1 Timothy 6:16—Does only God have immortality or do humans also have it?

Problem: According to Paul in this passage, God “alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light.” However, in other places, Paul speaks of Christians being raised in “immortal” physical bodies (1 Cor. 15:53) and partaking of “immortality” through the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). But if God alone has immortality, then how can anyone else have it?

Solution: God is the only one who has immortality intrinsically, by virtue of His very nature. All believers get it as a gift from God, but it is not inherent to their very nature as creatures. Or, to put it another way, only God is immortal—human beings simply have immortality. Likewise, God alone is existence (cf. Ex. 3:14)—creatures only have existence (cf. Acts 17:28). Further, God’s immortality is without beginning or end. Our immortality has a beginning with no end. In summary:

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.