I want to stress that these mysteries revealed to Paul [by the Holy Spirit] are best viewed as "sacred secrets", hidden throughout history by God until He determined the time was right to reveal them and set His final plan of redemption in motion. Daniel, Chapter 12, tells us that as the time nears for the earth's final tribulations and turmoil to take place, that the mysteries [kept hidden] will be revealed and Many will go back and forth and search anxiously [through the scroll], and knowledge [of the purpose of God as revealed by His prophets] will [greatly] increase. The Bible will yield its secrets through revelation by the Holy Spirit, and we will walk in the knowledge that ushers in the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God!
So, let's take a look at some of these mysteries/secrets that were revealed to Paul, and in turn, revealed to us through Scripture. Keep in mind, that some of them are clearly visible to us today, while others are in sight [yet not fully realized], and some may be a total surprise for the future. The first mystery that is revealed through Paul's writings is "The Mystery of the Incarnation". 1 Timothy 3:16 tells us, And great, we confess, is the mystery [the hidden truth] of godliness: He (Jesus Christ) who was revealed in human flesh, Was justified and vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. Understand that the mystery here is the godliness (God's sovereign will) associated with Jesus's incarnation as a man. Although Jesus is a man, salvation and righteousness can only be found in Him. What was hidden in the past [of God's plan] has now been revealed ... Jesus came to earth from Heaven to manifest [display] God to mankind. 1 Timothy 3:16 plainly says that Jesus Christ [God] came to a sinful world [in the flesh] in order to save us from our sin, and has now returned to Heaven, glorified in both realms. The saints in the Old Testament did not see this mystery played out, but Paul fully reveals it.
The next mystery we'll consider is "The Mystery of Israel's Blindness". I will admit that until I began my own deep dive study of the Word 20 years ago, I did not understand this mystery -- it had never been satisfactorily taught in my church. But Romans 11:25-26 says it so that we have no doubts: I do not want you, believers, to be unaware of this mystery [God’s previously hidden plan]—so that you will not be wise in your own opinion—that a partial hardening has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in; and so [at that time] all Israel [that is, all Jews who have a personal faith in Jesus as Messiah] will be saved; just as it is written [in Scripture], The Deliverer (Messiah) will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” We know that the Old Testament tells us that Israel was God's chosen people through whom He would bless the world. But they failed and rejected Jesus as their Messiah, so God temporarily blinded them to His Truth, so that He might have mercy on the rest of the world. But Paul reveals that God uses the Gentiles to complete His plan of presenting Jesus to the world as their Savior. Once that full number of Gentiles are saved, then believing Israel will resume their leadership role. This truth has been hidden until recent history, when Israel once again became a recognized nation in the world. We are still in the process of fulfilling God's plan in the fullest sense. Stay tuned!
The third mystery is this, " The Mystery of the Church". Hidden in the past, but revealed through the Holy Spirit to Paul is what Ephesians 3:1-10 tells us. Read all the verses, but at the heart of its content is the revelation in verse 6, that the Gentiles are now joint heirs [with the Jews] and members of the same body, and joint partakers [sharing] in the [same divine] promise in Christ Jesus through [their faith in] the good news [of salvation]. Paul actually says in verse 5 that this "is the mystery of Christ". The wisdom of God's plan, and His design to keep it hidden until He determined it was time, is found in verses 9-10: to make plain [to everyone] the plan of the mystery [regarding the uniting of believing Jews and Gentiles into one body] which [until now] was kept hidden through the ages in [the mind of] God who created all things. So now through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God [in all its countless aspects] might now be made known [revealing the mystery] to the [angelic] rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Note that God expects the church to declare [and display] to the "angelic rulers and authorities" that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven; that means the rulers and authorities of both God's army of angels and Satan's!
Sadly, too many churches are still blind to the revelation of this mystery. For those churches who preach false Replacement Theology -- the theological conviction that the Christian Church has superseded/replaced Israel as God's chosen vessel to reveal Him to the world -- they are among those who have still not received righteous revelation as to the purpose of the church. Time is running out! Perhaps they should read Revelation 2-3 to see what Jesus reveals happens to those churches!
