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1 Timothy 3:16 Did God become manifest in flesh?

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King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.) 1 Timothy 3: 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.

Although the above verse reads as “God was manifest in flesh”, majority of Trinitarian Bible Translations, read it as: “He was manifest in flesh.” A lot of Scholars agree that the word “God” was not in the original text, but was added by later scribes. The earliest and best manuscripts does not have the word “God” in it but rather “He who” or “which.” Furthermore even the modern (Trinitarian) Bible Translations disagree with the KJV and few other translations for putting the word “God” in 1 Timothy 3: 16. Let’s now show what the other  Bible Translations put for 1 Timothy 3:16;


1. American Standard Version 1901
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh.

2. Common English Bible
Without question, the mystery of godliness is great: HE was revealed as a human.

3. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Great beyond all question is the formerly hidden truth underlying our faith: He was manifested physically and proved righteous spiritually

4. Douay-Rheims 1899
And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh,

5. English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh.

6. NET Bible (©2006)
And we all agree, our religion contains amazing revelation: He was revealed in the flesh.

7. Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great: He was manifested in the flesh.

8. Good News Translation (GNT)
No one can deny how great is the secret of our religion: He appeared in human form.

9. Lexham English Bible (LEB)
And most certainly, great is the mystery of godliness: Who was revealed in the flesh,

He appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit

11. Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
And this Mystery of Righteousness is truly great, which was revealed in the flesh and was justified in The Spirit

12. New Century version
He was shown to us in a human body.

13. Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)
And undeniably great is the mystery of godliness, who was revealed in flesh.

14. Revised Standard version
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh

15. Douay-Rheims
And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh.

16. New English Translation (NET)
And we all agree, our religion contains amazing revelation: He was revealed in the flesh.

17. New International Version (NIV)
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh.

18. New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh.

19. New American Standard Bible
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh.

20. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh.

21. English Standard Version
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh

22. Revised Version 1881
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh.

23. The Voice (VOICE)
And I think you will agree that the mystery of godliness is great: He was revealed in the flesh.

So we see from the above Trinitarian Bible translations all agreeing that the word “God” is not in there. This alone should once and for all refute the KJV translation totally. Because there are some hard-headed Trinitarian’s who will still insist that 1 Timothy 3: 16 in KJV is right and other Christian translations are wrong. We will go further now and show more evidence to refute.

Greek Manuscripts that have not got the word “God” (Theos) in it:

Brooke Foss Westcott (1825–1901) and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828–1892)

Wescott and Hort

Brooke  F. Wescott & Fenton J. Hort Greek Manuscript

Constantin von Tischendorf

Constantin von Tischendorf

Constantin von Tischendorf Greek Manuscript

Notice how Westcott, Fenton and Tischendorf three well-respected Scholars, when they read the original Codex Alexandrinus for 1 Timothy 3:16 they did not see the word “God” in it, instead they seen the Greek word ὃς which means “he or who.”

So how come these other Translations below have the word “God” and not “He, who, which” in it? You have to see and find out next what the Scholars have to say.

Corrupt Translations

—-King James Bible
—-Darby Bible Translation
—-Webster’s Bible Translation
—-World English Bible
—-Young’s Literal Translation

Well now let’s hand this over to the experts. Let’s see if the above Translations are right in inserting the word “God” instead of “He, who” or “which.”

1. John Albert Bengel
“Theos of the rec. Text has none of the oldest MSS. In its favour, no version as early as the seventh century: and as to the fathers, ex. Gr. Cyril of Alex. And Chrysostom, quoted for theos, sec Tregelles on the printed text of N. T., in which he shows these fathers are misquoted. Theodoret, how ever does support it. Liberatus, Victor Tununensis (both of 6th cent.), affirm that Macedonius, under the Emperor Anastasius, changed OC into theos in order to support Nestorianism. AC corrected, G, read OC. So Memph. And Theb. The old Latin fg and Vulg. Have quod, referring to…, taken as a personal designation for the antecedent. The Syr. Peschito, and in fact all versions older than the seventh cent., have the relative NOT theos. D (A) corrected, alone of the uncials, favours O. The silence of the fathers of the fourth cent., though theos would have furnished them with a strong argument, is conclusive against it.” [1]

2. Anthony Buzzard
“Another example of a text which was altered is 1 Timothy 3:16. This verse reads in the KJV: “God was manifested in the flesh .” Modern versions have corrected the word “God” to “He who.” The alteration of an original “He who” (in Greek Oj) was very sneakily accomplished when some scribes changed the O (omicron) into a q (theta) giving qj (theta sigma). The reading THS was an abbreviated form of the Greek word theos, God. All that had to be done was to draw a little line across the middle of the O to produce the Greek letter theta (q). Then the text was made to sound Trinitarian and to support the Incarnation: “God was manifested in the flesh.” “He who” (O j) was made to read “God” (qj).” [2]

3. Isaac Newton
“All the Churches for the first four or five hundred years, and the authors of all the ancient versions, Jerome, as well as the rest read ‘ Great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh.’” [3]

4. Bart D. Ehrman
“The passage in question, 1 Tim. 3:16, had long been used by advocates of orthodox theology to support the view that the New Testament itself calls Jesus God. For the text, in most manuscripts, refers to Christ as “God made manifest in the flesh, and justified in the Spirit.” As I pointed out in chapter 3, most manuscripts abbreviate sacred names (the socalled nomina sacra), and that is the case here as well, where the Greek word God (QEOS) is abbreviated in two letters, theta and sigma (QS), with a line drawn over the top to indicate that it is an abbreviation. What Wettstein noticed in examining Codex Alexandrinus was that the line over the top had been drawn in a different ink from the surrounding words, and so appeared to be from a later hand (i.e., written by a later scribe). Moreover, the horizontal line in the middle of the first letter, Q, was not actually a part of the letter but was a line that had bled through from the other side of the old vellum. In other words, rather than being the abbreviation (thetasigma) For “God” (QS), the word was actually an omicron and a sigma (OS), a different word altogether, which simply means “who.” The original reading of the manuscript thus did not speak of Christ as “God made manifest in the flesh” but of Christ “who was made manifest in the flesh.” According to the ancient testimony of the Codex Alexandrinus, Christ is no longer explicitly called God in this passage.” [4]

