The Mystery of the Gospel

Hidden Truths Have Been Revealed

If you’re not aware of the hidden truths that are buried throughout the Old Testament, you’re not going to understand the Bible! The Mystery of the Gospel seeks to unveil what is concealed beneath the surface of the Old Testament and was later revealed to us in the New Testament.

Many Christians think the Old Testament is about Israel. This is not true! Jesus is the primary and central character in both the Old and New Testaments! Through pictures, types, and shadows, the undercurrent of the entire Old Testament is that it points forward to Jesus.

Journey with us as we explore the Old Testament for the hidden gems of Christ buried within! Come, let us discover together The Mystery of the Gospel.

The Mystery of the Gospel

Hidden Truths Have Been Revealed

If you’re not aware of the hidden truths that are buried throughout the Old Testament, you’re not going to understand the Bible! The Mystery of the Gospel seeks to unveil what is concealed beneath the surface of the Old Testament and was later revealed to us in the New Testament.

Many Christians think the Old Testament is about Israel. This is not true! Jesus is the primary and central character in both the Old and New Testaments! Through pictures, types, and shadows, the undercurrent of the entire Old Testament is that it points forward to Jesus.

Journey with us as we explore the Old Testament for the hidden gems of Christ buried within! Come, let us discover together The Mystery of the Gospel.

Read the first chapter!

Chapter 1: What Is the Mystery of the Gospel?

The mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you’ve come across the mention of the mystery of the gospel while reading the Scriptures. Maybe you wondered what it meant by the gospel being a mystery. It’s possible you gave it a quick thought and then never thought about it again. Or maybe you glossed over it and don’t recall having seen it.

Many different theories can be hypothesized as to what it is about the gospel that makes it a mystery: Is it considered a mystery because it is unfathomable for us to think that God would take human form? Is the gospel a mystery in that we can’t comprehend why God would redeem sinners, or to do so by offering up His Son to suffer His wrath as a substitution? Those are questions that can certainly boggle our thinking, but they’re not what is meant by the gospel being a mystery.

The English versions of the Bible use the word mystery as a translation of the Greek word mysterion (moo-STAY-ree-on). For the English word mystery, we may think of something beyond our ability to know, something we are unable to grasp or comprehend, something that baffles the mind, often with no resolution.

The Greek word mysterion, however, serves a bit different purpose than does our English word mystery. The mysterion represents a truth that is hidden, that which is perceived to be one thing but beneath the surface there is a deeper truth. When that deeper truth is revealed, the mysterion is revealed.

GENERAL USES OF MYSTERION

Before we address how mysterion relates specifically to the gospel, let’s first observe a couple examples of how mysterion is used in the Scriptures in general ways to help give us a better understanding of its meaning.

When Jesus appeared to John on Patmos, John wrote that he “saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man (Rev. 1:12).” John continued in verse 16: “In his right hand he held seven stars…” We know this much: there are seven lampstands and there are seven stars. We would have no idea but to merely speculate at what might be the truth of their meaning. Fortunately, Jesus explains it to us:

“As for the mystery (mysterion) of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20)

Okay, great! There’s something about the Revelation that is spelled out for us clearly! Praise the Lord!

Initially, the truth of the identity of the lampstands and the stars is hidden from our understanding. The hidden truth is revealed to us in verse 20. That’s how the mysterion functions; a hidden truth that is later revealed.

Another example is in Matthew chapter 13. Jesus had just spoken the parable of the sower. In verse 10, “the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets (or “mysteries”; mysterion) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’”

Jesus’ use of parables was in the form of the mysterion. On the surface of a parable is a set of circumstances and characters. The true purpose and teaching of the parable is found deeper, beneath the surface. On the surface, it looks like one thing, but a parable is not meant to be taken literally. The primary point of a parable is found hidden deeper beneath the surface-level circumstances of the parable. The mysterion is the hidden truth.

With the English word ‘mystery’ we may think of, for example, magician David Copperfield and wonder “how did he do that?” For the Greek word mysterion, however, we may think of something more like the entertainment duo of Penn and Teller. If you’re not familiar with Penn and Teller, during their stage show they perform magic tricks. Then, as part of their act, they show the audience precisely how they did it. The illusion industry hates that they do this because they’re giving away all the secrets. That’s how the mysterion functions, as a hidden truth that is later revealed.