One of the most important mysteries to be revealed is "The Mystery of the Indwelling Christ". I believe this mystery is very much in the process of being revealed. By that I mean, a good portion of the Western Church does not yet fully understand this secret of their life in Christ. Paul writes in Colossians 1:24-28, about "the mystery which was hidden [from angels and mankind] for ages and generations, but has now been revealed to His saints (God’s people). God [in His eternal plan] chose to make known to them how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in and among you, the hope and guarantee of [realizing the] glory".
In order for us to carry out our purpose on the earth, it is vital that we understand and know that we are now the temple in which God and the Holy Spirit reside. Ephesians 2:22 implicitly states this: In Him [and in fellowship with one another] you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. I believe the "fellowship" in this verse refers both to believing Jews and Gentiles, as well as the church itself. Together we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us to participate in seeing God's plan come to fruition, and indeed, to do our part in seeing this happen.
The next mystery revealed is "The Mystery of the Headship of Christ". In Ephesians 5:22-32, Paul uses the example of marriage to give us an image of Christ's position as head of the church. I have personally seen this passage misused to define the nature of marriage between men and women. Its real purpose is to describe the relationship between Jesus and His believing followers (the church). The word "submission" has been used to indicate a wife's duty to capitulate to, or surrender to, her husband. In reality, Paul is telling us that, together, man and woman's primary mission is to serve the Lord, in all His ways. Therefore, we have a sub-mission, or secondary mission, to honor each other -- the wife honoring her husband as protector and head of the home, respecting his responsibility and accountability to God; just as the Church honors and respects Jesus as the head and protector of the church. Likewise, the husband's secondary mission is to his wife -- to seek the highest good for her, surrounding her with a caring and unselfish love; so that he honors her by nourishing her, protecting her, and cherishing her, just as Christ does the church. Scripture tells us, For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to is wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. Oh, how it saddens me to see how this beautiful passage has been corrupted!
The next mystery is a difficult one for many believers: "The Mystery of the Translation [or Resurrection] of the Church". Because Satan has been able to introduce confusion, doubt and unbelief in the midst of this mystery, many in the Body of Christ have differing doctrinal beliefs on this issue. But if the Body would just study the Word, which has been provided to us for revelation of God's heart and mind, and for the truth regarding these mysteries, they would find answers in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. Scripture says, flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]... For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death]. And when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vanquished forever).
Of course, this is referring to what has been called The Rapture. Again, Satan has sown confusion as to the timing, but I think it is more important to receive the knowledge that this mystery reveals, i.e., all true believers will be changed and transformed from mortal bodies of flesh and blood to immortal, imperishable bodies and be transported from earth to Heaven to dwell with the Lord forever. I am personally concentrating on that glorious promise, rather than getting caught up trying to figure out "when". I'm looking forward to that event and being reunited with my loved ones.
The last mystery I'm going to look at is staring us right in the face ... "The Mystery of Lawlessness". Once again, the Enemy has used this mystery to stir up controversy and doubt by over-emphasizing the "when" of "the Rapture". But 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 tells us not to be guessing when that celebrated event will take place. Scripture clearly tell us Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed], who opposes and exalts himself [so proudly and so insolently] above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God ... For the mystery of lawlessness [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it is taken out of the way.
It's interesting in this passage that Paul was correcting a false teaching that the Day of the Lord [the End Times Judgment] had already come. And we have that same false teaching still in existence today. There are those who will say the Bible is talking about events in the Old Testament (Antiochus Epiphanes) or the the New Testament event of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. But Paul makes it clear that two things need to happen before the Rapture and occur ... the apostasy, or "falling away; rebellion" of the Church, and the revealing of the Man of Lawlessness (the Antichrist). I believe that both are already at work in the world, but are being restrained until the number of Gentiles [that God has determined] have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. We're close, folks, do don't let your guard down, and stay focused on Jesus!
In conclusion, I want to stress that together, these mysteries are what God revealed to the Apostle Paul because it was time to set the final stages of His plan of redemption in motion. And it is important to know and understand them so that we can participate with God to see His plan fulfilled. We need to be able to identify what He is doing in the world today and what to expect Him to do in the Future. With this knowledge, we can go forth in boldness and faith to experience His glorious promises; not out of fear, but in resolution and conviction to see them take place. I thank my God, my Savior, and the Holy Spirit for allowing me to be a recipient of the knowledge of these mysteries, and I pledge [through my faith] to reveal and share them with others, so that we might all live out our time on earth in the expectation of seeing these divine mysteries carried out. All Praise and Glory to God Almighty!
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.