The Lord Will Reveal the Lord

God’s Invisibility and Jesus’ Visibility in 1 Timothy

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
David H. Wenkel Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Chicago, IL USA

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The first pastoral epistle to Timothy follows a relatively traditional Jewish doctrine in the context of second temple Judaism: God is one “whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). This parallels a statement in chapter one in which God is described as “invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). In both statements, the invisibility of God is contrasted with the visible quality of Jesus’ spiritual power or his second appearing. This paper argues that the Jewish monotheistic doctrine of God has been developed in a proto-Trinitarian manner by utilizing the qualities of invisibility and visibility.


The first pastoral epistle to Timothy is bookended by two doxological sections; the doxological praise in 1 Tim 1:12-17 and the pastoral charge in 1 Tim 6:11-16.1 The first occurrence of such a doxology follows the greeting, consisting of 1 Tim 1:12-17. This textual unit contains references to the soteriological actions of Christ Jesus and the monotheistic status of God (“the only God” in v.17). The second bookend that contains an important doxological statement for the purposes of our study occurs in the pastoral charge to Timothy (“the man of God” in 1 Tim 6:11) that spans 1 Tim 6:11-16.2 And within this pastoral charge is a reference to God (“the blessed and only Sovereign” in v.15) as “whom no one has ever seen or can see” (v.16). This reference to God’s invisibility is juxtaposed to the future appearance of Christ at his second coming in v.15. Both doxologies reflect a pattern of traditional Jewish formulae for monotheistic worship that was now inclusive of the risen Lord Jesus.3 The parallels between these two sections have been well documented but the polarity of invisibility and visibility as it relates to Jewish monotheism and early Christology is an aspect of the text requiring more elucidation.4 This study draws attention to the fact that in both textual units, invisibility is attributed to God (the Father) and visibility is attributed to Jesus. In this paper I argue that an aspect of the Jewish doctrine of God is developed within a distinctly Christian framework by utilizing the distinction between visibility and invisibility.

One commentator has recently concluded that some of the “most breathtaking theological reformulations” have “passed with little exegetical comment due to the fact that scholars were simply not asking the question in the way that, I am suggesting, it needs to be asked.”5 This paper seeks to ask such exegetical questions by probing the reference to God’s invisibility in the pastoral charge at the end of the first letter to Timothy. It asks the question: how did the text of 1 Timothy radically present Jewish monotheism so that it can affirm traditional doctrines such as God’s invisibility and still anticipate the visible return of the risen Lord Jesus Christ?6 The most prominent reason why such probes of Christology and theology proper in 1 Timothy remain silent is the question surrounding its authorship and its pseudepigraphal character.7 Specifically, when it comes to God’s invisibility in 1 Tim 6:11, some have concluded that “This is so unlike Paul’s theology that it sharply highlights the unlikelihood that he had much hand in the composition.”8 Because many prominent nt scholars doubt the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy, it is outside the purview of many important studies of early Christology.9

In the first section of this paper, I locate the doctrine of God’s invisibility within the Jewish context of second temple Judaism by considering the Septuagint, non-Pauline New Testament texts, and non-canonical texts. In the second section, I present the case that Paul has drawn upon a commonly held Jewish doctrine of God’s invisibility, but he transformed this doctrine in respect to the personhood of the Father and the Son. This transformation is achieved, in part, through an emphasis on the role of the Father as invisible and the role of the Son as visible.

God’s Invisibility and Visibility in Second Temple Judaism

The historical context of 1 Timothy and its references to God’s invisibility is best understood in light of Second Temple Judaism. In this section I argue that some Jewish conceptions of God involved elements of tension between God’s invisibility and his approachability. It was standard fare to state “no one has ever seen God” while also acknowledging that the scriptures indicate that some have approached a physical entity who is identified as God or received worship as God. As we will observe, there is some indication that this tension was problematic in the minds of some. Some emphasized God’s invisibility against his visibility. According to Gordon Fee, “God’s ‘invisibility’ becomes more common during Second Temple Judaism.”10 Jesus referred to the God the Father as the one who “sees in secret” (Matt 6:6, 18). In this section we see elements of such tension in several sources related to the background of 1 Timothy. Here we briefly consider: (1) the Septuagint text of Exodus, (2) the writings of Philo of Alexandria, (3) the Johannine writings, (4) the Sibylline Oracles, books 3-5, and (5) 2 Enoch.