What is it, then, about the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes it a mysterion?

THE MYSTERION IN EPHESIANS

The Apostle Paul most mentions the mysterion throughout his letter to the Ephesians, particularly in chapter 3. Let’s set the stage for Ephesians chapter 3.

In Ephesians chapter 1, verses 3 through 14, Paul provides a beautiful description of God’s big picture purpose in redeeming His people and restoring the world. In the middle of that passage, Paul briefly mentions that God has made known to us the mystery (mysterion) of His will which He set forth in Christ (1:9).

Fast forward to chapter 3. Let’s walk our way through the first 10 verses:

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles– assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery (mysterion) was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. (Ephesians 3:1-3)

Paul proclaims himself to be a steward of God’s grace for the benefit of his Gentile readership. The truth of God’s grace upon Gentiles was hidden in mystery, but the mysterion was revealed to Paul. When he states “as I have written briefly,” he is referring to having briefly mentioned the mysterion previously in the letter (1:9).

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery (mysterion) of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Ephesians 3:4-5)

Paul wrote that his readership, as well as you and I, can have the same insight to understand the mysterion just as he did. It was not made known in prior generations but it was made known beginning at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit of God indwelt believers.

This mystery (mysterion) is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6)

Until the apostles and prophets made it known post-Pentecost, it was understood for generation upon generation that all of God’s promises and deliverance were reserved for Israel. The hidden truth all along was that God was to be about the business of saving Gentiles. Not only saving Gentiles, but also making them heirs of God’s kingdom! The thought of Gentiles being heirs to God’s kingdom would have been an insult to any Israelite for centuries of generations prior.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery (mysterion) hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:7-10)

The truth of Christ was not known in prior generations, but “has now been revealed.” What has been revealed is that Gentiles are heirs to the promises that appeared to be given to the nation of Israel. How can Gentiles be partakers of the promises? Only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The truth that was hidden for ages is that believing Gentiles are fellow heirs and members of the same body. Israel had thought that it exclusively was heir to the promises of God and that Gentiles had no part in God’s purposes on earth.

Paul had previously reminded the Gentile readership that pre-Christ they:

…were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. … For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:12-13, 18-19)

The mystery that was revealed through Christ is that Gentiles are now fellow-heirs of the promises of God that for hundreds of years appeared to be exclusive to Israel. The truth that was hidden for ages is that it was not to Israel that God would reveal His manifold wisdom; it would be Christians!

Therefore, what appeared on the surface to be promises made to Israel, the deeper truth is that those promises were ultimately made to Christ and, thus, also to all those who are in Christ, which is comprised of believers from all nations.

This shocking turn of events was God’s plan all along. Here is Paul’s clincher:

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:11)

It was God’s eternal purpose to bring members of all nations into His kingdom. This was no last-minute change of plans. It was no surprise to God. This was His plan all along!

Moving ahead to the conclusion of the letter, Paul asks for prayer:

…that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery (mysterion) of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20)

We all know that Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel. Had we realized that he was in prison for preaching the mysterion? Paul was in prison because he revealed that the hidden truth of the Scriptures (Old Testament) was about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Jews hated him for it! The Jews wanted the Old Testament to be about God’s promises to Israel; but Paul proclaimed that the Old Testament was about Gentiles becoming members of God’s family through Jesus. That’s why Paul was imprisoned!

THE MYSTERION IN 1 CORINTHIANS

Paul also wrote the Corinthians about the mysterion:

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret (mysterion) and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1Co 2:6-7)

In God’s infinite wisdom, He hid the truth of His plan for many years. God’s plan is one that would result in “our glory.” He decreed such before creation and unveiled it in His Son Jesus. Until He unveiled His plan through Jesus, His plan remained veiled. From Creation until John the Baptizer, God’s plan remained veiled. He hinted at it. He provided types, shadows, and pictures of it, but the fullness of His plan remained hidden until it was unveiled through Jesus.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1Co 2:8)

Neither the Jewish leadership nor the Roman authorities understood God’s hidden plan. Had they understood it, they would not have killed Jesus.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (1Co 2:9-10a)

What God had prepared for those who love Him is beyond what the heart of man could even imagine. It is beyond anything that we can gather from our senses, such as sight and hearing. God first revealed it in the 1st Century to those upon whom the Spirit fell. The Spirit is still falling on humans today as God continues to reveal to believers the glory that He has prepared for us.

