What danger might you see in this passage of Scripture?
25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)
The danger is assuming one biblical word is the same as what we use today. What does the word MYSTERY mean today? Often we think it is something unknown to most people, or a puzzle, or a genre of literature.
In Paul’s day, MYSTERY had to do with mystery religions that practiced secret rites and ceremonies known only to those who have been initiated. I tend to think about a fraternity handshake or Masonic rites.
In the Old Testament, MYSTERY refers to those parts of God’s plan for the future that are known only to God unless he chooses to reveal them to humans. Paul is talking about God’s plan for the Messiah, hidden in the past, but now revealed to Paul and proclaimed by him to others.
Now God was revealing his plan to include the Gentiles in his plan of redemption. They were not “recipients” of this mysterious revelation, but they WERE the mystery itself (a parallel is Ephesians 3:1-7). The mystery was not made known to people of other generations but it is now revealed to the apostles and prophets by his Spirit (Ephesians 3:5). Gentiles were to become a part of the same body of Christ (Ephesians 3:6).
- The riches of this glory is the focus of this divine mystery, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
- This gospel will transform people from the inside out, which people then will display God’s glory.
- God’s Spirit would be placed inside of people (Ezekiel 36:26-27) and they will be able to keep God’s laws.
- This truth is made clear in Paul’s Damascus Road experience (Acts 9:4), “why are you persecuting ME?” Persecuting the church was persecuting Christ.
People live in a fallen world, and God’s image is marred due to sin. God’s desire is found in Romans 8:29, to conform to the image of his Son (Colossians 3:10).
So, mystery is not so much information that is secret but a person who is IN you.
Let’s look at today. When does Christianity become a mystery religion? Perhaps when there is a lack of welcome to a guest, using terms and stories known only to those on the inside. Let’s understand the mystery and help others to know and understand that they can become part of God family, body, flock, fellowship, and building!