1 Timothy 6:15 - Who is "He"?

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Andrew | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Nov 7 2018 8:35 PM

"...which he will make known in his own time, the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of those who reign as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords,..." (LEB)

"...which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,..." (NIV)

I am curious...How would you go about deciding who "he" is in this verse?  Can it been determined solely by grammar?  The NIV seems to interpret "he" as God the Father but Logos has tagged "he" as Person -> Jesus

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Charles | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Nov 7 2018 11:45 PM

Both the NASB95 and the CSB clearly show "He" to be Jesus Christ.  The NIV (2011) has to be read in full context.  In other words read vv 1 Tim 13-15; again this points to Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Charles

2017 27" iMac 5K, Mojave, 10.5" iPad Pro, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 7+, iOS 12.0  

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 1:49 AM

Re: 1 Tim. 6:15...

Andrew:
I am curious...How would you go about deciding who "he" is in this verse?  Can it been determined solely by grammar?

Well, it would have helped if you had quoted the entire sentence--cutting it off midstream disconnects your answer from the answer. Grammar isn't your clue quite as much as the associated context.

Wholly contradicting this assertion...

Charles:

Both the NASB95 and the CSB clearly show "He" to be Jesus Christ.  The NIV (2011) has to be read in full context.  In other words read vv 1 Tim 13-15; again this points to Jesus Christ.

...the answer lies not prior to v. 15 but subsequent to it. (Ignore my mark-up; that's just how my Bible looks)

As v. 16 shows, the "He" being discussed in v. 15 is One "whom no man has seen or can see". Since Yeishuua` was SEEN and heard and touched (2 Pet. 1:16; 1 Jn. 1:1, 2, 3), it seems impossible that He is the "He" being referenced in the above passage. In addition, Paul refers in the very same epistle (1 Tim. 1:17) to an "immortal, invisible God", who receives honor and glory, thus matching the underlined characteristics to the "He" of your v. 15 above (see v. 16).

"He" is the Father--100%. Of course, since Yeishuua` and the Father are One, it is a distinction without much difference.

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 4:26 AM

 It is God the father. He will send Jesus to judge the world at the proper time because only He knows the hour and the day 👍😁👌  and yes what DP says, always read the entire paragraph  for contextual indicators.

 I remember a friend of mine thought John the Baptist was the light of the world because he was not reading the entire section.

DAL

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Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 5:06 AM

David Paul:

Re: 1 Tim. 6:15...

Andrew:
I am curious...How would you go about deciding who "he" is in this verse?  Can it been determined solely by grammar?

Well, it would have helped if you had quoted the entire sentence--cutting it off midstream disconnects your answer from the answer. Grammar isn't your clue quite as much as the associated context.

Wholly contradicting this assertion...

Charles:

Both the NASB95 and the CSB clearly show "He" to be Jesus Christ.  The NIV (2011) has to be read in full context.  In other words read vv 1 Tim 13-15; again this points to Jesus Christ.

...the answer lies not prior to v. 15 but subsequent to it. (Ignore my mark-up; that's just how my Bible looks)

As v. 16 shows, the "He" being discussed in v. 15 is One "whom no man has seen or can see". Since Yeishuua` was SEEN and heard and touched (2 Pet. 1:16; 1 Jn. 1:1, 2, 3), it seems impossible that He is the "He" being referenced in the above passage. In addition, Paul refers in the very same epistle (1 Tim. 1:17) to an "immortal, invisible God", who receives honor and glory, thus matching the underlined characteristics to the "He" of your v. 15 above (see v. 16).

"He" is the Father--100%. Of course, since Yeishuua` and the Father are One, it is a distinction without much difference.

Yet Logos has the ”he” labeled as Jesus.  Good reminder.

Cynthia

Romans 8:28-38

www.cynthiafeenstra.net

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 5:11 AM

Cynthia in Florida:
Yet Logos has the ”he” labeled as Jesus.

Clearly an error. I reported it.

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Andrew | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 8:12 AM

First off, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to respond - I sincerely appreciate it.

David Paul:
Well, it would have helped if you had quoted the entire sentence--cutting it off midstream disconnects your answer from the answer.