THE MYSTERION IN COLOSSIANS

Paul also wrote of the mysterion in his letter to the Colossians:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery (mysterion) hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery (mysterion), which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:24-27)

Paul here states that his stewardship to God was to make the word of God (i.e., the message of the gospel) fully known. The gospel message was hidden for ages and generations. Paul is making fully known the message of God that was hidden for ages, for it has been revealed to believers in Christ.

To the Gentile believers God chose to make known how great is the riches of the glory of the mystery. What is the mystery? Something that nobody would have expected! It is that the Jewish Messiah indwells Gentiles! “Christ in you” (“you” referred to believers, mostly Gentile, in Colosse).

God’s plan of the mysterion was hidden for ages. When? Which ages? The truth of God’s glorious plan remained hidden for the period of time throughout the Old Testament, beginning at Creation. Not clearly understood in ages past, the truth has now been made known through Christ. If it was hidden throughout the Old Testament period of time, it’s also going to be found throughout the Old Testament writings.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE MYSTERION

Paul provided an example of the mysterion in Ephesians chapter 5. Beginning in verse 25, Paul is addressing husbands: “Husbands love your wives.” Then Paul quickly shifts the focus to Christ: “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

The focus goes back to husbands in verse 28: “In the same way husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” (as the focus goes back to Christ again) “…just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery [mysterion] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Finally, in verse 33 the focus goes back to husbands. (See below for a visual aid to observe which portion of the passage is addressing husbands and which portion of the passage is addressing Christ.)

We might be confused to think that in verse 31 Paul’s quotation of Genesis 2:24 is addressing husbands. But actually, Christ is the focus from the latter portion of verse 29 all the way through verse 32 which includes his quotation of Genesis 2:24. When Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, he is using it, not in the context of husbands, but in regards to Christ and the church. He tells us such in verse 32: “I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

What does Paul mean that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” is about Christ and the church?

If reading Genesis chapter 2, when we come across verse 24 we would have no reason to think that this had anything to do with the gospel of Christ. Nothing in Genesis 2 shouts to us explicitly “the gospel of Christ!” But Paul says Genesis 2:24 is “a great mystery [mysterion]” (KJV). He is saying that when he reads Genesis 2:24, he sees a deeper, hidden truth.

Paul read Genesis 2:24 and saw the gospel of Christ. When Paul read Genesis 2:24 he saw Christ, who left his heavenly abode with the Father, came to earth to secure for Himself a bride, and the two, Christ and His bride, shall be united together as one. Thus, Jesus left his Father to hold fast to His wife, and we are joined with Him as one.

It is true that, generally speaking, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. It will never be not true that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. However, Paul is saying that the hidden truth of Genesis 2:24 is the gospel. It is about Christ and the church, as is the grand scope of the entire Old Testament.

The New Testament reveals to us how to properly view the Old Testament. We are to view the Old Testament in this manner, that of the mysterion. The New Testament teaches us that the primary point and purpose of the Old Testament is that it is about Christ. It is about what Christ accomplished and for whom He accomplished it. The hidden truth buried throughout the entire Old Testament is that it is about Christ and His bride. The New Testament reveals what the Old Testament was about all along.

 

 

Read the first chapter!

Chapter 1: What Is the Mystery of the Gospel?

The mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you’ve come across the mention of the mystery of the gospel while reading the Scriptures. Maybe you wondered what it meant by the gospel being a mystery. It’s possible you gave it a quick thought and then never thought about it again. Or maybe you glossed over it and don’t recall having seen it.

Many different theories can be hypothesized as to what it is about the gospel that makes it a mystery: Is it considered a mystery because it is unfathomable for us to think that God would take human form? Is the gospel a mystery in that we can’t comprehend why God would redeem sinners, or to do so by offering up His Son to suffer His wrath as a substitution? Those are questions that can certainly boggle our thinking, but they’re not what is meant by the gospel being a mystery.

