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1 Timothy 6:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Who only hath immortality - All beings that are not eternal must be mutable; but there can be only one eternal Being, that is God; and he only can have immortality.

Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto - All this is said by the apostle in three words φως οικων απροσιτον, inhabiting unapproachable light. Such is the excessive glory of God, that neither angel nor man can approach it. It is indeed equally unapproachable to all created beings.

Whom no man hath seen, nor can see - Moses himself could only see the symbol of the Divine presence; but the face of God no man could ever see. Because he is infinite and eternal, therefore he is incomprehensible; and if incomprehensible to the mind, consequently invisible to the eye.

To whom - As the author of being, and the dispenser of all good, be ascribed honor and power - the sole authority of all-pervading, all-superintending, all-preserving, and everlasting might.

The words of St. Paul are inimitably sublime. It is a doubt whether human language can be carried much higher, even under the influence of inspiration, in a description of the supreme Being. It is well known that St. Paul had read the Greek poets. He quotes Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander; this is allowed on all hands. But does he not quote, or refer to, Aeschylus and Sophocles too? Scarcely any person suspects this; and yet there is such a complete similarity between the following quotations from the above poets and the apostle's words, that we are almost persuaded he had them in his eye. But if so, he extends the thought infinitely higher, by language incomparably more exalted. I shall introduce and compare with the text the passages I refer to.

1 Timothy 6:15;

Ὁ μακαριος και μονος Δυναστης, ὁ Βασιλευς των βασιλευοντων, και Κυριος των κυριευοντων .

The supreme Being is also styled the King of kings, and the Blessed, by Aeschylus in his tragedy of the Supplicants: -

Αναξ ανακτων, μακαρων<-144 Μακαρτατε, και τελεωνΤελειοτατον κρατος .

Ver 520. Ed. Porson.

"O King of kings! most Blessed of the blessed! most Perfect of the perfect!"

1 Timothy 6:16;

Ὁ μονος εχων αθανασιαν, φως οικων απροσιτον .

In the Antigone of Sophocles there is a sublime address to Jove, of which the following is an extract:

Αγηρως χρονῳ Δυναστας,

Κατεχεις Ολυμπουπ

Μαρμαροεσσαν αιγλαν .

Ver. 608. Edit. Brunk.

"But thou, an ever-during Potentate, dost inhabit the refulgent splendor of Olympus!"

This passage is grand and noble; but how insignificant does it appear when contrasted with the superior sublimity of the inspired writer! The deity of Sophocles dwells in the dazzling splendor of heaven; but the God of Paul inhabits light so dazzling and so resplendent that it is perfectly unapproachable!

Synesius, in his third hymn, has a fine idea on the mode of God's existence, which very probably he borrowed from St. Paul: -

Κεκαλυμμενε νουπ

Ιδιαις αυγαις .

"O intellectual Being! veiled in thine own effulgence!"

And a few lines after, he says, -

Συ το κρυπτομενονπ

Ιδιαις αυγαις .

"Thou art He who art concealed by thy splendors."

All these are excellent, but they are stars of the twelfth magnitude before the apostolic Sun.

See a quotation from Euripides, 2 Timothy 4:8.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Who only hath immortality - The word here - ἀθανασία athanasia- properly means “exemption from death,” and seems to mean that God, in his own nature, enjoys a perfect and certain exemption from death. Creatures have immortality only as they derive it from him, and of course are dependent on him for it. He has it by his very nature, and it is in his case underived, and he cannot be deprived of it. It is one of the essential attributes of his being, that he will always exist, and that death cannot reach him; compare the expression in John 5:26, “The Father hath life in himself,” and the notes on that passage.

Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto - Greek, “Inhabiting inapproachable light.” The light where he dwells is so brilliant and dazzling that mortal eyes could not endure it. This is a very common representation of the dwelling place of God. See examples quoted in Pricaeus, in loc. Heaven is constantly represented as a place of the most pure and brilliant light, needing not the light of the sun, or the moon, or the stars Revelation 21:23-24; Revelation 22:5, and God is represented as dwelling in that light, surrounded by amazing and inapproachable glory compare Revelation 4:6; Ezekiel 1:4; Hebrews 1:3.

Whom no man hath seen nor can see - notes on John 1:18.

To whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen - see the notes on Romans 11:36.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
It ill becomes any men, but especially men of God, to set their hearts upon the things of this world; men of God should be taken up with the things of God. There must be a conflict with corruption, and temptations, and the powers of darkness. Eternal life is the crown proposed for our encouragement. We are called to lay hold thereon. To the rich must especially be pointed out their dangers and duties, as to the proper use of wealth. But who can give such a charge, that is not himself above the love of things that wealth can buy? The appearing of Christ is certain, but it is not for us to know the time. Mortal eyes cannot bear the brightness of the Divine glory. None can approach him except as he is made known unto sinners in and by Christ. The Godhead is here adored without distinction of Persons, as all these things are properly spoken, whether of the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost. God is revealed to us, only in and through the human nature of Christ, as the only begotten Son of the Father.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1113

1, 2 (Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 11:26). Resurrection Did Not Consecrate First Day—Christ rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day, and when holy beings of both heaven and earth were astir on the morning of the first day of the week, He rose from the grave to renew His work of teaching His disciples. But this fact does not consecrate the first day of the week, and make it a Sabbath. Jesus, prior to His death, established a memorial of the breaking of His body and the spilling of His blood for the sins of the world, in the ordinance of the Lord's supper, saying “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” And the repentant believer, who takes the steps required in conversion, commemorates in his baptism the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He goes down into the water in the likeness of Christ's death and burial, and he is raised out of the water in the likeness of His resurrection—not to take up the old life of sin, but to live a new life in Christ Jesus (The Spirit of Prophecy 3:204). 5BC 1113.1

