3”…how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,” (Ephesians 3:3–4 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul continues his extended parenthesis to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 3:3-4. It is here that he introduces the doctrine of the mystery. To what is the apostle referring?
I love a mystery. It is one of my favorite literary genres: whether it is a book or a film. I never tire of them. One of my favorite mystery authors is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the fictional detective Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Dr. John Watson. My all-time favorite Sherlock Holmes mystery is The Hound of the Baskervilles.
What exactly is a mystery and how does it pertain to Jesus Christ and our justification by grace alone, through faith alone, and in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone? The word mystery (μυστήριον; mysterion), as Paul uses it in today’s text, means a secret (Mark 4:11; Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:1; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Eph. 1:9; 6:19; Col. 1:26; 2:2; 2 Thess. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:9; Rev 17:5). It was a concept that the apostle used throughout his inspired writings.
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary explains a mystery to be that, “Counsel, or secret plan, that God shares only with his people. In most biblical passages it relates to the wise counsel of God in his guidance of history to its destiny. The most specific and significant application of the concept of mystery is to the plan of God regarding the death of Christ. It does not refer to a secret that God is unwilling to tell or to something so obscure that it could not be understood even if told.
The passages in which its theological meaning is most clearly seen (among over 30 occurrences in Scripture) are Daniel 3:18–28; 4:6 (Septuagint); Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Romans 11:25; 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 4:1; 15:51; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3–6, 9–12; Colossians 1:26–29; 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; Revelation 1:20; 10:7; 17:5–18.”
Paul specifically refers to the mystery as the mystery of Christ. This is God’s divine secret that originates in and is sourced in Jesus Christ alone.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “In Paul, and in Jewish thought generally, a mystery is a divine secret that has now been revealed (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:3-9). The mystery may simply be the fact that, though it was evident that only a remnant of Israel would be saved in the latter days, it was not as clear according to Old Testament prophecy that a majority of those saved would be Gentiles in comparison to only a remnant of saved Jews.”
More to come as the mystery of Christ unfolds. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!