the gospel mystery
Text: Colossians 2:1-5
This first section of chapter two is simply a natural, same-breath continuation of the last five verses of chapter one. Paul continues to share his struggle and passion for the hearts of the Laodiceans, that they may “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
So, while we sort of get what he’s saying, all the talk of mystery and hidden treasures is pretty difficult to grasp, even after reading it through several times.
Let’s unpack this “mystery” business a bit.
Mystery as Paul uses it has a very definite meaning. We hear mystery and think “not known.” It’s a mystery! When Paul uses the Greek mysterion, he intends to say, “something that was once concealed has now been revealed.” In other words, the mystery is the surprising and glorious unfolding of the gospel in redemptive history.
What’s surprising about it? Look back at verse 26 and 27 of the previous chapter (“the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”).
How God would bring salvation was “hidden for ages and generations” but notice it is “now revealed to the saints.” We see the mystery now! It is known! What is it that we see? That God would move beyond the people of Israel, as he prophesied in the OT, and expand the reach of the covenant promises redemption to the alienated and hostile Gentiles (1:21). That fulfillment–of Christ coming to the Gentiles–we now see in Jesus Christ. (v.27)
The inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s redemptive plan in history is HUGE for Paul throughout this letter. That is why he is taking so many pains to speak about the cosmic Christ. Jesus is not just a Jewish Savior. He has come to redeem the world! The amazing mystery of salvation promised to Israel has now come to all nations in the form of the God-man, Jesus Christ.
Now, as we get to know the center of that story, “which is Christ”, we will continue to grow in assurance and understanding of this wisdom (2:2).