6 occurrences in 6 dictionaries

Reference: Mystery


Means strictly a secret, and is so used when spoken of the heathen "mysteries" or secret rites, which were full of all manner of abominations. In the Scriptures the word "mystery" denotes those truths of religions which, without a revelation from God, would have remained unknown to man. Our Savior says to his disciples, that they are peculiarly happy, because God has revealed to them "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," Mt 16:17; 11:25; Lu 10:21-24. Paul explains the word in Eph 3:1-9; and often speaks of the mystery of the gospel, of the mystery of the cross of Christ, of the mystery of Christ which was unknown to former ages, of the mystery of the incarnation, the resurrection, etc., Ro 11:25; 1Co 2:7-10; 4:1; 13:2; 15:51; 1Ti 3:9,16. These, then, were called mysteries, not only because they included some things which stretch beyond all human thought, and others which would never have been known if the Son of God and his Holy Spirit had not revealed them, but also because they were not opened indifferently to everyone; according to the advice of Christ to his apostles, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine," 1Co 2:14. In one place "mystery" seems to denote the whole cycle of God's secret plan in the administration of the gospel, gradually unfolded even to the end, Re 10:7; 11:15.

Mystery signifies also an allegory, that is, a mode of information under which partial instruction is given, a partial discovery is made, but there is still a cover of some kind, which the persons who desires to know the whole must endeavor to remove. So the mystery of the seven star, Re 1:20, is an allegory representing the seven Asiatic churches under the symbol of seven burning lamps. So the mystery "Babylon the Great," is an allegorical representation of the spiritual Babylon, idolatry, spiritual fornication, etc., "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman;" that is, I will explain to thee the allegory of this figure, 7/5'>Re 17:5,7.

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the calling of the Gentiles into the Christian Church, so designated (Eph 1:9-10; 3:8-11; Col 1:25-27); a truth undiscoverable except by revelation, long hid, now made manifest. The resurrection of the dead (1Co 15:51), and other doctrines which need to be explained but which cannot be fully understood by finite intelligence (Mt 13:11; Ro 11:25; 1Co 13:2); the union between Christ and his people symbolized by the marriage union (Eph 5:31-32; comp. Eph 6:19); the seven stars and the seven candlesticks (Re 1:20); and the woman clothed in scarlet (Re 17:7), are also in this sense mysteries. The anti-Christian power working in his day is called by the apostle (2Th 2:7) the "mystery of iniquity."

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From mustees, "one initiated" into "a revealed secret"; mueoo the verb means "to conceal"; Mu (?), the sound made by closing the lips (m), is the same onomatopoeic sound as in mute. In New Testament usage a spiritual truth heretofore hidden, incapable of discovery by mere reason, but now revealed. Not like the pagan mysteries, imparted only; to the initiated few. All Christians are the initiated; unbelievers alone are the uninitiated (2Co 4:3). The union of Christ and the church is such "a great mystery" (Eph 5:31-32). The church becoming a harlot by conformity to the world is a counter "mystery" (Re 17:5). "Iniquity" (anomia) in the harlot is a leaven working in "mystery" at first, i.e. latently; afterward when she is destroyed iniquity shall be revealed in "the man of iniquity" (ho anomos), the open embodiment of all previous evil, for popery cannot at once be the mystery of iniquity and the revealed antichrist (2Th 2:7-8).

The mystery of God (Re 10:7), in contrast, is man's "redemption from all iniquity" and its consequences; a mystery once hidden in God's secret counsels, dimly-shadowed forth in types and prophecies, but now more and more clearly revealed according as the gospel kingdom develops itself up to its fullest consummation. "The mystery of godliness" (1Ti 3:16) is the divine scheme embodied in Christ (Col 1:26-27). Hidden before "with God" as the "mystery," He is now made manifest (Joh 1:1,14; Ro 16:25-26). Redemption for the whole Gentile world as well as Israel, to whom it seemed in a great measure restricted in Old Testament, is now revealed to all. "The glory of this mystery is Christ in you (now by faith as your hidden life, Col 3:8), the hope of glory" (your hereafter to be manifested life: 1Co 2:7-9; 2Co 4:17). There are six New Testament "mysteries":

(1) The incarnation (1Ti 3:16).

