only, or also with ἀφθάρτῳ and ἀοράτῳ, as is commonly done. De Wette is wrong in asserting that all these predicates are used of God superfluously: they manifestly express the absolute exaltation of God above all conditioned finite being, and are occasioned naturally (which Hofmann disputes) by the contrast with the heresy which denied the absoluteness of the divine existence.

τιμὴ καὶ δόξα] The two words are united also in Romans 2:7; Romans 2:10; Hebrews 2:7; but only here and in the Apocalypse do they occur in doxologies. Paul elsewhere uses only δόξα, and always with the article.

εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων] a very common conclusion in doxologies, and found in Paul’s other epistles. It is not to be overlooked that this doxology has a peculiar character distinct from those usually occurring in Paul, both in the mode of connection (elsewhere a pronoun connects them with what precedes) and also in the designation for God and the expressions used.

[71] Comp. Psalm 144:13, LXX.: ἡ βασιλεία σου βασιλεία πάντων τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἡ δεσποτεία σου ἐν πάσῃ γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ.

[72] Wiesinger explains it: “He is a king of the aeons, which together give the idea of eternity, just as His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.”

1 Timothy 1:17. This noble doxology might be one used by St. Paul himself in one of his eucharistic prayers. It is significant that in the Jewish forms of thanksgiving מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם is of constant occurrence. See reff., and θεὸς τῶν αἰ. in Sir 36:22. Bengel’s suggestion (on ch. 1 Timothy 1:4) that there is a polemical reference to the aeons of Gnosticism is fanciful and unnecessary. βασιλεύς, as a title of God the Father, is found in 1 Timothy 6:15 and Revelation 15:3, a passage of which Swete says (comm. in loc.), “The thought as well as the phraseology of the Song is strangely Hebraic”. Cf. Ps. 9:37 (Psalm 10:16).

ἀφθάρτῳ: The three adjectives ἀφθάρτῳ, ἀοράτῳ, μόνῳ are co-ordinate epithets of θεῷ, to God immortal, invisible, unique.

ἄφθαρτος, immortal, as an epithet of God, occurs Romans 1:23 (cf. Wis 12:1, τὸ γὰρ ἄφθαρτόν σουπνεῦμά ἐστιν ἐν πᾶσιν, and Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vi. 376). It is expanded in 1 Timothy 6:15 sq., who only hath immortality, just as ἀοράτῳ becomes whom no man hath seen, nor can see (for the thought, see John 1:18, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 11:27, 1 John 4:12), and μόνῳ becomes the blessed and only potentate. For the epithet μόνος, used absolutely, see reff. and also Psalm 86:10, John 17:3, Romans 16:27.

τιμὴ καὶ δόξα: This combination in a doxology is found Revelation 4:9, δώσουσινδόξαν καὶ τιμὴν; 1 Timothy 5:13, ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ δόξα. In St. Paul’s other doxologies (Galatians 1:5, Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27, Php 4:20, Ephesians 3:21, 1 Timothy 6:16, 2 Timothy 4:18), with the exception of 1 Timothy 6:16 (τιμὴ καὶ κράτος), τιμή is not found; and he always has ἡ δόξα (see Westcott, Additional Note on Hebrews 13:21).

17. honour and glory] This combination by itself is only found here. St Paul uses ‘glory’ with the article generally.

Such an ascription is with St Paul a most characteristic close of passages which are the evident outburst of strong warm feeling excited by some particular train of thought.

1 Timothy 1:17. Τῷ δὲ) The doxology flows from a sense of grace.—Βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων, to the King of œons or ages [eternal]) A frequent phrase with the Hebrews. The thought of eternity is particularly delightful to those assured of grace, while it miserably terrifies others.—ἀοράτῳ, invisible) This attribute is given Him in the way of praise. See how perverse they are who affirm that there is no God, because they do not see Him.—μόνῳ Θεῷ, the only God) So, the only Potentate, ch. 1 Timothy 6:15; comp. Psalm 86:10; John 5:44; Judges 1:25. [A magnificent reading![13]—Not. Crit.]—τιμὴ, δόξα, honour, glory) Such an Asyndeton is commonly used, where circumstances and feelings would tend to render the words much accumulated (tend to produce somewhat of an accumulation of words): for example, honour and glory and strength, etc.; and where nevertheless he leaves them to be supplied in the mind of the hearer. Such an Asyndeton is very suitable to the ardour of the apostle in doxologies, ch. 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 Peter 5:11; although the transcribers have very generally inserted καὶ. The omission of this particle in so many passages is not accidental; but its addition is due to the over-busy officiousness of transcribers.[14]

[13] So AD(Δ) corrected, Gfg Vulg. But Rec. Text adds σόφῳ to μὀνῳ, with later Syr. He who alone is God gives a more striking sense than the only wise God.—ED.

[14] Unfortunately for Bengel’s argument, the best authorities, which Lachm. and Tisch. follow, read the καὶ. However, many secondary authorities omit it.—ED.

