The Riches of the Mystery
The Bible speaks of a great mystery. A mystery dealing with "the riches of Christ" having become available to all mankind. This mystery was hidden in times of old, but has since been made known. 1Corinthians 2:7-10 declares that had the devil known what this mystery was he would not have crucified Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. Why? There is a very good reason for this indeed. When people begin to know who they are and what they have in Christ, the devil not only loses his power over their lives, God's people also learn how to exercise power over the devil and his systems and methods of deception and destruction. The adversary, not us, has every reason to be scared; moreover, we have every reason to rejoice!
The "Mystery of the gospel" (Ephesians 6:19) is the secret of God, hidden from before the foundation of the world for our glory (1Corinthians 2:7). The Mystery is that God would make one Body of those who believe on the Christ out of the nation of Israel and out of the other nations - joint heirs and partakers of God's promises, through the gospel (Ephesians 3:3-6). The riches of the glory of the Mystery are the realities in Christ living in everyone (Colossians 1:27). Now that Jesus Christ has sacrificed his life for Mankind’s redemption God desires that the Mystery would be made known to all nations as it was revealed to the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:3,4).
God has prepared “the riches of Christ” for those who love Him.
"The secret things belong unto Jehovah our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever..." Deuteronomy 29:29
In 1Peter 1:10-12 the gospel of grace is so big that the prophets of old inquired of God and searched the scriptures diligently to discover it. They could not find what God had kept secret and is now revealed to us by the gospel. They couldn’t find the mystery of the grace. They recognized there was grace to come. They knew of the coming Messiah. But what was this hidden grace?
Ephesians 3:1-11 - God’s purpose of the ages was purposed in Christ Jesus. God wanted all of mankind, not just the children of Israel, to be His own and to partake of the rich blessings that are in Christ. See also Ephesians 2:11-13.
Now we can know the things of the mystery of God. We have received His spirit for this purpose. This is why Ephesians 3:4 says “when you read you may understand.” When we read we can understand Paul’s knowledge of the Mystery of Christ because it was revealed to him and he wrote so that we might know.
“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:17
Again, we see in 1Peter 1:10-12 that the prophets of old searched diligently regarding this time called the administration of the grace of God. The angels even desired to look into these things. It's a VERY big deal! Holy men of God and angels knew it was a really big deal. They really wanted to know what these things were! But God kept them hidden. God knows how to keep a secret. Nobody knew! Oh my, just how blessed and privileged are we? Not only to know, but to be living in this age of grace, being the recipients of such grace upon grace!
Now the Children of Israel and the rest of the nations can share of the blessings through the Christ. What you and I now have is called "the riches of Christ.” What do you do with riches that you don’t know you have? NOTHING! God wants us to know what these riches are which He had prepared for us who love Him. He gave us His spirit for this purpose. Now we can, not only know of the riches in Christ, but also live in the realm of them. We can walk in the power of the gospel. If the Devil had known the hidden riches in Christ he would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
DISPENSATION/STEWARDSHIP/ADMINISTRATION of the Grace of God, of the Gospel.
The Greek word is Oikonomia: (used only 7 times in the New Testament) means administration, management, the superintending of a household; specifically, the management of a household or of household affairs. It is translated as dispensation or stewardship. An administration must have three elements:
- The one who appoints a manager in his behalf.
- An appointed manager.
- That which is to be managed.
Luke 16:1-8 gives us this same word 3 times within three verses. When a word is used repetitiously, as here in Luke 16, it usually will give a good definition of the word by how it is used. This steward was appointed to manage the affairs of the master’s house, primarily of his property. The next three uses of this word are used by the Apostle Paul and refer to him as the manager or administrator.
1Corinthians 9:16-17: “a dispensation (oikonomia) of the gospel is committed unto me.” The “what” to be managed by Paul for God is the gospel.
Ephesians 3:2: “the dispensation (oikonomia) of the grace of God…” This administration we are currently living in is called the “administration of the grace of God.” This day and time, from the Day of Pentecost when the gift of holy spirit was poured out unto all flesh until the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is characterized by “grace”. Do we deserve anything that God has given us in Christ Jesus? Absolutely NOT! All these blessings of God are “freely” given. This is why it is called the administration of the grace of God. Responsibility of this administration was given to the apostle Paul FOR US.