(2) The mystery of iniquity (2Th 2:7).

(3) Christ's marriage to the church, Eph 5:32, translated "this mystery is great," i.e. this truth hidden once but now revealed, namely, Christ's spiritual union with the church, mystically represented by marriage, is of great import; not as Vulgate "this is a great sacrament"; not marriage in general, but that of Christ and His church, is the mystery, as Paul declares "I say it in regard to (eis) Christ, and to (eis)) the church," whereas Ge 2:24 refers primarily to literal marriage. (See MARRIAGE.)

(4) The union of Jews and Gentiles in one body, the present election church (Eph 3:4-6); the Old Testament did not foretell we should form Christ's one body, the temple of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit not merely gives influences as in Old Testament, but personally comes and dwells in the church, joining Jews and Gentiles in one fellowship of God and Christ; He is the earnest of the coming inheritance and the seal of redemption; the Old Testament saints had "proetermission" (paresis) of sins, the New Testament saints have "full remission" (afesis); the forbearance of God was exercised then, the righteousness of God is revealed now (Ro 3:25-26) in our justification.

(5) Israel's full and final restoration (Ro 11:25).

(6) The resurrection of the body (1Co 15:51).

Ordinarily "mystery" refers to those from whom the knowledge is withheld; in the New Testament mystery refers to those to whom it is revealed. It is hidden in God until brought forward; even when brought forward it remains hidden from the carnal. "Mysteries" (1Co 14:2) mean what is unintelligible to the hearers, exciting wonder rather than instructing; this is in the common sense, but the New Testament does not sanction in the gospel mysteries in this sense. In Re 1:20 "the mystery of the seven stars" is a oncehidden truth, veiled under this symbol, but now revealed; its correlative is revelation. In 1Co 13:2 "mysteries" refer to God's deep counsels heretofore secret but now revealed, "knowledge" to truths long known.

So in Mt 13:11; Mr 4:11; Lu 8:10, "mysteries" answer in parallelism to "parables"; to the receptive "the mysteries," or once hidden things of the kingdom of God, are now known by God's gift; to the unbelieving they remain "parables," on which they see only the outward shell but do not taste the kernel (1Co 2:9-10,14-15; Ps 25:14; 1Jo 4:20-21; Joh 15:15). The parabolic form is designed to rouse the carnal to search and reflection; from whence Jesus did not begin to use it until after He had for some time been speaking plainly. In contrast to paganism, there were no mysteries revealed by God to ministers or priests that were not designed for all. De 29:29; "secret things belong to Jehovah (compare Job 11:7; Ro 11:33-34; at this point we must not presume to speculate; Col 2:18), but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."

The little ones must hear all revelation as much as the intellectual (De 6:7; Jos 8:34-35; Ne 8:1-2). Moses and the prophets and the apostles practiced no "reserve." So Jesus ordered (Mt 10:27; 28:19). Paul preached publicly and from house to house the "whole counsel of God" (Ac 20:20,27), "keeping back nothing profitable." They taught babes indeed elementary essentials first, yet did not reserve the deepest truths out of sight, as the pagan mysteries; but set the ultimate goal of perfect knowledge from the first as that to be striven toward (1Co 2:6; 3:2; Heb 5:12).

Gnosticism introduced the system of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; the mediaeval church perpetuated it. Christ as God had the power to reserve His manifestation of Himself to a few during His earthly ministry, previous to the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit (Mr 4:33; 9:9; Lu 9:21); but His ministers have no such right. Paul disclaims it, 2Co 4:2; "we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." On men themselves rests the responsibility how they use the whole counsel of God set before them (2Co 2:15-16).

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The Greek myst

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This word describes a hidden or secret thing, known only to the initiated. In scripture it stands in contrast to the manifest or public dealings of God. The Lord Jesus having been rejected, is now hidden in the heavens, and the ways of God are secret to the world, but made known, as also His hidden purpose which is being accomplished by His secret ways, to those who have 'ears to hear.' In the issue of those ways the mystery of God is finished. Re 10:7.

