Who is the "Only Potentate"?

In defending the position regarding an invisible parousia when the King Messiah returns, the following was offered. Please see a response from those who believe in a "visible" return of Christ.

INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: As in Bible study on all topics, each passage using 'see' or 'look' should be interpreted in harmony not only with its immediate context, but also in a way that does not conflict with other inspired testimony. 1 Tim. 6:14-16 bears on the intended meaning of Revelation 1:7. Whether it should be "his times" (about the manifestation of "our Lord Jesus Christ") or "its times" (see Marshall Interlinear, the times of "the appearing"), that which will be shown and identified is the same:

VISIBLE PAROUSIA: Without addressing "each passage using 'see' or 'look'" -- nor indicating the context of these verses -- an attempt is made to rely on one major text -- 1 Timothy 6:14-16 -- as proof that all these unstated verses are to be understood as referring to some symbolic seeing or mental discernment.

Before addressing 1 Timothy 6:14-16 we wish to comment on Revelation 1:7 mentioned in passing above. We have not employed Revelation 1:7 as proof of a visible return of King Messiah because we do not believe it is to be applied that way. We believe Revelation 1:7 -- "Look! (Jesus) is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him" -- amounts to a praise-hymn combining two texts: Daniel 7:13 and Theodotion's version of the Septuagint at Zechariah 12:10. Compare John's own application at John 19:37.

INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: "The blessed and only Potentate, the King of the [ones] reigning and Lord of the [ones] ruling, the only [one] having immortality, inhabiting light unapproachable, whom no one of men saw nor can see,"<>

VISIBLE PAROUSIA: 1 Timothy 6:16 presents an interesting problem. Indeed, two problems: a) to whom is the verse addressed; and, b) how are some of the phrases to be understood. It is be no means "clear and simple." The contextual phrase begins in 1 Timothy 6:13, "I am laying a charge upon you -- in the sight of The God (the One generating alive everything) and of Christ Jesus (the one who testified a fine confession before Pontious Pilate) -- to observe the commandment, spotless and irreprehensible, until the Appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Timothy 6:13-15)

In these verses there are two persons: a) The God; and, b) Jesus Christ. Now one of these will one day Appear and he is identified as Jesus Christ. The word Appearing comes from the Greek EPI-PHANEIAS and is used often with regard to those appearances after his resurrection (John 21:1) and that future Appearing identified with his Parousia. (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; 1 John 2:28-3:2) This word is variously rendered: KJV: appearing; MOF: appearance; RHM: forthshining; NOR: until our Lord Jesus Christ shall make his appearance. From this it seems clear of the two persons mentioned above one is going to make an appearance.

Now, in 1 Timothy 6:15 one of these two is described: " ... which (Appearing) the Happy and Only Potentate [MOF: only Sovereign] -- the King of those ruling as kings and Lord of those ruling as lords (the one alone possessing immorality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no one among men saw nor is able to see) -- will show [NASB: will bring about; NEB: will bring to pass; PME: the final denouement of God] at his own appointed times." Now brother Rice suggests this "Happy and Only Potentate" is Jesus Christ. Note the following:

INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: ... is Jesus Christ our Lord. ("Kings" and "lords" used in this passage are words differently numbered, with different meanings, than those plurals used in Revelation 17:4 and 19:16). All other kings reigning and lords ruling are human fleshly potentates or fictional deities of human imagination, and thus all lacking eternal life. The Father is here excepted (otherwise the comparison implies that Jesus lacks immortality). Jesus is he of whom the Apostle affirms "no one of men ... can see."

VISIBLE PAROUSIA: The context has suggested that one of the two persons named will Appear. This would infer that the "Only Potentate" is God Himself and some translations capitalize He and Him to indicate this. Is The God of our Lord the "only Potentate" in the absolute sense? The Greek is MONOS DYNASTE and is no where ever applied to Jesus Christ.

It is true the title "King of kings and Lord of lords" is used of Jesus as shown above. However, the title in Timothy is slightly different: "The King of those ruling as kings and the Lord of those ruling as lords." Yehowah is described in a similar fashion in Deuteronomy 10:17. Judging from Psalm 110:1 and Revelation 11:15 the Father is King and Lord of Jesus Christ. (Psalm 136:3)

That it is not actually clear that these phrase refer to Jesus is shown by the rendering in the New Jerusalem Bible: " .. who at the due time will be revealed by God, the blessed and only Ruler of all, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, whose home is in inaccessible light, whom no human being has seen or is able to see: to him be honour and everlasting power. Amen."

