The Truth About 1 Timothy 3:16

Christians tend to use 1 Timothy 3:16 to support the divinity of Jesus:

1 Timothy 3:16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (NIV)

Let’s examine this verse closely and expose another missionary lie. Biblical scholars say that Christ was not called God in the original reading of the manuscript. In his book, Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman (a New Testament scholar) says:

Most manuscripts abbreviate sacred names (the so called nomina sacra), and that is the case here as well, where the Greek word God is abbreviated in two letters, theta and sigma , with a line drawn over the top to indicate that it is an abbreviation. What Wettstein (One of the most controversial figures in the ranks of biblical scholarship in the eighteenth century) noticed in examining Codex Alexandrinus was that the line over the top had been drawn in a different ink from the surrounding words, and so appeared to be from a later hand (i.e., written by a later scribe). Moreover, the horizontal line in the middle of the first letter, theta, was not actually a part of the letter but was a line that had bled through from the other side of the old vellum. In other words, rather than being the abbreviation (theta sigma) for”God” , the word was actually an omicron and a sigma , a different word altogether, which simply means “who.” The original reading of the manuscript thus did not speak of Christ as “God made manifest in the flesh” but of Christ “who was made manifest in the flesh.” According to the ancient testimony of the Codex Alexandrinus, Christ is no longer explicitly called God in this passage. [1]

In regard to the above verse, Bruce Metzger (a biblical scholar and textual critic) writes:

[“He who”] is supported by the earliest and best uncials…no uncial (in the first hand) earlier than the eighth or ninth century supports theos; all ancient versions presuppose hos or ho [“he who” or “he”]; and no patristic writer prior to the last third of the fourth century testifies to the reading theos. The reading theos arose either(a) accidentally, or (b) deliberately, either to supply a substantive for the following six verbs [the six verbs that follow in the verse], or, with less probability, to provide greater dogmatic precision [i.e., to produce a verse that more clearly supports the Trinitarian position].” [2]

Thus, it is clear how later scribes intentionally tampered with the text to forge evidence supporting the divinity of Jesus.


[1]: Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus (Hanper Collins Publishers,San Francisco,2005), p. 113

[2]: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (United Bible Society, New York, 1975), p. 641.

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