1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He (Christ) was manifested in the flesh, vindicated (justified) by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
V16, This is a difficult verse. One difficulty is in discerning just how it fits in with what has preceded. One suggestion is that here we have an epitome of the truth, of which the church is the pillar and ground (v. 15). Another is that this verse gives the example and power of godliness which Paul insists is an integral part of proper behavior in the house of God.
J. N. Darby said:
This is often quoted and interpreted as if it spoke of the mystery of the Godhead, or the mystery of Christ’s Person. But it is the mystery of godliness, or the secret by which all real godliness is produced—the divine spring of all that can be called piety in man. … Godliness springs from the knowledge of the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. …
This is how God is known; and from abiding in this flows godliness.
When Paul says that the mystery of godliness is great, he does not mean that it is very mysterious, but that the previously unknown truth concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus is very marvelous and wonderful.
God was manifested in the flesh refers to the Lord Jesus, and particulary to His Incarnation. True godliness was manifest in the flesh for the first time when the Savior was born as a Babe in Bethlehem’s manger.
Does justified by the Spirit mean “justified in His own human spirit”? Or does it mean “justified by the Holy Spirit”? We understand it to mean the latter. He was vindicated by the Holy Spirit of God at His baptism (Matt. 3:15–17), transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), resurrection (Rom. 1:3, 4), and ascension (John 16:10).
The Lord Jesus was seen by angels at His birth, temptation, His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, resurrection, and ascension.
From the day of Pentecost onward, He has been preached among the Gentiles. The proclamation has reached not only the Jewish people but the farthest corners of the earth.
Believed on in the world describes the fact that some from almost every tribe and nation have trusted the Lord Jesus. It does not say “believed on by the world.” Although the proclamation has been worldwide, yet its reception has been only partial.
Received up in glory is generally agreed to refer to His Ascension to heaven after the work of redemption had been completed, and to His present position there. Vincent points out that it reads “received up in (not into) glory.” It means “with attendant circumstances of pomp or majesty, as we say of a victorious general.”
Some make this list of events chronological. For instance, they say that manifested in the flesh refers to the incarnation; justified in the Spirit refers to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; seen by angels describes His ascension into heaven; preached among the Gentiles and believed on in the world are the events that followed His ascension; and, finally, received up in glory refers to a coming day when all His redeemed are gathered, raised from the dead, and received up with Him to glory. Then, and only then, will the mystery of godliness be complete, according to this view.
Messainic prophecies Jesus fulfilled
Messiah would be a prophet
Deu 18:15 (ESV)
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.
Act 3:18-22 (ESV)
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.
Messiah would be preceded by Elijah
Mal 4:5 (ESV)
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
Mat 11:13-14 (ESV)
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
Messiah would be declared the Son of God
Psa 2:7 (ESV)
I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
Mat 3:16-17 (ESV)
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”