1 Timothy 3:16
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels…
I. I AM TO REPRESENT IN WHAT MANNER CHRIST WAS PREACHED TO THE GENTILES.
1. The great truths which relate to Christ were declared and explained to them. Christ, therefore, was the chief, though not the only subject of the apostle's sermons, and everything else was preached in reference to Him. "What we are told of Paul's sermons at Corinth and Rome is equally true of the sermons of the rest of the apostles. What were the things concerning Christ which they taught it is impossible to say in one sermon. The undertaking of Christ in the covenant of redemption and the promises then made Him by the Father; His personal glory, both as the Equal and Fellow of the Almighty, and as anointed in His human nature with the Holy Ghost and with power; His fitness as God-man for redeeming lost mankind.
2. The apostles laid before their hearers sufficient evidence of the truths concerning Christ in which they were instructed. Thus Paul confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that Jesus is very Christ. At a synagogue in Thessalonica, as his manner was, he went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead, and that Jesus is the Christ.
3. The apostles invited and commanded their hearers to believe on Christ, to receive Him, and to rest on Him alone for salvation. Christ and the blessings of His purchase were freely offered to all, and all were invited and enjoined to accept them.
II. I am next to show IN WHAT RESPECT CHRIST PREACHED TO THE GENTILES IS A MYSTERY. It was mysterious that, for a long period, God suffered them to walk in their own ways, giving His statutes unto Jacob and His testimonies unto Israel, while He dealt not so with other nations. This, however, was a mystery of wisdom. Still, however, it remains a mystery that to the Gentiles Christ was preached when they were at the very worst. Search the inspired Epistles and tell me was Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, or Crete celebrated for sobriety, charity, justice, benevolence, and other humane and social virtues, when the apostles were sent to publish in their ears the religion of Jesus? Did they generally resemble a Socrates, an Aristides, a Fabricius, a Camillus? Alas! wisdom and goodness were far from them. What can we say to these things? How unsearchable are God's judgments, and His ways past finding out! When offers of salvation were made in the amplest manner to a generation so enlightened and yet so profligate, does not this manifest that all, however vile and unworthy, are welcome of the Saviour? The confirmation of Christianity might be another end of this mysterious dispensation. The gospel was intended to subdue sinners to Christ. God, therefore, first sends it on that design, in an age where it was to meet with the greatest opposition, that its amazing conquests might manifest its Divine original. And this leads me to observe that the effects of the preaching of Christ to the Gentiles were mysterious and amazing. When the men of Cyprus and Cyrene spoke to the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus, the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
(J. Erskine, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and received up in glory.