Paul’s letter to the Colossians
"And pray for us, too,
that God may open a door for our message,
so that we may
proclaim the mystery of
for which I am in chains“
The term mystery (musterion) typically refers to something
not previously revealed
Earlier in the letter, Paul referred to the Word of God
(ton logon tou theou)
as the mystery that had been hidden from the
ages and generations
but has now been revealed
Paul adds that the mystery had been revealed not only to the
Jews but also to the Gentiles. That mystery, Paul says, is
"Christ in you—the hope of glory”
A bit further into the context, Paul refers to
God’s mystery as Christ Himself
Throughout his letter to the Colossians, Paul identifies
as Christ and His relationship to believers being
revealed in a way not previously communicated.
The identity of the Christ had not been revealed
in any detail in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament),
though there were, of course,
many prophecies anticipating His earthly ministry
From the various theophanies (appearances of God in physical form)
in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is evident that
the one called Yahweh
would later come to earth as a man—Jesus
Recall Jesus’ claim
in John 8:56–58 that He had preceded Abraham.
This Yahweh—the preincarnate Christ--
had always existed,
but at the
right time in God’s plan, this Messiah came to earth,
born of a virgin.
The mystery that is Christ, who had been
was now clearly manifested in the sight of all.
Further, this One not only existed,
but He came to earth to
express His love by His sacrifice
(see John 3:16; Philippians 2:1–11),
to have a brotherly kind of relationship (Romans 8:29),
and to be intimately known by those
who have believed in Him
As Ephesians is a similar letter written by Paul around the same time,
it is helpful to consider Paul’s
use of the word mystery in that context as well.
He mentions “the mystery“
in Ephesians 1:9, 3:3, and 3:9, but he doesn’t
offer any definition in those verses.
However, in Ephesians 3:4 Paul refers to the
"mystery of Christ,”
which he identifies in Ephesians 3:6:
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles
are heirs together with Israel, members together of
and sharers together in the promise in
In Colossians 4:3 Paul adds that
The mystery of Christ was the
his own imprisonment
(cf. Ephesians 6:19–20).
While Paul uses the term mystery
on a number of occasions in his other letters,
the reference isn’t always to
the mystery of Christ and His relationship with people,
as it seems to be in Colossians and Ephesians.
Paul recognizes that he is
stewarding the mysteries
(plural) of God (1 Corinthians 4:1).
In Romans 11:25
Part of the mystery is that there would be a
partial hardening of Israel
In 1 Corinthians 15:51,
the resurrection--and the rapture,
is referred to as a mystery
There is even a mystery of lawlessness
(2 Thessalonians 2:7).
While Paul stewards and communicates
several of God’s mysteries,
he speaks of none in such detail and repetition as he does
the mystery of Christ (Colossians 4:3).
What a joy
to know that Jesus loves us and that
His grace toward us
was part of God’s plan from the