I actually very deliberately quoted a single verse rather than the entire sentence for 3 reasons:

  • First, I didn't want any ambiguity regarding which "he" I am referring to...There are a lot in this passage
  • Second, the more of an English translation I include, the more the interpretation can be influenced by that particular translation
  • Third, (related to point 2) it isn't always clear in the Greek exactly where one sentence starts and another ends...Or that a single sentence is sufficient context 

David Paul:
As v. 16 shows, the "He" being discussed in v. 15 is One "whom no man has seen or can see". Since Yeishuua` was SEEN and heard and touched (2 Pet. 1:161 Jn. 1:123), it seems impossible that He is the "He" being referenced in the above passage. In addition, Paul refers in the very same epistle (1 Tim. 1:17) to an "immortalinvisible God", who receives honor and glory, thus matching the underlined characteristics to the "He" of your v. 15 above (see v. 16).

With Francis, I agree that "the Greek...uses parallelism to pile up the descriptors of God in verses 15-16" - ie. the grammar is very clear that the descriptors in verse 16 refer to the "he" I underlined in verse 15.  However, both God the Father & Jesus Christ are referenced earlier in the sentence (in verses 13-14 which NA28 tags as part of a single sentence that spans v. 13-16a) and Jesus is the closest 2 antecedents ("Christ Jesus" & "our Lord Jesus Christ").

David Paul:
Grammar isn't your clue quite as much as the associated context.

I am very cognizant of Spurgeon's caution that we must:

"Always stand to it that your creed must bend to the Bible, and not the Bible to your creed, and dare to be a little inconsistent with yourselves, if need be, sooner than be inconsistent with God’s revealed truth."

Spurgeon, C. H. (1868). Joshua’s Obedience. In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 14, p. 103). London: Passmore & Alabaster.

Therefore although I agree that the subsequent descriptors initially seem to better fit God the Father rather than the Son, surely it is hard to argue that it is God the Father "who alone has immortality" (v. 16) despite the very compelling parallel David points out in 1 Tim 1:17?

I am asking whether the correct antecedent for this "he" can been determined solely by the Greek grammar in order to ensure that our creed/theology bends to the Bible and not the Bible to our creed/theology.  I recognize that sometimes we need to use clearer passages to interpret the more ambiguous (which David has done well), but I think we should always try to first determine correct interpretation solely based on the grammar before using theology from other portions of Scripture.

Francis:

Cynthia in Florida:
Yet Logos has the ”he” labeled as Jesus.

Clearly an error. I reported it.

I therefore humbly submit that the correct antecedent isn't immediately clear.

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 8:41 AM

Andrew:
However, both God the Father & Jesus Christ are referenced earlier in the sentence (in verses 13-14 which NA28 tags as part of a single sentence that spans v. 13-16a) and Jesus is the closest 2 antecedents ("Christ Jesus" & "our Lord Jesus Christ").

Proximity in the sentence is not the determinative factor here however. It would be strange for Jesus to manifest in its right time "the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν* Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἣν καιροῖς ἰδίοις δείξει). If this is the intended meaning then it is very awkward. 

Moreover, the "proximity" argument certainly does not work in this very passage because the descriptors that follow refer to an antecedent that is now assumed and not restated. Going with the logic of proximity, it would have to be Jesus throughout. 

The ambiguity of antecedents of the same number and gender (and in Greek, in instances where case does not help) is common enough:

"Francis replied to Andrew. He is glad." 

Who is glad? Francis? Andrew? Just because Andrew is closer to "he" does not mean he is the intended antecedent. 

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Bmickey | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 10:47 AM

Francis:
...does not mean he is the intended antecedent. 
which "he"? Confused Smile

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Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 11:15 AM

Andrew:
I am curious...How would you go about deciding who "he" is in this verse?  Can it been determined solely by grammar?  The NIV seems to interpret "he" as God the Father but Logos has tagged "he" as Person -> Jesus

I find the Exegetical Summaries or the UBS Translators' Handbooks good to answer these questions, because they survey all the options of translation and what's discussed in the translations and commentaries. Even if there's only one major commentary or one major Bible translation that dissents from a consensus, it would be noted in these books.

