People's Dictionary of the Bible
Mystery. Ephesians 1:8-9. This word does not mean something absolutely hidden and unintelligible. It is rather a design hidden in God's counsels until revealed to mankind in and by Christ. Hence we find it continually employed in the New Testament to indicate those gracious purposes and plans, which were by degrees elaborated and illustrated, and on which the teaching of our Lord and his apostles threw the clearest light, but which remained hidden to those who would not understand, and who had their minds blinded against the truth. Thus the gospel is called "the mystery of the faith," "the mystery of godliness," 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:16, which mystery is immediately after explained to be the revelation and glorious work of the Lord Jesus Christ. So the calling of the Gentiles and their union into one body, God's church, with the Jews, is called a mystery, long hidden, but at last made known. Ephesians 1:9-10; Ephesians 3:8-10; Colossians 1:25-27. In the same way it is elsewhere used for a truth or doctrine, which required elucidation, and which received it. Matthew 13:11; Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. The word is also employed symbolically. Thus Paul treating of the primary institution of marriage introduces the term, because the marriage tie was a figurative representation of that yet closer union into which Christ brings his church, wherein the two are "one spirit." Ephesians 5:31-32; comp. 6:17. In prophetical language there is a similar use of the word mystery. Thus the "seven stars" symbolized "the angels of the seven churches," and the "seven candlesticks" the "seven churches." Revelation 1:20; comp. 17:6, 7.
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Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Mystery'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/m/mystery.html. 1893.