The Great Mystery
Ages Long Existent or Not
By Steve Santini,
Decades ago, my second and most seasoned and longest lasting Christian mentor, who had been teaching from the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians during one evening, placed his head in his hands, then slowly looked up and said, “There is more here but I can’t get there.” Then he said that some day some of us in the meeting would need to grow up and go further than he had been able to go.
First, and foremost, he could not get there because his definition of the great mystery gathered from then current theological sources was incorrect. It is not Jews and Gentiles as fellow heirs, though the truth that Gentiles would also become full recipients of the promise once made exclusively unto Israel may be considered as “a” mystery like several other mysteries within the context of the great mystery. The great mystery of Christ and the church is that there are figuratively masculine saints and there are figuratively feminine faithful in Christ Jesus whose destiny is to become collectively “wed”.
Secondly, and in light of the reality of this, the great mystery, the verses used to underpin the doctrine that the mystery was unknown until revealed unto the apostle Paul, needs reconsideration. My mentor’s position regarding the great mystery not being writing in the gospels or in the OT or not existing during those times was untenable. According to the definitions of the words used by him and his primary source, EW Bullinger, in support their position that the mystery was unknown until the ascended Jesus Christ received it and transferred it to Paul by revelation actually point in another direction. These are the verses that have been used to support their position with my short comments after each and then a further explanation of when the great mystery first appeared and how it was sustained as an undertone until the apostle Paul fully declared it.
A. Romans 16:25: Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
Secret is the Greek word sigao in the Greek-English interlinears. Of all English usages of the word secret in NT scripture, sigao is the underlying Greek word for secret only in this one verse. All other usages translated secret are krupto. Other times this word sigao is translated as keep close, hold peace, keep silence. From sigao’s root sige, Lindel Scott Jones’ and Middle Lindel’s lexicons have definitions from the Greek Classical writers of to speak in an undertone, whisper and unknown to him.
According to EW Bullinger’s lexicon, the phrase since the world began means in the times of the ages.
B. Ephesians 3:4: 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;
The Greek usage here for known is gnorizo. Strong’s concordance says this word signifies to come to know. One definition from Strong’s reads; reasserting things already known. LSJ and Middle Lindel’s lexicons include these definitions; make known, point out, gain knowledge of, become acquainted with, discover, certify a person's identity, to be acquainted with, make acquaintance with.
C. Ephesians 3;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;
The word unsearchable according to the definition of the underlying Greek from which unsearchable is the English translation, means “untrackable”. In other words, as there was a consistent track from scripture of the development of Israel, the seed of Abraham, there was not a consistent record of the development or trail unto the riches of Christ. Notice here, also, that the thing unsearchable was the riches of Christ, not the great mystery of Christ. The great mystery of Christ, according to Ephesians, chapter six, had to do with the union of masculine and feminine. (Ephesians 6:24-32) On the other hand, the riches of Christ has to do with the joint inheritance of the figuratively masculine and figuratively feminine as a result of union that is to take place during the transition unto paradise. The “riches” of Christ are unsearchable and have yet to be fully revealed while the great mystery of Christ was “fully” revealed by the apostle Paul.
The next verse in Ephesians, chapter three begins with the Greek conjunction kai. Kai is a conjunction of annexation rather than a conjunction of mixture. In other words, the “riches of Christ” of verse eight and the fellowship of the mystery of verse nine may have a relation but are not synonymous.
3:9: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from(apo) the beginning of the world(ages) hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
The Greek usage for hid in Ephesian 3:9 is apokrupto. LSJ and Middle Lindell have definitions like these; to obscure, throw into the shade, to keep back from one, lose from sight and disappear.
EW Bullinger writes that apo mark the interval of time between two events and that apo marks the origin or source whence any thing comes.
(Even the definition of the Greek word, musterion, translated mystery does not carry the idea of being unknown or nonexistent previous to the apostle Paul’s gospel of Christ. Strong’s Analytical Concordance adds this to its definition of musterion; “through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites.” It was Paul though who did break the silence and did declare the mystery in clarity to all.)
