The Mysteries of the Kingdom

Justin Johnson

It is not long after you tell another Bible student about Paul’s distinctive message of Jesus according to the mystery that you will be faced with this verse:

“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” – Matt 13:11

If Jesus spoke of mysteries like Paul, then perhaps Paul’s mysteries are the same as these before the cross. This is a weak comparison. Here’s why.

Same word, different context

Just because we see similar words throughout the Bible does not mean those words are spoken in the same dispensational context. This is an easy concept to understand when studying outside the Bible, but when it comes to scripture it is not uncommon for people to ignore common sense.

If I talk about ‘food’ for a baby you would know I was talking about milk or mushy peas. If I talk about ‘food’ for a college student you will think about pizza and macaroni. If I talk about ‘food’ in the context of Grandma’s house then you would all but taste the main course and all the trimmings. Same word, different contexts.

One way we know the mysteries of Matthew 13:11 are not the mysteries revealed to Paul is because the Matthew mysteries are “mysteries of the kingdom” and Paul’s mystery is the “mystery of Christ.” One concerns Israel’s kingdom, and the other the Body of Christ.

Do the mysteries match?

Despite if Jesus spoke of mysteries we know that he did not speak about the message he gave to Paul. If he had done so then the mystery purpose in the cross would have been compromised:

“ But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” – 1 Cor 2:7-8

Also, there is abundant evidence to show that the disciples did not know the meaning of the cross all throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry! See examples here, here, here, and here.

To be revealed or not to be

Most significantly, the mysteries that Jesus spoke of in Mark 4:11 were meant to keep the message secret from the world. It was an exclusive message given to the little flock, Jesus’ disciples.

“ And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” – Luke 8:10

Paul’s mystery message of Jesus’ cross was to be revealed to the whole world!

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, …” – Eph 3:9
“… made known to all nations..” – Romans 16:16
“…and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven;” – Col 1:23
“… Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Tim 2:4
“… and that all the Gentiles might hear… ” – 2 Tim 4:17

Jesus’ mystery of the kingdom

The “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” spoken in encrypted parables taught the timing and entry into the coming kingdom for Israel.

Every parable teaches something to the “little flock” about how there will be coming persecution, or entering into the kingdom requires faithful work and preparation, or that the nation will first reject the Messiah before he comes to set up the kingdom.

Matthew 13:11 implicitly teaches his disciples that the kingdom may be delayed and that only those who follow the Messiah, bear fruit, and endure to the end will enter the kingdom (Mat 13:18-23).

“ And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit,…” – Mark 4:20

Paul’s mystery reveals free justification to all men based upon the meritorious work of Jesus’ death and resurrection! We are not part of Israel’s kingdom nor are we waiting for a future day of atonement. We have the spiritual blessings of the kingdom now! This is a greater mystery which was not revealed until Paul.

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Published: October 10, 2009
Last Modified: September 24, 2016
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