6 (John 1:1-3, 14; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:6, 8; 2:14-17; 4:15). Deity Did Not Die—Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No; the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person—the man Christ Jesus. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified, it was His human nature that died. Deity did not sink and die; that would have been impossible. Christ, the sinless One, will save every son and daughter of Adam who accepts the salvation proffered them, consenting to become the children of God. The Saviour has purchased the fallen race with His own blood. 5BC 1113.2

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 375

The natural and the spiritual are to be combined in the studies of our schools. The operations of agriculture illustrate the Bible lessons. The laws obeyed by the earth reveal the fact that it is under the masterly power of an infinite God. The same principles run through the spiritual and the natural world. Divorce God and His wisdom from the acquisition of knowledge, and you have a lame, one-sided education, dead to all the saving qualities which give power to man, so that he is incapable of acquiring immortality through faith in Christ. The author of nature is the author of the Bible. Creation and Christianity have one God. All who engage in the acquisition of knowledge should aim to reach the highest round of progress. Let them advance as fast and as far as they can; let their field of study be as broad as their powers can compass, making God their wisdom, clinging to Him who is infinite in knowledge, who can reveal the secrets hidden for ages, who can solve the most difficult problems for minds that believe in Him who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light that no man can approach unto. The living witness for Christ, following on to know the Lord, shall know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” By honesty and industry, with a proper care of the body, applying every power of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom in spiritual things, every soul may be complete in Christ, who is the perfect pattern of a complete man. FE 375.1

He who chooses a course of disobedience to God's law is deciding his future destiny; he is sowing to the flesh, earning the wages of sin, even eternal destruction, the opposite of life eternal. Submission to God and obedience to His holy law bring the sure result. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” This is a knowledge of such value that no language can describe it; it is of highest worth in this world, and is far-reaching as eternity. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” FE 376.1

When we aim at a low standard, we shall reach only a low standard. We commend to every student the Book of books as the grandest study for the human intelligence, as the education essential for this life, and for eternal life. But I did not contemplate a letting down of the educational standard in the study of the sciences. The light that has been given on these subjects is clear, and should in no case be disregarded. But if the word of God which giveth light, and giveth understanding to the simple, had been welcomed into the mind and the soul-temple, as a counselor, as a guide and instructor, the human agent living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, there would have been no need of reproof because of the backslidings of the students after the blessing of God had come to them in rich rays of divine light, to glow in heaven's holy fire upon the altar of their hearts. Many allowed amusements to have the supremacy. This was not the course that Daniel pursued in obtaining the education which revealed through him the supremacy of heavenly wisdom above all the wisdom and knowledge of the highest schools in the courts of proud Babylon. God opens the understanding of men in a marked manner if His words are brought into the practical life of the student, and the Bible is recognized as the precious, wonderful book that it is. Nothing is to come between this book and the student as more essential; for it is that wisdom which, brought into the practical life, makes men wise through time and through eternity. God is revealed in nature; God is revealed in His word. The Bible is the most wonderful of all histories, for it is the production of God, not of the finite mind. It carries us back through the centuries to the beginning of all things, presenting the history of times and scenes which would otherwise never have been known. It reveals the glory of God in the working of His providence to save a fallen world. It presents in the simplest language the mighty power of the gospel, which, received, would cut the chains that bind men to Satan's chariot. FE 376.2

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 122

I saw that God's holy name should be used with reverence and awe. The words God Almighty are coupled together and used by some in prayer in a careless, thoughtless manner, which is displeasing to Him. Such have no realizing sense of God or the truth, or they would not speak so irreverently of the great and dreadful God, who is soon to judge them in the last day. Said the angel, “Couple them not together; for fearful is His name.” Those who realize the greatness and majesty of God, will take His name on their lips with holy awe. He dwelleth in light unapproachable; no man can see Him and live. I saw that these things will have to be understood and corrected before the church can prosper. EW 122.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 333

Point after point Paul lingered over, in order that those who should read his epistle might fully comprehend the wonderful condescension of the Saviour in their behalf. Presenting Christ as He was when equal with God and with Him receiving the homage of the angels, the apostle traced His course until He had reached the lowest depths of humiliation. Paul was convinced that if they could be brought to comprehend the amazing sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven, all selfishness would be banished from their lives. He showed how the Son of God had laid aside His glory, voluntarily subjecting Himself to the conditions of human nature, and then had humbled Himself as a servant, becoming obedient unto death, “even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8), that He might lift fallen man from degradation to hope and joy and heaven. AA 333.1

When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice. We see in the midst of the throne One bearing in hands and feet and side the marks of the suffering endured to reconcile man to God. We see a Father, infinite, dwelling in light unapproachable, yet receiving us to Himself through the merits of His Son. The cloud of vengeance that threatened only misery and despair, in the light reflected from the cross reveals the writing of God: Live, sinner, live! ye penitent, believing souls, live! I have paid a ransom. AA 333.2

In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us. We consider His life on earth, His sacrifice for us, His work in heaven as our advocate, and the mansions He is preparing for those who love Him, and we can only exclaim, O the height and depth of the love of Christ! “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 4:10; 3:1. AA 333.3

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