The English versions of the Bible use the word mystery as a translation of the Greek word mysterion (moo-STAY-ree-on). For the English word mystery, we may think of something beyond our ability to know, something we are unable to grasp or comprehend, something that baffles the mind, often with no resolution.

The Greek word mysterion, however, serves a bit different purpose than does our English word mystery. The mysterion represents a truth that is hidden, that which is perceived to be one thing but beneath the surface there is a deeper truth. When that deeper truth is revealed, the mysterion is revealed.

GENERAL USES OF MYSTERION

Before we address how mysterion relates specifically to the gospel, let’s first observe a couple examples of how mysterion is used in the Scriptures in general ways to help give us a better understanding of its meaning.

When Jesus appeared to John on Patmos, John wrote that he “saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man (Rev. 1:12).” John continued in verse 16: “In his right hand he held seven stars…” We know this much: there are seven lampstands and there are seven stars. We would have no idea but to merely speculate at what might be the truth of their meaning. Fortunately, Jesus explains it to us:

“As for the mystery (mysterion) of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20)

Okay, great! There’s something about the Revelation that is spelled out for us clearly! Praise the Lord!

Initially, the truth of the identity of the lampstands and the stars is hidden from our understanding. The hidden truth is revealed to us in verse 20. That’s how the mysterion functions; a hidden truth that is later revealed.

Another example is in Matthew chapter 13. Jesus had just spoken the parable of the sower. In verse 10, “the disciples came and said to him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ And he answered them, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets (or “mysteries”; mysterion) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’”

Jesus’ use of parables was in the form of the mysterion. On the surface of a parable is a set of circumstances and characters. The true purpose and teaching of the parable is found deeper, beneath the surface. On the surface, it looks like one thing, but a parable is not meant to be taken literally. The primary point of a parable is found hidden deeper beneath the surface-level circumstances of the parable. The mysterion is the hidden truth.

With the English word ‘mystery’ we may think of, for example, magician David Copperfield and wonder “how did he do that?” For the Greek word mysterion, however, we may think of something more like the entertainment duo of Penn and Teller. If you’re not familiar with Penn and Teller, during their stage show they perform magic tricks. Then, as part of their act, they show the audience precisely how they did it. The illusion industry hates that they do this because they’re giving away all the secrets. That’s how the mysterion functions, as a hidden truth that is later revealed.

What is it, then, about the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes it a mysterion?

THE MYSTERION IN EPHESIANS

The Apostle Paul most mentions the mysterion throughout his letter to the Ephesians, particularly in chapter 3. Let’s set the stage for Ephesians chapter 3.

In Ephesians chapter 1, verses 3 through 14, Paul provides a beautiful description of God’s big picture purpose in redeeming His people and restoring the world. In the middle of that passage, Paul briefly mentions that God has made known to us the mystery (mysterion) of His will which He set forth in Christ (1:9).

In chapter 2, Paul provides a description of spiritual conversion from unbelief to faith in verses 1 through 10. Then, in verses 11 through 22, he shows that the Gentiles, who had been alienated from the covenants and purpose of God, have been brought near by the death of Christ. The separation between Jew and Gentile had been torn down, and now, in Christ, believing Jew and believing Gentile come together to form one new people group. No longer is there any distinction based on nationality. Believing Jew and believing Gentile form a new spiritual nation.

That brings us to chapter 3. Let’s walk our way through the first 10 verses:

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles– assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery (mysterion) was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. (Ephesians 3:1-3)

Paul proclaims himself to be a steward of God’s grace for the benefit of his Gentile readership. The truth of God’s grace upon Gentiles was hidden in mystery, but the mysterion was revealed to Paul. When he states “as I have written briefly,” he is referring to having briefly mentioned the mysterion previously in the letter (1:9).

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery (mysterion) of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Ephesians 3:4-5)

Paul wrote that his readership, as well as you and I, can have the same insight to understand the mysterion just as he did. It was not made known in prior generations but it was made known beginning at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit of God indwelt believers.

