1 Timothy 6:15,16 – The Only Ruler Who Possesses Immortality

1 Timothy 6:13 I charge you in the sight of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession,
1 Timothy 6:14 – that you keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ;
1 Timothy 6:15 – which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords
1 Timothy 6:16 – who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and eternal power. Amen. — World English Bible translation.

Many offer the above verses as proof that Jesus is Yahweh, claiming several lines of thought. One claims that Jesus is here called the only ruler. (only Potentate, KJV), Something similar is said of Yahweh in Zechariah 14:9: “Yahweh will be King over all the earth. In that day Yahweh will be one, and his name one.” From this some claim that this means that Jesus is Yahweh.

Some claim that the titles King of kings and Lord of lords only applies to Yahweh, and thus since these titles are applied to Jesus here, that this is proof that Jesus is Yahweh. We have discussed these titles elsewhere, and will not discuss them here.

Further, it is claimed that since it says that Jesus is only one with immortality, that this means that Jesus is Yahweh.

However, it is not clear that the expressions relative to these claims are actually being applied to Jesus in the above verses. Some translations express it differently, so that the expressions are being applied to the God of Jesus, and not to Jesus. The New Living Translations (NLT) renders the verses this way:

1 Timothy 6:13 And I command you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate,
1 Timothy 6:14 that you obey his commands with all purity. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
1 Timothy 6:15 For at the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
1 Timothy 6:16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No one has ever seen him, nor ever will. To him be honor and power forever. Amen.

This rendering does seem to fit the context better, in that it is the God of Jesus that is being referred to in verse 13, who gives life to all, and it is the God of Jesus that Timothy is told to obey. The rendering of “has immortality”, however, as being “can never die” (1 Iimothy 6:16), can be misleading, as it appears to alter what was actually being said. Only the God of Jesus ‘possesses/has’ immortality in his own innate being. No one else ‘possesses/has’ immortality, since immortality has to be given to any others than the only Most High from He who is the ultimate source of all life.

Jesus is certainly delineated from “God” in these verses. In other words, the one who gives life to all, is distinguished from Christ Jesus. Jesus did die, and thus he did had not yet been given immortality before he died. It is only since his being raised back to life by the power of the only true God that he now lives forever. (Romans 6:9) Death no longer has any dominion over him, since he has overcome (in obedience to the only true God — Philippians 2:8), and thus is now not subject to the second death. (Revelation 2:8,11; 3:21) Jesus cannot die again, thus, by his putting on incorruption, he has put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53,54) However, unlike the immortality possessed by his God, Jesus’ life, is given to him by his God, who gives life to all. Thus, Jesus now “lives through the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) Jesus’ immortality is not his innately, it is given to him by his God, who gives life to all. Thus, in the full sense of the word as being an innate attribute, only the God of Jesus has immortality.

Nevertheless, assuming that the phrases are actually meant to apply to the Son of God, rather than to the God of Jesus, would this mean that Jesus is the Most High Yahweh? Jesus is indeed the only ruler, the only Potentate, whom the only Most High has placed over the others who are also made kings, rulers, lords. (Psalm 45:7; Ephesians 1:17-21; Hebrews 1:9; Revelation 5:10; 19:16; 20:6) Jesus’ placement as such, however, is from Jesus’ God, the only Most High. This being so, as Paul says, “it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him.” — 1 Corinthians 15:27.

Of course, the last day, the day of the resurrection and judgment, had not yet come when Paul wrote his words to Timothy, and thus, of the rulers/lords being spoken of, only Jesus possessed immortality at that time. Only Jesus had been raised from the dead and given immortal life by his God.

One objects with the dualistic claim (hypostatic union doctrine) that Jesus is God and also that Jesus is man at the same time. Thus, applying this doctrine, the claim is made that it was God Jesus who died, but rather that it was the man Jesus who died, and that it was the man Jesus who was raised back to life. Many even claim that Jesus raised himself from the dead, which would mean that it would have to be assumed and read into the scriptures that the God Jesus raised the man Jesus from the dead. Thus, it is claimed that Paul was referring to the God Jesus as immortal, not the man Jesus.

In reality, the whole hypostatic union dogma has to be imagined in men’s thoughts “beyond the things which are written,” (1 Corinthians 4:6) and those thoughts are then assumed to be true, and then those assumptions of men have to be added to, and read into, what the scriptures say, in order to make the scriptures appear to agree with the added-on dogma that Jesus is Yahweh God. As we have stated before, since the Bible is full harmony with itself without adding all of the trinitarian or oneness philosophies to the Bible, we have no reason to add such to what has been revealed though the spirit in the holy scriptures.

On the other hand, the hypostatic union dogma claims that the man Christ Jesus is now alive, and will be alive forever. Although the details of the claims vary, the basic claim is that Jesus now both God and man, and that Jesus will forever be a man. This, of course, would fully nullify the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, since it would either have Jesus taking back his sacrifice, or that he never really offered that sacrifice in the first place. Since we have dealt with this before, we will not dwell on this in this study.

What we certainly do not find in these verses is any concept of God as three persons, or that there is more than one person in the only true God. Like other scriptures, the concept has to be assumed, added to, and read into the above verses. Likewise with any concept that presents Jesus as the only true God.

Originally published on: July 7, 2009; updated and republished on April 11, 2014.

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2 comments to 1 Timothy 6:15,16 – The Only Ruler Who Possesses Immortality

  • Jeff engel

    Bro Ronald,
    You mentioned that Jesus did not receive immortality until after His death and ressurrection.
    How then would you explain John5:26
    “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”
    Jesus here is clearly indicating that immortality had already been given to Him.
    Seems to imply this,

    “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”(NIV)
    The command that Jesus received from the Father seems to be a guarantee that while God Himself did ressurrect Jesus,our Saviour was also able to ressurrect Himself,as He had the authority from the Father,a direct commandment.

    Would appreciate your thoughts on those verses.