First, the Septuagint text of Exodus suggests that the doctrine of God’s invisibility was slightly privileged over and against the idea that he could be approached in some manner. Specifically, there is some evidence that the Septuagint tones down Hebrew texts that suggest that God may be seen.11 An example may be found in Exodus 24, when Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders ascended the mountain. The Hebrew text readers: “they saw the God of Israel” (Exodus 24:10) and in contrast, the Septuagint says, “they saw the place, there where the God of Israel stood.”12 In another example from Exo 17:6, the Hebrew text reads: “Behold, I will stand before you there” (הנני עמד לפניך שם). In contrast, the Septuagint seems to tone down the anthropomorphism so as to shy away from presenting God on earth as though he were human: “I here have taken my stand, before you came” (ὅδε ἐγὼ ἕστηκα πρὸ τοῦ σὲ ἐκεῖ).13

Elsewhere, Moses’ relationship with Yahweh in the context of the tabernacle is described: “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exo 33:11).14 Despite this descriptor of their relationship, Yahweh explicitly says of Moses’ request to see his glory: “you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen” (Exo 33:23). The tension is quite clear as Yahweh and Moses have a relationship that is “face to face” but not really “face to face.” One might say that this is a “face to face” relationship that is auditory in nature rather than visual. Like many of the non-canonical texts, this suggests that there is a sense in which God (Yahweh) is invisible and unapproachable because his face may not be seen. But there is another sense in which God’s approachability is best described in terms of a diminutive form, e.g. “you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Thus, whatever element of the relationship between Yahweh and Moses was “face to face,” God’s glory was not visible.

Second, the doctrine of God’s invisibility and visibility is an important part of Philo’s large body of writings. Perhaps drawing from the tensions in the Septuagint mentioned above, Philo denies that any icon or picture is appropriate for the worship of the true invisible Yahweh who has redeemed Israel. On the other hand, the name of “Israel” means “the one who sees God.”15 And Jewish philosopher Philo “refers to the Jewish community as the ‘nation which sees’” (τὸ ὁρατικὸν γένος) which is particularly evident in The Migration of Abraham.16 In keeping with the pattern of Second Temple Judaism, Philo emphasizes the invisibility of God.17

Third, the doctrine of God’s invisibility is particularly clear in the Johannine writings. The prominence of the Jewish doctrine that “no one has ever seen God” is evident from its two appearances in the Gospel of John (1:18; 6:45-46) and 1 John (4:12).18 The similarity of these statements may be due to some intertextual relationship between John and 1 Timothy or to a common phraseology found in Judaism at this time; but it is best to assume that Paul had access to the Gospel of John.19 What these texts demonstrate is that this concept (“no one has ever seen God”) was found in non-Pauline New Testament texts.

Fourth, the doctrine of God’s invisibility is prominent in the Sibylline Oracles; books 3-5 likely being the oldest and dated between 180-116 bce.20 In this Jewish text, we observe that God is both invisible and unapproachable. The similarities between the doctrine of God’s attributes in second Temple Judaism and the Hebrew scriptures should not surprise us, because most of the debates were not about the “inner nature of the one God.”21 Again, while there may not have been debates, there was some concern in the Sibylline Oracles. This concern is evidenced by the fact that “while the writer speaks of the face and the mouth of God, there is an avoidance of every sort of anthropopathism throughout the whole section 1-36.”22 The writer specifically identifies the “one God” as “ineffable, who lives in the sky, self-begotten, invisible, who himself sees all things” and then asks the rhetorical question “For who, being mortal, is able to see God with eyes?”23 But when referring to the wrath of God against those who sacrifice to the dead and to idols, the writer refers to this as an abandonment of “the face of the great God.”24 Similarly, the judgment against these things is described thus: “But when the wrath of the great God comes upon you, then indeed you will recognize the face of the great God.25 The salient point here is that in book 3 of Sibylline Oracles, there is a certain tension between God being invisible but when he comes in his great wrath, then people will recognize his “face” or special presence.

