Questions From Readers
● First Timothy 6:15, 16 mentions “the one alone having immortality.” Why is this applied to Jesus rather than to Jehovah?
These verses read: “This manifestation the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times, he the King of those who rule as kings and the Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom not one of men has seen or can see. To him be honor and might everlasting. Amen.”—1 Tim. 6:15, 16.
Many persons have thought that these words describe Jehovah. That is understandable, for most of those things could be said of God, he the “King of eternity,” “incorruptible,” a “happy God” and the “Lord of lords.” (1 Tim. 1:11, 17; Deut. 10:17) Also, no man ever saw or can see him. (Ex. 33:20) However, when Paul wrote 1 Timothy 6:15, 16, he could not say that Jehovah alone possessed immortality, for Jesus was given immortality at his resurrection.—1 Cor. 15:50-54; Heb. 7:16; Rom. 6:9.
The description in 1 Timothy 6:15, 16 does, though, fit Jesus, who is “the reflection of [Jehovah’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being.” (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15) Since Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, he “dwells in unapproachable light.” No man has actually seen the glorified Jesus. When he revealed himself to the persecutor Saul, the overpowering light blinded Saul. (Acts 9:3-8; 22:6-11; John 14:19) And as a grand Potentate Jesus will receive everlasting honor, for his Father crowned him “with glory and honor.”—Heb. 2:9; Phil. 2:9-11.
But how is it that Jesus ‘alone has immortality’? Let us note the setting. Paul was not discussing God’s kingship or immortality but was contrasting Jesus to others of mankind. Jesus is “King of those [men] who rule as kings.” (Rev. 17:12, 14; 19:16) Christ is also preeminent in lordship, being “Lord of those [humans] who rule as lords.” (Compare 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6.) So when Paul wrote that Jesus is “the one alone having immortality” he meant that of all kings or lords from humankind, the glorified Christ is alone immortal.