THE EVOLUTION OF THE WORD MYSTERY
The word “Mystery” is not an English word at all; it is a Greek word, transliterated. True it has become Anglicized, and is in common use to-day, but its meaning has changed, and is very different from the meaning which the Greek word originally intended. Today we use it of something that no one can understand. This is not altogether wrong if, we add the simple truth that “the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God” 1 Corinthians 2:14 – And the carnal believer is not ready to receive things of the Spirit deep or otherwise until he or she repents allowing God’s Word to once again be illuminated in their understanding.
However, it is perfectly clear and certain that the word Mystery, as used in the Scripture, is simply a secret. But by the end of the second century after Christ the word Mystery transliterated musteerion had acquired an additional use.
It was used not only of a secret, but of a secret sign or symbol. In this sense the Greek fathers employed it to denote any such sign, whether of words or actions.
They spoke of the offering of Isaac as a musteerion, i.e., a sign or symbol of the secret purpose of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ. And they used it interchangeably with the words tupos, type; sumbolon, symbol, and parabolee, parable. It has a sense, similar to these words.
After a while, it was practically synonymous with a symbol, and yet there was a slight difference. Perhaps a secret sign would best express it; and this was the usage of the word when the Revelation was given to John. Therefore, in the book of Revelation, we must give the word this signification.
In Revelation 1:20, it is used of “the mystery of the seven stars,” and in 17:5, 7, it is used of “Babylon.” Therefore in these things we are to see a secret sign of something which they represented.
A rather amazing fact also is, that soon after this we find the Latin version translating the word mystery (in Ephesians 5:32) by the word sacramentum, i.e., sacrament.
From this it is positive that at that time the word sacramentum or sacrament meant merely a secret sign or symbol. It hadn’t acquired its later theological use; but the word “sacrament” had reference merely to a symbol, or a symbolical act, a secret sign, shewing forth the Lord’s death.
As a student of etymology (the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. It is not my opinion that the popular etymologies of the word are all wrong and misleading it’s a fact! The modern and ecclesiastical use of the word “sacrament” is not only a gross misrepresentation of the truth, but it is founded on ignorance of the history of the word.
The true meaning of the word Mystery in the Scriptures is not something that cannot be understood, but something kept secret – a secret truth or sign, revealed to those who are initiated; by this we mean those who have placed their trust in the atonement that God provided through His Son Jesus Christ.
THE SECRET OF THE UNFOLDING
There are 28 Secrets (Mysteries) which are spoken of; and one is called the “Great Secret” (Ephesians 5:32). All of them connected with the present interval between the First and Second Advents of the Lord Jesus. The Greek grammar of the language indicates something will take place between His “first and second coming.”
The interval between is referred to as “the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” I Peter 1:10-11 (cf. Luke 24:26) and was not revealed in the Old Testament. Of course in a sense right now, the “sufferings” themselves were not secret; neither was the “glory that should follow.” Both were subjects of Old Testament prophecy. These were fully and plainly revealed. The prophets were acquainted with these two facts; but they were ignorant as to what interval, if any, would take place between the two.
The New Testament Apostles must have been perplexed! We are, told by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:10-11) that they “enquired and searched diligently as to what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow.” But there was nothing that could throw any light on the “manner of time” which would elapse, between the sufferings and the glory. One thing for sure, it was clear that they could not be simultaneous.
Modern critics might have suggested another alternative, but the difficulty was there. The “manner of time” was un-trackable. That is the meaning of the word “unsearchable” in Ephesians 3:8, where we read of “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
True, the riches or Christ are “unsearchable.” No one can estimate what riches have been laid up in Christ for those who are the members of the Body of Christ. How vast the riches we possess in Christ Jesus.
Yet, as wonderful as this is, that is not what is meant in Ephesians 3:8. The word here rendered “unsearchable” occurs only in one other place, Romans 11:33, and there it’s rendered “past finding out.” It is anexichniastos (Gr.), and means that which cannot be explored.
The word rendered “unsearchable” in Romans 11:33, is a different word altogether anexereuneetos (Gr.) and means, past comprehension.
No one could find out “what, or what manner of time” should elapse between “the sufferings and the glory.” It was past finding out. So many riches could be explored. All the promises and prophecies connected with Christ could be understood, searched out, traced, and enjoyed.
The riches of the interval could not be searched. We, who by grace, have been initiated into the secrets, and who have the key to unlock those treasures, can know something about these riches of (or pertaining to) Christ; but there were other riches connected with Christ that were untrackable – past finding out.
Connected with this secret of the present interval, and, forming part of it, there were, as has been said, many other secrets, 27 more! But this one is unknowable as to its time.
The second coming as many signs, many signposts, but the one referred to, the one regarding, the one most un-trackable, unsearchable, unknowable is when the body will be Raptured. Remember, behold I tell you a mystery.
Remember to be, Rapture Ready.
To be continued… Part III
By, Jeff Russell