Fifth, there is a tension in the Jewish doctrine of the invisibility of God as expressed in 2 Enoch. God is invisible and no one can see him, yet there is the promise that he can be seen or at least be approached.26 The following two quotations illustrate this tension. The first quotation states, “Let us not say, ‘Our father is in front of God; he will appear {in front of God} for us on the day of judgement.”27 The second quotation refers to Enoch being taken away and the people seeking him only found a scroll on which was inscribed “The Invisible God.”28 James Charlesworth even views 2 Enoch 67:3 as an explicit denial of the doctrine of God’s unapproachability in 2 Enoch 53:1.29

In summary, I have attempted to prove one point from these various sources: that Timothy’s Jewish context often expressed a doctrine of God that refers to his attribute of invisibility and the related concept that “no one can see him.” Even if this is a quotation from John’s Gospel, similar statements about God’s invisibility are present in a wide range of Jewish sources. What is surprising is that some of these texts above assert that God’s presence may be approached in some manner and perhaps even seen. The references to the “face of God” may simply refer to his special presence.30 The primary sources above demonstrate that there may not have been debates about God’s attributes but there was definitely concern about how he was presented. This background sets the stage for understanding why the first letter to Timothy was so careful to ground its doctrine in Jewish monotheism while simultaneously presenting developments reflecting a uniquely Christian view.

The Transformation of God’s Invisibility and Jesus’ Visibility

The doxological praise in 1 Tim 1:12-17 and the pastoral charge in 1 Tim 6:11-16 are both broadly related to the main purpose of this letter, which is likely summarized in 1 Tim 3:14-16, “that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”31 And both texts have similar language about God’s invisibility and the visibility of Christ. I have argued that the Jewish doctrine of God was characterized by a certain tension between God’s status as invisible and unapproachable and the ability to see his face and know his presence. Now I intend to argue that Paul draws from this Jewish doctrine of God and transforms it in light of a proto-Trinitarian doctrine of God.

The fact that Paul references this commonly held Jewish doctrine of God’s invisibility is easily demonstrated by his description of God as one “who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16). Rather than strictly differentiate between unapproachability and invisibility, Paul relates these qualities together. The question of why Paul would reference this doctrine of God within his pastoral charge cannot be completely explored here. But the key to answering why this appears here is found in the very first phrase of the pastoral charge: “I charge you in the presence of God” (1 Tim 6:13). It is God’s quality of being invisible that is likely being related to his omnipresence. Once again, Paul is quite happy to conflate attributes in a way that a modern theologian might find abhorrent. Paul’s logic is not explained but it may be that he is asserting that his pastoral charge is given to Timothy before God’s presence that is now with Timothy wherever he is and might be in the future. For Paul, this omnipresence of God is so radically personal that it can sustain the gravity of such a charge. We will now observe how Paul transforms this doctrine in four ways.

First, the doctrine of God’s invisibility is transformed by locating it within direct references to God’s unity (e.g. Jewish monotheism) and plurality (more than one person identified as divine). Throughout the epistle there are references to each person of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit. That these are references to their divine status has to function as a presupposition in this paper because of the great length to which one must go in supporting this claim.32 Again, we cannot provide a full case for the proposal that Paul is able to use language of God’s unity (that God is one) even while referencing the divine status of the individual persons of the Godhead (God, Christ Jesus, and the Spirit). There is only space to point to one of the clearest examples of God’s unity and diversity when he writes, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). This is a key reference to God being one and yet having a relationship to the mediator-man Christ Jesus who is also divine.

Second, the doctrine of God’s invisibility is transformed by placing it on equal footing with Jesus’ visibility. The word “I charge you” in 1 Tim 6:13 has two grammatically parallel witnesses: God and Christ.33 The preposition ἐνώπιον governs both genitives: τοῦ θεοῦ and Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ and the conjunction καὶ “joins Christ to God” as the two witnesses to Timothy’s ministry.34 The pastoral charge demands that Timothy “keep the commandment” and persevere before the witnesses of God and Christ Jesus. When Paul refers to Christ Jesus, this is a reference to both the historical Jesus who was faithful before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim 6:13) and to the risen Lord Jesus Christ who will return (1 Tim 6:14). Paul refers to the imitation of “the passion of Christ” in which Jesus himself confessed before Pontius Pilate.35 The straightforward language of v.14 indicates that Paul expects the risen Lord Jesus to appear so that he will be visible in the same way that he was visible in his earthly life.36 This parallels an earlier phraseology in which an appeal or charge is also made with reference to the “presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels” (1 Tim 5:21). Outside of this letter, another parallel appears in 1 Cor 8:6 where Paul refers to “one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 8:6).37 Timothy’s relationship to God the Father is equated with his relationship to Jesus. Again, drawing from Chris Tilling’s approach to divine Christology, Paul stresses that for Timothy, there is a parallel relationship between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.38 Because God and Christ are parallel witnesses to Timothy’s pastoral duties, they have the same relation toward him and he toward them. Timothy must give an account to Christ even as he must give an account to God.

