The Mystery or Secret of the Gospel or of GodVolume 3, Number 68
Created Date: April 3, 2013
Posted Date: April 3, 2013
The Mysteries (Secrets) that God revealed to the Apostle Paul - Part 7:
We’re almost finished examining the 20 occasions Paul used the Greek word “musterion,” translated either “mystery or mysteries,” in his epistles. This word refers to a secret or secrets. Today we consider the last time this word is found in Ephesians and the 4 occasions it occurs in Colossians.
The last time Paul uses “mystery” in Ephesians is in reference to the mystery of the gospel. The unique gospel message Paul preached and wrote about in his epistles is the Word of God and in this verse he asked for prayer for the ability to preach it: “And for me, (Paul) that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”. Paul taught that all believers are ambassadors for Christ, , but here he states that he was “an ambassador in bonds.” The “bonds” is a reference to the fact he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ, as he stated some 5 times in his writings, ; 4:1; ; . Being an ambassador in bonds means that Paul considered himself unable to do anything but the will of Jesus Christ as he carried out his duties as His ambassador.
Then, the first two times Paul uses the word in Colossians is to reiterate that the mystery God revealed to him had been hidden before: “Whereof I (Paul) am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”. The fact that that Gentiles can be members of the Body of Christ was unknown before the Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to the Apostle Paul.
The third and forth times he uses the word in Colossians is in reference to the subject of the mystery:” “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;”. “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” . The fact that believers are members of Christ’s body, Christ being the head, , was a mystery (secret) before the Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to Paul. He was in prison in Rome at the time he wrote to the Colossians asking for prayer that he would be able to preach this secret.
Paul had previously made it clear that the Gospel he preached was not the same that Christ Jesus taught Peter and the rest of the 12 apostles when He was on earth. Paul preached the Gospel that the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him after Christ ascended into heaven, as we learn, beginning with the record Paul’s conversion: “And I (Paul) said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”.
Paul had to correct the believers at Galatia who were being mislead by those who tried to get them to go back to following the law of Moses, which was taught by Peter and the other Jewish Apostles: “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”. (Paul’s Gospel was to the uncircumcision, that is, the Gentiles, while Peter’s was to the circumcision, that is the Jews of that time.)
And Paul had to defend the uniqueness of the Gospel he preached many times because aspects thereof had not been known to anyone before: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him (referring to Paul himself) that called you (Galatians) into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” Galations 1:6 - 20.
The Gospel of the mystery of Christ that Paul preached was not overwhelmingly popular at the time and unfortunately this is still the case 2000 years later. Paul suffered a great deal for what he preached: “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”.
The uniqueness of the Gospel Paul preached is generally overlooked today and this causes a lot of confusion among believers. When Jesus Christ was on earth his ministry was to Israel, as he told the Gentile woman: “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”. On the other hand, we see from the Scriptures quoted above that Paul’s Gospel was to the Gentiles, which was not known throughout the Old Testament, the Gospels nor in the first part of the book of Acts. When we get to the Pauline epistles in our study of faith we will see the differences in the faith of the Old Testament Saints and those who followed Christ when He ministered on earth as compared to the faith we have today in the gospel revealed to Paul, the mystery of Christ.