Ephesians 3:2-6: Steward of the Mystery of Christ

The word mystery has various connotations. If you are a book lover it may cause you to think of a favourite genre of who-done-it crime thrillers. The common English word means something that is difficult or impossible to understand it, it is often used in the sense of defeat: ‘It is a mystery, we will never know.’ In the ancient world there were various mystery religions who had secret knowledge which only the initiated could understand. The mysteries were the secret truths revealed to those who had proven themselves worthy of ascending to being indoctrinated in this higher knowledge. The word mystery occurs 3 times in this chapter in v3, 4, and 9. Paul’s use of the word is different to all of these uses we have outlined. Christianity is not to be taken as one of these mystery religions. When Paul talks mystery in this section he is using it in a very simple fashion, it was something hidden that has now become apparent. It is not something only the clever can understand, nor is it an unintuitive way of knowing and thinking, it is simply things that God had hinted at, and which were very vague in detail in the OT now being made clear. It is not knowledge reserved for the initiated but something openly declared through the preaching of the gospel. In the section before us Paul in describing his ministry as an apostle of the Gentiles describes himself as a steward of this mystery; and also lists the benefits of this mystery. These will make up two heading as we move forward.