The Lord often spoke in parables to the multitude, but explained them to the apostles, because it was given unto them to know the mysteries of the kingdom. Mt 13:11; Mr 4:11; Lu 8:10. Christianity is a mystery to the unconverted. The apostles were stewards of the mysteries of God, and they spoke "the wisdom of God in a mystery." The Apostle Paul spoke of the 'mystery of the gospel,' the 'mystery of the faith,' the 'mystery of Christ,' and the 'mystery of godliness,' or piety. 1Co 2:7; 4:1; Eph 6:19; Col 4:3; 1Ti 3:9,16.

The marvellous purpose of God, the mystery of the church, that had been hidden for ages, was revealed to Paul, as well as its present administration. 9'>Eph 1:9; 3:3-4,9; Col 1:26-27. It is that in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The intelligence of it explains how Christ can be here in a scene from which He has been rejected alike by Jew and Gentile. There is also the mystery of the power of Christ as regards both the dead and the living saints. 1Co 15:51. In opposition to God there is the 'mystery of iniquity,' that was secretly working in the church in the apostles' days. 2Th 2:7. Allied to this is papal Rome, whose name is really "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." 7/5'>Re 17:5,7. The above scriptures show that though there are several things designated mysteries, yet God in His grace has made them known to His saints.

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MYSTERY. The Greek word ????????? denotes,

1. Something hidden, or not fully manifest. Thus, 2Th 2:7, we read of the "mystery of iniquity," which began to work in secret, but was not then completely disclosed or manifested.

2. Some sacred thing hidden or secret, which is naturally unknown to human reason, and is only known by the revelation of God. Thus, "Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified by the Spirit," &c, 1Ti 3:16. The mystery of godliness, or of true religion, consisted in the several particulars here mentioned by the Apostle; particulars, indeed, which it would never have "entered into the heart of man to conceive," 1Co 2:9, had not God accomplished them in fact, and published them by the preaching of his Gospel; but which, being thus manifested, are intelligible, as facts, to the meanest understanding. In like manner, the term mystery, Ro 11:25; 1Co 15:51, denotes what was hidden or unknown, till revealed; and thus the Apostle speaks of a man's "understanding all mysteries," 1Co 13:2; that is, all the revealed truths of the Christian religion which is elsewhere called the "mystery of faith," 1Ti 3:9. And when he who spake in an unknown tongue is said to "speak mysteries," 1Co 14:2, it is plain, that these mysteries, however unintelligible to others on account of the language in which they were spoken, were yet understood by the person himself, because he hereby "edified himself," 1Co 14:4; Ac 2:11; 10:46. And though in 1Co 2:7-8, we read of the "wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew;" yet, says the Apostle, we speak or declare this wisdom; and he observes, verse 10, that God had revealed the particulars of which it consisted to them by his Spirit. So when the Apostles are called "stewards of the mysteries of God," 1Co 4:1, these mysteries could not mean what were, as facts, unknown to them; (because to them it was "given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God," Mt 13:11;) yea, the character here ascribed to them implies not only that they knew these mysteries themselves, but that as faithful stewards they were to dispense or make them known to others, Lu 12:42; 1Pe 4:10. In Col 2:2, St. Paul mentions his praying for his converts, that their hearts might be comforted "to the knowledge of the mystery of God, even of the Father, and of Christ;" for thus the passage should be translated. But if, with our translators, we render ?????????, acknowledgment, still the word ????????? can by no means exclude knowledge; "for this is life eternal," saith our Lord, Joh 17:3, "that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." And, lastly, whatever be the particular meaning of the "mystery of God," mentioned Re 10:7, yet it was something he had declared "to (or rather by) his servants the prophets."

3. The word mystery is sometimes in the writings of St. Paul applied in a peculiar sense to the calling of the Gentiles, which he styles "the mystery," Eph 3:3-6; and "the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of Christ by the Gospel," Ro 16:25; Eph 1:9; 3:9; 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 4:3.

4. It denotes spiritual truth couched under an external representation or similitude, and concealed or hidden thereby, unless some explanation of it be otherwise given. Thus, Re 1:20, "The mystery," that is, the spiritual meaning, "of the seven stars: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches." So Re 17:5, "And upon her forehead a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great," that is, Babylon in a spiritual sense, "the mother of idolatry and abominations;" and, verse 7, "I will tell thee the mystery" or spiritual signification "of the woman." Compare Mt 13:11; Mr 4:11; Lu 8:10; Eph 5:32; and their respective contexts.

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