Third, the doctrine of God’s invisibility is transformed by using the title “Lord” for both God and Christ. Despite the fact that the historical context was one in which there were many “lords,” Paul’s Jewish monotheism is compatible with God and Christ being identified as “lord” (κύριος). N. T. Wright comments “They [Paul’s communities] needed to be kingdom-of-God people, Shema-people, Jewish-style monotheists in a world of ‘many gods, many lords’.”39 In a world of many “lords,” Paul is still willing to assert that God is the “Lord of Lords” (1 Tim 6:15) who will reveal the “Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 6:14) at the proper time (1 Tim 6:15). The Lord will reveal the Lord. What is surprising is that Paul is willing to assert the Lordship of God and the lordship of Jesus. The only way Paul could state this would be to understand that such statements are compatible with a system of monotheism in which each person of the Godhead is divine. The one who is invisible is Lord and the one who will be visible is Lord.

Fourth, the doctrine of God’s invisibility is transformed by contrasting it with what may be seen. In the first case, what may be seen is not the risen Lord Jesus himself, but Paul, whom Jesus is using to “display (ἐνδείκνυµι) his perfect patience as an example” (1 Tim 1:16). Conceptually, this is the result of Jesus’ mission to come “into the world” (1 Tim 1:15). This focus on the visibility of Jesus’ salvation through sinners such as Paul is contrasted with the “King of the ages” who is “immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1:17). Key words and concepts in the textual unit 1 Tim 1:12-17 create a contrast between Jesus as the one who was a visible example, whose power is now visibly displayed through Paul, the chief of sinners and the only God, who is invisible and immortal.

In the second case, the invisibility of God is set in juxtaposition to the future visibility of the risen Lord Jesus in 1 Tim 6:14-15. It is God who is in sovereign control of Christ’s return and of his second coming God will “display (δείκνυµι) at the proper time” (1 Tim 6:15).40 The entire section of 1 Tim 6:13-16 has “an element that brings Christology and eschatology together.”41 As in the first example from chapter one, the vocabulary in chapter six references what is visible about Jesus next to the qualities predicated of God (the Father), namely his invisibility.

In the first chapter of 1 Timothy, God (the Father) who is invisible will make Jesus (the Son) visible through his servant Paul and in the sixth chapter, God (the Father) who is invisible will make Jesus (the Son) visible at his second appearing. The past and future visibility of the Lord Jesus Christ is paralleled with the Father who is the person of the Godhead whom no one has ever seen or can see in the future. Thus, one person of the Godhead has been seen and will be seen while another has never been seen nor will ever be seen. One might also observe that the relationship within the Godhead (between the Father and Son) with respect to self-revelation is hierarchical. It is the Father who will “display” Jesus as “the proper time” so that the invisible will reveal himself through the one who is visible.

Implications of Doctrinal Development

The description of God as one “whom no one has ever seen or can see” (1 Tim 6:16) may seem to be a rather innocuous statement. At first glance it is merely stating a traditional Jewish doctrine of God and his invisibly. But in both textual units from chapters one and six of 1 Timothy, this invisibility is played against the future visibility of the risen Lord Jesus or the visibility of his spiritual power in the disciples. So upon closer inspection, the texts in 1 Timothy transform this doctrine of God through a (proto-)Trinitarian perspective of the Godhead. There are four important implications that we can draw from this study.

