The Mysterious Good News

Imagine during a time of war that you decided to broadcast to the whole world your plan to invade your enemy. You include the exact date and time of the campaign and the details on how you will approach the raid. Nothing short of a catastrophe would occur and a lot of your people could die. You’d learn quite quickly that some secrets are necessary for the greater good. While at times holding a secret is necessary, some revelations however are exciting, and we await eagerly to learn about the disclosure of something that’s concealed. As an example, when an announcement is made that has some significant information will be published, we get our popcorn out and await eagerly its divulging. When we talk about a mystery, there are cases when we’re talking about full disclosure of something that we had no information about. But a mystery can also be defined as a revelation of something we possess some information about, but not in its full form. We’ve received hints or bits of information, but we’ve not seen the full picture. Now, try to imagine something that has been kept under wraps for thousands of years, not something that we had no idea about, but something that we only saw a part of the picture. Envision each year receiving a new photo where it becomes clearer and suddenly, at the right time, we see it in its final form. This is the real deal, this is the full picture, all the details have been shared and it’s absolutely glorious. In our study of Ephesians, we now enter the blessing of the revelation of the great mystery of His will.

A further heavenly blessing expressed to us in the book of Ephesians is that of revelation.

He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

 Paul now moves to share with his readers that God made known to us the mystery of His will. There was something hidden or something that was only partially known that is now made fully displayed in the past[1]. This is referring to an Old Testament mystery revealed in the New Testament generally associated with the coming of the Messiah. In this case, Paul is revealing the will of God. This mystery has similar overtones with what we see in Romans 16:25-26:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.

While Paul reveals the will of God in the mystery of the salvation of the Jews (Romans 11:25), in Ephesians, the focus is upon the mystery is the salvation of the Gentiles (3:3-4; 5:32; 6:19). Under the Old Covenant scriptures, we were told that the nations would be blessed in Abraham (Genesis 18:18; 26:4) and that blessing came through Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:8). The fact that the Gentiles would be blessed was no mystery (Psalm 22:27-30; Isaiah 2:2) but the means by which that blessing would come was only revealed at the coming of Christ. The Gentiles would be fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. (Ephesians 3:6-7). It would be through the Messiah that the nations would receive their inheritance and added to the commonwealth of Israel receiving the inheritance promised to them long ago.

His Kind Intention

This revelation is made “to us” which included Paul, those who were with him and the Gentile readers. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul will speak of the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints (Colossians 1:26). At the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus, He spoke in parables and hid their meaning from the majority of his hearers To you (the disciples) has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables (Mark 4:11). Others were not granted this privilege to have this mystery revealed (Mark 4:12). Paul, in the same way, expresses a mystery that was intended for a specific audience and would be kept from others. But prior to revealing this mystery to the recipients, the apostle bursts into worship and praise. Similar to v. 5b-6, the revelation of His will wasn’t an act of gratitude towards sinners for their actions or belief in Christ, but according to His kind intention. Making known God’s will in the salvation of the Gentiles and the summation of all things in Christ was done by the gracious act and good pleasure of the creator. Behind this mystery was a purpose. God’s intention prior to the creation of the world and revealed in types and shadows under the Old Covenant were masked to the creation (especially the nations) and finally were revealed to all. One can only imagine the weight of responsibility laid upon the apostle to share it with the world. That purpose would be that in an age where the fullness of time would come, that the summing up or gathering of all things might find their destination in Christ.  This fullness of the times is said to be apocalyptic in nature and seems to indicate something being worked out in time. The coming of Christ was at the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4) where the Saviour was born into this world, lived the life under the law, to bring redemption. Again, this happened at the fullness of time. The fulfillment of time was the time when the kingdom had come, and the gospel was declared first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (Mark 1:15). Paul will also write about all Christ’s enemies being put under His feet (1 Corinthians 15)

The Summation

What the apostle is revealing is the summation of all things in Christ! All that was revealed in times past find their crescendo in the Son of God. The Father’s will was that all things in heaven and on earth would be united in His Son. This unity includes the bringing together as one that which was at one time divided, mainly the Jews and the Gentiles. What we’ve been reading from the beginning of this epistle that all blessings are “in Him” is now defined more clearly. The intent and purpose in Christ were that the blessings be found in Him so as to the things in heaven and on earth may be bonded.

Pondering Our Position and Our Mission

We live in a time when these divine mysteries are no longer hidden or unclear. Our responsibility as the church is to receive these blessings as inheritors of the promises and particularly not to allow anyone to take those away from us. We need to find our strength in them and in return following the administration in the fullness of time. We are in the last days and have been for over 2000 years. Our responsibility to proclaim this mystery to the nations has not diminished but in the times in which we live, it should only be accelerated. Take a moment to understand who you are, what is your inheritance, and proclaim the mystery of God that all things sum up in the promised Messiah. To Him be the glory!

[1] Also see Paul’s usage in Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Colossians 1:26-27 etc


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