Colossians 1:25: “of which I became minister, according to the dispensation (oikonomia) of God which is given me towards you to complete the word of God,” Darby Translation
Paul was appointed, commissioned by God to deliver this complete message of the grace of Christ, God’s word. This was all done for OUR benefit! We are to think of the Apostle Paul as a steward (oikonomos) of the mysteries of God (1Corinthians 4:1). He was a steward (oikonomos) of God (Titus 1:7). He was given the responsibility to manage the affairs of God’s message (1Timothy 1:11). He faithfully delivered God’s message to the nations then in person, and now in the form of nine epistles (Romans, 1 & 2Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2Thessalonians). Paul was a faithful steward of God. This is why God could entrust Paul with such a valued matter as the gospel of the grace of God.
Ephesians 1:9-10: “That in the dispensation (oikonomia) of the fullness of times…” There is a time to come, the fullness of times, when all will be gathered together in one, in Christ. That administration will be vastly different from today. Jesus Christ will be King of kings and Lord of lords. He will be the manager, administrator of the affairs of God. All will be brought under the authority of Christ. See 1Corinthians 15:24-28.
THE EPISTLES WRITTEN TO US - "THE SAINTS"
The majority of the Bible was written TO and REGARDING those who were under the Law of Moses, namely, the nation of Israel (Malachi 4:4). Romans 15:4 states, "whatsoever things were written aforetime [prior to Paul's letters] were written for our learning." The books of the Bible written TO us, the saints, are the epistles written by Paul the Apostle to various churches of the saints who were Gentiles by background. These epistles explain how to walk according to God’s plan and purpose of grace most comprehensively. Read and re-read these epistles addressed to the saints for scope. This is a powerful catalyst to understanding our new life in Christ. Read, think, and pray. The spirit of God will teach you. It is God who “enlightens the eyes of our understanding” according to Ephesians 1:18.
The Law of Moses was not written TO us. It was for the nation of Israel. It was fulfilled, completed, by Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17). And “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.” (Romans 10:4). We who have believed on Jesus Christ are not under the law (Romans 6:14). Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not written as doctrine for us who believe on Jesus Christ. This is not their purpose. See John 20:30-31. These are written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Have you believed on Jesus Christ? If you have believed on Jesus Christ, then Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have accomplished their primary purpose, as seen in John 20:30-31.
The Christ’s earthly ministry was not to the Gentiles (the other nations), but to the Nation of Israel: Romans 15:8, Matthew 10:6, Matthew 15:24 (vs. 21-28).
The Mystery had not yet been revealed during the time of Jesus Christ's ministry on earth. God revealed it to Paul a bit down the road (Ephesians 3:3). Had Jesus Christ stuck around and taught in person longer after his "it is finished" redemptive work, and after the gift of holy spirit became available on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), and those words had been recorded, they would be quite different than what we see recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ and Paul both spoke that which God gave them to speak (see John 12:50 and Galatians 1:15,16). Words spoken FOR God are not emphasized by God according to who spoke them, but rather, according to whom that specific Word of God is to. The Bible publishers using red lettering for the words Jesus spoke does not mean that those words from God are addressed to us as instruction. They are for our learning (Romans 15:4). The words of the Lord Jesus Christ being in red are great for reference, but are not any higher in authority than any other words of which God is the author, for God is the authority behind them all.
If Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John aren’t written TO us, then what part of the Bible IS now addressed to us? We are continuously directed by God in His Word to the gospel committed to Paul’s trust. This does not elevate Paul above Jesus Christ, God forbid! Paul's letters are all about Christ (see Romans 1:1-3)! This gospel is given to us in the form of nine letters called “epistles.” These epistles are Romans, 1 & 2Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2Thessalonians. Each of these is a letter sent from The Apostle Paul to the saints, those who have believed on Jesus Christ.
