"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17)
In this stirring doxology to the One who allowed him into the ministry (vv. 12-13), whose grace "was exceeding abundant" (v. 14), who "came into the world to save sinners" (v. 15), who showed mercy and longsuffering, and who grants "life everlasting" (v. 16), Paul uses several majestic descriptive terms. Each deserves our attention.
The King eternal. God's sovereign kingship is in view here. The phrase literally translates, the "King of the ages." "But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king" (Jeremiah 10:10). He is the King, and we must stand in submission to Him.
Immortal. The Greek word used here implies more than mere exemption from death. A fuller meaning would include total incorruptibility; i.e., the inability to be stained by either decay or death. What a comfort to realize that the believer's crown in glory will be likewise incorruptible (1 Corinthians 9:25), as will his resurrection body (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Invisible. God is a Spirit, and as such cannot be seen. He has chosen to appear on numerous occasions, most notably as Christ, but is usually unseen, the primary meaning of the word. Christ "is the image of the invisible |same word| God, the firstborn of every creature" (Colossians 1:15). Seen or unseen, He merits our praise.
The only wise God. God is unique in His existence and wisdom, "God only wise" (Romans 16:27). He stands alone, solitary, apart from all others.
Surely to this eternal, incorruptible, unseen, unique, wise, sovereign King belongs "honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." JDM