This verse is called a ‘doxology’, which simply means praise to the honour and glory of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. After Paul had described his personal wicked life, violently persecuting the church (1 Timothy 1:13-16), he contrasts his own past with the glorious unchangeable nature of God. True praise is always objective and descriptive. It focuses on the character qualities of God which are always true, irrespective of whatever our response might be. Praise which arises only from our experience of God is fragile and so affected by our circumstances; but praise which is rooted in the Scriptures’ description of God’s character will remain firm even in the darkest times.
God is described as the King. He has all authority and has the right to command everybody and everything. He is also eternal; He has always existed and will have no end. God is immortal; although Jesus died bearing the punishment for our sins, it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him (Acts 2:24). God is invisible, although Jesus Christ was made visible for a short time and will be seen on the final day. The story of the church is a story of faith. People of every nationality are united to Christ by believing the gospel and obeying the Word of God, without physically seeing God. He is unique: there is no other God.
Our response to this amazing description of God’s nature is to honour Him with our worship and obedience, and glorify Him by drawing attention to His amazing character and wonderful works as described in Scripture. However, the church is often preoccupied with ‘what God has done for me’, rather than who He is; with what we are doing, rather than what He has done. We easily draw attention to what we do, instead of His powerful work in the world. Sinners who value their salvation will say, in the words of John Newton at the end of his life, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things very clearly: that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Saviour.”
© Dr Paul Adams