This mystery (mysterion) is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6)

Until the apostles and prophets made it known post-Pentecost, it was understood for generation upon generation that all of God’s promises and deliverance were reserved for Israel. The hidden truth all along was that God was to be about the business of saving Gentiles. Not only saving Gentiles, but also making them heirs of God’s kingdom! The thought of Gentiles being heirs to God’s kingdom would have been an insult to any Israelite for centuries of generations prior.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery (mysterion) hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:7-10)

The truth of Christ was not known in prior generations, but “has now been revealed.” What has been revealed is that Gentiles are heirs to the promises that appeared to be given to the nation of Israel. How can Gentiles be partakers of the promises? Only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The truth that was hidden for ages is that believing Gentiles are fellow heirs and members of the same body. Israel had thought that it exclusively was heir to the promises of God and that Gentiles had no part in God’s purposes on earth.

Paul had previously reminded the Gentile readership that pre-Christ they:

…were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. … For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:12-13, 18-19)

The mystery that was revealed through Christ is that Gentiles are now fellow-heirs of the promises of God that for hundreds of years appeared to be exclusive to Israel. The truth that was hidden for ages is that it was not to Israel that God would reveal His manifold wisdom; it would be Christians!

Therefore, what appeared on the surface to be promises made to Israel, the deeper truth is that those promises were ultimately made to Christ and, thus, also to all those who are in Christ, which is comprised of believers from all nations.

This shocking turn of events was God’s plan all along. Here is Paul’s clincher:

This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:11)

It was God’s eternal purpose to bring members of all nations into His kingdom. This was no last-minute change of plans. It was no surprise to God. This was His plan all along!

Moving ahead to the conclusion of the letter, Paul asks for prayer:

…that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery (mysterion) of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:19-20)

We all know that Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel. Had we realized that he was in prison for preaching the mysterion? Paul was in prison because he revealed that the hidden truth of the Scriptures (Old Testament) was about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Jews hated him for it! The Jews wanted the Old Testament to be about God’s promises to Israel; but Paul proclaimed that the Old Testament was about Gentiles becoming members of God’s family through Jesus. That’s why Paul was imprisoned!

THE MYSTERION IN 1 CORINTHIANS

Paul also wrote the Corinthians about the mysterion:

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But

we impart a secret (mysterion) and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (1Co 2:6-7)

In God’s infinite wisdom, He hid the truth of His plan for many years. God’s plan is one that would result in “our glory.” He decreed such before creation and unveiled it in His Son Jesus. Until He unveiled His plan through Jesus, His plan remained veiled. From Creation until John the Baptizer, God’s plan remained veiled. He hinted at it. He provided types, shadows, and pictures of it, but the fullness of His plan remained hidden until it was unveiled through Jesus.

None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1Co 2:8)

Neither the Jewish leadership nor the Roman authorities understood God’s hidden plan. Had they understood it, they would not have killed Jesus.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. (1Co 2:9-10a)

What God had prepared for those who love Him is beyond what the heart of man could even imagine. It is beyond anything that we can gather from our senses, such as sight and hearing. God first revealed it in the 1st Century to those upon whom the Spirit fell. The Spirit is still falling on humans today as God continues to reveal to believers the glory that He has prepared for us.

THE MYSTERION IN COLOSSIANS

Paul also wrote of the mysterion in his letter to the Colossians:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery (mysterion) hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great
among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery (mysterion), which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:24-27)

Paul here states that his stewardship to God was to make the word of God (i.e., the message of the gospel) fully known. The gospel message was hidden for ages and generations. Paul is making fully known the message of God that was hidden for ages, for it has been revealed to believers in Christ.

To the Gentile believers God chose to make known how great is the riches of the glory of the mystery. What is the mystery? Something that nobody would have expected! It is that the Jewish Messiah indwells Gentiles! “Christ in you” (“you” referred to believers, mostly Gentile, in Colosse).

