The Mystery of the New Testament Church
"I have become its (church) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:25-27)
Have you wrestled over what Paul was referring to in this passage of scripture from Colossians? What was the mystery that Paul had been commissioned to preach…and why had it been hidden for generations and generations?
Paul was commissioned to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, but the message of the coming Messiah was in itself no secret… it had not been hidden throughout the generations. But rather, it had been foreshadowed and prophesized throughout the entire Old Testament starting with the curse of Adam and Eve in the garden. So what was the mystery that Paul is presenting to the church at Colosse?
In our Adult Sunday School class we have been studying the book of Colossians and as I have been studying and preparing to teach, I am constantly overwhelmed with learning new things. For instance, I have learned that Paul's commission is actually two fold. First, he was to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, no small task even for Paul! But the second part of his commission was to reveal to the body of believers, both Jews and Gentiles the mystery of the New Testament Church.
Remember the church up until this point didn't exist. In fact, nothing in Jewish heritage resembled the New Testament church even remotely, it was an entirely new idea, one that had not been disclosed to the previous generations and it was only after Christ that this mystery had been revealed to the believers.
So Paul, in fact was saying he had been commissioned to explain that through Christ not only do we have the forgiveness of sins, not only do we have an inheritance in heaven, not only have we been set apart by Christ and called into relationship with him. But we have been called into the fellowship of His church, the living and breathing representatives of Christ on this earth.
What an amazing eye-opener! Not only does Christ save us, but He offers us fullness through our relationships with other believers and it is in our connection with each other that we fulfill the mystery of the New Testament church.
Isn't belonging to something a great perk of being a Christian? Because we have Christ, we also have a bond that unites us together as family… brothers and sisters sharing the same heritage and sharing the same inheritance.