Interpretations: The Mystery Program - The mystery of His will
God chose Saul (Paul) to minister to the Gentiles after Saul (Paul) led the persecution of the Jerusalem church, Acts 9:13-16. Because Saul’s (Paul’s) persecution was so severe, the Jews fled from Jerusalem (though the apostles remained) to other regions along the Mediterranean coastline, Acts 11:19-21. While on the road to Damascus to extend his persecution to that area, Saul was blinded by a bright light that shown about him, and he heard the voice of the Lord, Acts 9:1-11. Following Saul’s confession that Christ Jesus was the Messiah, Acts 9:18, he first went to the Jews in their synagogues, preaching that Christ is the Son of God, Acts 9:20-22. Afterward, the Lord lead Saul (Paul) to Arabia, likely Mount Sinai, to receive the gospel, 1Corinthians 15:1-4, and the mysteries that he first shared with the Jews, then to the Gentiles.
The first recorded time Paul preached to a Gentile was on his first missionary journey with Barnabas, which took them through Cyprus, Acts 13:1-4. There, Saul preached to the deputy Sergius Paulus, but only after the Jewish sorcerer who was with the deputy went up against Saul, Acts 13:6-7. The Holy Spirit came upon Saul, and he spoke against Elymas the sorcerer and the sorcerer lost his eye sight for a season. From that moment on, Saul’s name was changed to Paul, Acts 13:8-11. The deputy of the country, Sergius, saw what was done and believed the doctrine of the Lord, Acts 13:12.
As Paul ventured into Gentile areas, bringing them the gospel, 1Corinthians 15:1-4, it is important to realize two points. First, Gentiles were not covenant people as Jews are, to whom were given God’s Word, Romans 3:1. Instead, Gentiles were in the dark spiritually and could not discern between their right hand and left hand, Jonah 4:11.
Before Paul ventured into Gentile area to spread the gospel to them, the Lord opened the kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles through Peter. Acts 10 describes the events that led Peter to follow messengers back to the house of Cornelius, who had sent them to fetch Peter. Peter brought six witnesses with him to corroborate all that would transpire as Peter entered into a Gentile house, which was unlawful, Acts 10:27. Until this time the Holy Spirit came upon the Jews in Jerusalem, Acts 2:1-5, then the Samaritans after Peter and John arrived to see the spread of the gospel in that region, Acts 8:14-17. This time, at hearing Peter preach the gospel, that whosoever believed on Jesus would receive the remission of sins, Cornelius and his Gentile household received the gift of the Holy Spirit as the Apostles had on Pentecost, Acts 10:34-44, Acts 2:1-4. This astonished Peter and the others with him who were of the circumcision (Jews), because Cornelius and his household were neither circumcised nor had they been baptized, Acts 10:45-46. Though Cornelius was the first Gentile in scripture to receive the Holy Spirit without first being circumcised, God did not choose a Gentile to receive the mysteries and open the doors of salvation to the rest of the Gentiles. The Lord always intended to spread His Word across the nations through Israel, who were to be a nation of priests, Exodus 19:6. So, God chose Paul for that mission, who was a Jew fully surrendered to Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:4-7. However, Peter had to be the one to open the doors of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles, as Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom, Matthew 16:9.
Paul started a multitude of new churches open to the Gentiles after he completed his three missionary journeys. Paul was then was imprisoned on false charges, Acts 24:17-21. While in prison, waiting for his appeal to Caesar to be heard, Acts 25:8-10, Paul wrote his epistle to the church in Ephesus. In that epistle, Paul wrote of the mystery of God’s will, Ephesians 1:1-9. To put a finer grain of detail, the previous verses indicate that:
- God the Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings because He choose us before the foundation of the world to be with Him blameless, Ephesians 1:3-4
- God the Father made us accepted in the beloved (Jesus), and adopted as children to Him through Jesus Christ, Ephesians 1:5-6
- Through Christ we are redeemed from our sins through His blood, according to the riches of God’s grace, Ephesians 1:7
- He then gave us bountifully all wisdom and understanding, Ephesians 1:8
These new gifts to the Gentiles were only possible after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1Corinthians 15:1-4. Because Israel fell (a temporary state of Israel), salvation came to the Gentiles, Romans 8:11. Paul described the result of Israel’s fall in a horticultural sense. The natural olive branch (Israel), was broken off so the wild olive branch (Gentiles, the Body-of-Christ), could be grafted into Christ, Romans 11:17-26.
