by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2 Lincolnton, NC April 23, 2006
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
1901 ASV Translation: 15 which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
I. The Revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
A. The word translated "appearing" is only used six times in the New Testament and all but one of those is found in the pastoral epistles.
1. It signals a presentation of a thing (person, truth, etc.) in terms that can be apprehended (words, visible demonstration, etc.).
2. That Timothy was to be faithful until the "appearing" means that Jesus is going to return in a demonstrable way and that Timothy was to anticipate that coming in his own personal theology -- i.e., he was to be looking for the event to occur and to operate on the basis of the possibility that it would occur before he died. [Another way it might possibly be understood is for "death" to be an "appearing" for each believer -- but the rest of the text tends to lead us away from that thought.]
B. The event is "timed" by the "only Potentate".
1. The "he shall show" phrase uses a word that is used primarily of "presenting to the eyes".
2. This visible presentation of Jesus is set in a "time" frame that is governed solely by the "only Potentate".
a. The fact that Timothy was to be faithful until this "event" indicates that Paul and Timothy understood that it "could" happen at any point.
b. The fact that the "timing" of the event is governed by Sovereignty indicates how critical the event is for human history and how central the event is for believers.
1) In 2 Timothy 4:8 and Titus 2:13 the apostle makes the event "central" for all believers.
2) Many errors have been made by those who attempt to "time" the event in direct contradiction to Paul's clear statement that the "timing" is held in inscrutability by Sovereignty.
a) There are no guarantees in the words of God that the event will come before any particular individual believer has to face the worst that the world, the flesh, or the devil can produce. Jesus pointedly declared that His disciples would be hated, persecuted, and killed by the wicked and there were no guarantees given that any particular one would be "rescued" from torture or death. Jesus was not so delivered, and we should not expect that we ought to be treated better than was He.
b) The summons to fidelity has at least two underlying issues of promise. One of these issues is a "sufficient grace" that will undergird the believer in the face of whatever comes. The other issue is that of the connection between what one must face as a disciple and what God will do afterwards. He exalted Jesus to the highest possible exaltation because He asked of Him the lowest humiliation possible. If He did that for Jesus, He will do it for all who, like Jesus, submit to His will. Thus, the "grace" is always available to the believer and the result will certainly be "worth it" (Romans 8:18).
c) There is this, however, that must be faced: no believer will find the available grace who is not willing to define Life and its mechanisms as God does.
3. Paul runs the concept of "the only Potentate" out to its maximum sense in order to put the "price of fidelity" in its place. What does it matter if we have to pay the worst conceivable price in light of the inconceivable glory? Our fidelity is to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Immortal God, the Sharer of Inconceivable Glory. It is not ours to attempt to "define" the rewards of fidelity -- all such human definitions will pale into oblivion when faced with the reality -- but only to attempt to "keep the charge" until He comes.