For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 1 Timothy 2:5 KJV
"THE MYSTERY (SECRET) OF CHRIST" as is NOW REVEALED - EPH. 3:4,5
Whether one considers "Christ" in the revealed plan of God or in His hidden purpose, He -- and He alone - - arrests the attention like no other person or subject to be found in all of the scripture. Even in the secular world, among friends or foes, in the highest circles and in the lowest levels of humanity, He is. In the affirmative, in the negative, and the neutral or whatever - - He just is!
Inasmuch as we shall be observing the changing ages and dispensations in this study, we desire to share with you the two major divisions derived from God's spoken word, i.e., the revealed plan and the hidden purpose.
"Through faith we understand that the ages were framed - (marked off, prepared) by a fiat of God, so that the things (ages and dispensations) as they appear were not evolved one from the other." (Heb. 11:3 - FREE TRANSLATION).
Some Christians believe that the mystery and the mystery of Christ are synonymous. Others believe that the mystery of Christ is relative, but not the mystery, per se.
Eph. 3:1-5: (1.) "...I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles (2.) "...assuming you have heard of the dispensation (stewardship) of the grace of God given me for you," (3.) "...How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (God's sacred secret ) as I previously wrote afore in few words...," (i.e., Ephesians Chapters 1 - 2), (4.) "...whereby when ye read you may realize and understand my knowledge in the mystery (secret) of Christ, (5.) which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets in spirit."
In my humble opinion, a key for understanding this difficult distinction is "as is now revealed," (vs. 5). This phrase about the mystery of Christ speaks of some knowledge which is now revealed in the mystery concerning the mystery of Christ which was unknown in former generations, TO WIT:
- The mystery (secret) will of God (Eph. l:9-10). [Remember, the secret things of God belong to Him (Deut. 29:29a)].
- The headship of Christ in relationship to a corporate body, wherein all are equal - no nation or person has any advantage (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 3:11).
- The mystery given to complete the whole canon of scripture (Col. 1:25, 26), etc.
The mystery of Christ" in the revealed plan of God. Context: Since or from the foundation (overthrow) of the world.
The mystery (secret) of Christ revealed in the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Obviously, this is the proof text, and its fulfillment.
The progressive revelation about the "seed" proceeds throughout the Old Testament, and is well demonstrated in Satan's wiles, as he seeks to destroy the seed. The trail of this old serpent is well marked, and his attempts are legend. However, the crowning truths in the secret of Christ are twofold:
- The ministry of reconciliation seen during the Acts period, (II Cor. 5:19-21 with Rom. 16:25, 26) whereby the nations are brought in to share with Israel in all of the promises of God (Rom. 9:4). Please bear in mind, it is with Israel not through Israel, since our Lord chose to bring the Gentiles into blessing in order to provoke Israel to jealousy (Rom. 11:11).
- Even though #1 appears to be harsh, in His unsearchable (untraceable) judgment of grace, He has made a way whereby all Israel shall be saved. (Rom. 11:26 - 33).
"The mystery" in the hidden purpose (Eph. 1:4, 3:9; and Col. 1:25,26) Context: Before the foundation (overthrow) of the world (Eph. 1:4).
- Prior to the mystery: "...Salvation is of (out of) the Jew" (John 4:22 Rom 15:8). Now: "...among the Gentiles..." (Col. 1:27) . In other words, Israel was the channel of blessing...now, the Gentile is the channel of blessing. [Remember also that Israel was administered on a national basis, now the Gentiles are on an individual basis.]
- "The mystery" completes the canon of scripture (Col. 1:25 and 26).
- Christ is all and in all. Hence, we are complete in Christ. There is no other need: no material temple, no priestcraft, no ritual, nor ordinance (Col. 2:6-23; 3:1-4, 11).
- A new calling: far above all principalities and powers, the place where Christ is now seated (Eph. 1:20-23; 2:6; Eph. 4:1).
- God's ultimate will and purpose are now revealed (Eph. 1:9-12; Phil. 2:9-13; Col. 1:12-14, 19-22).
- The mystery of God-Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2, 3). NOTE: This must be acknowledged!
- All saints are equal - no respect of person or nation. (Col. 3:11; Eph. 4:23-25). [Compare with passages in "pre-mystery" books (i.e. those written during the Acts period): Rom. 2:29; 3:1-2; Rom. 11:29; I Cor. 7:17-20; and Gal. 3:26-29.]
- God's new creation, new man, free man, made from previously distinct Gentiles and Jews. (Eph. 2:8-10, 14-15; 3:6 4:13).
- A prize attainable: the out of-resurrection - a crown of righteousness (Phil. 3:10-21; 11 Tim.4:6-8)..
- The future assured upon the heavens (i.e., the far-above heavens). (Eph. 1:3-4; 20-21; 2:6-7). [The out-resurrection does not seem to be assured (Phil. 3:10-12) unless pursued as did the Apostle Paul (Phil.3:14,17) and hoped for - as in II Tim. 4:6-8.]
- Jesus, the lowly one, now exalted and given the Name above every name (Christ Jesus) (Phil. 2:9-11). ["JESUS" means "save." In Psa. 118:14, 15, 21, and other Old Testament places, "salvation" is Hebrew word, "Yashuah" = JESUS (from root: "Yasha," save.]
- Christ the Creator - the fulness of the Godhead, bodily, the head of the Church (Col. 1:16-19; Eph. 1:20-23; 2:6), etc. No question about it, Christ is relevant! [Having learned these grand truths, what should be the driving desire in this age for the Christian? We should be striving to make all believers understand (see) the truth of this sacred secret now revealed, and the hope it contains (Eph. 2:6, Phil. 2:6-11).]