Exegetical Notes on Ephesians (2)- (1:9)

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“he made known the mystery of his will” (1:9)

Talbert traces some ideas behind the meaning conjured by ‘mystery.’ It can either refer to “an event that will be revealed at the end of history” taken from apocalyptic Jewish text understanding, things that will come to pass according to what prophets receive from God and according to the Qumran community, “an event that has already been realized in the community’s life.” However, used in the context and understanding in Ephesians, this mystery that has been revealed, is the “participation of believers in the glory of the world to come” and in an narrow sense the inclusion of Gentiles and Jews of the promise that is in Christ.[1] Stott also states that the inclusion of the Gentiles seems to be a foretaste “of a future unity that will be greater and more wonderful still.[2]

O’Brian might attest to what have been mentioned above on the scope of this ‘mystery.’ Before we move there let us try to gain some perspective concerning ‘mystery’ according to the Pauline corpus. O’Brian states that this word is used “twenty-one times in Paul’s letters” and is mostly used concerning the unveiling revealed by God concerning something that was hidden (Rom.16:26-17; 1 Cor. 2:10). This mystery has a cross influence focus where through it come salvation. This cannot be known by mere human understanding but revealed by God through his Spirit. The combination of what is explained coupled with the inclusion of the Gentiles is developed in Colossians and Ephesians.[3]

Now concerning the matter of just focusing ‘mystery’ as only the inclusion of the Gentiles, O’Brian argues that if one takes only the understanding that Gentiles are now incorporated in God’s blessing like Jews, it is out of place. ‘Mystery’ is concerning God’s uniting heaven and earth in Christ.[4] He explains that “God’s saving purposes, planned from eternity, had as their final goal of all things in heaven and earth in Christ.”[5]


[1] Talbert, Charles H. Ephesians and Colossians. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2007). p.47

[2] Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians. (North Street, Nottingham: IVP,1989). p.41

[3] Ibid.

[4] O’Brian, Peter. The Letters to the Ephesians. p.110

[5] Ibid.,p.109

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