You may think it’s John 3:16, but this time, it’s not. There’s another verse in the Bible that summarizes the gospel of Jesus Christ magnificently. 1 Timothy 3:16 says,
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. – 1 Timothy 3:16
In transitioning from one part of his letter to another, Paul inserts what could be part of an early Christian hymn. (Hymns were not an uncommon way to confess truth). This hymn confesses that great indeed is the mystery of godliness. Earlier in this chapter, Paul used the word mystery to refer to the gospel, and he uses it in the same way here. The mystery of godliness is the gospel. And then he gives six points of the gospel:
1. Jesus was manifested in the flesh
This is the reality that Jesus left His place of glory to be born in human form, to the end that He would grow up and obey to the point of death, even death on a cross. Christmas, when we celebrate this manifestation in the flesh, focuses on a major part of the gospel.
2. Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit.
This is referring to His resurrection after He had been crucified and given up His life. The resurrection showed that He was righteous and that His sacrifice had been accepted. He was vindicated.
3. Jesus was seen by the angels.
This probably refers to His ascension, when He left the disciples physically to join His Father. It was only after this that the Holy Spirit would be sent to the believers.
4. Jesus is proclaimed among the nations.
This good news of Jesus has spread throughout the world and is meant to continue to do so. Part of the good news is that Jesus is saving a countless multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
5. Jesus is believed on in the world.
Not only is the gospel being spoken, but by His grace, people are believing. The Holy Spirit gives life to God’s people, and they receive His word.
6. Jesus was taken up in glory.
Not only did He ascend (pt. 3), but He was restored to His former place of glory which He left for us (pt. 4). Now, He reigns from the throne as King.
Amen! This is a verse you may consider memorizing, to reflect on gospel truth and to assist you in sharing it with others.
Lord, great indeed, we confess, is your gospel.