With consideration for the word apo indicating source; in Romans 1:20, after Paul states that he is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ and before he describes the corruption to masculine/feminine relationship, he writes:
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
The book of Genesis, written of things made-especially masculine/feminine relationship, is by the definition of the word genesis, those things made that in representation reveal the great mystery of Godliness. The meanings of the representations were generally forgotten until the apostle Paul fulfilled the word of God by his preaching. The Bereans, who heeded his advice, searched the Old Testament scriptures to discover that the things Paul was preaching were true. (Acts 17:11)
It was given to Paul to distinctly make know that which had existed before in an undertone yet had faded from general sight through the distance of the ages by natural shortcomings of the saints and by unfaithfulness of those from Abraham’s designated bloodline.
Here in these verses from chapter three of Ephesians, Paul, as a saint, is writing to the faithful in Christ Jesus as indicated by the usage of the pronoun you, rather than the usage of the pronoun we when he writes of himself and others as saints. It is also in this Epistle of Ephesians that Paul makes it clear that the marriage relationship is a figure of the mystery of Christ.
In the book of Genesis, as the first of the faithful in Christ Jesus or the “Father of Faith”, Abraham knew the essentials of the mystery as exhibited by his meeting with Melchisedec, a high priest without natural pedigree. Abraham’s son, Isaac and his grandson, Jacob, as faithful, also knew the fundamentals of the mystery. Jacob, after he was spiritually matured, recognized Essau as his lord and blessed him. It was also Jacob who recognized his prized son, Joseph, as one from before the foundations of the earth with a differing primary origin than himself and his other sons.
Like Melchisedec, Joseph was identified, according to scripture, as a saint. Jacob said to his son, Joseph, in summation, near the end of Jacob’s life, “the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” (Gen. 49:26) The Hebrew word for Jacob’s progenitors is harah. It is feminine and translated other places as conceived, with child and bear. In contrast, the word for Joseph’s father is the Hebrew masculine word ab. Here, in this verse, Jacob, in prophecy identifies his own origins from the feminine spiritually and, in differentiation, Joseph’s origins from the masculine spiritually. Jacob goes on in this verse, in prophecy, to say that the crown would be on the head of Joseph who was separate from his brethren. They were separate from Joseph, as Jacob was, because their origins were from the feminine Holy Spirit from the beginnings of the earth rather than from the masculine Christ before the foundations of the earth. (One the above basis, one should consider that the coat of many colors that Jacob had, decades earlier given his special young son. In this event is the first scriptural usage of this Hebrew word for “coat”. Later usages of this word are used primarily for the garments the High Priesthood would wear. The Hebrew word “color” meaning dispersed colors used in the context would indicate that unique coat given to Joseph by his father was one depicting the dynamic array of mixed colors rather than a coat with vertical colored stripes, as commonly depicted. In addition, the combination with the Hebrew words “coat” and “color” with the common ancient beliefs regarding the coming of gods through dispersed colorful auroras to inhabit a few souls men would, more readily indicate that Jacob believed Joseph to be a saint in contrast to himself and his other sons)
The saints according to the apostle Paul were from before the foundations of the earth while the faithful were from the foundations of the earth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The rational for identifying Joseph as a saint in this continuum of the mystery of Christ in the course of scripture is as such: if it is described as a duck, speaks or writes like a duck, and acts like a duck in contrast to other animals, then it is a duck.
Some others, obvious as saints in the Old Testament and the Gospels, according to the above reasons, are Enoch, Noah, Melchisedec, Esau, Moses, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elijah and Nathanial.
To say that Jesus Christ did not know the mystery until after he ascended is preposterous. He was the mystery incarnate-the union of the spirit of Christ and the perfection of faith within the soul. He, though, could not reveal fully whom he was because that, as he spoke his apostles, they could not bear it during the time of his divine life on earth. Before he could reveal it through his forthcoming “holy” apostle Paul it was necessary that his apostles receive outward evidence of the gift from the Holy Spirit and be maturated by the internal reality of such. At the time of Jesus’ earthy life the outward manifestation or proof of the presence of the gift from the Holy Spirit had not yet been imparted thus their faith was lacking to understand the mystery.