God’s plan of the mysterion was hidden for ages. When? Which ages? The truth of God’s glorious plan remained hidden for the period of time throughout the Old Testament, beginning at Creation. Not clearly understood in ages past, the truth has now been made known through Christ. If it was hidden throughout the Old Testament period of time, it’s also going to be found throughout the Old Testament writings.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE MYSTERION

Paul provided an example of the mysterion in Ephesians chapter 5. Beginning in verse 25, Paul is addressing husbands: “Husbands love your wives.” Then Paul quickly shifts the focus to Christ: “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

The focus goes back to husbands in verse 28: “In the same way husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” (as the focus goes back to Christ again) “…just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery [mysterion] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Finally, in verse 33 the focus goes back to husbands. (See below for a visual aid to observe which portion of the passage is addressing husbands and which portion of the passage is addressing Christ.)

In verse 31, Paul quoted Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

We might be confused to think that in verse 31 Paul’s quotation of Genesis 2:24 is addressing husbands. But actually, Christ is the focus from the latter portion of verse 29 all the way through verse 32 which includes his quotation of Genesis 2:24. When Paul quotes Genesis 2:24, he is using it, not in the context of husbands, but in regards to Christ and the church. He tells us such in verse 32: “I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

What does Paul mean that “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” is about Christ and the church?

If reading Genesis chapter 2, when we come across verse 24 we would have

no reason to think that this had anything to do with the gospel of Christ. Nothing

in Genesis 2 shouts to us explicitly “the gospel of Christ!” But Paul says Genesis

2:24 is “a great mystery [mysterion]” (KJV). He is saying that when he reads Genesis

2:24, he sees a deeper, hidden truth.

Paul read Genesis 2:24 and saw the gospel of Christ. When Paul read Genesis

2:24 he saw Christ, who left his heavenly abode with the Father, came to earth to secure for Himself a bride, and the two, Christ and His bride, shall be united together as one. Thus, Jesus left his Father to hold fast to His wife, and we are joined with Him as one.

It is true that, generally speaking, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. It will never be not true that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. However, Paul is saying that the hidden truth of Genesis

2:24 is the gospel. It is about Christ and the church, as is the grand scope of the entire Old Testament.

The New Testament reveals to us how to properly view the Old Testament. We are to view the Old Testament in this manner, that of the mysterion. The New Testament teaches us that the primary point and purpose of the Old Testament is that it is about Christ. It is about what Christ accomplished and for whom He accomplished it. The hidden truth buried throughout the entire Old Testament is that it is about Christ and His bride. The New Testament reveals what the Old Testament was about all along.

Revealing the hidden truths:

This video is analogous for the difference between the English word “mystery” and the Greek word used in the New Testament: mysterion.

The first time Penn & Teller perform the cups & balls trick in this video represents mystery: “how did they do that?” The second time they perform the same trick represents the mysterion: hidden truths have been revealed!

Reading the Old Testament without Christ as your lens leads to a veiled interpretation; like the first time they do the trick. The second time they do the trick is like having the veil removed and understanding what was the hidden truth of the Old Testament all along: Christ!

‘Revealing the hidden truths:

This video is analogous for the difference between the English word “mystery” and the Greek word used in the New Testament: mysterion.

The first time Penn & Teller perform the cups & balls trick in this video represents mystery: ‘how did they do that?’ The second time they perform the same trick represents the mysterion: hidden truths have been revealed!

Reading the Old Testament without Christ as your lens leads to a veiled interpretation; like the first time they do the trick. The second time they do the trick is like having the veil removed and understanding what was the hidden truth of the Old Testament all along: Christ!

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Many different theories can be hypothesized as to what it is about the gospel that makes it a mystery: Is it considered a mystery because it is unfathomable for us to think that God would take human form? Is the gospel a mystery in that we can’t comprehend why God would redeem sinners, or to do so by offering up His Son to suffer His wrath as a substitution? Those are questions that can certainly boggle our thinking, but they’re not what is meant by the gospel being a mystery.
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Many different theories can be hypothesized as to what it is about the gospel that makes it a mystery: Is it considered a mystery because it is unfathomable for us to think that God would take human form? Is the gospel a mystery in that we can’t comprehend why God would redeem sinners, or to do so by offering up His Son to suffer His wrath as a substitution? Those are questions that can certainly boggle our thinking, but they’re not what is meant by the gospel being a mystery.