For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
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;
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
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;
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: Ephesians 3:1 – 9
I am not entirely satisfied with the title given above which includes the word today, because the mystery revealed here in Ephesians 3, was revealed to the apostles and the prophets by the Spirit in the early church.
New revelation like unto this mystery is not the standard of the Bible believing church today because the Canon of Scripture is closed. I have included it because it teaches us the work of the Holy Spirit in regard to revelation and because it is closely related to His work of illumination in the present.
The apostle Paul uses the word mystery to refer to something previously unknown. Something hidden in God from the beginning and not previously revealed until the time of Paul’s writing (as it is now revealed).
W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words has the following to say concerning the word mystery.
Musterion, primarily that which is known to the “mustes”, the initiated (from mueo, to initiate into the mysteries: cp. Phil. 4:12, mueomai, “I have learned the secret”, R.V.) In the N.T. it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the English word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit. In the ordinary sense a mystery implies knowledge withheld; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed. Hence the terms especially associated with the subject are “made known”, “manifested”, “revealed”, etc. The definition given above may be best illustrated by the following passage: “the mystery which hath been hid from all ages and generations: but now hath it been manifested to His saints” (Col. 1:26, R.V.).
W.E. Vine provides the following cultural background to the Greek word “musterion” or “mystery” used in the Ephesians passage:
Among the ancient Greeks ‘the mysteries’ were religious rites and ceremonies practiced by secret societies into which anyone who so desired might be received. Those who were initiated into these ‘mysteries’ became possessors of certain knowledge, which was not imparted to the uninitiated, and were called ‘the perfected’, cp. I Corinthians 2:6-16 where the Apostle has these ‘mysteries’ in mind and presents the gospel in contrast thereto; here ‘the perfected’ are, of course, the believers, who alone can perceive the things revealed;….
The mystery revealed by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul is that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.
So far this study has centered on the Holy Spirit making something known which was previously hidden. That is revelation. God’s purpose and His will for mankind has been revealed to us through Scripture of which the Holy Spirit is the author.
The Holy Spirit not only gave us the Bible, His work continues as He illuminates believers or gives them understanding of God’s Word.
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God….Ephesians 3:9.
……..to make all men see……..
To make see is from the Greek word photizo. According to W.E. Vine the meaning of this word is to illumine or to enlighten. Other forms of the word mean to give light or to shine.
In verse 9 of Ephesians 3, photizo is used in the sense of illuminating all men, so that according to Romans 1, they are without excuse. It also carries the sense of giving understanding to all believers.
Paul further elaborates on understanding and illumination in I Corinthians 2 as follows:
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
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.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8
………let the word of Christ dwell in you richly……