This detailed and concise revelation of the mystery given to the apostle Paul was to fulfill the word of God which it did, although the expression of it in the times of Paul was in a shadow or type that is to be fully expressed in the millennial kingdom of heaven on earth or paradise. At the time, Paul wrote:
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Colossians 1:25
Here, Paul was writing to those of faith as show by the introductory “verse” in the epistle and the usage of the personal pronoun you in the verse. The English word fulfil is a translation of the Greek word pleroo has, in its passive voice, the meaning of fulfilling an ancient or prior prophecy. In general it means to top off or make replete with the same substance. It also has a sense of fulfilling a prescribed time period. This section continues as Paul, a saint, writes to the faithful.
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Colossians 1:26,27
The Greek usage for hid is apokrupto the same as Ephesian 3:9 and again has meanings like to obscure, throw into the shade, to keep back from one, lose from sight and disappear. The words to whom are translations for the one Greek word ois. Ois is the masculine dative plural of the Greek pronoun os. This usage is the dative of means or instrument and should be translated as by whom. In the Greek interlinears the phrase would make known reads did will to make known. Next, and most importantly, the phrase Christ in you is translated as such in violation of the rules of Greek grammar. The Greek word translated you is in the dative plural and is the subject of the Greek preposition en. As such it must be translated as Christ among you. (EW Bullinger, The Companion Bible, p.149) The translators of the King James Version of the Bible followed this rule the vast majority of times yet in similar cases broke the rule as noted by later editors in footnotes. (Luke 17:21)
So for the faithful Gentiles of that time Christ was among them by the presence of the saints preaching the riches of the glory of the great mystery as Christ in themselves and, by such, among the faithful being addressed, which was and is the hope of things to come in glory.
In the book of Genesis, those things made to reveal the unseen, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who understood the promise of future union with the saints, along with their spouses, were the great fathers of faith. Jacob’s manner of and blessing upon Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh in light of the mystery generally being lost or hidden through the ages is prophetically revealing. After being maturated by profound visions and dreams from the Holy Spirit, Jacob came to realize that he had “blown it” by stealing his elder brother’s birthright and blessing. (Young Esau also “blew it” by succumbing to Jacob’s tempting offer and thereby giving up his birthright for a bowl of pottage.) Yet when Jacob came to bless the two sons of Joseph he crossed his hands so that his right hand lay on the head of the younger Ephraim and his left hand lay on the head of Manasseh contrary to eastern tradition. It was quite a bold decision for a man who had once affected the course of spiritual history by altering the family’s earthly inheritance that had been left intact was intended to be a pattern for things then yet to come spiritually. Why the decision by Jacob to place his right hand on Ephraim and bless him first? First, in his spiritual maturity, he recognized Ephraim, even though the younger, as a saint or representing the future of saints by his name, and Manasseh as a representation of the faithful unto the saints. In this he again reestablished the original pattern as that of the saints being recognized and appreciated by the faithful in times now to come. And, second he knew the value of personal names representing spiritual realities. Ephraim means fruitfulness while Manasseh means forgetfulness. It was this act, born of Jacob’s personal experiences, near the end of his life and recorded near the end of the book of Genesis, that set the tone for the continuing ages. This prophetic act was indicative of how the designated bloodline of Abraham would respond not only to saints sent to them for deliverance but also to their Messiah. This fog of ignorance resulting from the forgotten issues of the Fathers of Faith in Genesis continued to roll forward enveloping Paul’s message when it was preached and causing the subsequent disappearance of the apostle Paul’s revelation of the great mystery that has continued over the last two thousand years.
The definition of the great mystery and the answer as to the prior existence or knowledge of the great mystery before the apostle Paul are not light issues. When individuals of the church or the faithful are caught in the coming wrath it is the coming of the saints who will deliver them and prepare them for the coming of the Lord himself. For regeneration and salvation this truth of the saints cannot be forgotten.
As with the demise of many charismatic groups over the years, any group, without a vision of the family of God as defined by the great mystery, will impatiently turn to objective standards of acceptance and performance as necessary to be classified as a “good” Christian rather than the subjective standard of faith growing in the heart. These objective standards, contrary to faith, are legalism that chokes the growth of faith. This, as Paul writes in his epistle to the Galatians, is the result of another gospel being taught. If one continues to propound that “the great mystery” is Jews and Gentiles as fellow heirs, one will continue to corrupt the Christian community by means of another gospel that directs the community’s focus to former legalistic and rebellious Israel and away from the past, present and future missions of the saints.
A Foretaste of the Manifestation of the Saints
Copyright, Steve Santini, 2005