The first implication is that both God and Jesus have the same judicial relationship of witnesses to Timothy’s pastoral ministry.42 Other nt texts point to the uniqueness of Christian worship, where “Christ is included with God as a recipient of devotion.”43 But in the texts we have considered in 1 Timothy, the uniqueness of Christian eschatology and judgment is highlighted, where Christ is included with God as the two witnesses of Timothy’s gospel ministry. Eschatology is important for Timothy because of the reality of future judgment and Paul introduces “the idea of a second epiphany as the basis for his ethical challenge.”44 But the vitally important point that must not be missed is that Timothy’s relationship to the invisible God is equal to the soon-to-be-visible Jesus. As Chris Tilling points out: “This pattern of Christ-relation language in Paul is only that which a Jew used to express the relation between Israel / the individual Jew and Yhwh.”45 Through his distinctions between the persons of the Godhead, Paul is able to confirm the traditional Jewish doctrine of the invisibility of God and confirm what he himself has witnessed and now preaches: Jesus is the revelation of God who will appear again at the end of the age. It is before the invisible Father and the soon-to-be-visible Son that Timothy receives his pastoral charge.46

The second implication is that Christology and theology proper in 1 Timothy closely parallels what we find in other Pauline texts. Paul parallels this doctrine of invisibility in concept when he writes, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15). The concept in this particular verse from Colossians is that Jesus is the visible revelation of the invisible Father. With respect to authorship, this is strikingly similarly to what we find in 1 Timothy and could be used to confirm the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy. With respect to theology, this study confirms that the theology of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in 1 Timothy does indeed follow “the patterns already established in the nt.”47 Thus, some may find that this paper complements other studies of Pauline Christology that have neglected the pastoral epistles because of presuppositions about pseudonymity.48

The third implication is that the use of the poles of invisibility of God and the visibility of Jesus is both a development and conservation of elements of the monotheistic Jewish doctrine of God. On the one hand he was able to affirm what others leaders of the early church and non-Christian monotheistic Jews had held: no one has ever seen God. At the same time, Paul was able to develop and articulate a doctrine of God that reflected the triune persons of the Godhead and their distinct roles.49 While no one has ever seen the Father, the reality of the second appearing of Jesus should shape Timothy’s pastoral ministry.

The fourth implication is that the references to the attributes of God’s invisibility suggest that Paul’s concept of divine identity include both who God is and what God is. On the one hand, we do not see a “definition of divine nature” but we do see attributes of the divine nature such as invisibility.50 This attribute of invisibility is more reflective of what God is rather than who God is. The revelation of the triune God in Paul’s theology must avoid false disjunctions because it depends on what is he and who he is. Some metaphysical attributes such as invisibility were important for some Jewish thinking about God and they were not always drawn from a Greek metaphysical framework.51 For Paul, God’s invisibility was just as much a part of his identity as the fact that God was fully revealed in the soon-to-be appearing of the risen Lord Jesus.


In conclusion, early Christology was “a radical concretization of pre-Christian Jewish beliefs about the One God, and particularly about what this One God had promised to do.”52 What this study has demonstrated is that Paul’s proto-Trinitarian theology utilized the attributes of invisibility and visibility in order to root his pastoral epistle in the monotheistic Jewish doctrine that “no one has ever seen God.” This traditional doctrine of the invisibility of God is played off of the visibility of Jesus. The reference to Jesus’ visibility in chapter one is spiritual in nature and is evident in the power of God’s grace in sinners. In chapter six, this visibility of Jesus is directly tied to his second appearing. Both textual units from chapters one and six reflect the fact that both Jesus (the Son) and God (the Father) have the same relationship toward Timothy and they both function as judicial evaluators of his pastoral faithfulness. Eschatology is tied to ethics which is tied to Christology and theology-proper. The qualities predicated of God and Jesus demonstrate that they are both equal and yet different. The polarities of invisibility and visibility serve as important way to identify the members of the Godhead to whom Timothy will one day give an account.


The literature on the debate over the Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy is voluminous. According to Raymond F. Collins, the Pastoral Epistles should be considered “double pseudonymous” because the recipient and the author are “literary fictions” in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary (Louisville, ky: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 10. For a study on the implications of one’s position see Stanley E. Porter, “Pauline Authorship and the Pastoral Epistles: Implications for Canon,” bbr 5 (1995): 105-123. For a rejoinder to Porter see Robert W. Wall, “Pauline Authorship and the Pastoral Epistles: A Response to S. E. Porter,” bbr 5 (1995): 125-128.