Verse 17. - Incorruptible for immortal, A.V.; only God for only wise God, A.V. and T.R. The King eternal. The Greek has the unusual phrase, τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων, "the king of the worlds or ages," which is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but is found twice in the LXX. - Tobit 13:6 and 10-and in the Liturgy of St. James, in the εὐχὴ τῆς ἐνάρξεως and elsewhere. The similar phrase, ὁ Θεὸς τῶν αἰώνων, is also found in Ecclus. 36:17. In all these passages it is quite clear that the phrase is equivalent to αἰώνιος, Eternal, as a title of the Lord, as in Romans 16:26. The genitive τῶν αἰώνων is qualitative. In Tobit 13:6 he is "the Lord of righteousness," i.e. the righteous Lord; and "the King of the ages," i.e. of eternity, i.e. "the eternal King," the King through all the ages. And in ver. 10 it is said, "Bless the eternal King," who, it follows, will, as King, "love the miserable εἰς πάσας τᾶς γενέας τοῦ αἰῶνος;" and then it follows, in ver. 12, "They that love thee shall be blessed εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα;" and again in ver. 18, "Bless the Lord, who hath exalted Jerusalem εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας;" and the same conception is in the phrase, σὺ εῖ ὁ Θεὸς τῶν αἰώνων. Satan, on the other hand. is (ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, "the god of this world" (compare such passages as Psalm 102:24; Psalm 104:31; Psalm 105:8; Psalm 135:13; Psalm 145:13; and the doxology in the Lord's Prayer, "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, εἰς, τοὺς αἰῶνας). It seems to be, therefore, quite certain that St. Paul is here using a familiar Jewish phrase for "eternal" which has nothing whatever to do with Gnostic eons. Perhaps in the use of the phrase, βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων, we may trace a contrast passing through the writer's mind between the short-lived power of that hateful βασιλεύς, Nero, by whom his life would soon be taken away, and the kingdom of the eternal King (comp. 1 Timothy 6:15, 16). Incorruptible (ἀφθάρτῳ); applied to God also in Romans 1:23, where, as here, it means "immortal" (ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν, 1 Timothy 6:16), not subject to the corruption of death, just as ἀφθαρσία is coupled with "life" (2 Timothy 1:10) and opposed to "death" So on the other hand, φθορά means "death." φθαρτός, "perishable." Elsewhere it is applied to a crown, to the raised dead, to the inherit-ante of the saints, to the seed of the new birth, to the apparel of a holy heart, which no rust or moth corrupts (1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Peter 1:4, 23; 1 Peter 3:4). Invisible (ἀοράτῳ); as Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 11:27. (See also Romans 1:20; and comp. 1 Timothy 6:16, for the sense.) The word is used by Philo of God, and of the Word. Here it is especially predicated of God the Father, according to what our Lord says (John 1:18; John 6:46; John 14:9); though some of the Fathers, Nicene and post-Nicene, predicate it also of the Word or Second Person (Hilary, Chrysostom, etc.). But in Scripture the Son is spoken of as the Manifestation, the Image (εἰκών and χαρακτήρ) of the Father, through whom t he Father is seen and known; ἀόρατος, therefore, applies to the Father (see Bishop Lightfoot's note on Colossians 1:15). The only God. The best manuscripts omit σοφῷ, which seems to have crept in here from Romans 16:26. The exact construction is, "To the eternal King, the Immortal, the Invisible, the only God [or, 'who alone is God'], be honor," etc. Be honor and glory. A little varied from St. Paul's usual doxologies (see Romans 11:36; 6:27; Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 3:21; and 1 Timothy 6:16, where δόξα stands alone, and has the article - Ellicott on Galatians 1:5). In Romans 2:10 δόξα and τιμή are coupled together, but applied to man. This interposition of doxology is quite in St. Paul's manner. 1 Timothy 1:17King eternal (βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων)

Lit. the king of the ages. Only here and Revelation 15:3. Comp. Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3. In lxx, Tob. 6:10. For kindred expressions in lxx, see Exodus 15:18; 1 Samuel 13:13; Psalm 9:7; Psalm 28:10; Psalm 73:12; Psalm 144:13; Psalm 145:10. See also additional note on 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

Immortal (ἀφθάρτῳ)

Lit. Incorruptible. In Paul, applied to God only, Romans 1:23.

Invisible (ἀοράτῳ)

Applied to God, Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 11:27.

The only wise God (μόνῳ θεῷ)

Wise should be omitted. Rend. The only God. Σοφῷ wise was interpolated from Romans 16:27 - the only instance in which Paul applies the term to God. Comp. Jde 1:4, Jde 1:25; Luke 5:21; John 5:44.

Honor and glory (τιμὴ καὶ δόξα)

This combination in doxology only here and Revelation 5:12, Revelation 5:13. Comp. Revelation 4:9. In doxologies Paul uses only δόξα glory, with the article, the glory, and with to whom or to him (be).

Forever and ever (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων)

Lit unto the aeons of the aeons. The formula in Paul, Romans 16:26; Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:20. Also in Hebrews and 1 Peter, and often in Revelation The doxology as a whole is unique in N.T.

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