1 Timothy 3:16 “GOD was manifest in the flesh” or the Vatican Versions' "He" or even "Christ"?
1 Timothy 3:16 KJB - “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.”
1 Timothy 3:16 ESV (NIV, NASB, NET, Jehovah Witness NWT, Catholic St. Joseph, New Jerusalem) - “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: HE was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
If you think versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, Jehovah Witness NWT and modern Catholic versions teach the same truth of the absolute deity of the Lord Jesus Christ in this verse, then you cannot read plain and simple English.
At a Christian forum called Intense Bible Study, a professing "Christian" posted the following perverted bible version verse from the New Living Translation. This is just one more of the modern Vatican Supervised Critical text versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Holman Standard, etc. But in this case there is NO Greek text on the earth that reads this way. But they have an agenda, and it doesn't seem to bother them at all to use a perverted "bible" version to try to promote it.
The New Living Translation 2015 says: "Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith. CHRIST was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and take up to heaven in glory."
And the comment on this picture was "It was CHRIST who was revealed in human body, not GOD."
The Muslims are all over the internet posting against the reading found in the King James Bible and telling Christians and others that the reading of "GOD was manifest in the flesh" is not the original reading but a corruption of the text.
The Muslims of course do NOT believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is God and they try as hard as they can to discredit the King James Bible and any other translation that clearly teaches that He is GOD. They have NO problem with the ESV, NIV, NASB, JW reading.
Here is one such site that a Muslim posted a the Facebook forum called Jesus Saves. The site is called Discover the Truth, Calling Humanity Back to Islam. You can see their article here.
This anti "GOD was manifest in the flesh" article is posted by a Muslim who calls himself Kaleef K. Karim and his article starts of with these words:
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.) 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, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Although the above verse reads as “GOD was manifest in flesh”, the majority of Trinitarian Bible Translations, it reads as: “He was manifest in flesh.” A lot of Scholars agree that the word “God” was not in the original text, but was added by later scribes. The earliest and best manuscripts does not have the word “God” in it but rather “He who” or “which.” Furthermore even the modern (Trinitarian) Bible Translations disagree with the KJV and few other translations for putting the word “God” in 1 Timothy 3: 16. Let’s now show what the other Bible Translations put for 1 Timothy 3:16." (End of Muslim quotes)
This Muslim site is full of misinformation and uses the quotes of various "scholars" who are in favor of the Vatican Versions UBS/ Nestle-Aland critical texts which is the textual basis of such modern versions as the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman, NET as well as the Jehovah Witness NWT and the modern Catholic versions like the St. Joseph New American Bible and the New Jerusalem bible of 1985.
This ever changing Critical Text is result of a formal agreement with the Vatican to produce a common "interconfessional" text. See the Undeniable Proof of this from their own words in this article called "Undeniable Proof the ESV, NIV, NASB, Holman Standard, NET, Jehovah Witness NWT etc. are the new "Vatican Versions"
First of all it should be pointed out that there is nothing special about the Vatican supervised Critical text reading of "HE was manifested in a body." I have been manifested in a body. YOU have been manifested in a body. EVERYBODY has been manifested in a body. There is nothing special about that. But when the Bible says that GOD was manifested in a body, then this is something altogether different and unique.
Some Vatican Version promoters try to defend their reading of "He was manifest in the flesh" by telling us that the antecedent of "He" is "God" as found in the previous verse. It isn't. It is "godliness".
Let's look at the verses. "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou doughtiest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: GOD (or "He) 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."
The antecedent is "godliness". The most you can legitimately get out of the Vatican versions is that godliness was manifest in the flesh. There have been many godly men and godly lives that have been manifest in the flesh. But this does not make them God. You simply cannot prove that Jesus Christ is God from this verse using the Critical Text versions.
Secondly, the textual evidence for the reading "GOD was manifest in the flesh" is massive. It is the reading found in the Majority of all remaining Greek manuscripts we have today. Of the 300 known Greek cursive copies we have of the epistle of Paul to Timothy 254 of them read "GOD was manifest in the flesh".
