Lv 7

JWs - can you explain what it means when 1 Tim 3 ; 16 states that GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH?

35 Answers

  • 10 months ago
    Favourite answer

    Some Bibles say ‘God manifest in the flesh’ but the JW version, the New World Translation, does not say it was ‘God’. The KJV works from a set of koine Greek manuscripts which has the word for God [theos] twice in verse 15. The NWT works from a different set of MSS but which also has 'theos' twice in verse 15. So far, so much in agreement. 


    Both translations agree that the subject of verse 15 is the household of God – the Church. It’s not the household of Jesus. It’s the household of God. The next verse then says "Who". The word 'theos' does not appear anywhere in verse 16, so who is this 'who'? This has to be the object of verse 15. This 'who' was made manifest in the flesh. Ah, so that has to be the Son of God, not the Father. But here's an alarming twist. The NWT removes the word 'who' and replaces it with 'he'.  Now, why do JWs ask why the Greek for 'God' is not in verse 16 when the Greek for 'he' is not in verse 16 either? Why has the NWT decided to try to imply the 'who' of verse 15 is no longer being spoken of in verse 16? Could this be to try to get away from the one manifest in the flesh being God? 

    A second alarming twist - the NWT footnote of their Greek Interlinear on verse 16 tells us that two manuscripts they approve of state the "secret fear of Jehovah" in verse 16 (though they render it as the "secret of this godly devotion".)  Given their passion for putting 'Jehovah' into the Greek scriptures, why did they refrain from such a golden opportunity? Why, because if they had identified Jehovah at that point, there would be no getting away from Jehovah having been made manifest in the flesh! 


    Can of worms, really, but only if you are determined that your Bible will not say that Jesus is God, which is the entire basis for the NWT denying that God was manifest in the flesh.

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Reasonable Question.

    Since other people have addressed the fundamentals, I would like to comment on a couple things that were overlooked. 

    For example, the phrase "God was manifest in the flesh," the King James Version is followed by  the phrase "justified in the Spirit".

    However, if this scripture refers to Almighty God, how is it that God needs to be justified?  And who grants this justification?  Does God grant Himself justication?

    It also stands out to me that so many translations and versions recognize a scribal error at 1 Timothy 3:16.  The question is, "Which Greek manuscripts contain the error?"

    For example, a mainstream version, the New International Version, follows a Greek manuscript which uses ὅς ("he" or "who") instead of "God".

                     "...He (ὅς) appeared in the flesh..."

    The King James Version translates from a manuscript which uses θεός to read:

                     "...God (θεός) was manifest in the flesh..."

    So the rendering depends on th manuscript used. The difference between the manuscripts revolve around two letters which determine whether the correct word is  ὅς ("he" or "who") or θεός ("God").  

    Clearly, 1 Timothy 3:16 is therefore not going to be the definitive scripture on TRINITY vs. X-TRINITY!

    Lastly, in response to a post below that argues that since the Bible uses the term Saviour in reference to both Jesus and God, Jesus is God (Almighty).  I would note that "saviour" is also used at Judges 3:9 in reference to Othniel. To conclude that Jesus & Jehovah are God based on a term that fittingly describes both would lead to the ERRONEOUS reasoning that Othniel too must be God since the term saviour is also applied to him. 

    Anyway, I appreciate this opportunity to respond to your post.  And thanks for sparking this conversation to give us an opportunity to answer a very good question.

    : ) 

    Source(s): I invite you to checkout a more complete discussion on the sacred secret referred to at 1 Timothy 3:16 in the following article: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102002043#h=3...
  • Only the KJV I have says God was manifest in the flesh, neither of my NAB and NWT translations say God, they say Who in NAB and HE in NWT. Since the KJV also speaks of unicorns, I don't put to much trust in their translations. My Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures has the word Who. Jesus Christ in his pre human form was the one who was manifest in the flesh, not God. If you read Numbers 23:19 it says; God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent. How many times in the Christian Greek Scriptures does Jesus Christ call himself Son of man, eight that I know of and he is called Son of man in Revelation 14:14. God is saying he is not a son of man yet Jesus called himself Son of man. This clearly shows that God and Jesus Christ are not the same person.

  • 10 months ago

        It was Jesus who was manifest in the flesh when he came down to live on earth briefly. 

         Jesus “was received up in glory.” During the 40 days after being made alive in the spirit, Jesus materialized fleshly bodies, appearing to his disciples and telling them “the things about the kingdom of God.” Then he ascended to heaven. (Acts 1:3, 6-9) His prayer, recorded at John 17:1-5, was thus answered: “Father, . . . glorify your son, that your son may glorify you . . . I have glorified you on the earth . . . So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.”   What great rejoicing must have attended Jesus’ return to heaven! Much earlier, when Jehovah founded the earth, “all the sons of God began shouting in applause.” (Job 38:7) Even more so must those angelic hosts have been overjoyed to receive again into their midst the loyal Champion of Jehovah’s sovereignty!      At Hebrews 1:3, 4, Paul says of the victorious Jesus: “After he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in lofty places. So he has become better than the angels, to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.” Christ received that name because of his triumph over unrighteousness. This Son of God had indeed blazed the trail of godly devotion here on earth. He had also set a pattern for all others who will attain to everlasting life. With Jesus’ exaltation to God’s right hand in heaven, the sacred secret of this godly devotion was revealed in all its features.

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  • 10 months ago

    The verse begins by saying:

    “The sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great.”

    Trinitarians try to muddy up the understanding of the sacred secret by saying that “He” at 1 Timothy 3:16 is God himself. They base this on the King James Bible, which reads, “God was manifest in the flesh.”

