I was recently intrigued and encouraged as I looked at a few verses about “mystery”. These are all points that I am still processing so please feel free to help me.
1. Mystery is imparted as wisdom to the believer by the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:6-13
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,nor the heart of man imagined,what God has prepared for those who love him”—10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
2. We are to be trustworthy stewards of the mysteries
1 Corinthians 4:1
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and n stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
3. We are to declare these mysteries
1 Corinthians 15:51
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:“Death is swallowed up in victory.”55“O death, where is your victory?O death, where is your sting?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, a who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Many of these mysteries were hidden for ages but are now brought to light in the unsearchable riches of Christ. Giving us boldness and access with confidence through faith in Christ.
4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
5. Christ is the mystery that we are to pass on!
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being a knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.
6. Christ in you is the glory of this mystery and our hope! We are to toil with all “his” energies for this!
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up l what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
7. We are to pray for open doors and for speaking clearly the mysteries of Christ.
At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
In reading through 1 Timothy 3:9 and looking over the notes and other verses and writings I am reminded, amazed and left privileged in thinking how God has revealed many of the mysteries of ages past to us in Christ. I am reminded of the great task at hand for us, that we are to pass these mysteries along. We are to preach Christ crucified, risen and reigning.
Many of the things that Paul would call mysteries he would go on to tell us about them knowing that the Holy Spirit would turn the mystery into simple and difficult revelations. It helps me to think of the time in which Paul was preaching. People were aware of a coming messiah and great things but they were not clear on how it would all work out, there was mystery to them. Much of the problem was and is that they made doctrines and plans without more revelation, they took scriptures and instead of waiting for God to reveal his way and will they designed a plan in their hearts for a powerful earthly King that would bust up the punks that were messing with them. Millions are still waiting for this messiah to come. Then Paul would say to these folks, let me explain to you or tell you a mystery that you can understand now with the help of the Holy Spirit due to the works of Jesus!! This is awesome to me.
This does not take away complex doctrines, but it does help me to see that there are many things that are no longer kept hidden and mysterious, but have been revealed. This also does not mean that all mysteries have been revealed or that there are not super hard passages, but it does mean that we do pass on tangible, teachable, truths that were once hidden. We are to do this as faithful stewards of these “mysteries”. Even the angels were not aware of how it was all going to work out. We are now on the inside scoop of many of the mysteries of God, the secret and hidden wisdom God, mainly the gospel of Jesus. And with these revelations we are to “interpret(ing) spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” It is weird language, but I think we are to clearly help our people understand the mysteries that have been revealed to us in Christ through the Word of God by the Spirit of God. This does not mean that there will not be paradoxes, puzzles and difficult passages, but it does mean that we have much clarity that is transferable, especially the gospel and gospel centered living, which is what I believe Paul is stressing.
I think Paul is coming from a more excited point of view than a confused point of view when he talks about mystery, in ways he is letting us know many of the answers to the mysteries of the ages: What will become of us? How will we be saved? How will God make a way for us to be eternally forgiven through the Messiah? Now for the incarnation, Trinity, and man’s never ending fixation on sports stats along with other things I think God joyfully keeps between himself within the holy Trinity. But our faith is in a revealed Messiah who has opened up understanding and communication between the Godhead and us in a way that people before Jesus only dreamed of and waited for, a faith that is firm and teachable to believers, a faith that God will call many into.
May we labor to know the things clearly that we should know, and may we rest in knowing God knows all the things he keeps to himself. May we approach the Word of God with the determination and inquisitiveness of Sherlock and the Spirit and Teacher of Paul.