This is also the reading found in Sinaiticus correction, A correction, C correction and D correction. Even among these 4, in their previously uncorrected forms, they disagreed with each other and none of them is grammatically correct. Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and C used to read "who" (ὃς) and mss. D used to read "which" (ὃ) but neither reading is even good Greek grammar.
There is NO Vaticanus reading because the Vatican manuscript is missing all of First and Second Timothy, as well as Titus, several chapters of Hebrews as well as the entire book of Revelation. In other words, ALL four of the so called 5 great uncial copies that contain this portion of the Scriptures were seen as being defective and were corrected very early on by Christian Scribes.
"GOD was manifest in the flesh" is the reading of other uncial copies as well including K, L, P, Psi. It is the reading found in the early Byzantine Lectionaries, the Georgian and Slavonic ancient versions and is so quoted by numerous early Christian writers.
In his book, The Revision Revised, Dean Burgon (pages 450, 454, 489-90) also cites the Georgian (6th century), Harkleian Syriac (616 AD) and the Slavonic (9th cent.) versions as reading "God." The fathers in support of this passage are as follows (Burgon, p 486-90):
1st Century: Ignatius (90 AD); 2nd Century: Hippolytus (190 AD); 3rd Century: Apostolic Constitutions, Epistle ascribed to Dionysius of Alexandria (264 AD), Gregory Thaumaturgus; 4th Century: Basil the Great (355 AD), Chrysostom (380 AD), Didymus (325 AD), Diodorus (370 AD), Gregory of Nazianzus (355 AD), Gregory of Nyssa (370 AD). "Euthalian" chapter title of I Tim. 3, attesting to "God in the flesh."; 5th Century: Anon. citation in works of Athanasius (430 AD), Cyril of Alexandria (410 AD), Euthalius (458 AD), Macedonius 11(496 AD), Theodoret (420 AD); 6th Century: Severus, Bishop of Antioch (512 AD); 8th Century: Epiphanius of Catana (787 AD), John Damascene (730 AD), Theodorus Studita (790 AD); 10th Century: Ecumenius (990 AD); 11th Century: Theophylact (1077 AD); 12th Century: Euthymius (1116 AD).
Hippolytus (170-236 A.D.) "God was manifested in the flesh." (Against the Heresies of Noetus I: 1:17), and Dionysius (3rd cent.) "For God was manifested in the flesh." (Conciliations I: 1:853)
"GOD was manifest in the flesh" is also the reading of the Greek texts of Ximenes, Erasmus, Stephanus 1550, Beza 1598, Elzevir 1624, Scrivener 1894 and the Hodges and Farstad Majority Text Greek New Testament 1982. It IS the Reformation text.
The KJB and every major Reformation bible in history are correct in saying "GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit".
These include Tyndale 1525 - "GOD was shewed in the flesshe was iustified in the sprete was sene of angels was preached vnto the gentyls was beleved on in erth and receaved vp in glory.", Coverdale 1535 -"GOD was shewed in the flesshe", the Great Bible 1540- "GOD was shewed in the flesshe", Matthew's Bible 1549- "GOD was shewed in þe fleshe", the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587 - "great is the mysterie of godlinesse, which is, GOD is manifested in the flesh", Beza's New Testament 1599, and of course, it is the reading of God's Masterpiece, the Authorized King James Holy Bible - "GOD was manifest in the flesh."
