The Mystery of God, Even Christ -- By: T. Norton Sterrett

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 095:378 (Apr 1938)
Article: The Mystery of God, Even Christ
Author: T. Norton Sterrett


The Mystery of God, Even Christ

T. Norton Sterrett

The mysteries of the New Testament are an important part of the New Testament revelation, and yet have been neglected to a great extent by many Bible scholars. The particular phase of the subject which is to be treated in this paper is, like the others, full of difficulty, and yet too important to be ignored. “The mystery of God, even Christ” is mentioned clearly in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter two, verse two, and perhaps in other Scriptures. Before turning to the Scriptures, however, some general definitions must be made.

The New Testament word “mystery” is almost a transliteration of the Greek μυστήριον. This Greek term had in classical usage the meaning of religious secrets “confided only to the initiated, and not to be communicated by them to ordinary mortals.”1 Such were the Eleusinian and Babylonian mysteries. Adopted into the New Testament, the word is used differently. Thayer lists three main variations of usage. (1) A secret thing, not obvious to the understanding, as in 1 Cor 13:2; 14:2. These are perhaps the only passages of this usage, and do not at all govern the meaning of the word in most of its occurrences in the New Testament. (2) A hidden purpose or counsel. When used of God, Thayer says, “In the New Testament, God’s plan of providing salvation for men through Christ, which was once hidden but now is revealed.”2 Most of the occurrences in the New Testament come under this category. (3) The mystic or hidden sense, as in Eph 5:32; Rev 17:5. Some will no doubt question the correctness of Dr. Thayer’s analysis at this point, but that question is beyond the province of this paper.

Other definitions of the term “mystery” can be cited. In the note on Matt 13:11, Dr. Scofield defines a mystery as “a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed, but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation.”

Dr. Ironside writes of the New Testament mysteries that they are “those truths which in Old Testament days were kept in silence, but which are now the common property of all believers.”3 Bishop Lightfoot has a helpful word regarding the mysteries. He says, after mentioning the idea of secrecy in the classical usage, “Thus the idea of secrecy

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