The Mystery Revealed to Paul.
What is the mystery? The word mystery (musterion) means, according to Thayer, "hidden purpose or counsel; secretwill."7It is something once hidden and then revealed. Paul defines it as the great truth that "Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel."8 Dispensational claims about its beginning. Dispensationalists insist strongly that the prophetic message of the Old Testament had no reference to the present Church age. Cornelius R. Starn states that the prophetic message "deals directly with Israel and the nations, not with the body of Christ."9 Furthermore, it is claimed that the Twelve never did preach the mystery gospel, the gospel of the grace of God. Starn says that "it was through Paul, and no one before Paul, that Christ was set forth to be a propitiation THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD (Rom. 3: 25)."10 Ephesians 3:1-12. This is one of the main passages of Scripture used in support of this Dispensational teaching. The main points used are listed below. 1. A dispensation or stewardship (oiknomia) was given to Paul. (v. 2). It is claimed that this was a special stewardship that was committed to Paul exclusively, or at least was revealed to him first. It is a mere assumption, however, to say that this had never been revealed before. Paul says in verse 5 that this same thing had been revealed to the other apostles and prophets. 2. The mystery was made known to Paul. (v. 3). Again it is assumed that this mystery remained hidden until it was revealed to Paul; however, this the passage does not so state. To say that God revealed a thing to Paul is not to say that he revealed it first or exclusively to Paul. Dispensationalists make a serious error in logic, and consequently in their exegesis, at this point. 3. The mystery "in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets." (v. 5). This is taken to mean that no reference to the mystery was made in prophecy; because, it is said, if the Old Testament prophets foretold the great mystery, then it was made known in the sense that Paul says it had not been made known. Peter plainly states, however, that the prophets "prophesied of the grace that should come unto you" and that they "testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ."11 Obviously, this is grace on the basis of Christ's sufferings (or the shedding of his blood). The prophets, according to Peter, foretold it! And Peter and others (before Paul) preached this redemption on the basis of "the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot."12 Still, Stam declares that "in prophecy salvation by grace through faith alone is not contemplated,"13 and that "never were the merits of Christ's death proclaimed as the ground of Salvation until Paul."14 Peter's implication, in the passages cited above, plainly is that what the prophets had prophesied about was now being more fully made known. It had been referred to by the prophets, but it had not been made known as it was now being made known. This also is the meaning of Ephesians 3:5. 4. Paul says that "unto me . . . is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." (v. 8). Here again it is assumed that this grace was given to Paul exclusively; but the verse does not state this. What had been committed to the Twelve was now given to Paul that he might go especially to the Gentiles with it. 5. The word unsearchable (anexichniastros) is said to mean that the gospel had never been mentioned in prophecy. O'Hair affirms: "The word unsearchable' means 'untraceable'; this is, 'unprophesied'."15 Thayer defines anexichniastros this way: "that cannot be traced out, that cannot be comprehended, . . ."16 he riches of Christ, even after God has told man about them in the gospel, are still to an extent unsearchable; man is not fully capable of tracing them out, or understanding them. And certainly he did not trace them out in the sense of discovering them for himself. The reference is to man's comprehension, not to what the prophets had said, or had not said, about these matters. 6. Paul speaks of the "mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." (v. 9). Dispensationalists take this to mean that it was completely hidden until it was revealed to Paul. This, however, is a strained and unnecessary construction of Paul's language. Before the mystery was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets (as stated in verse 5), not before it was made known to Paul, it was hidden in the mind of God. For the rest of the exposition on the "mystery", and more information on Hyper-Dispensationalism, please go here:
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