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1 Timothy 1:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Now unto the King eternal - This burst of thanksgiving and gratitude to God, naturally arose from the subject then under his pen and eye. God has most wondrously manifested his mercy, in this beginning of the Gospel, by saving me, and making me a pattern to all them that shall hereafter believe on Christ. He is βασιλευς των αιωνων, the king of eternities; the eternity a parte ante, and the eternity a parte post; the eternity that was before time was, and the eternity that shall be when time is no more. Therefore, ever living to justify and save sinners, to the end of the world.

Immortal - Αφθαρτῳ· Incorruptible - not liable to decay or corruption; a simple uncompounded essence, incapable, therefore, of decomposition, and consequently permanent and eternal. One MS., the later Syriac in the margin, the Vulgate, one copy of the Itala, and some of the Latin fathers, read αθανατῳ, immortal, which our translation follows; but it is not the original reading.

Invisible - Αορατῳ· One who fills all things, works everywhere, and yet is invisible to angels and men; the perfect reverse of false gods and idols, who are confined to one spot, work nowhere, and, being stocks and stones, are seen by every body.

The only wise God - The word σοφῳ wise, is omitted by AD*FG, Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala. Some of the Greek fathers quote it sometimes, and omit it at others; which shows that it was an unsettled reading, probably borrowed from Romans 16:27; (note). Griesbach leaves it out of the text. Without it the reading is very strong and appropriate: To the only God; nothing visible or invisible being worthy of adoration but himself.

Be honor - All the respect and reverence that can be paid by intelligent beings, ascribing to him at the same time all the glory - excellences, and perfections, which can be possessed by an intelligent, unoriginated, independent, and eternal Being; and this for ever and ever-through eternity.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Now unto the king eternal - This ascription of praise is offered to God in view of the mercy which he had shown to so great a sinner. It is the outbreak of that grateful emotion which swelled his bosom, and which would not be denied expression, when Paul recalled his former life and the mercy of God to his soul. It somewhat interrupts indeed the train of his remarks, but the heart was so full that it demanded utterance. It is just an instance of the joy and gratitude which fill the soul of a Christian when he is led along in a train of reflections which conduct him to the recollections of his former sin and danger, and to the fact that he has obtained mercy and has now the hope of heaven. The apostle Paul not unfrequently, in accordance with a mode of writing that was common among the Hebrews, interposes an expression of praise in the midst of his reasonings; compare Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 11:31. God is called King here, as he is often in the Scriptures, to denote that he rules over the universe. A literal translation of the passage would be, “To the King of ages, who is immortal,” etc. The meaning of this expression - “the King of ages” - βασιλει τὼν αἰώνων basilei tōn aiōnōn- is, that he is a king who rules throughout all ages. This does not mean that he himself lives for ever, but that his dominion extends over all ages or generations. The rule of earthly monarchs does not extend into successive ages; his does. Their reign is temporary; his is enduring, and continues as one generation after another passes on, and thus embraces them all.

Immortal - This refers to God himself, not to his reign. It means that he does not die, and it is given to him to distinguish him from other sovereigns. All other monarchs but God expire - and are just as liable to die at any moment as any other people.

Invisible - 1 Timothy 6:16; see the notes on John 1:18.

The only wise God - notes, Romans 16:27. The word “wise” is missing in many mss., and in some editions of the New Testament. It is omitted by Griesbach; marked as doubtful by Tittman, and rejected in the valuable edition of Hahn. Erasmus conjectures that it was added against the Arians, who maintained that the Father only was God, and that as he is here mentioned as such, the word wise was interpolated to denote merely that the attribute of perfect wisdom belonged only to him. Wetstein regards the reading as genuine, and suspects that in some of the early manuscripts where it is missing it was omitted by the transcriber, because it was regarded as inelegant for two adjectives to be united in this manner. It is not easy to determine as to the genuineness of the reading. The sense is not materially affected, whichever view be adopted. It is true that Yahweh is the only God; it is also true that he is the only wise God. The gods of the pagan are “vanity and a lie,” and they are wholly destitute of wisdom; see Psalm 115:3-8; Psalm 135:15-18; Isaiah 40:18-20; Isaiah 44:10-17.

Be honour - Let there be all the respect and veneration shown to him which is his due.

And glory - Praise. Let him be praised by all for ever.

Amen - So be it; an expression of strong affirmation; John 3:3. Here it is used to denote the solemn assent of the heart to the sentiment conveyed by the words used; see the Matthew 6:13 note; 1 Corinthians 14:16 note.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle knew that he would justly have perished, if the Lord had been extreme to mark what was amiss; and also if his grace and mercy had not been abundant to him when dead in sin, working faith and love to Christ in his heart. This is a faithful saying; these are true and faithful words, which may be depended on, That the Son of God came into the world, willingly and purposely to save sinners. No man, with Paul's example before him, can question the love and power of Christ to save him, if he really desires to trust in him as the Son of God, who once died on the cross, and now reigns upon the throne of glory, to save all that come to God through him. Let us then admire and praise the grace of God our Saviour; and ascribe to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead, the glory of all done in, by, and for us.
Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 434

“Unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,” “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting.” 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16. MH 434.1

“Shall not His excellency make you afraid?
And His dread fall upon you?”
“Is not God in the height of heaven?
And behold the height of the stars, how high they are!”
“Is there any number of His armies?
And upon whom doth not His light arise?”
“Great things doeth He, which we cannot comprehend.
For He saith to the snow,
Fall thou on the earth;
Likewise to the shower of rain,
And to the showers of His mighty rain.
He sealeth up the hand of every man,
That all men whom He hath made may know it....
He spreadeth abroad the cloud of His lightning:
And it is turned round about by His guidance,
That they may do whatsoever He commandeth them
Upon the face of the habitable world;
Whether it be for correction, or for His land,
Or for loving-kindness, that He cause it to come.
“Hearken unto this:...
Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.
Dost thou know how God layeth His charge upon them,
And causeth the lightning of His cloud to shine?
Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds,
The wondrous works of Him who is perfect in
knowledge?...
Canst thou with Him spread out the sky,
Which is strong as a molten mirror?
Teach us what we shall say unto Him;
For we cannot set our speech in order by reason of
darkness....
And now men cannot look on the light when it is bright
in the skies, “When the wind hath passed, and cleared them.
Out of the north cometh golden splendor:
God hath upon Him terrible majesty.
Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out:
He is excellent in power;
And in justice and plenteous righteousness....
Men do therefore fear Him.”
MH 434.2

“Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high,
Who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in
heaven, and in the earth!”
MH 435.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 282

“For there is not a word in my tongue,
But, lo, O Jehovah, Thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain unto it.”
8T 282.1

Psalm 139:1-6, A. R. V. 8T 282

“Great is our Lord, and of great power:
His understanding is infinite.”
8T 282.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 297

Giving his charge to Timothy, Paul says, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting” (1 Timothy 6:11-16). 1SM 297.1

Writing again, Paul says: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever” (1 Timothy 1:15-17). 1SM 297.2

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