“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints” (Colossians 1:26).
Though evil has ruled over mankind as a result of sin, God has also promised a Deliverer to restore mankind to life and happiness. But, though God supplied many clues to His Plan, they remained obscure and mysterious for thousands of years.
When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, God promised that the seed of the woman would (fatally) “bruise” the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). Nearly two thousand years rolled by with no evidence of any fulfillment.
Then God called Abraham and promised him, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:17,18). But Abraham's heir Isaac died—and then Isaac's son Jacob died. However, after Jacob's death, his descendants, the “twelve tribes of Israel,” were called to be a “holy” and “chosen” people, “above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Genesis 49:28; Deuteronomy 14:2; 1 Chronicles 16:16,17).
Clues to the Mystery
After serving as slaves in Egypt, Israel was finally delivered by their great leader and lawgiver, Moses. Then another clue about the mystery was given—that God would raise up from Israel a special “Prophet,” like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22). But Moses, the servant, of the LORD died. Then Joshua—whose name means “Savior”—conquered the Land promised by covenant (Deuteronomy 34:4,5). But Joshua died and the nation came to no prominence until the reigns of King David and King Solomon. Sadly, the nation then split in two, followed by various invasions from foreign powers demanding tribute. Finally, Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. These were later rebuilt, but the land remained subject to Persia, Greece—and lastly Rome.
About the time of Jesus, all men were in “expectation” (Luke 3:15) of the Messiah King who would bless them. Israel would finally be a “light to the Gentiles” and their walls would be called “Salvation” (Isaiah 42:6; 60:18). Alas, they overlooked other prophecies and features of the Law that “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). Deliverance and blessing would come only after the “Lamb of God” was slain and the Day of Atonement sacrifices were fulfilled (John 1:29). When Jesus died, even his followers were bewildered. “We trusted it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:21). Their hopes were correct, but the “times [and] seasons” were not yet due to be understood (Acts 1:6, 7).
Understanding After Pentecost
Jesus had taught his disciples in parables, uttering “things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:35). The Truth was veiled in part by these parables because his Disciples could not yet bear the full Truth. But Jesus promised them that the holy Spirit would “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 16:26; 16:12,13). This great enlightenment came at Pentecost.
In the years following Pentecost part of the mystery became more apparent–that not only Jews, but also Gentiles would be called to be part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle James spoke about this calling from among the Gentiles:
“ 'Simeon [Peter] hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name [a bride]. And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written, 'After this [after this people from the Gentiles has been taken out] I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David [the earthly dominion], which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up'“ (Acts 15:14-16).
After the remnant was chosen from Israel, God would first select a special “people” from the Gentiles to complete his heavenly Bride–after which He would restore Israel and establish His promised Kingdom in the Earth.
The Hidden Mystery Explained
But it was the Apostle Paul who clearly identified the “mystery”:
“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).
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That is the mystery–that Christ would first gather an elect class to rule with him, before establishing his Kingdom.
The word “Christ” means “anointed.” Jesus was anointed with the holy Spirit at his baptism, and devoted Christians receive the same anointing. “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you” (1 John 2:27; 2 Corinthians 1:21).
Anointing in the Old Testament was used to install kings and priests (Leviticus 6:20; 2 Samuel 5:3). The true Church are to be “kings and priests” also. They will rule with Christ, and bring the world back to God (Revelation 1:6, 5:10). Thus the Church is “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). The anointing they receive to prepare them for this service is not with literal oil, as in the Old Testament, but with the Spirit of God, as with our Lord Jesus.
The Anointing Includes Many Members
The Apostle Paul further explains the “Mystery”—that the anointed, Christ, includes many members. “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27). “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones….This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:30-32).
Jesus has “preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). He is the Head of the Body. He is the promised “seed” which will bless all the families of the earth (Galatians 3:16). But we are included, if we come into Christ. “If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).
Another picture of Jesus as Head of the Church is a pyramid, for it has one
“chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Jesus is called a “living stone,” and we
as “living stones” are “built up” as a “holy priesthood” under him (1 Peter 2:4-6 NAS).
Our great Master-Builder uses many humbling blows and much polishing work to shape our characters to be in line with Jesus.
The Mystery—that God would not only raise up a Deliverer for the world, but a Deliverer composed of many members—was hidden in types, parables and dark sayings. Even many Christians do not fully comprehend this Mystery. The purpose of our “high calling” is more than being blessed ourselves—it is to “bless all the families of the earth” as part of Abraham's Seed.
The Apostle Paul explained that Abraham was a type of Jehovah, Sarah a type of the covenant of promise and Isaac a type of Christ (head and body). Then he added: “We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Galatians 4:22-28). But only the “new creatures “—and none of the “princes of this world”—can understand this Mystery!
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7,8).
Actually, it was necessary to keep the mystery hidden. Otherwise Jesus—our price for redemption—would never have been crucified. Also, the trial and suffering of Jesus' followers would not be possible if the world knew who they really were (1 John 3:1). It was a mystery to the world why Jesus let himself be killed instead of accepting kingship. It was a mystery why the Apostles and their companions left their businesses and worldly comforts to preach the Gospel. In fact, that is why all who follow the Master's footsteps are called “fools for Christ's sake” (1 Corinthians 4:10).
God’s Plan will not Always Be a Mystery!
The dawn of the Millennial Age brings fuller light. The “Sun of Righteousness,” which rises with “healing in [its] wings,” will dispel the darkness (Malachi 4:2). The whole creation is hoping, waiting for something—but they do not know what. They are actually waiting for the completion of the Mystery. “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19 nas; Colossians 3:4).
When God finishes pouring His spirit on His dear “servants and handmaids,” He will then pour it out on “all flesh” (Joel 2:28). Then, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:5-6). At the end of the Christian Age, during the sounding of the (symbolic) trumpet, the secret features of God's Plan will be made known and “the mystery of God”―the Christian Church—the essence of that Plan―will be “finished” (Revelation 10:7). Then all of God’s glorious purposes will be clearly seen by all.
Eventually, the world will no longer see the “little flock” of Christians as mad or fools. They will rejoice in the glory of the “Bride” and the blessings of life that will flow to the world when the “Spirit and the bride say, Come” (Revelation 22:17).