The Translator's Handbook doesn't even discuss the possibility that 'he' could refer to anyone other than God. The Exegetical Summary asks the question, but only gives one answer.

What is the referent of ἕν ‘which’ and who will bring this about? The pronominal adjective ἕν ‘which’ has as its antecedent ‘the appearing’ [BNTC, ECC, ICC, NIGTC, TG; CEV, NET], and God is the one who will bring this about in his own time [AB, BNTC, ECC, ICC, NAC, NIGTC, NTC, TG; CEV, GW, NCV, NIV, REB, TEV]. God controls and determines the moment when Jesus Christ will appear [NIGTC].

So if Logos has tagged it as Jesus, that's a mistake.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 1:33 PM

Bmickey:

Francis:
...does not mean he is the intended antecedent. 
which "he"? Confused Smile

In v. 15, both Hes have the same antecedent.

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 4:05 PM

Which reminds me that I need to report that somewhere in Acts Philip is tagged as an Apostle which he wasn’t. He was one of the men chosen in Acts 6.

DAL

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 4:30 PM

Andrew:
Therefore although I agree that the subsequent descriptors initially seem to better fit God the Father rather than the Son, surely it is hard to argue that it is God the Father "who alone has immortality" (v. 16) despite the very compelling parallel David points out in 1 Tim 1:17?

Theology is a slippery business for a host of reasons. There are the reasons that most would prefer to ignore or reject altogether (YHWH's many prophetic proclamations that He has blinded human eyes from perceiving truth...who wants to believe that?...that's UNBELIEVABLE!), or the issues that are actually accessible, even though they are somewhat tedious and complex. The nature of the Godhead is (in part...the part not covered by the former issue) one of those. There are tons of reasons for identifying Yeishuua` with YHWH ':Elohhiym, yet the Father/Son dynamic interposes some functional distinctions that are precisely important because those functions are fundamental components of YHWH's overall plan. Again, something that many will refuse to accept regardless of the evidence marshaled in support, is that much of the Godhead language employed in ecclesial history is simply inappropriate and inaccurate--descriptive overreaching occurs regularly. The correct analysis requires much more finesse.

One of the ham-fisted doctrinal declarations that has hung as a pall, impeding a correct understanding for centuries, is that "Yeishuua` was/is 100% God and 100% man". Neither of those assertions makes much sense. Pertaining to Godness, how can He be 100% if He is explicitly described as having emptied Himself of His Godness? (Phil. 2:5, 6, 7) Even if He retained some Godness (and I think He clearly did, considering His ability to do things no human could do), He certainly wasn't at 100%. Nor was He 100% man, for the exact reason already given...He did things NO OTHER HUMAN has or could do. Likewise, if EVERY human sins (indeed the very phrase "human nature" effectively connotes "frail failure"), then there is zero reason to include as fully human any member who doesn't share the same universal characteristic. Unfortunately, the doctrinal perception of 100% God & Man, when taken as a given and used as a foundation for developing other doctrines, will result in significant error (angular variance producing ever-increasing deviation).

So, what is the proper way of describing the truth of the condition? Yeishuua` is sufficiently God and He is sufficiently man. He is as much of both as YHWH needs Him to be, no more or less, and you will NEVER be able to quantify it beyond that fact. If YHWH the Father doesn't think of His Son in percentage terms, deigning to ignore His view and make inaccurate doctrinaire assessments seems foolhardy at best. As I described it above, the problem is overreaching...and then requiring others to oblige the error with doctrinal obedience. Just to be clear, being obedient to error is disobedience.

