What does justified in the Spirit refer to in

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.

What is its relation to Godliness?

  • @Lucian Please do not use comments to post "mini answers" to questions. They should be reserved for requests for clarification or suggestions on how to edit to improve posts. – Caleb Apr 8 '19 at 13:09

What does justified in the spirit refer to in 1Timothy 3:16

According to the book "Truth in Translation" by Jason David BeDuhn , an associated professor of religious studies at Nothern Arizona University, a correct rendering is that of the NRSV which follows Paul's language without tempering with its meaning. (The NRSVACE, NCV and NRSV also follow the same rendering). He writes that there is no reason to think that "Holy Spirit" is involved in this passage. The parallel that is drawn with "in flesh" rules out such rendering.

1 Timothy 3:16 (NRSV)

16 "Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory."

A similar verse is that of 1 Peter 3:18 , the majority of translations render it as :

1 Peter 3:18 (NRSV)

18 "For Christ also suffered[a] for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you[b] to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,"


Jesus Christ by being faithful to the end , was made "alive in the spirit" was given immortality, declared righteous for the unrighteous, exalted to a higher position, sat at the right hand of God in heavens ,and so has set pattern for others to follow. Compare verses below.

1 Corinthians 15:42,45 (NRSV)

42 "So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.45 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit."

1 Timothy 6:16 (NRSV)

16 "It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen."

Philippians 2:9-11 (NRSV)

9 "Therefore God also highly **exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,**10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

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  • Excellent answer - good references. +1 – user25930 Apr 4 '19 at 20:57
  • So the Godliness spoken there, is it about His Godliness or our Godliness? – Siju George Apr 5 '19 at 13:57
  • Siju George. The mystery of godliness in this verse refers to the first prophesy in the scriptures Gen 3:15 and which was gradually manifest by God to his servants, refers to Jesus Paul gives us an explanation of the mystery of godliness. (Eph 1:9-11 (NRSV) Compare Col 2:2 , 2 Tim 1:10. Eph. 3:1-4. There are questions "What did Paul mean by the mystery of piety in Timothy 3:16?" on this side. – Ozzie Nicolas Apr 5 '19 at 19:08

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