SPECIAL TOPIC: GOD'S PLAN FOR REDEMPTION, "MYSTERY"
God has a unified purpose for mankind's redemption that even preceded the fall (cf. Genesis 3). Hints of this plan are revealed in the OT (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6; and the universal passages in the prophets). However this full agenda was not clear (cf. 1 Cor. 2:6-8). With the coming of Jesus and the Spirit it begins to become more obvious. Paul uses the term "mystery" to describe this total redemptive plan (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; 1 Tim. 1:9). However, he uses 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 for Jews to accept Jesus as the Christ of prophecy (cf. Rom. 11:25-32).
2. The gospel was made known to the nations, which are all included in Christ and through Christ (cf. Rom. 16:25-27; Col. 2:2).
3. Believers' new bodies at the Second Coming (cf. 1 Cor. 15:5-57; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
4. The summing up of all things in Christ (cf. Eph. 1:8-11).
5. The Gentiles and Jews are fellow-heirs (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13).
6. Intimacy of the relationship between Christ and the Church described in marriage terms (cf. 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, restore the marred image of God in fallen humanity (cf. Gen. 6:5,11-13; 8:21) of God in man (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; Col. 1:26-28).
8. The end time Anti-Christ (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1-11).
9. An early church summary of the mystery is found in 1 Tim. 3:16.
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