Also agreeing with the King James Bible reading of "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit" are The Bill Bible 1671, Mace's New Testament 1729, John Wesley's translation 1755 - "GOD was manifested in the flesh, was justified by the Spirit", the Worsley Version 1770, the Clarke N.T. 1795, the Thomson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster's translation 1833, the Dickinson N.T. 1833, The Longman Version 1841, the Hussey N.T. 1845, The Morgan N.T. 1848, the Boothroyd Bible 1853, the Calvin Bible 1856, Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Revised New Testament 1862, Darby 1890, Young's 1898, Anderson N.T. 1865, the Smith Bible 1876, the Worrell N.T. 1904, The NKJV 1984, the Amplified Bible 1987, The Word of Yah 1993, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, Interlinear Greek New Testament 1997 (Larry Pierce), Lawrie Translation 1998, God's First Truth 1999, Last Days Bible 1999 - "GOD appeared to us in a human body", The World English Bible 2000, The Tomson Bible 2002, the Apostolic Polyglot Greek Bible 2003, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Complete Apostle's Bible 2005, Green's Literal 2005, The Pickering N.T. 2005, A Conservative Version 2005, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the Faithful New Testament 2009, Bond Slave Version 2009, Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010, Jubilee Bible 2010, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - “Elohim (אלהים) was manifest in the flesh”, Online Interlinear Greek N.T. 2010 (André de Mol), Disciples Literal New Testament 2011, Conservative Bible 2011 - "GOD appeared in the flesh", The Far Above All Translation 2011, World English Bible 2010, the 2012 Natural Israelite Bible - “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: YAHWEH was manifested in the flesh, Justified in His Spirit” and the Holy Bible, The English Majority Text N.T. 2013, The Hebrew Names Version 2014 The Modern English Version 2014 and The Modern Literal Version 2014 - "GOD was manifest in the flesh"
All foreign language Reformation Bibles also read the same way. His is a partial list: Luther’s German Bible of 1545, German Elberfelder 1905 and the German Schlachter Bible of 2000 - "GOTT ist offenbaret im Fleisch, gerechtfertiget im Geist", French Martin 1744 and Ostervald 1996, the 2007 Louis Segond 21 - "DIEU a été manifesté en chair, justifié en Esprit", the Italian Diodati 1649 and New Diodati 1991 - "DIO è stato manifestato in carne, è stato giustificato nello Spirito", the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras 1569 and the Reina Valera 1909-2011 editions, and the R.V. Gómez Bible of 2010 - "DIOS se ha manifestado en carne; ha sido justificado con el Espíritu", the Portuguese Almeida 1681 - "DEUS se manifestou em carne, foi justificado no Espírito", the Polish Updated Gdansk Bible 2013 - "Bóg objawiony został w ciele" - "GOD was manifest in the flesh"
Even though the English version of the NIV does not say "God was manifest in the flesh" but rather "He appeared in the flesh", YET the NIV Portuguese bible of 1993 and 2000 DOES! The Portuguese Nova Versão Internacional says: "Deus foi manifestado em corpo". The Portuguese Almeida Corregida 1681 also reads "God was manifest in the flesh" - "Deus se manifestou em carne".
Also reading "God was manifest" are the Dutch Staten Vertaling of 1637 - "GOD is geopenbaard in het vlees" and the Modern Greek as well as the Greek Orthodox New Testament used throughout the Greek speaking churches today all agree -
Θεὸς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιώθη ἐν Πνεύματι = "GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit."
See the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America site here - http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/biblegreek/
Other foreign language Bible that read "GOD was manifest in the flesh" are the Afrikaans bible 1953 - "GOD is geopenbaar in die vlees, is geregverdig in die Gees", the Dutch Staten Vertaling bible - "GOD is geopenbaard in het vlees", the Chinese Union Traditional version, the Hungarian Karoli Bible - "Isten megjelent testben",and the Russian Zhuromsky New Testament and the Russian Synodal Bible - "Бог явился во плоти, оправдал Себя в Духе" = "GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit", the 2014 Romanian Fidela Bible - "Dumnezeu a fost arătat în carne", and the 1998 Tagalog Ang Salita ng Diyos Bible - "Nahayag sa laman ang Diyos." = "God manifest in the flesh"
And it is the reading of the Modern Hebrew Bible - "ובודי גדול סוד החסידות אלהים נגלה בבשר נצדק ברוח נראה למלאכים הגד בגוים נתקבל באמונה בעולם נעלה בכבוד׃
You can see both the Modern Greek Bible and the Modern Hebrew Bible, both of which read "GOD was manifest in the flesh" at the Biola University website called Unbound Bible here -
The Commentaries that use the true text -
Matthew Henry on 1 Timothy 3:16 - "The mystery of godliness is Christ. He is God, who was made flesh, and was manifest in the flesh. God was pleased to manifest himself to man, by his own Son taking the nature of man."