Everything just stated was groundwork developed to address the quoted concern about Yeishuua` and immortality. Some folks (quite a few) would launch themselves into the question with great confidence and assuredness, failing to take into account some necessary considerations. First, as we ought to understand, Yeishuua` had/has (I use past & present together for a compelling reason) varying ontological roles. His Being changes (!) significantly due to the need for Him to fulfill the roles He has in ':Elohhiym's (i.e. His own) plan. YHWH being God, and humans being human, humans don't instinctively comprehend the ways in which His actions produce outcomes. Nor are humans predisposed to take into account the ontological shift since it isn't part of their experience. There are, though, some helpful examples to illustrate. It is often said, "Everyone is different", and yet you also hear it said that, "We are all the same." Is that a paradox? Seems so, since a paradox can be defined as a scenario that seems to have contradictory conditions and yet exists nonetheless. It seems like we are different (men/women/other, introverted/extroverted, nationalities, religions or lack thereof, cultured/not, liberal/conservative, etc.) and yet it seems like we aren't (having love of family, aspirations for peace & prosperity, etc.). These exist in what is often called "a tension".

Because we "look back" at Yeishuua`, we tend to take a unified view of Him (not inherently wrong or incorrect), but we can obscure our perception of His ontological shift, or worse, over-simplify it. Messiah came to perform a humanish role, but He isn't humanish now (nor prior). Was Yeishuua` ':Elohhiym? Yes, before the Incarnation. Is He ':Elohhiym? Yes, residing in heaven. Yet it is His humanish work on earth that is the unifying focus of YHWH's plan. My point, slippery as it is, is that describing Yeishuua`'s activity, with its roles involving extraordinary ontological shift, IS SLIPPERY. It is fundamentally difficult to describe, if not altogether impossible. So let's break down this concern...

Andrew:
surely it is hard to argue that it is God the Father "who alone has immortality"

I think I am correct in assuming that Andrew is thinking about Yeishuua` as a counterfactual. Isn't He immortal? Well, if your thinking (which is probably blinkered) is drawn to His current state, your answer might well be "Of course!" But that conclusion is overlooking a fundamental fact: YEISHUUA` DIED. Technically, that statistic removes Him from consideration as immortal, even though He lives and will never die again.

I'm not entirely exempting myself from charges of less than perfect accuracy in my theological descriptions. I can point to some of what I've just said and find a verse or statement in the Bible which would perceptually challenge what I've said. It's not that I'm ignoring those things. It's that it is nearly impossible to conversationally encapsulate all that needs to be said about YHWH or Yeishuua` in any summative statement. That's why the Bible has so much tensional language. Did YHWH inspire David to number the tribes for war, or was it Satan? Yes! Feeling the tension, much??

My summative point is this...almost all of our thoughts about ':Elohhiym are susceptible to error, regardless of how much we read the Book, just because of the ontological shift, among the many other extant reasons. Perhaps the one with the most power to "throw" us like a bucking bronc is His prophetic declaration regarding the sealed nature of the Book. A person who can perfectly quote the entire Bible without error can nevertheless be entirely in the grip of YHWH's famine of the hearing of His word. That sounds unbelievable, but it is part of His unbelievable work. That's why everyone should tip-toe lightly around every single doctrine they assume to believe...but may not comprehend.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Nov 8 2018 4:38 PM

DAL:

Which reminds me that I need to report that somewhere in Acts Philip is tagged as an Apostle which he wasn’t. He was one of the men chosen in Acts 6.

DAL

I was kicked out a congregation for disagreeing with an elder about Philip in Acts 8 being the deacon. He insisted that it was the apostle, because no deacon would be "allowed" to do the things that Philip did, like preaching, etc., and along the same line of illogic, I had no right to contradict an "ordained" man, i.e. him. Traditions of the fathers...

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Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 9 2018 2:58 AM

Deleted post.

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Andrew | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 9 2018 11:09 AM

David Paul:

Bmickey:

Francis:
"Francis replied to Andrew. He is glad." 

Who is glad? Francis? Andrew? Just because Andrew is closer to "he" does not mean he is the intended antecedent. 

which "he"? Confused Smile

In v. 15, both Hes have the same antecedent.

I love it...Well done Francis, your example proved exactly why I quoted such a small portion of the sentence AND underlined the "he" to which I was referring :)

Francis:

Andrew:
However, both God the Father & Jesus Christ are referenced earlier in the sentence (in verses 13-14 which NA28 tags as part of a single sentence that spans v. 13-16a) and Jesus is the closest 2 antecedents ("Christ Jesus" & "our Lord Jesus Christ").