This charge focuses on an encouragement to “keep the commandment” in v.14. What this “commandment” entails is rather difficult to ascertain. William D. Mounce suggests it is identified as: (1) something specific such as Timothy’s ordination charge or (2) something general, encompassing a wide range of items such as the list of virtues in verses 11-12 of the same chapter in Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 46; wbc; Dallas: Word, 2000), 359.


“For example, there seems to have been a form of the full doxology, attested only in early Christian literature (Rom 16:27; 1 Tim 1:17; 6:15-16; Jude 25; 1 Clem 43:6; 2 Clem 20:5) but surely of Jewish origin in which glory is ascribed to the only God. This turns the doxology into an explicit assertion of exclusive monotheistic worship.” Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 143-144.


For a chart comparing 1 Tim 1:17 and 1 Tim 6:15-16 see Mark M. Yarbrough, Paul’s Utilization of Preformed Traditions in 1 Timothy: An Evaluation of the Apostle’s Literary, Rhetorical, and Theological Tactics (lnts 417; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2009), 139.


N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Vol. 4. Christian Origins and the Question of God; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013), 626.


“Jewish-style monotheism, rethought from top to bottom around the events concerning Jesus, is the necessary anchor for the radically revised worldview in which the united community, in its faith, worship and holiness, is the sole visible symbol.” Ibid., 641-642.


“For many scholars the non-Pauline authorship of the Pastorals became virtually axiomatic.” James W. Aageson, Paul, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Early Church (Library of Pauline Studies; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 5.


Frances Margaret Young, The Theology of the Pastoral Epistles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 63.


For example, there is only one reference to 1 Timothy in a footnote in Wesley Hill, Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 11 n.35 and only one reference to 1 Timothy in Chris Tilling, Paul’s Divine Christology (2012 reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 143. For comparison, there are over seventy references to 1 Timothy in Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study (Peabody, ma: Hendrickson, 2007), passim.


Gordon Fee, “Old Testament Intertextuality in Colossians: Reflections on Pauline Christology and Gentile Inclusion in God’s Story” in History and Exegesis: New Testament Essays in Honor of Dr. E. Earle Ellis (ed. Sang-Won Son; London: T&T Clark, 2006), 213 n. 22.


Jan Joosten, “To See God: Conflicting Exegetical Tendencies in the Septuagint,” in Die Septuaginta: Texte, Kontexte, Lebenswelten (wunt 219; eds. Martin Karrer and Wolfgang Kraus; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 287-99.


Larry Perkins, “Exodus,” in A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under That Title (eds. A. Pietersma and B. G. Wright; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 68.


Ibid., 63.


In Deut 5:4, Moses’ encounter with Yahweh on Mount Horeb is described as “The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire.” This “face to face” relationship is between Yahweh and Israel with Moses functioning as a mediator.


For a discussion about Philo’s description of Israel see John M. G. Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE-117 CE) (University of California Press, 1999), 174 n111.


“And what is especially worthy of being mentioned is this, that he believed that God would visit the race which was capable of Seeing.” Philo, Mig Abr §18.


Philo Opif. 69; Conf. 138; Somn. 1.72, x.


(1) “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). (2) “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). (3) “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father” (John 6:45-46).


Robert W. Wall, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (Two Horizons New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 146 n101.


Rieuwerd Buitenwerf, Book Three of the Sibylline Oracles and Its Social Setting (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 126. Conclusions about the dating of Sibylline Oracles book three remain approximately the same as studies done over one hundred years ago: “The first and oldest is undoubtedly the prologue of Book i. and parts of Book iii. (97-828). This portion was the work of an Alexandrian Jew, who wrote under Ptolemy vii. Physcon, about bc 140. It is by far the most important of all the poems, and worthy of the fullest investigation, as it is the longest pre-Christian production in the whole series” (William John Deane, Pseudepigrapha: An Account of Certain Apocryphal Sacred Writings of the Jews and Early Christians [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1891], 286).


“The key thing about second-temple monotheism was not, therefore, a particular proposal about the inner nature of the one God.” Wright, 626.


