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De Moor V:21: The Deity of Christ Demonstrated from Divine Titles, Part 2

In 1 Timothy 3:16, Θεὸς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, God was manifest in the flesh: where equally also with the preceding passage Θεὸς/God is used subjectively of the Son of God. For, the Vulgate Translator is not to be heard, who against the credit of all the Greek Codices, with one only excepted, translates the text: the mystery of godliness, which was manifest in the flesh; as if, not Θεὸς/God, but ὃ/ which, were read: while Manifestation in the flesh and Assumption into glory with sufficient clarity show that these things are predicated, not of a thing, but of some person. This Person is not God the Father, as it appeared to the Socinians: for the things predicated in the text do not square with God, unless they be altogether enervated and twisted to an alien sense. For, in what manner, 1. is God the Father said to be manifest in the flesh? unless you explain this of Manifestion through the preaching of infirm men, Christ and His Apostles, so that ἐν σαρκί, in the flesh would be through infirm flesh, comparison with John 14:9. But thus from a personal Manifestation, which the context, and especially the opposition to the Assumption into Glory, absolutely requires, we slip to a real Manifestation made to the intellect. If the Lord Jesus be brought down into the same order of infirm men with the Apostles, that will not be able to be thought so great a Mystery, as Paul acknowledges in this Manifestation; since already previously by the preaching of the Prophets God had also at that time been manifested in the flesh, Hebrews 1:1. What Christ says in John 14:9, ὁ ἑωρακὼς ἐμέ, ἑώρακε τὸν Πατέρα, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father, argues this very thing, that Christ is something greater and more excellent than feeble flesh, namely, the Only-Begotten Son of God, who was in the bosom of the Father, John 1:18. 2. Justification in the Spirit, having been referred to the Father, is also explained in an altogether alien sense, concerning God not hindering His own Manifestation through infirm men, shown and acknowledged as Just through the power of the Spirit, or by the miracles performed in the power of the Spirit. It is strange indeed, to find here this sort of Justification of God the Father, where no appearance of accusation or suspicion of injustice precedes, with which the Father meets. 3. In no suitable sense is God the Father able to be said to have been received into glory, or as glorious, completely enveloped in glory.

Therefore, it is God the Son, who is here subjectively and by proper name, as it were, called Θεὸς/God, and who is contemplated as the eternal God, since already previously existing as Θεὸς/God, and as such is manifest ἐν σαρκί, in the flesh, possessing together with human flesh the Πνεῦμα or divine Spirit, in, that is, through whom ἐδικαιώθη, He is justified.

Nicolaus Arnoldi

It is hardly worthy of consideration, that one and another Codex may be shown to have ὃς/who in the place of Θεὸς/God: and indeed, how this error from the true reading of Θεὸς/God crept in by an easy slip of the copyists, JOHN MILL shows in his notis on this passage, who defends the genuine reading of Θεὸς/God. But if even now ὃς/who be read, it would scarcely do any harm: for that ὃς/who would have to be referred to some certain subject, which could not be done otherwise than by returning to that Θεοῦ/God or Θεοῦ ζῶντος, living God, in verse 15;[1] while those intervening things (στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶ τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον, the pillar and ground of the truth, and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness) ought to be judged to have been inserted parenthetically. Now, this would at the same time make for the confirmation of the exegesis of the words, στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, the pillar and ground of the truth, as not concerning the Church, but concerning the summary of the Gospel subjoined, concerning which see on Chapter II, § 7. But, that that Θεὸν/God or Θεὸν ζῶντα, living God, will then be the Son of God, the things predicated in verse 16 show, as we have just now seen: consult our AUTHOR’S Exercitation XLIV, Part VI, Exercitationibus Textualibus, who specifically frees this passage from the distortions of Enjedinus; BECMANN’S Exercitationes Theologicas, XI, pages 146, 156-167, where claims this text for the true Deity of Christ, especially against the captious criticisms of Smalcius; ARNOLDI’S refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, on chapter I, de Cognitione Personæ Christi, questions 51, 57, 58, (pages 89, 94-96), pages 284-288; WOLF, Curas philologicas et criticas on this passage; BENGEL’S Apparatum Criticum in Novum Testamentum, pages 710, 711; HERMAN VENEMA’S Dissertation II de Vera Christi Divinitate, pages 36-116, in which he defends the reading of the noun Θεὸς/God against Wetstenius, but contends that it is to be read Θεὸς ὃς, that God who was manifested in the flesh, He was justified in the Spirit, etc. At least, with Θεὸς/God thrust from the text, ὃς/who is not able of itself to stand as the subject of the speech, as if the Apostle were saying, Who was manifested in the flesh, He was justified in the Spirit, etc.: for Paul would not thus begin his speech with the postpositive pronoun ὃς/who, but would rather have said, ὁ φανερωθεὶς ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιώθη, etc., the one manifested in the flesh was justified, etc., or in some similar fashion. My Dutch Sermon on this passage is also able inspected, in the volume called Gedachtenis, etc., pages 305-335.

[1] 1 Timothy 3:15: “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God (Θεοῦ), which is the church of the living God (Θεοῦ ζῶντος), the pillar and ground of the truth.”

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