It is not difficult to see that there was a mystery ‘hid in God’ ‘kept secret since the world began’ revealed to Paul (Rom 16:25, Eph 3:3). Yet there seems to be some difficulty among sincere Christians with identifying the content of the mystery.
Some claim that this mystery is something that we cannot know about the nature of God. After all, they say, ‘God works in mysterious ways’.
Yet the scripture says that the mystery is ‘known’ and ‘revealed’. Though it was once a secret it is not hidden any longer.
Others propose that the mystery is Gentile salvation. Yet there is evidence of Gentile salvation in the both the Old and New testaments before the mystery was revealed.
One purpose of the nation Israel being established was to be a blessing, a light, and the ‘Priests of the Lord’ to the Gentiles. The blessing of the Gentiles could hardly be a mystery or kept secret if it was restated so often in the prophecies to Israel.
Another belief says the mystery is Gentiles that become part of Israel and their covenants. This is a dangerous misconception as it will inevitably lead to doctrinal confusion and private interpretation.
This view requires that you replace most prophecies given to Israel with prophecies supposedly referring to a Gentile church. The prophecies and commandments of Jesus himself concerning Zion, Israel, Jacob, Jerusalem, and ‘my people’ would need to be replaced with commandments to ‘the church today’.
This is close to impossible while keeping the verses in their context.
Unfortunately many denominations and pastors believe at least one of these mistaken views of the mystery.
What inevitably leads to a mistaken view of the mystery is ignoring the revelation of the mystery which was first given to Paul.
Paul was the first to explain that Israel has fallen from their special status with God. Through this fall salvation is no longer the covenantal possession of Israel but is being sent to the Gentiles.
It is not until Paul that you will read about salvation apart from the law and the covenants based on faith alone in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Those who are saved do not become Israel or remain heathen Gentiles; instead, they become part of the very body of Christ, which is the church today.
Our hope lies in our heavenly position reigning forever with Christ in the air. Meanwhile, we are left on earth to represent the exiled Lord and the message of his reconciliation to a world that has entirely rejected God.
This is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.