God has a unified purpose for mankind's redemption that even preceded the Fall (Genesis 3).  Hints of this plan are revealed in the OT (Genesis 3:15; 12:3; Exodus 19:5-6; and the universal passages in the prophets).  However, this inclusive agenda was not clear (1 Cor. 2:6-8).  With the coming of Jesus and the Spirit it begins to become more obvious.  Paul used the term "mystery" to describe this total redemptive plan, which was once hidden, but now fully revealed (1 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; 2 Tim. 1:9).  However, he used it in several different senses.

1. A partial hardening of Israel to allow Gentiles to be included.  This influx of Gentiles will work as a mechanism (jealousy) for Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah of prophecy (Rom. 11:25-32).

2. The gospel was made known to the nations, all of whom are potentially included in Christ and through Christ (Rom. 16:25-27; Col. 2:2).

3. Believers will have new bodies at the Second Coming (1 Cor. 15:5-57; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

4. The summing up of all things in Christ (Eph. 1:8-11).

5. The Gentiles and Jews are fellow-heirs (Eph. 2:11-3:13).

6. Intimacy of the relationship between Christ and the Church described in marriage terms (Eph. 5:22-33).

7. Gentiles included in the covenant people and indwelt by the Spirit of Christ so as to produce Christlike maturity, that is, the restored image of God in fallen humanity (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; Col. 1:26-28).

8. The end-time AntiChrist (2 Thess. 2:1-11).

9. An early church summary of the mystery is found in a hymn in I1Tim. 3:16.


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