John Gill - " And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness,.... What follows is so, the incarnation of Christ, his birth of a virgin, the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; this is a mystery...God was manifest in the flesh; not God essentially considered, or Deity in the abstract, but personally; and not the first nor the third Person; for of neither of them can this or the following things be said; but the second Person, the Word, or Son of God; see 1 John 3:8 who existed as a divine Person, and as a distinct one from the Father and Spirit, before his incarnation; and which is a proof of his true and proper deity: the Son of God in his divine nature is equally invisible as the Father, but became manifest by the assumption of human nature in a corporeal way, so as to be seen, heard, and felt."
John Calvin - He also translated the verse into Latin and it reads just like the King James Bible - "Et sine controversia magnum est pietatis mysterium; Deus manifestatus est in carne, justificatus in Spiritu". He then comments: "The Vulgate's translator, by leaving out the name of God, refers what follows to "the mystery," but altogether unskillfully and inappropriately, as will clearly be seen on a bare perusal...All the Greek copies undoubtedly agree in this rendering, "God manifested in the flesh." He could not have spoken more appropriately about the person of Christ than in these words, "God manifested in the flesh." First, we have here an express testimony of both natures; for he declares at the same time that Christ is true God and true man. Secondly, he points out the distinction between the two natures, when, on the one hand, he calls him God, and, on the other, expresses his "manifestation, in the flesh." Thirdly, he asserts the unity of the person, when he declares, that it is one and the same who was God, and who has been manifested in the flesh. Thus, by this single passage, the true and orthodox faith is powerfully defended against Arius, Marcion, Nestorius, and Eutyches. There is also great emphasis in the contrast of the two words, God in flesh. How wide is the difference between God and man! And yet in Christ we behold the infinite glory of God united to our polluted flesh in such a manner that they become one."
John Darby - " The mystery of piety, which lies at the very centre of what the assembly maintains before the world, is great, and relates essentially to the Person of Christ...God had been manifested in the flesh; marvelous truth in fact! There, where all is confusion and sin, in the nature of him in whom all this sin and all this confusion are introduced, the Centre of all blessing, He who is Light itself, He who as the light puts every thing morally in its place, and who by the fact of His presence shews that love is above everything, God who is love, has been manifest in the flesh. Where sin was, there was love above the sin. Man, who is the slave of evil, sees here in his own nature the source and the power of all good. In the centre of evil and of weakness, in human nature, God Himself has been manifested."
B.W. Johnson's Commentary - "The mystery that God has revealed to us in the gospel in order to make men godly. The great things revealed in this mystery are next named, certainly wonderful things, well called great. God was manifest in the flesh. Was manifested in Jesus Christ."
John Wesley - "The mystery of godliness - Afterwards specified in six articles, which sum up the whole economy of Christ upon earth. Is the pillar and ground - The foundation and support of all the truth taught in his church. God was manifest in the flesh - In the form of a servant, the fashion of a man, for three and thirty years."
Adam Clarke's Commentary - "We read, therefore, God was manifested in the flesh, and I cannot see what good sense can be taken out of, the GOSPEL was manifested in the flesh; or, the mystery of godliness was manifested in the flesh. After seriously considering this subject in every point of light, I hold with the reading in the commonly received text."
David Guzik's Commentary on the Bible - "God was manifested in the flesh: This is the essence of the incarnation - that God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, added to His deity humanity - and was thus manifested in the flesh."
The People's New Testament Commentary - "God was manifest in the flesh. Was manifested in Jesus Christ."
Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge - "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" God - Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1,2,14; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:3; 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:47; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:16-18; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9-13; 1 John 1:2; Revelation 1:17,18"
The Vatican Versions 1 Timothy 3:16
Now, by way of contrast, let's show how the Catholic versions and the new “Catholic” versions render this verse.