There a couple of interesting problems, however. First, in what way is The God "the only one having immortality"? This is cleared up if we view the "kings" and "lords" as human kings and lords. If we change the meaning to fit Jesus we still have the same problem. For if Jesus "is the only one having immorality" then we leave out God. So in either case the kings and lords must be viewed as those lesser than divine. For Paul makes it clear that both The God and the Risen Christ possess immortality.

Next, is it true that the Risen Lord can be characterized by the phrase, "no one among men saw nor is able to see"? How could Paul himself make such a statement applying to Jesus when he himself claims: "Have I not seen our Lord?" (1 Corinthians 9:1) Did not Paul also stated that others saw the Risen Lord? (1 Corinthians 15:6-8)

Now can it be said regarding The God of Jesus that "no one among men saw nor is able to see"? This is evident from Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, John 5:37, and 1 John 4:12.

Based on the above the "only Potentate" will Himself show the Appearing of Jesus Christ who must of that necessity be visible. Never is Jesus described as The God is in 1 Timothy 1:17, "King of the Ages, incorruptible, invisible, Only God -- honour and glory into the Ages of the Ages. Amen." Another occasion where Paul prays concerning God.

INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: To interpret "... every eye shall see him" (Revelation 1:7) to mean literal sight would be in direct conflict with 1 Timothy 6:14-16. I view that as clear, simple Bible teaching on the topic raised in Bro. Mark Miller's last post. If it is not so viewed by others, I shall continue to respect my dear devoted brethren in Christ.

VISIBLE PAROUSIA: To clarify matters here, as above, we would not apply Revelation 1:7 to the Return of Christ. However, if I were, as many do, it would in no way be "in direct conflict with 1 Timothy 6:14-16."

I suspect that others will see that this is not "clear, simple Bible teaching," but an attempt to use a text which is not applied to Jesus Christ as though it were. JWs follow the same line of reasoning.

INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: If that seems insufficient, there are other clear but less explicit apostolic teachings to the same effect:

"Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2) To me that says that those who will see Jesus as the immortal glorified spirit being will be like him, that is, of the same spirit nature, and probably above the angels. If His present spiritual brethren must be like Him in order to see Him as He is, reason suggests that any who are not like Him, but still under condemnation through sin and death, surely would not see Him. I understand that is clear, simple Bible teaching.

VISIBLE PAROUSIA: This text in 1 John 3:2 is interestingly applied by some to God and not Jesus. We believe it does apply to Jesus as John's normal use of PHANEROTHE is with regard to Jesus. However, John has just made the comment in the previous verses: "Now, little children, remain in (the Son) so that whenever he should be manifested we (Christians) might not be shamed from him IN HIS PRESENCE [Greek: ev te parousia autou; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13]." We would understand this to mean an appearance before the Lord for judgment as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10. (Compare also 1 John 4:17.) "In his presence" the Saints will finally see him as he really exists within the celestial realms.

INVISIBLE PAROUSIA: Perhaps there is further testimony that will be helpful. "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though [if indeed] we have known Christ after [according to] the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." Since Jesus never lived to the flesh, or according to fleshly interests, I understand the reference to flesh refers to His nature as God's son living in the earth in a flesh and blood body. If we His faithful followers are to know him in flesh ever again henceforth no more, it is not with reason that any could say that Jesus will be seen again by the unbelieving world. I consider this clear, simple Bible teaching. It would not surprise me if all you dear brethren would also so consider it.

VISIBLE PAROUSIA: It is unclear why this text would be resorted to since we would essentially agree that neither we nor mankind will ever know Christ after the flesh now. His flesh and blood he sacrificed once for all.

That Jesus will not be "seen again by the unbelieving world" is made clear and simple by the Nazarene himself: "Then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves (in grief) and they will see [Greek: OPSONTAI] the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of the Sky with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27) Can anyone reasonable argue that the Lord does not state that he as the Son of Man will be seen by all the grieving tribes of earth? It plainly says they will.

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