Mystery – Colossians 1:27 07/05/20

Mystery – Colossians 1:27 07/05/20

Today, we’re going to be exposed to a mystery, one that’s truly amazing. We are at Colossians 1:27. It says that “God willed.” “Willed” (ἠθέλησεν)[1] stands in the emphatic position at the head of the sentence in the Greek.[2] The idea here is that it pleased God, that is, He desired to reveal something to His people; the astounding mystery of the Gospel message.[3] The content of the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”[4] It is a mystery because none could have guessed that the Gentiles would be included in the people of God, nor could anyone guess the means that God would employ to accomplish it.[5]

Throughout the Scriptures, both New Testament and Old, the saving purposes of God has been a major theme.[6] Through the Old Testament it was revealed that the Gentiles would be embraced in the scope of God’s mercy.[7] How this would come about, the Hebrew Scriptures never explicitly revealed that.[8] Therefore, Paul called the message he delivered a “mystery.”[9] The word is (μυστηρίου).[10] The term literally means a secret.[11]

Many of the false teachers of the first century used this word to describe the inner secrets of their religious systems.[12] There were a wide variety of (μυστήριον) cults that developed between the 7th century B.C. and the 4th century A.D.[13] The common characteristics of all of them were secret ceremonies and rites and knowledge, secret “Gnosis,” involved. The proponents of these mysteries promised their initiates salvation by the dispensing of cosmic life.[14] The thing is, they didn’t know the secrets they sought to teach.

So if these teachers didn’t know what the secret was, it’s reasonable to ask, “What’s the secret?” Jesus Christ is the secret. He opens the door to everyone.[15]

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures we find that God called the nation of Israel to be His people.[16] He gave His chosen people His Law, He gave them a wonderful land as their inheritance.[17] He promised them a King who would one day establish a glorious kingdom and fulfill the promises made to Abraham and David. [18] Then, things began to get confusing. The Old Testament prophets wrote about a Messiah who would suffer.[19] They also wrote about a Messiah who would reign supreme.[20] There appeared to be a contradiction and they couldn’t understand what God was doing.[21] There was a mystery in place.

Today, when we hear the word “mystery” we conjure up images of something eerie, perhaps even frightening.[22] That’s not how the word was used during the first century.[23] The ‘mystery’ is a secret.[24] That secret is now revealed. The mystery Paul revealed was a direct assault on those who taught that Christians needed special knowledge and rituals to supplement the revelation of truth through Christ.[25] The gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the whole picture, it is available to all who will listen and believe.[26]

Astoundingly, Gentiles would be (from our perspective, have been) incorporated into God’s people.[27] All ethnic barriers are demolished through Jesus Christ.[28] And this is done as the Lord indwells His followers, “Christ in you.”[29] At last this mystery moves from being a secret to being useful knowledge.[30] Christ dwelling in Gentile hearts—this is the wonder of wonders![31] “Christ in you” is the personal experience of Christ in the individual life of each believer.[32] The moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ to be your Savior, the Spirit of God baptizes you into the Church universal.[33] But for Paul, to have Christ is to be like Christ.[34]

Because of this, we have ‘hope.” Here, hope isn’t wishful thinking, it is the joyous expectation of the Christian.[35] As amazing as the fact of Jesus literally residing within each of our lives is, it is simply a pledge and a foretaste of what we wait for.[36] This hope grants each believer a stable foundation for confidence as we wait for Jesus’ return.[37]

The phrase ‘the hope of glory’ refers to eternal life.[38] It points us to the reality that the Christian will, one day, wear glory in his perfected, heavenly state.[39] Because of Jesus Christ we who believe in Him look forward to sharing His glory.[40] There is coming a day when we will fully reflect the glory that we now dimly display through Christ.[41] In the meantime, as members of His body, we can wait confidently for the revealing of the children of God.[42]

Each one of us with faith in Jesus Christ has Him resident in us, making us alive, guiding us, and providing the assurance that He’ll finish what He’s started. May each one of us live lives consistent with that expectation.

[1]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 1:27. [2] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Colossians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 17. [3] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume ii, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 192. [4] Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 241. [5] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume ii, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 192. [6] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1984), 85. [7] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1984), 85. [8] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1984), 85. [9] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 285. [10]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 1:27. [11] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 285. [12] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121. [13] Günther Bornkamm, “Μυστήριον, Μυέω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 803. [14] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 615. [15] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 285. [16] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121–122. [17] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121–122. [18] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121–122. [19] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121–122. [20] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121–122. [21] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121–122. [22] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121. [23] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 121. [24] Ian S McNaughton, Opening up Colossians and Philemon, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 34. [25] Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 612. [26] Ian S McNaughton, Opening up Colossians and Philemon, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 34. [27] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1984), 85. [28] Earle Wilson, Alex Deasley, and Barry Callen, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Bible commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 313. [29] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1984), 86. [30] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Colossians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 17. [31] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Colossians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 17. [32] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Col 1:27. [33] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 346. [34] Earle Wilson, Alex Deasley, and Barry Callen, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Bible commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 310. [35] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume ii, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 192. [36] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Colossians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 18. [37] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, gen. eds., Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI.: 1984), 86. [38] Ian S McNaughton, Opening up Colossians and Philemon, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 34. [39] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Colossians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 18. [40] Norman L. Geisler, “Colossians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 675. [41] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Colossians, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 18. [42] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 44, gen. eds., David Holdren and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, ((Word Books, Waco TX.: 1982), 87.

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