Proximity in the sentence is not the determinative factor here however. It would be strange for Jesus to manifest in its right time "the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν* Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἣν καιροῖς ἰδίοις δείξει). If this is the intended meaning then it is very awkward. 

Moreover, the "proximity" argument certainly does not work in this very passage because the descriptors that follow refer to an antecedent that is now assumed and not restated. Going with the logic of proximity, it would have to be Jesus throughout. 

I completely agree - The descriptors that follow do indeed refer to an antecedent that is now assumed and not restated.  As I said

Andrew:
With Francis, I agree that "the Greek...uses parallelism to pile up the descriptors of God in verses 15-16" - ie. the grammar is very clear that the descriptors in verse 16 refer to the "he" I underlined in verse 15.

My point is that if we use the descriptors that follow to determine the correct antecedent, then we are using our theology rather than solely the grammar.

Mark Barnes:

I find the Exegetical Summaries or the UBS Translators' Handbooks good to answer these questions, because they survey all the options of translation and what's discussed in the translations and commentaries. Even if there's only one major commentary or one major Bible translation that dissents from a consensus, it would be noted in these books.

The Translator's Handbook doesn't even discuss the possibility that 'he' could refer to anyone other than God. The Exegetical Summary asks the question, but only gives one answer.

Thank you Mark - I also looked through those very useful resources and came to the same conclusion.  It seems that theologians agree that the "he" of verse 15 refers to God the Father rather than Christ Jesus, but that this must be determined by deciding which person of the trinity the descriptors of verses 15-16 most likely describe rather than solely based on the grammar.

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DAL | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 9 2018 11:15 AM

David Paul:

DAL:

Which reminds me that I need to report that somewhere in Acts Philip is tagged as an Apostle which he wasn’t. He was one of the men chosen in Acts 6.

DAL

I was kicked out a congregation for disagreeing with an elder about Philip in Acts 8 being the deacon. He insisted that it was the apostle, because no deacon would be "allowed" to do the things that Philip did, like preaching, etc., and along the same line of illogic, I had no right to contradict an "ordained" man, i.e. him. Traditions of the fathers...

LOL I would’ve been the one getting him kicked out for being an ignorant and pretending to be an elder with no knowledge of something so basic! Sounds like he was a modern day Diotrephes!

DAL

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 9 2018 1:38 PM

Andrew:
My point is that if we use the descriptors that follow to determine the correct antecedent, then we are using our theology rather than solely the grammar.

A serious question of curiosity only (but then i'm a cat owner): who would ever think one could rely solely on grammar? One needs context to disambiguate words, grammar, and syntax. Dictionaries, grammars and syntax are always descriptive not prescriptive.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Andrew | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 9 2018 1:54 PM

MJ. Smith:

Andrew:
My point is that if we use the descriptors that follow to determine the correct antecedent, then we are using our theology rather than solely the grammar.

A serious question of curiosity only (but then i'm a cat owner): who would ever think one could rely solely on grammar? One needs context to disambiguate words, grammar, and syntax. Dictionaries, grammars and syntax are always descriptive not prescriptive.

Absolutely.  I'm just saying we should always try to first determine as much as possible solely via language rules before using our presuppositions (including our theology) to interpret Scripture.  I think that is a key commitment to ensure exegesis rather than eisegesis.

After going as far as possible relying solely on language rules, we are 100% free to use other hermeneutic principles...I was just curious whether that was required in this specific case.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Nov 9 2018 3:00 PM

MJ. Smith:

Andrew:
My point is that if we use the descriptors that follow to determine the correct antecedent, then we are using our theology rather than solely the grammar.

A serious question of curiosity only (but then i'm a cat owner): who would ever think one could rely solely on grammar? One needs context to disambiguate words, grammar, and syntax. Dictionaries, grammars and syntax are always descriptive not prescriptive.

I'm not a cat owner, but your comment is both correct and a wildly slippery slope. It would be unfortunate to demand the religious ones (and ones spouse) to write correct grammar relative to what they meant. But alternatively, doctrine is achieved by ignoring alternate meanings within grammar.

Which is why I always recommend a commentary that agrees with ones opinions.


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