Day 4

The Mystery of Godliness

from the 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus reading plan


1 Timothy 3:1-16, Romans 9:15-24

BY Andrea Lucado

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 3:1-16, Romans 9:15-24

The hymn “In Christ Alone” has been my church’s unofficial anthem for several years now. I say “anthem” because whenever the worship leader begins to play the familiar chords, the energy in the room changes. Everyone’s attention seems to become more focused, both forward and upward. People stand without prompting, and by the end of the song, we’re all sort of yell-singing our favorite line: “Up from the grave He rose again!” We are declaring in this anthem what we believe. We’re reminding each other of what’s true, and the power of this is tangible in the room.

Perhaps this is why Paul slipped a hymn into his instructions for Timothy. “The mystery of godliness is great,” he says in 1 Timothy 3:16. He then explains what that mystery is by using lines from what some scholars believe was a popular hymn of his time.

“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (v. 16).

They are the basic tenets of Christianity—truths Timothy knew well. Paul understood our human tendency to forget the truth and simply begin to follow a religion or set of rules for the sake of following something. Using the power of an anthem—his “In Christ Alone,” shall we say—Paul reminds Timothy of the gospel before diving into further spiritual instruction. We need the same thing.

There’s a method to our godliness, and it’s crucial to understand the reason behind what we do and Who we live for if we’re going to stand strong in our faith.

In almost the same breath that he declares the mystery of godliness, Paul also delivers a warning to Timothy, saying that in later times there will be false teachers, deceitful spirits, and many who depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

Paul was right. Heresy, deceit, and hypocrisy are not only things of the future; they are rampant in our world now. Knowing, understanding, and believing the mystery of godliness—the gospel of Jesus Christ—is more crucial than ever. Without God’s truth as our anchor, we will float from here to there with each person who enters our lives touting a new philosophy or theology (James 1:6). But with our anthem close to our hearts, we remember who Jesus is and we can distinguish His truth from the lies.

Just as Paul did in his letter to Timothy, we must remember and remind one another of what is true. We declare our anthem to one another again and again, “giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

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Post Comments (52)

52 thoughts on "The Mystery of Godliness"

  1. Aimee Hutton says:

    ❤️

  2. Holly says:

    Please pray for my husband who has grown up in the faith and as a PK. He is doubting the gospel because of the lack of seeing God transform his life and many other “Christians” he watches in the church. He says if being saved really has transforming power than why haven’t I seen it and why don’t people “sell their things and follow him”. Along with all the other commands we are given. This passage reminded me of his struggle with what’s true and what’s false. Thanks for your prayers!

  3. Jen Nohrenberg says:

    Love this :) thank you Andrea!

  4. Kelsey Tomlinson says:

    I love verse 16. What a beautiful piece of scripture that we can memorize and use as a daily reminder of the gospel. I may have my kids memorize that one. ❤️

  5. Courtney Moyer says:

    In chapter 1 & 2 we are told what to do. Here we have discussion on what leaders in the church ought to be. I also liked that Paul’s desire was to speak these things to Timothy personally but knowing he might not be able to be sent the letter.

    Oh how often I get an idea to do something but because it doesn’t work out precisely to plan, I end up doing nothing. To be like Paul, an alternative delivery method could be God’s plan of deliverance for someone else.

  6. Autumn says:

    I’m a little lost on how the Romans 9 passage ties in with the 1 Timothy passage and the commentary. Wishing she would have talked about how it relates. Any ideas?

    1. KK says:

      I had the same thought. None seemed to go together, but a lot of impact we can take from each.

    2. Katie Pollard says:

      I think the Romans passage was meant to highlight the “mystery” of Godliness. In Romans 9 Paul is describing God’s authority to exhibit both justice and mercy toward whomever he chooses. I think part of what he’s getting at is that we often don’t understand why God acts as he does, but it’s actually good news that “it does not depend on human will or effort…” Back to 1 Tim, Paul is leaving the readers with a cadence of truth to cling to when they’re tempted to believe false teachers, in case he’s delayed before he writes or comes to them again. I think we can still relate to the temptation to be swayed by human reasoning or pop philosophy or cultural attitudes, which is why we cling to God’s Word—trusting that He has the authority to order our lives even when his will is mysterious to us.

      1. Rachel says:

        I agree- that’s the connection I made, too. “Who are you, mere man, that you should question God?” The idea that God has ways which we will never understand is part of His mystery.

    3. Megan Brown says:

      My thought was it had to do with intention, or purposefulness. Whether it be for us to be intentional in our actions as christians or the purpose God had when it came to making each of us.

  7. Cori S. says:

    Verse 16: how beautifully simple and creed-like!

    1. Julie Waldvogel says:

      I thought that as well. How creed-like that verse sounded.

  8. Coral Monson says:

    I’ve often heard when a verse stands out to you in a passage to listen to that and ask God to speak about that. I had 1 Timothy 3:5 stand out to me. I often find myself wondering why certain people are in position of “leadership” when I feel they shouldn’t be, coming from my own church experience… I learned today something about that by re-reading this passage and also why I have questioned things. It’s because the truth is in me and it lights up the darkness of lies to search out the problem—which often is someone neglecting their own family. I feel that when we are close to Jesus and in his truth, it will set us free from whatever is in the way of us growing closer to Him and in that way to each other.

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