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. FOR EXPLAINING THIS SUBJECT, I OBSERVE —
1. Angels were witnesses of the most important events which concerned the Redeemer.
2. The angels, who beheld this amazing scene, were honoured to minister to Jesus in these His sufferings. Thus, after our Lord's temptation in the wilderness, we read, "Then the devil leaveth Him, and behold angels come and minister unto Him" (Matthew 4:11).
3. Angels behold and pry into the grand designs, for which Infinite Wisdom ordained all this scene of condescension and suffering. They not only saw God manifest in the flesh, but they saw the purposes for which He was thus manifest, for which He lived, for which He died.
4. While beholding the love which prompted the Son of God thus to condescend and thus to suffer, angels learn to love, and willingly to attend upon, and minister to the meanest of those whom the Lord of angels loved, and for whose salvation He stooped so low.
5. Angels, who saw God manifest in the flesh, were the first publishers to man of some of the most important events which they witnessed. An angel acquainted Daniel that the Messiah should be cut off, though not for Himself. An angel was the first publisher of the Saviour's birth.
II. AND NOW TO CONCLUDE WITH A FEW PRACTICAL REFLECTIONS.
(1) How shocking the folly and ingratitude of many! Angels desire to look into the mysteries of grace: and men, more nearly concerned in them, esteem it a disparagement to bestow upon them one serious thought. They shut their eyes, despise and scoff, while angels gaze, and wonder, and adore.
(2) Imitate angels. The sufferings and glory of the Redeemer are their favourite meditation. Let them also be yours. Count all things loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.
(3) Rejoice that He who was seen of angels was manifest in the flesh. Triumph, oh Christian, in that name Immanuel, God with us. In creation man was made a little lower than the angels. In redemption, the Son of God, by assuming our nature, has done infinitely greater honour to us than to them.
(4) Ask your hearts, Have we ever seen the Lord? You have heard of Him with the hearing of the ear. Have you, by the eye of faith, so seen Him as to abhor yourselves, and repent in dust and ashes? Doth beholding His glory remove prejudice against Him, captivate your hearts, and transform you to His image?
(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.