    However, what do the most reliable Greek manuscripts say? Consistently, they use the pronoun “He” instead of “God.” Textual critics now agree that the insertion of “God” in this scripture is a SCRIBAL ERROR.

    Thus, more recent translations, such as the American Standard Version, The New English Bible, The Amplified Bible, and the New World Translation, correctly read: ‘He [or, He who] was manifest in the flesh.’

    No, it was not God himself who appeared “in the flesh.”  No man has seen God at any time, the Bible repeatedly states.  Exodus 33:20; John 1:18 

    Rather, it was his beloved Son and first creation, of whom the apostle John wrote: “So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth.”​—John 1:14.


    The expressions "he" or "he who" in koine Greek are very similar to an abbreviation of "god" in that written language -it is a matter of a single stroke. That initial error, found in later manuscripts, continued through several translations, but it is still a scribal error.

    So, that this scripture refers to Jesus and not his Father and the word  is "He", and not "God" is clear, not only from manuscript texts that predate the "Textus Receptus" (which was written in 1550, and from which the King James Version was translated), which say "he" or "he who" not "God", but also because of the harmonious message in John 1:14, which said that "the Word became flesh and resided among us", referring to Jesus Christ.

    John 1:1 in the koine Greek, is another example of the Bible interpreting itself: Trinitarians point to John 1:1 as proof that Jesus who is the Word, is, or is equal to, God.

    But, the Greek manuscript says that "the word was with the god, and god was the word.".

    There are no capital letters in ancient unical Greek, so the fact that the first word "god" has a "the" in front of it, but the second word "god" does not have a "the" in front, shows that one refers to identity, while the other refers to description.

    The word "god" means "mighty one" and many are called God or god in the inspired scriptures -  human judges, angels, pagan gods, Satan, and Jesus Christ. "God" means "mighty one", and this title, god, scripturally applies to all of them, either good or bad.  But Almighty God is distinct and superior to all of them.

    The word "god", or other words, with no "the" in front of it is used many times to describe people, like Acts 28:6.  Also Acts 12:21-23 is an example of how in koine Greek, a definite article appears before "god" while no article appears before a second instance of "god" clearly showing that they refer to different beings, so one is capitalized, while the other is not and is preceded by the indefinite article "a":

     21 On a set day, Herod clothed himself with royal raiment and sat down on the judgment seat and began giving them a public address. 22 Then the people who were assembled began shouting: “A god’s voice, and not a man’s!” 23 Instantly the angel of Jehovah struck him, because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten up with worms and died.

    BOTH verses in Acts had a lower case "a god" in the King James Version, clearly showing Trinitarian bias when it comes to John 1:1.  Note also when the last verse referenced the true God, the Greek says "the God", SAME as when John 1:1 referred to THE God who is with the Word.

    So both John and Paul maintained a difference between Jesus and Jehovah, who is his Father and God. 

    So to distinguish the true and Almighty God from Jesus or anyone else, you have to look for the personal name. The ancient inspired manuscripts contained God's personal name almost 7000 times. Early copies of the Greek Septuagint version, which most Bible historians agree was used by the Christian scripture writers, also contained the name of God in Hebrew.

    So Almighty God Jehovah is the same in the Hebrew Scriptures as in the Christian Scriptures.  When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment of all, he quoted in Mark 12:28-29 what is now called the first part of the Shema, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 "“Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. 5 You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength."

  • 10 months ago

    Jesus Christ was the one man to manifest godly devotion perfectly, in every sense, proving that man in the flesh can maintain such devotion. Under severe trials, right down to the end of his earthly course Jesus was “loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.”  

  • TeeM
    Lv 7
    10 months ago


    1 Timothy 3:16 actually said 

    'God was manifest in the flesh'

    THEN you would have a legitimate question.

    Since the inspired word of God doesn't say this, we have nothing to explain.

    Can you explain how and why God's inspired word was changed from

    'He was manifest in the flesh'


    'God was manifest in the flesh'?

    Notice how the Amplified Bible, a very trinitarian bible, translates it:

    "And great, we confess, is the mystery [the hidden truth] of godliness: He (Jesus Christ) who was revealed in human flesh,"

    The hidden truth or mystery is godliness, or how to worship God.

    And not 'who is God'.

    Jesus tells us 'the only true God is his God and Father'.

    Paul tells us, that for Christians, only the Father is God.

    By living and worshiping his God, we come to know what is true godliness.


    Edit to David.

    If Jesus was God, then John lied, for he said:

    "No one has seen God at any time."

    'Any time' would include being a man, because John wrote this some 60 years after Jesus had died.

    Paul tells us Jesus is an image; or as he says in Heb 1:3 a facsimile

    of God.

    G5481   χαρακτήρ   charaktēr  

    Thayer Definition:

    "the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e facsimile"

    If you make a facsimile of a $20.00 bill, no matter how good it is, it is still not a $20.00 bill.

    You may fool the masses, but an expert will always know.

    The trinity may fool the masses, but a true Christian will always know.


    Edit to David:

    It is your understanding that is confusing.  God's word never says, Jesus is Almighty God.


  • 10 months ago

    Whatever they tell you will be nonsense.  God the Son came to earth as Jesus, fully God and fully Man-- manifest in the flesh.

    Source(s): Greek Orthodox Christian
  • Paul
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    It is obviously a reference to Jesus Christ, who was fully God, yet also fully human.

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    The JW's NWT uses the word "He" not "God".

    1 Timothy 3:16 NWT Study Edition

    16 Indeed, the sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory.’

    1 Timothy 3:16 King James Version (KJV)

    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.

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