In 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is the living house of the living God. Then we read “great is the mystery of godliness: He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (v. 16*). This describes a foretaste of New Jerusalem.
The first manifestation of God in the flesh was in the incarnation of Jesus. “The Word was God….the Word became flesh….No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1, 14, 18).
Today the living church as the dwelling place of the living God is “God manifest in the flesh.” We, the members of the church, the Body of Christ, are outwardly men of flesh but God dwells in us. Today our proper Christian living results in God manifested in the flesh. This is a mystery of godliness.
This living mystery, the manifestation of God in the flesh, continues until “taken up in glory.” This will be our glorification (Rom. 8:17, 30). This glory will be strengthened and expanded to be the glory of New Jerusalem.
In eternity there will be no more flesh for we will have been fully conformed to Christ and glorified with Him. Therefore we should not say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in the flesh but we could say that New Jerusalem is God manifested in those who were flesh or that New Jerusalem is God manifested in redeemed, regenerated, and glorified humanity.
* Originally the New Testament had no chapter and no verse separations. The text continued from one sentence to the next with no break. Thus there is a strong connection between the house of the living God and the mystery of godliness. Look at 1 Timothy 3 in a fourth century Bible.
Photo by Dave Herr, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.