Henry J. Wicks, The Doctrine of God in the Jewish Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Literature (London: Hunter & Longhurst, 1915), 38.


Sibylline Oracles 3:10-17 in James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (vol. 1; New York: Yale University Press, 1983), 1:362.


Sibylline Oracles 3.545 in Charlesworth, otp, 374.


Sibylline Oracles 3.555 in Charlesworth, otp, 374.


“For you will be glorified in front of the face of the Lord for eternity, because you are the one whom the Lord chose in preference to all the people upon the earth.” 2 Enoch 64:5 in Charlesworth, otp, 1:190.


2 Enoch 53:1 in Charlesworth, otp, 1:180.


2 Enoch 67:3 in Charlesworth, otp, 1:194.


Charlesworth, otp, 1:152 note “d.”


The Hebrew word for face (פנים) is transliterated as panim or paneh and can communicate either face or presence.


Daniel L. Akin, “The Mystery of Godliness is Great: Christology in the Pastoral Epistles,” in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles (eds. A. Kostenberger and T. Wilder; Nashville: B&H, 2010), 140.


The reference to the words of the “Spirit” in 1 Tim 4:1 are the words that warn of those departing from the “faith” (1 Tim 4:1), they refer to truths about God’s creation (1 Tim 4:4) and they establish the Scriptures as the “word of God” (1 Tim 4:5). What is significant is that the Spirit is the authoritative source of knowledge about God’s truth and word. And such authoritative knowledge can only come from God himself. Here, epistemology points to the Spirit’s divine status.


“Here the appeal is to God and Christ.” Walter Lock, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: I & II Timothy and Titus (icc; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1924), 71.


George W. Knight iii, The Pastoral Epistles (nigtc; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 265.


Annette Merz, Die fiktive Selbstauslegung des Paulus: intertextuelle Studien zur Intention und Rezeption der Pastoralbriefe (ntoa/sunt 52; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004), 55.


An “appearance” (ἐπιφάνεια) was an important word in Hellenistic usage and “denoted the intervention of God or a semi-divine being.” Mounce, 360.


“On the basis of this passage (as on the basis of 2 Tim 4:1 and 1 Cor 8:6), one can reconstruct an ancient confessional formula in two parts.” Martin Dibelius and Hans Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972), 88.


Chris Tilling argues that the “relational data concerning Christ in Paul’s letters corresponds, as a pattern, only to the language concerning Yhwh in second Temple Judaism. It is concluded that the Christ-relation is Paul’s divine-Christology expressed as relationship” in Paul’s Divine Christology (2012 reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 3. For comments supporting Tilling’s thesis see Wright, 651.


Wright, 626.


“The expression καιροῖς ἰδίοις, ‘at the proper time,’ occurs two other places in the pe: Christ’s ransom was given at the proper time (1 Tim 2:6); eternal life was manifested by God through his word at the proper time (Titus 1:3; 1 Tim 2:6).” Mounce, 361.


Akin, 141.


“The solemn idiom of this passage is less liturgical than juridical.” Wall, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, 144.


Larry W. Hurtado, At the Origins of Christian Worship: The Context and Character of Earliest Christian Devotion (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 71.


Akin, 141.


Chris Tilling, Paul’s Divine Christology (2012 reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 73.


“The ‘man of God’ will appear before a tribunal headed by God … and Christ Jesus.” Wall, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, 144.


Phillip H. Towner, The Goal of Our Instruction: The Structure of Theology and Ethics in the Pastoral Epistles (JSNTSup 34; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), 59.


Bo Reicke argues that details such as the greetings, names of acquaintances and instructions to particular people would have made no sense if the pastoral epistles were “deutero-Pauline” and written after the first century in Re-examining Paul’s Letters: The History of the Pauline Correspondence (eds. David P. Moessner and Ingalisa Reicke; Harrisburg, pa: Trinity Press International, 2001), passim.


Contra James D. G. Dunn who states, “Even with the second coming ‘epiphany’ language, we should not necessarily think of God and Christ as distinct divine beings” in Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 345 n87.


“Identity concerns who God is; nature concerns what God is or what divinity is.” Emphasis his. Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, 7.


Bauckham, Jesus and the God of Israel, 7.


Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 633.

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