Romans and Ephesians are doctrinal and mostly general. With the exception of a few sections, both of these epistles could be copied and sent to all saints everywhere to be adhered to. These exceptions are Romans 1:7-15, 15:22- 16:16, and Ephesians 6:21-22. The remainder of both of these epistles applies to all saints everywhere (that includes every believer who is reading this article).
There is nothing else in the epistle of Romans specific to situations of the Romans. The same is true of the epistle of Ephesians. It was, and is, believed that these two epistles were structured for copying and distribution to all saints, with the exception of the few sections mentioned above.
The remaining seven epistles were written to the specific church or churches addressed, such as Galatians 1:2 gives us; “unto the churches of Galatia.” Their contents clarify that Paul was addressing issues that the churches being addressed were currently dealing with. The purpose of each of these seven epistles is declared by its content. Many insights can be gained by these letters addressing their issues.
1Corinthians was written to REPROVE the Corinthian saints regarding their abuse of the liberty that we have in Christ Jesus, and regarding not walking in the love of God.
2Corinthians begins as comfort to follow up the sharp reproof of 1Corinthians. Then, it further REPROVES the Corinthian saints with Paul having to re-establish his apostleship among them.
Galatians sharply CORRECTS the saints of Galatia for turning from God to another supposed gospel; a message of legalism, a message of good works for spiritual growth. It points out that they were being deceived by some who were distorting the gospel of Christ, the gospel of the grace that is through Christ. Paul reminds them that the gospel that he preached was not received through men, but by revelation from God about Jesus Christ. He encourages them to turn back to God, to walk in the spirit, to return to the gospel of the grace of Christ.
Philippians was written to REPROVE the saints in Philippi (especially the bishops and deacons, 1:1) for their selfish ambitions. Among other things addressed, they were not living the love of God among themselves as one body. He encourages them to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (1:27). “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (2:4).
Colossians was written to CORRECT the Colossians saints for turning from the head of the body, Christ, through “enticing words,” “philosophy and empty deception,” “doctrines and commandments of men.” Paul writes to re-establish Christ; as the head of the body, Christ; as the prominent one, Christ; as the mystery of God, Christ; as the one to be preached, Christ; in whom dwells all the fullness of the embodiment of the Godhead, Christ; who is our life, who shall soon appear, and with whom we shall appear in glory.
1Thessalonians was a letter of DOCTRINE to the saints in Thessalonica. The hope of Christ’s return is emphasized throughout as encouragement. It praises them for their bold stand upon the gospel which they had heard from Paul, Silas, and Timothy (messengers of the gospel). This epistle reminds them of truths of the gospel and encourages them to continue to stand upon the gospel. Some practical commands are given.
2Thessalonians was also written as DOCTRINE to the saints in Thessalonica to further encourage them with the hope of Christ’s return when they, as well as we, will have relief from our afflictions. It explains many of the details of Christ’s return such as just punishment being upon those who oppose the gospel and upon those who did not receive the love of the truth. Again some practical commands are given.
The Pauline epistles are letters from the Apostle Paul designed to deliver the message of the gospel, and to bring the saints back to the gospel where they had been led away. Since their initial writing these same letters educate the saints regarding the gospel of Christ even today. These epistles contain the message of “the gospel of God about His son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Almost all of these epistles open with “Paul an apostle…” Through his Christ appointed title and authority the Apostle Paul sent forth the gospel. Paul said himself in 1Corinthians 1:17: “Christ sent me… to preach the gospel.” Reading and re-reading these epistles from Paul helps our eyes to be enlightened as to the gospel of Christ. The gospel is presented within Paul’s letters. This is why they are included in the books of the Bible. They deliver the gospel message to the nations for God’s purpose; “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man mature in Christ.” Colossians 1:28.
This message of the gospel is “the power of God!” (Romans 1:16) It is powerful to transform our lives to be “mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28) This is God’s designed purpose for the Church, to mature in the ways of the gospel of the grace of Christ. This is where we are fulfilled. This is how we can walk with confidence and boldness. Being developed by the gospel we become satisfied in becoming more like Him. This is our Creator’s purpose for our lives. This is where the revealed Mystery of God becomes a living reality in our times, through the Body of Christ. This path is outlined in the Pauline epistles (The Promised Good News).