PAUL AND THE MYSTERY
It is impossible to understand our place, we the Church, in the return of Christ without understanding the ‘mystery’, the core revelation to the church, that God revealed first to Paul.
So we start our understanding of the Christian Church in Acts:
Acts 1: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
John baptized disciples with water. It was symbolic of spiritual cleaning. We are baptized, not with water, but with holy spirit.
Acts 1: 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Here they are interested in the restoration of the Kingdom. Which of them was going to get which government post?
But we read earlier only the Father knows. But he said they would receive, not political power, but a greater ability once the ‘Holy Ghost,’ the holy spirit, was come upon them.
Acts 1: 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
As Jesus was lifted up, he will return to Israel. Until then, we have baptism in holy spirit, we have the power from holy spirit.
Romans 11: 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
It is called a ‘mystery’ that we are grafted into the ‘olive tree’ of faith, Israel.
When we think of a ‘mystery,’ we think of a secret, an enigma, a puzzle.
But in New Testament Scripture, ‘mystery’ is the English transliteration of the Greek word ‘musterion.’
It is not a translation. It spells out a form of the original word itself.
‘…For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery…’
If it’s a secret, an enigma, a puzzle, how can we help but stay ignorant of it?
‘Musterion’ is the Greek work denoting a pagan religion’s innermost doctrines.
While those outside the fold will indeed be ignorant of these doctrines to some degree, to those inside the fold, a mystery is that which has been taught, a revelation.
Vine’s defines musterion thus:
“In the ordinary sense a mystery implies knowledge withheld ; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed.“
I’ve heard God’s revelations of mysteries referred to as ‘sacred secrets.’
That might work to literally (if a bit inaccurately grammatically) define the ‘revelations’ to the inner echelon of a pagan religion.
But as Christians we want the pure truth, the pure meaning: the mysteries given us by God are revelations, they are instructions.
That we are grafted into the good olive tree Israel, into the Body of Believers, is such a mystery, a revelation we are not to be ignorant of.
Rom. 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
In Romans 16 we see more of this mystery, and here it is called THE mystery.
Romans 16: 25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
It was the gospel taught by Paul, but the power to establish us in it remains God’s, as Jesus Christ is taught ACCORDING TO the revelation of the mystery.
Not just any old revelation: But that which is now a mystery, a revelation of truth to God’s people, but at one time was NOT a mystery…it had been kept secret since the world began.
But NOW this revelation of Jesus Christ is a mystery, a revelation, made known by the prophets of the Church, and the Scriptures they (Paul, John, Peter, there may have been more) wrote.
The ‘New Testament’ after the Gospels.
1 Cor. 2: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
THIS is why the mystery had been a secret and not a mystery, a revelation.
The princes of this world, the dark spiritual powers which rule it, they knew of what Jesus would do according to Old Testament prophesies, and the prophesies Jesus made during his day.
But the ‘grafting in’ of the Gentiles wouldn’t happen without the crucifixion. This mystery, this revelation, was made only after his resurrection. Before that God hid it in Himself.
1 Cor. 2: 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
Ephesians reveals more of the mystery by which we are to view Christ:
Eph. 2: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
See, before Christ, the Law was the mediator, and a poor one it was. Now, however, those of us far off, even Gentiles, have peace with God.
Eph. 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
God living and dwelling in us! WE are the Temple of God!
Eph 3: For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Here we see EXACTLY what was hid.
It was no secret that Gentiles could be blessed under Christ, but wasn’t he to rule them with a rod of iron? But here, we see a way Gentiles, rather than ruled with a rod of iron, have a choice that they can be fellowheirs and partakers!
Eph. 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
This, brethren, is the hidden: the fellowship and the reality of Jews and Gentiles in one Body, so great that Satan himself would have foregone crucify his rival and hated enemy Jesus rather than take pleasure in his death but making Christ OUR sacrifice as well as for Israel.
Col. 1: 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 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:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
See, the inner doctrine of Christianity are the details regarding Christ’s relationship to his Church, one Body comprised of joint heirs, one Body of partakers comprised of Jews and Gentiles.
The Body analogies are part of this doctrine. Christ the Head. We the Body. Each fulfilling his role in the Body.
“Christ in you?” The ‘you’ is plural. He is in the Body, where ever he needs to act as head.
1 Cor. 15: 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
This will be how it ends.
But in between now and then? At some point, a point we can see clearly when we know what THE mystery of God is, our fate is as follows:
1 Cor. 15: 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
At the last trump, the trumpet shall sound. There are those who say this must take place during one of the Old Testament feasts. Maybe it does.
Matt. 24: And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Was the mystery at this time revealed? No, the details were a secret hid in God. There were hints. Jesus knew the trump would sound, the elect would be gathered. Jesus knew Gabriel had not told Daniel about the seven shabua between his cut being off and spending the last shabua confirming the covenant.
So no one knew these elect would include Gentiles when Jesus spoke of it. No one could tell from Jesus’ words there would be one Body, that Gentiles would be partakers of the promise.
But to be partakers of a promise you have to have a promise. Here is a promise: The angels would be sent with the sound of a trumpet and gather the elect.
Sometimes in Scripture similar events are confused. But sometimes the same event told by different narrators are called different because we truly do not understand all the details.
1 Thes. 4: 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Now, there are those who say the trumpet of Jesus and the trumpet of Paul are different events.
They say that Paul’s ‘Last Trump” is the specific trump of a memorial of trumpets, while Jesus refers to a generic blowing of trumpets.
But we can’t just guess at that. If that were the case, why does Paul not point that out? Why would he communicate to Gentiles in Hebraic code they would not understand?
After all, we are not the unbelieving sheep during Jesus’ ministry, spoken to in riddles and parables, secrets and enigmas and puzzles.
We are the Church, the eyes of our understanding opened, knowing what has been FREELY given us by God.
At the last trump, just like Jesus revealed that the elect would be gathered, and Paul said the dead in Christ are raised and the live in Christ changed, to meet the Lord in the air!
Christians, we do not need to wonder if Christ is in the desert or in the chambers, because when we meet him in the air, how much doubt can there be?
So shall we EVER be with our Lord.
1 Thess. 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
The day when Christ returns, the day of vengeance of our God, will overtake unbelievers by surprise. But when we quit looking for riddles and secrets, we will find the Word of God to us is entirely clear as to what will be happening at this time: we are NOT in darkness if we simply believe what is written in God’s Word!
1 Thess. 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…
We are not promised exclusion from tribulations and trials.
But we are promised salvation rather than wrath.
As we shall clearly see, we are gathered together before the day of wrath.