SPECIAL TOPIC: MYSTERY
I. In the OT
This Aramaic word (BDB 1112, KB 1980), raz, means "to hide," "to keep a secret." It is used several times in Daniel (cf. Dan. 2:18,19,27,28,29,30,47; 4:9). It becomes a central theme in apocalyptic literature and is mentioned often in the Dead Sea Scrolls. God reveals His hidden counsel to His prophets (cf. Gen. 18:17; Jer. 23:18; Dan. 9:22; Amos 3:7).
In the Dead Sea Scroll community God’s revelation was mediated through (1) the OT prophets’ message (raz), but also (2) the interpretation (pesher) of "the teacher of righteousness." This two-fold pattern of revelation and interpretation characterizes apocalyptic literature.
II. In the Synoptic Gospels "mystery" is used of the spiritual insights gleaned from Jesus' parables.
1. Mark 4:11
2. Matthew 13:11
3. Luke 8:10
III. Paul uses it in several different ways.
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 made known to the nations, telling them that they 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 as 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 man (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 6:5,11-13; 8:21; 9:6; Col. 1:26-28).
8. The end time Anti-Christ (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1-11).
IV. An early church hymn or catechism about the mystery of the gospel is found in 1 Tim. 3:16.
V. In John's Revelation it is used of the meaning of John's apocalyptic symbols.
1. Rev. 1:20
2. Rev. 10:7
3. Rev. 17:5,6
VI. These mysteries are truths that humans cannot discover; they must be revealed by God.
VIII. See Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan
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