By Doug Bell
25¶ Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept silent for long ages 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles — 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ — to him be the glory forever! Amen.
***** “The” Mystery. Who doesn’t love a good mystery? The clues, expectations, riddles, and then finally, the truth is revealed! And what is this Biblical Mystery about? It is how God in Christ is reconciling the World to Himself. But, you may question; “who doesn’t know this?” Well in 2022, it may be plain to us. But 2000 years ago it was not quite as apparent.
In fact, even the Apostles had to have their thinking radically changed. In Acts 10 we have the story of Cornelius, “2 He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.” God told him to send for Simon Peter. And while his servants were on their way, God gave Peter a vision. In it there was a table cloth with all sorts of unclean animals that were ‘Unclean’ for Jewish believers’ to eat. The command came to Peter to, “kill and eat.” To which he responded “14 No, Lord! ” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean.” This happened three times and while trying to understand the meaning of these visions, Cornelius’ men arrived. Peter went with them and when he arrived, he told them: 28 “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner, but God has shown me that I must not call any person impure or unclean.”
This was the Mystery! That God wasn’t interested just in saving Abraham’s descendants, but the rest of the world (the Gentiles) too! In fact, part of the original covenant God had made with Abraham was in Genesis 17:
4 “As for me, here is my covenant with you: You will become the father of many nations.
5 “Your name will no longer be Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of many nations.”
This had been God’s plan all along, but the Jewish people had missed this “Mystery.”
It took awhile for the Apostles to truly understand it. Some Judaizers tried to say that the Gentiles had to become Jewish converts first. That is, they wanted them to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. This brought about the first great Christian counsel in Acts 15. Under James and Peter it was rightly decided that Gentiles didn’t have to become Jews. They merely had to repent and place their faith in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross.
By the time of Paul the Holy Spirit revealed and laid out this great “Mystery!” And in Ephesians 2:11-3:13 the apostle lays it all out and finally, stating the Mystery-
5 This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
6 The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel
No wonder after stating this “Mystery” he breaks out in praise:
27 “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ — to him be the glory forever! Amen.”