Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Who only hath immortality.—The holy angels—the souls of men—are immortal. “But one alone, ‘God,’ can be said to have immortality,” because He, unlike other immortal beings who enjoy their immortality through the will of another, derives it from His own essence.
Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.—This should be rendered, dwelling in light unapproachable. The Eternal is here pictured as dwelling in an atmosphere of light too glorious for any created beings (not only men) to approach. (See Psalm 104:2, where the Eternal is addressed as covering himself with light as with a garment; see too Daniel 2:22, where light is spoken of as dwelling with God.) The symbolism of the old covenant teaches the same truth, the unapproachable glories in which God dwells; for instance, the guarding of the bounds of Sinai in the giving of the Law; the covering of the faces of the Seraphim in the year that King Uzziah died, when Isaiah saw the divine vision; the veiled darkness of the Holy of holies in the Tabernacle and the Temple, where ever and anon the visible glory dwelt.
Whom no man hath seen, nor can see.—The Old Testament teaches the same mysterious truth—“For there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:20, and also Deuteronomy 4:12). John 1:18 repeats this in very plain words—“No man hath seen God at any time.” The Greek word here includes all created beings. The English translation, “no man,” utterly fails to reproduce the meaning of the original. (See also 1John 4:12.)
These last words seem to preclude the interpretation which applies the foregoing description to the Son. We have above referred this glorious doxology to the Father, as the one who, in His own times, should reveal the Lord Jesus returning to judgment.
It is, however, very noteworthy that the loftiest, the sublimest, epithets the inspired pen of Paul could frame to dignify his description of the First Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, God the Father, are used again of the Son. “The Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16; and see too Revelation 1:5).John 5:26, "The Father hath life in himself," and the notes on that passage.
Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto - Greek, "Inhabiting inapproachable light." The light where he dwells is so brilliant and dazzling that mortal eyes could not endure it. This is a very common representation of the dwelling place of God. See examples quoted in Pricaeus, in loc. Heaven is constantly represented as a place of the most pure and brilliant light, needing not the light of the sun, or the moon, or the stars Revelation 21:23-24; Revelation 22:5, and God is represented as dwelling in that light, surrounded by amazing and inapproachable glory compare Revelation 4:6; Ezekiel 1:4; Hebrews 1:3.
Whom no man hath seen nor can see - notes on John 1:18.
To whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen - see the notes on Romans 11:36.
dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto—After life comes mention of light, as in Joh 1:4. That light is unapproachable to creatures, except in so far as they are admitted by Him, and as He goes forth to them [Bengel]. It is unapproachable on account of its exceeding brightness [Theophylact]. If one cannot gaze steadfastly at the sun, which is but a small part of creation, by reason of its exceeding heat and power, how much less can mortal man gaze at the inexpressible glory of God [Theophylact, To Autolycus] (Ps 104:2; 1Jo 1:5).
no man hath seen—(Ex 23:20; Joh 1:18; Col 1:15; Heb 11:27; 1Jo 4:12). Perhaps even in the perfect state no creature shall fully see God. Still the saints shall, in some sense, have the blessedness of seeing Him, which is denied to mere man (Mt 5:8; 1Co 13:12; 1Jo 3:2; Re 22:4).Who only hath immortality; of himself; our souls and angels are immortal from the gift of God: or immortality signifies here the same with eternity, or immutability.
Dwelling in the light; continually encompassed with a glory that is unspeakable, 1Jo 1:5.
Which no man can approach unto; to which no man can in this life come nigh.
Whom no man hath seen; nor did Moses, or Stephen, or any other, ever see his glory so as to comprehend it, or in the full perfection of it.
Nor can see; nor can the sons of men see him with their bodily eyes, or so as to comprehend him in his perfection, though some have with their bodily eyes seen his back parts and appearances, and with their souls have, through his grace, been enabled spiritually to behold him.
To whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen: to which immortal, glorious, invisible God belongs, and let there for ever be given, honour and power.
Dwelling in that light which no man can approach unto; in this present, frail, and mortal state; yea, angels themselves cannot bear the lustre of it, but cover their faces with their wings; for God is light itself, as well as clothes himself with light, as with a garment; and is the Father and fountain of lights to all his creatures.
Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: nowhere but in Christ, at least spiritually and savingly; and that but very imperfectly in the present state: the sin, frailty, and mortality of human nature must be taken away, in order to inherit the kingdom of God, and enjoy the beatific vision of him; which saints in heaven have, who see him as he is, and in such sort as no man now does, or can see him:
to whom be honour and power everlasting, Amen. Which may be considered either as a wish, that such honour, power, and glory might be ascribed unto him, as we supply it; or as an assertion that it is given to him, as it is by the angels, and by the saints in heaven and in earth.Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Timothy 6:16. ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν: God the Father is the subject of this whole attribution; and it is the Catholic doctrine that He alone has endless existence as His essential property, (οὐσίᾳ ἀθάνατος οὐ μετουσίᾳ, Theod. Dial. iii. p. 145, quoted by Ell.). God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-eternal with the Father; but Their life is derived from and dependent on His. This is expressly declared by Christ of Himself, “As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:26). On this Westcott notes: “The Son has not life only as given, but life in Himself as being a spring of life.… The tense (gave) carries us back beyond time”. Accordingly, the creed of Cæsarea, which formed the basis of that adopted at Nicea, spoke of the Son as Ζωὴν ἐκ Ζωὴς; a doctrine sufficiently expressed in the other phrase, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, which has survived.
φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον: This is a grander conception than that in Psalm 104:2, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment”. Here, if one may venture so to express it, the Person of God is wholly concealed by His dwelling, which is light; and this dwelling is itself unapproachable. Josephus, Ant. iii. 5. 1, says that God was thought to dwell in Mount Sinai, φοβερὸν καὶ ἀπρόσιτον. (See also Philo, de Vita Mosis, ii. [iii.] 2 cited by Dean Bernard).
ὃν εἶδεν οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων: None of men; only the Son (John 1:18; Matthew 11:27, etc.).
κράτος: For this word in doxologies see reff.16. whom no man hath seen] ‘These words as compared with John 1:18 seem to prove decisively that the whole description applies to the Fath the Son.’ Alford. Between this verse and Matthew 5:8 there is no opposition, the former referring to man with his present bodily powers and iniquities, the latter referring to the ‘Beatific Vision’ as it has been thence called, the vision of heavenly glory, which was vouchsafed to St Paul, when translated into ‘the third heaven’ (2 Corinthians 12:2), and which will be the portion of the saints perfected and clothed upon with their spiritual bodies, after the rest of Paradise.
1 Timothy 6:15-16 have been thought to be part of an early rhythmical Doxology.1 Timothy 6:16. Μόνος, only) This word only was properly put off in being treated of till now, because another similar phrase follows, “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see.”—ἔχων) having, and therefore about to give to us.—ἀθανασίαν, immortality) The adjective ἀθάνατος, immortal, is not found in the New Testament, but ἄφθαρτος, incorruptible. The LXX. has neither ἀθάνατος nor ἀθανασία. The Book of Wisdom, which never existed but in Greek, has both.—φῶς, light) After life, mention is immediately made of light.—ἀπρόσιτον) inaccessible to creatures, unless in as far as they are both admitted by Him and He goes forth to them.—οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων, no man) So Exodus 33:20 : That which is denied to mere men, John 1:18; 1 John 4:12, will be vouchsafed to the saints; Matthew 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4.Verse 16. - Light unapproachable for the light which no man can approach unto, A.V.; eternal for everlasting, A.V. Unapproachable (ἀπρόσιτον); only here in the New Testament, but found occasionally in. the later classics, corresponding to the more common ἄβατος. Whom no man hath seen, nor can see (comp. 1 Timothy 1:17 (where see note) and Exodus 33:20-23). The appearance of the "God of Israel" to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, related in Exodus 34:9-11, was that of the Son in anticipation of the Incarnation. The invisibility of the essential Godhead is also predicated in our Lord's saying, "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24). This whole passage is a magnificent embodiment of the attributes of the living God, supreme blessedness and almighty power, universal dominion, and unchangeable being, inscrutable majesty, radiant holiness, and glory inaccessible and unapproachable by his creatures, save through the mediation of his only begotten Son.
Comp. ἀφθάρτῳ incorruptible, 1 Timothy 1:17. It has been suggested that there is here a possible allusion to the practice of deifying the woman emperors, with an implied protest against paying them divine honors. In the Asian provinces generally, this imperial cultus was organised as the highest and most authoritative religion. Domitian (81-96 a.d.) assumed the titles of "Lord" and "God," and insisted on being addressed as Dominus et Deus noster in all communications to himself. Trajan (98-117 a.d.) forbade his subjects to address him as "Lord" and "God," but Pliny (112 a.d.) required the citizens of Bithynia to pay divine honors to Trajan's statue. Hadrian (117-138 a.d.) allowed the worship of his statues.
Which no man can approach unto (ἀπρόσιτον)
More simply, unapproachable. N.T.o. olxx.
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