This part of God’s will for us and the Body-of-Christ that Paul is writing about, Ephesians 1:9, was not the same as His revealed will through the ages, dispensations concerning Israel, Acts 3:17-21. This part of His will concerning the Gentiles He kept secret since the world began, Romans 16:25-26. This can be best explained by reviewing the dispensations, which are elaborated in another part of this site. God made His will known to mankind at each dispensation:
- Adam and Eve were to enjoy the fulness of God’s creation and not eat of the fruit of good and evil
- After their fall, God gave mankind a conscience and a universe of evidence of His will for them
- After the flood, God established government to address the world’s violence, which was the reason for the flood
- God then called out a people from the world’s human population through whom He would reveal Himself
- The law was then given to Israel so that the world would be tutored concerning God’s holiness and our need for salvation
- Then God showed His grace through Christ so that we would have salvation through faith and not by works
- God will establish the kingdom of Christ on the throne of David, ruling the whole earth and over all peoples
The two aspects of God’s will Paul wrote of in Ephesians 1:9, are His will for us individually, and second, what He planned for the Body-of-Christ.
Individually, God’s will for us is that He may abound toward us all wisdom and understanding, and therefore make known to us the mystery of His will. At the end of time, He will gather all things in Christ on heaven and earth, according to His purpose, Ephesians 1:6-11, which is eternity future, Revelation 21-22:1-5. Paul prayed that we believers with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, that we may know the hope of His calling and the riches of His inheritance, and His exceeding greatness of His power to us and to see Christ seated above all, and the head of the church, Ephesians 1:15-23. This is not inherently given when we first believe in the gospel, but is learned as the believer lives and grows in Christ Jesus, as led by the Holy Spirit. God’s ultimate purpose is found in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. There, Paul also wrote that we might be filled with the knowledge of His will to walk worthy of the Lord, Colossians 1:9-11, being:
- Pleasing to Him
- Fruitful in every good work
- Increasing in the knowledge of God
- Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power
- With patience
- Longsuffering with joyfulness
It is a special privilege each individual enjoys being a part of the Body-of-Christ. We are partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Christ, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, seeing God through Christ, Colossians 1:12-15. So now we have what we could never imagine, a future, prepared by God, revealed by His Spirit. We have the Spirit of God and the mind of Christ, 1Corinthians 2:9-16
Being in the fulness of Christ, Paul wrote that we are separated from the world and we have the Spirit of life because of righteousness. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead to dwell in us, we will also be raised from the dead. And being led by the Spirit of God, we are the sons of God, having received the Spirit of adoption, and therefore heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ so we may be glorified with Him, Romans 8:5-17. Les Feldick posted a tape of one of his programs on YouTube that is an excellent summary on this topic.
Second, the revealed mysteries to Paul are vitally important for the Body-of-Christ. Paul wrote that he was a minister of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God, meaning all of the mysteries for the Body-of-Christ were revealed to him, 1Corinthians 4:1. Paul instructed Timothy those individuals being considered for the position of deacon must possess specific characteristics so that they would hold the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience, 1Timothy 3:8-9. In other words, these revealed mysteries were not to be put aside, but actively taught until the Lord calls His church. God willed to keep these mysteries secret from the beginning of time for His purpose. God made these preparations for the Body-of-Christ before creating the heaven and the earth, Genesis 1:1, and kept it secret, Romans 16:25-26, Ephesians 3:9, when He created the two domains, heaven and earth. He then made preparations for an agency to oversee His will in each domain.
Heaven is just as real of a place as earth is, and God has a purpose for heaven just as He has for earth. For earth, God’s plan is outlined throughout much of Scripture with Israel as God’s agent on earth. In heaven, God originally populated thrones and dominions in heaven with angels. His ultimate purpose for heavenly places is for the Body-of-Christ (made of Jew and Gentile believers in Christ Jesus) to be ultimately God’s agent in that domain, not angels. The Body-of-Christ is explicitly blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 1:3. The Body-of-Christ is complete in Christ, which is the head of all principality and power, Colossians 2:10. And, the conversation (citizenship) of the Body-of-Christ is in heaven, Philippians 3:20, while Israel’s domain is earthly.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he also revealed to them of God’s hidden wisdom for the Body-of-Christ was purposed before the world began, 1Corinthians 2:7. This was to be contrasted to all the revealed prophecies concerning the prophetic plan of Israel, Acts 3:20-21. By keeping the Body-of-Christ secret from the princes of this world (Satan and his angels), they acted out their own vain wisdom, 1Corinthians 3:19-20. Paul wrote that had the princes of this world knew the hidden secrets of God, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory, 1Corinthians 2:8, which would have been an eternal disaster for mankind. Paul wrote that now God has revealed those things that He prepared for them that love Him, through the Holy Spirit who reveals the deep things of God to us, 1Corinthians 2:9-12. God will now use the Body-of-Christ to show the principalities and powers in heavenly places His deep wisdom that is purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:7-11. What Satan thought he would regain by foiling God’s plan, was lost when the Body-of-Christ began with Paul’s ministry. The Body-of-Christ will judge the angels when God’s plan is complete, Ephesians 1:10, 1Corinthians 6:2-3, Isaiah 14:12, 11-14, 15-17, Ezekiel 28:12, 14-15, 17.