1Timothy 3:16

Jun 6, 2019

1Tim 3.16.pdf

There have been quite a few suggestions for the literary structure of 1Timothy 3:16.  A few examples can be viewed over at the Biblical Chiasm Exchange (www.chiasmusxchange.com). In my proposal above, the literary structure seems to focus on Christ’s heavenly rule - post ascension - where the B terms include a more detailed sub-structure. The structure highlights and celebrates Christ’s heavenly rule over both angels and mankind. The structure begins with the first two terms setting up the main contrast between the days of his flesh and the time of his heavenly or spiritual session. Then, with the explicit “taken up in glory” ascension reference, the structure artfully concludes on a glorious note. In the middle, the impact of the ascended Lord’s ascension and exaltation in heaven is extolled.

With regard to the angels, Christ (and redeemed humanity in Christ) has been exalted & vindicated in heaven, now having ascended over all spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

With regard to the world – since Christ has ascended on high, the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit (also having, at Pentecost, given the promised gift of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – to the church).  This is to the end that He might fill all things. We see the cooperative role of the church, as the body of Christ - in the Spirit filled preaching of the apostles and obedience of those who believe.

While the literary structure is admirable, enquiring minds will also be interested in the chronological order of these events. Therefore, I have numbered the terms for purposes of clarity and understanding.

There are several observations that might be made.  However, for the sake brevity I will only note the use of the Byzantine reading of the text as quoted by venerable fathers such as Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa. The revealed truth of our faith and piety is great because it is the work of “God” who was manifested in the flesh (and not the, rhetorically less dogmatic, relative pronoun “he” found in the so-called “best” texts).