What does 1 Timothy 6:16 mean?
ESV: who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
NIV: who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
NASB: who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
CSB: who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.
NLT: He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.
KJV: Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
NKJV: who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Verse Commentary:
This verse continues a second doxology in this letter. The first doxology is found in 1 Timothy 1:17. Paul states that God has immortality, meaning He can never die; human immortality is only what we receive from Him (Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54; 2 Timothy 1:10). God also "dwells in unapproachable light," radiating the glory of God in heaven. Interestingly, Paul states the Lord is someone "whom no one has ever seen or can see." God's glory was also covered by a cloud in Exodus 24:15–18 as well. Again, the connection between the Father and Jesus both being God is emphasized.

In addition, Paul states, "To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen." The Lord is to be worshiped and will reign forever. This would have stood as an interesting contrast in Ephesus where Artemis was worshiped as well as the emperor. The Lord reigns as the only God and had more power than any person or deity.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 6:11–21 provides a contrast to the errors and temptations exhibited by false teachers. Paul delivers a strong, unmistakable mandate to Timothy: maintain your testimony, maintain your faith, fight for what is true and right. As a church leader, Timothy's primary weapons against false doctrine and sin are keeping himself on God's path and refusing to waver in his instruction of fellow church members. At the same time, Paul warns Timothy not to be distracted by the pseudo-intellectual debates in which some false teachers engage.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter completes Paul's highly practical instructions to his friend and student, Timothy. The major focus of this passage is proper Christian conduct, and the avoidance of evil. Paul gives several character flaws common in those who teach false doctrine. He also provides a stark warning about the dangers of greed and materialism. Those who become obsessed with wealth open themselves to virtually any other sin one can imagine. Timothy is given a clear mandate to uphold his faith and testimony, along with Paul's blessings and encouragement.
Chapter Context:
The book of 1 Timothy is full of very practical advice, from Timothy's mentor, the apostle Paul. Chapter 6 rounds out the instructions given in the first five chapters. Building on the ideas laid down earlier in the letter, Paul reminds Timothy of the importance of godly living and avoiding the snares of evil and temptation. This chapter provides a strong encouragement for Timothy to apply the wisdom of this letter, both in his personal life and in the churches he is leading.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
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