I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.Ephesians 3:9-10
Let’s look at the questions I asked you yesterday in reverse order:
Take time to investigate this word “mystery”
Paul on a number of occasions refers to “mysteries” or “secrets” in the book of Ephesians. This is not the only one. If you had the time or the inclination to look up the word “mystery” in a concordance or to do a search on the word “mystery” in the book of Ephesians you would have seen there are a number of references to it.
- The mystery of His will (1:9)
- The mystery of grace (3:2)
- The mystery of Christ and the church (5:32)
- The mystery of the gospel (6:19)
I am convinced there is a link between all these occurrences of the word mystery. It is like Paul is using mystery as a theme word here. Keep this in mind as you read and study the book of Ephesians. The mystery deepens as we move through the book. Mystery can also have the sense of secret. In what way are these concepts or truths, mysteries or secrets? You will have to hold these concepts in your mind as the revelation of Ephesians unfolds.
What does Paul refer to here?
Paul refers to “mystery” three times in this passage in chapter three: 3:3, 3:4 and 3:9. In all of the other references to mystery in the book it is clear what the referent is: His will (1:9), Christ and church (5:32) and the gospel (6:19). But in Paul’s usage in chapter three of Ephesians the referent is not so clear. I will use the CEV version to illustrate more fully. The CEV has added references to “mystery” beyond what other versions have done in an attempt to make the reference to mystery in Ephesians 3 plainer.
In fact, this letter
tells you a little about how God has shown me his mysterious ways.
As you read the letter,
you will also find out how well I really do understand the mystery about Christ.
No one knew about this mystery until God’s Spirit told it to his holy apostles and prophets.
And the mystery is this:
Because of Christ Jesus,
the good news has given the Gentiles a share in the promises that God gave to the Jews.
God has also let the Gentiles be part of the same body.
God treated me with kindness.
His power worked in me,
and it became my job to spread the good news.
I am the least important of all God’s people.
But God was kind
and chose me to tell the Gentiles
that because of Christ
there are blessings that cannot be measured.
God, who created everything,
wanted me to help everyone understand the mysterious plan
that had always been hidden in his mind.
Verse 6 in the CEV tells us “and the mystery is this . . .
- Ah but is Christ the mystery?
- Is the gospel the mystery?
- Or is it the grace of God which is the mystery?
You will have to ponder it some more. Chew it over to see what you determine this second focus on mystery to be.
I will hold the next two questions until you have had time to think about it and mull it over in your mind. I am not so arrogant as to think that I have it all sorted out, more so than any other person. I am not inferring here, come to Ian for the answers. I am grappling with it just as much as you are, but have had more time to think about it. I think about it each time I come back to the book of Ephesians. This time with me gemming Ephesians I am going deeper than I have gone before. But that doesn’t stop you pondering it and meditating on it more. Greater clarity will come when you do that. So do it now before we move on. Take time to ponder exactly what Paul is referring to here.
Questions still to come:
- What about all this is a mystery?
- How exactly is it mysterious?
- What is the mystery to which Paul refers?
Continuing story in the next Gem. In the analogy of Cluedo that I used yesterday, we have the “who” [God]. But do we have the “where” and “with what” yet? See what you think.
Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known?Charles de Lint
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.Eden Phillpotts
We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.The Talmud
Be careful how you interpret the world: It is like that.Erich Heller