Jehovah Witness New World Translation 1961 - “HE was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory.”
By the way, there is absolutely NO Greek manuscripts that read “HE”. These modern Vatican versions have just made it up because the texts they follow don’t make any sense by saying “WHO was manifest in the flesh”. There is no antecedent for the word “who”. “The mystery of godliness” is a thing, not a person.
NIV 1984 edition - “HE appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit...”
NASB 1995 edition - “HE WHO was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit...”
RSV - “HE was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit...”
ESV 2001 - “HE (R10) was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit...” Footnote 10 - Greek Who; some manuscripts God; others Which.
Holman Standard 2003 - “HE was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit”
ISV (International Standard Version) - “In flesh was HE revealed to sight, Kept righteous by the Spirit's might”
Catholic Douay-Rheims 1582 - “And evidently great is the mystery of godliness WHICH was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto angels,”
Catholic Douay 1950 - "great is the mystery of godliness: WHICH was manifested in the flesh"
St. Joseph New American Bible 1970 - “HE was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit...”
Catholic New Jerusalem bible 1985 - “HE was made visible in the flesh, justified in the Spirit...”
Catholic Public Domain Version 2009 - "this mystery of piety, which was manifested in the flesh"
No wonder the Muslims prefer these other bible versions. You cannot prove from them that Jesus Christ is GOD. THEY see it and they are right, even if so many professing Christians cannot or refuse to see the simple truth in their own English language.
The KJB is right, as always, and the modern Vatican Versions are wrong, as usual. "GOD was manifest in the flesh", the Second Person of the blessed Trinity. The same God-Man to whom the apostle Paul refers in Acts 20:28 when he tells the elders of the church to "feed the church of GOD, which HE hath purchased with HIS OWN BLOOD."
All of God's grace, believing God's Book, the King James Holy Bible. Accept no substitutes.
See an excellent defense of "God was manifest in the flesh"in 1 Timothy 3:16 by brother Martin Shew here -
FALSE CITATIONS IN NA/UBS
1 TIMOTHY 3:16 EXAMINED by Scott Jones.
Dean Burgon discusses the textual corruption of changing God to “he” or “who” in 1 Timothy 3:16 as being “so patent an absurdity”
Notes from the Internet -
Gardner Den Palma Improso posts: "I would like to address this verse to Will Kinney and find out why God who is manifested in the FLESH is also JUSTIFIED in the Spirit.”
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, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."
Why would God needed to be declared righteous in the Spirit if He is and always be without sin?
Let us see how KJV "justifies" God."
Hi Gardner. Good question, and very easy to answer. This verse is one of the most critical verses in the whole Bible version issue. The reading of "GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit..." has massive and almost universal support among all manuscripts, early versions and church fathers. (For the textual evidence, see end of article). It is only the modern Vatican Versions like the ESV, NIV, NASB, Jehovah Witness and all Catholic versions that follow a minority reading of "who" or just make one up out of thin air - "he", and read something like "who (he) was manifest in a body". Nothing special here. EVERYBODY has been manifest in the flesh or a body!
But when the word of God tells us that GOD was manifest in the flesh, we know right away and very clearly that the Lord Jesus Christ is none other that GOD Almighty. This important witness to His full Deity is removed in the Vatican versions.
The word "justify" does NOT mean "to make righteous"; it simply means to show to be righteous. For example, when Scripture says "wisdom is justified of her children" (Matthew 11:19) or where it is said of God Himself "that thou mayest be justified in thy sayings" (Romans 3:4) it does not mean to "make" wisdom righteous or to make God righteous but rather the children (the results) of wisdom, or God Himself, are shown to be what it in fact they already are, that is, righteous.
The Lord Jesus Christ, being GOD manifest in the flesh, was SHOWN TO BE RIGHTEOUS by the Spirit. He was revealed to be Who and what He always was, righteous.
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