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 Subject: The Two Mysteries Of Eph. 3
 
Author: Joyce
Date:   7/22/2009 4:16 pm CDT
The following is taken from my paper on the "Mysteries Of The New Testament" which is posted on my web-site www.rightwordtruth.com.

The mystery of Christ is, unfortunately, often confused with the dispensation of the mystery. That is to say, the mystery of Christ is misunderstood to include the dispensation of the mystery. It is said by some that the dispensation of the mystery was the "apex" of the mystery of Christ. But as the reader shall see as he/she continues in this study, the two mysteries of Ephesians three are totally unrelated in their very nature, and contradictory as to how they were revealed, and as to whom they were revealed. It is therefore, simply not possible to conclude that one was the apex of the other. In order to understand the mystery of Christ we must distinguish between it and the dispensation of the mystery. Because it is crucial to our understanding of all the mysteries, we will study the two mysteries of Ephesians three, first.

Eph. 3:1-9, 1) "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; (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 (dispensation - same word as in verse 2) of the mystery, which hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ".

I believe that a careful consideration of the passage quoted above will prove that there are indeed two mysteries spoken of in this passage. Consider for example verse 5 which explains that the mystery of Christ "was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets". The Greek word translated "as" in the phrase "as it is now revealed" is "hos", and is used as a comparative. It is used for example in I Cor. 13:11 where we read, "when I was a child I spoke as a child". That comparative"as" tells us that the mystery of Christ had been revealed to some extent to the "holy apostles and prophets". But we know from verse 9 that the mystery of verse 6 had been hid in God. Logic will simply not allow for a mystery to have been both revealed to some extent and to be hid in God. We are forced to conclude therefore that there must be two mysteries in this passage, i.e. the mystery of Christ and the mystery of verse 6. (Some believe that it was the meaning of the mystery had been hid in God. That thought will be discussed in the section below.)

Let us also consider the fact that the mystery of Christ had been revealed to the holy apostles and prophets, note the plural. It had been revealed to them "by the Spirit". There is absolutely no scriptural evidence that the mystery of verse 6 was revealed by the Spirit to anyone but Paul. Again, we are forced to conclude that there are two mysteries in this passage.

Because Scripture never contradicts Scripture we must reconsider the parenthesis as given in the KJV in order that the differences discussed above in the two mysteries of Eph. 3 are not misunderstood. Because there are two mysteries mentioned in Eph. 3, I suggest the following parenthetical marks. "(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;

What is the mystery of Christ? I believe the answer to that question is found in Luke 18:31-34, "Then He took unto him the twelve, and said into them 'Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For He shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitten on; and they shall scourge Him, and put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.' And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken".

The mystery of Christ is that Christ would be killed and rise again. That truth had been hid from the disciples, but it had been written in the prophets. It was not understood until Christ explained it to His disciples just after His resurrection.

Now the question is: is the mystery of Christ the mystery that had been hid in God? If it is, that means that the dispensation of the mystery began just after the resurrection of Christ when the meaning of the mystery was revealed. . But I do not believe that the mystery of Christ is the mystery that had been hid in God. I believe that Eph. 3 speaks of two mysteries, the mystery revealed in verse 6 is the mystery that had been hid in God. That mystery will be discussed below. But let us now examine the evidence which proves beyond doubt that the mystery of Christ was not the mystery that had been hid in God.

The parallel passage to Eph. 3:9 is Col. 1:25-26. We read in Col. 1:25, "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God". So the mystery of the present dispensation fulfills the word of God. What does it mean to "fulfill the word of God"?

The Greek word translated "fulfill" in the phrase "fulfill the word of God" is "pleeroo". The first occurrence is found in Matt. 1:22 where we read, "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet....". In this first occurrence, as well as many others, it is prophecy that was fulfilled. In my opinion, "fulfilled" has the sense of "completion". That is to say, a prophecy is fulfilled when what has been prophesied is completed. Indeed it is translated "complete" in Col. 2:10 and Col. 4:12. Col. 2:10 reads, "And ye are complete in Him Which is the head of all principality and power". And Col. 4:12 reads, "......that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God". So too does Col. 1:25 use the word in the sense of "complete". The revelation of the mystery completes the Word of God.

The fact that the revelation of the mystery completes the word of God tells us that there are no new truths revealed in God's word after the revelation of the mystery of Eph. 3:9. That is to say, once the word was completed, there would, of course, be no new revelations. Now we must ask if the mystery of Christ completed the word of God. That is to say, can we say that there were no new truths revealed in the word of God after Christ's death and resurrection? No, we cannot say that.

Consider for example, I Cor. 15:51 where in referring to the rapture Paul wrote, "Behold I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed". This was a truth revealed to Paul after the death and resurrection of Christ which proves that the mystery of Christ did not complete the word of God.

Let us also consider Acts 15 where the counsel at Jerusalem determined that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised and obey the entire Law of Moses in order to partake of Israel's dispensational blessings. This is absolutely opposite of the situation that had prevailed throughout the entire Old Testament and through the Gospel period. We read in Acts 15:19-20, "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God; but that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood". Again this is a new truth revealed in God's word that was revealed after the death and resurrection of Christ. And again, this proves that the mystery of Christ did not complete the word of God.

We have learned that the parallel passage to Eph. 3:7-9, i.e. Col. 1:25-26. tells us that the mystery of Eph. 3:9 is the same mystery as Col. 1:25-26. Furthermore, the mystery of Ephesians 3:9 was said to be "hid in God" and the very same mystery was said in Col. 1:26 to "complete the word of God". The mystery of Eph. 3:9 cannot be the mystery of Christ because the mystery of Christ did not complete the word of God.

One more point might be helpful. Eph. 3:9 tells us that the dispensation of the mystery had been hid in God. Those who take this mystery to be the mystery of Christ interpret verse 9 to say that the meaning of the mystery had been hid in God. That is to say, they know that the mystery of Christ had been a matter of Old Testament prophecy but that the meaning had been hid from the twelve. But every word in the Bible is inspired by God. Eph. 3:9 does not say that it is the meaning that had been hid, it says that the mystery had been hid. In short, the phrase "hid in God" means that the mystery itself was hid, not the meaning of the mystery.

So the mystery that had been hid in God and had completed the word of God is not the mystery of Christ because 1) the mystery of Christ had not completed the word of God; and 2) because it was the mystery itself that had been hid, not the meaning.
Reply To This Message

 Topics Author  Date      
 The Two Mysteries Of Eph. 3    
Joyce 7/22/2009 4:16 pm CDT
 RE: The Two Mysteries Of Eph. 3   new  
De 8/28/2009 3:18 pm CDT
 RE: The Two Mysteries Of Eph. 3   new  
Brent 9/8/2009 9:41 am CDT
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