07 January 2017

“So that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (v. 10)

Psalm: Psalm 100


Being 'in the know' is a beguiling thing, as you have the inside track on something that other people don't have, or 'get something' that other people find elusive. These are tantalising things and perhaps even more so in the time of Paul: the hidden mystery of religious groups; the philosophical insights and sophistication of venerable teachers. You see this in the way the John writes in his Gospel (written in Ephesus), the 'Word' that becomes flesh (John 1:1-18). Paul is writing to people who are intrigued by such mystery and he entices them with a deeper mystery than they have yet known. Such mystery is something that must be revealed, which has been withheld until now.

The mystery is, however, not some complicated formulation of words or a hard-to-grasp insight into 'life the universe and everything'. It is a person, someone who has made possible for the Gentiles as well as the Jews, a new relationship with God. Paul may well talk about deep mystery, heavenly places and an eternal purpose, but this hidden truth is a person who unites all into one new body. From mystery as a matter of philosophical reflection or hidden cultic knowledge, we are to be "fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus" (v. 6). The revelation is far more than insights into a mystery, it is 'access to God' and 'in relationship to each other'.

The difference between something that is just interesting or beguiling, and the mystery that Christ reveals is underlined by Paul at the start of the passage (verse 1). He is writing from a place of fear and suffering. This is no casual fascination, it is life and death and it gives to Paul, "boldness and confidence through faith in him" (v. 12).

To Ponder

  • What insights into God's glory have you seen over the Christmas period this year?
  • How does the Church reveal the mystery of God to others? What else might the Church do to assist this?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin


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