5. Johann Jakob Griesbach
“This reading OS, is supported by most ancient witnesses of all classes [manuscripts, versions, and Fathers] and it is recommended also, by its internal indications of truth. On the contrary, the Vulgate Theos, was neither the primitive reading of the Alexandrine, nor of the Western recension: and further, it cannot be defended by arguments drawn from nature [or goodness] of the reading itself; but it is supported only by a number of manuscripts of a later date, belonging chiefly to the Constantinopolitan recension; and by the dubious credit to the more modern Greek Fathers; and could not be found in any monument of antiquity, prior to the close of the fourth century.”[5]

6. Professor of the New Testament, Reverend Benjamin B. Warfield
Expert palaeographers differ diametrically as to what the reading of A is, whether Theos or OC, and in the present worn state of the MS. Decision by renewed examinations is impossible. The same kind of controversy has been held as to the reading C, although apparently with much less reason; and although we have unclosed C also in doubting: parentheses we entertain no great doubt as to its support of OC. A large proportion of the versions so deliver their testimony as to make it indeterminable whether they read OC or O; they have been placed in both lists in-closed in brackets, as its existence has been doubted. Codex 73 has been personally examined by Dr. Schaff, and certainly reads OC. On applying genealogical considerations to this evidence, all the testimony that is at all certain for theos sifts out with the sifting out of the Syrian testimony. This reading appears in no father until late in the fourth century, in no version until at least the seventh century, and in MSS. Until long after the Syrian text had become everywhere the virtual textus receptus. On Genealogical grounds, thus theos is at once set aside, and the choice rests between OC and O. It can scarcely be doubted that O is Western; while the attestation (A) C 17 gives OS the appearance of having the support of the neutral and Alexandrian classes. The doubt that hangs Genealogical evidence of groups corroborates this finding. AC or C alone is of the best groups attainable in this part of the New testament. The transcriptional evidence comes to our help by making it improbable that O can be the correct reading and hence enabling us to account all the testimony for both OS and O combined against that for theos. The result is to condemn theos hopelessly. [6]

7. Andrews Norton
The original reading I believe to have been O which for this the external; evidence when fairly adjusted, seems greatly to preponderate; and it may have been altered by transcribers first into OS, and afterwards into theos, in consequence of the theological interpretation of the passage, according to which the mystery spoken of was Christ;- I believe has no reference to Christ personally. The words translated ‘mystery of godliness’ as if purposely to obscure the sense, should be rendered the new doctrine of piety, or concerning piety….” [7]

8. Richard N. Longenecker writes
“Passages in Paul where theos is employed of Christ are lacking. The appeal to 1 Timothy 3: 16 is undoubtedly illegitimate, for the reading ‘who (Oc) was manifested in the flesh’ has much stronger textual support than ‘God (theos) was manifested in flesh.’” [8]

9. Dr. Samuel Clark
“It has been great controversy among learned men, whether theos or OC, or O be the true reading in this place. All the old versions have it qui or quid [who or which]. And all ancient Fathers though the copies of many of them have it NOW in the text itself, theos [God]; yet from the tenor of their comments upon it, and from their never citing it in the Arian controversy, it appears they always read it, qui or quid.” [9]

10. Murray J Harris
….. Infact all the ancient versions presuppose the relative pronoun, whether OC or O and the earliest uncial in the original hand that reads theos dates from the eighth or ninth century. Also the earliest patristic citation of theos dates from the last third of the fourth century. Whereas Origen (d.254) more than a century earlier testifies to OC. The Strength of the external evidence favouring OS along with considerations of transcriptional and intrinsic probability, have prompted textual critics virtually unanimously to regard OC as the original text… Accordingly 1 Timothy 3:16 is not an instance of the Christological use of theos.
The Conclusion we have reached about each of the secondary passages discussed in this chapter is indentical—and negative. In every case textual or grammatical considerations rule out the possibility that Jesus is called theos. [10]

11. Bruce M. Metzger


Bruce M. Metzger


Conclusion: The vast amount of evidence I have presented from the Scholars and Trinitarian Bible translations agree that 1 Timothy 3:16 does not say “God was manifest in the flesh” instead “He was manifest in flesh.” It was due to a scribe that the Greek word “OC” was changed into “theos.” Majority of the experts further showed that in the earliest manuscripts they have available it does not read God (theos) but “he, who” or which.



[1] John Albert Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament, page 268
[2] Anthony Buzzard, Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian: A call to return to the creed of Jesus, page 257
[3] Isaac Newton, Historical Account Of Two Notable Corruptions Of Scripture: In A Letter To A Friend , page 58
[4] Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus page 113
[5] Johann Jakob Griesbach, Novum Testamentum Graece; Volume 3
[6] Professor of the New Testament Reverend Benjamin B. Warfield D. D. An Introduction to the textual criticism of the New Testament (1886), page 194- 195
[7] Andrews Norton, A Statement of reasons, page 132
[8] Richard N. Longenecker, The Christology of early Jewish Christianity, page 139
[9] Samuel Clark Scripture The Doctrine of the Trinity, page 540
[10] Murray J. Harris Jesus as God, The New Testament, page 267 to 268
[11] Bruce M. Metzger , The Text of the New Testament, its transmission, corruption and restoration. page 187


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