by T. Austin-Sparks
In this Letter the term occurs four times (1:26, 27; 2:2; 4:3). To
read carefully each of these occurrences is to be made aware of the
tremendous thing that this "Mystery" was.
To realise the occasion of the Letter is to add to its vital importance. Without taking time to explain that context and to go into all its technicalities, let us simply say that those to whom the letter was written were becoming involved in a colossal system of mystical ideas. These had to do with ranks and grades of spiritual or angelic intelligences, from the lowest order of such, up and up to the pre-eminent angelic intelligence. Even the highest and greatest was but an angel. This philosophy (wisdom of man) was prepared to give Jesus Christ a very high ranking in this mystical system, perhaps the highest, but only as an angel, short of very God.
Right straight, flat, direct, and devastating was the Apostle as he levelled this Letter against this limitation and distortion of Christ. Hence the well-nigh matchless paragraphs which declare Him to be "the Son of God's love"; "the image of the invisible God"; "the firstborn of all creation"; in whom "were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist (hold together). And he is the head of the body, the church... that in all things he might have the pre-eminence", and so on. He ranges back to eternity past and on to eternity to be. He ranges all realms and comprehends all things. What potentialities are His! What glory is vested by the Father in Him! What a 'spoiling' this 'philosophy and vain deceit' of men carries with it! What a robbing of the Son of that 'indwelling of the fulness of the Godhead'! (2:8-10). This is just mysticism, it is not the Divine "Mystery".
Now, the infinite wonder and amazing blessing of all this concerning this Son is focused down to "this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (1:27). "And you..." (2:13).
The whole Letter has to be read in the light of this transcendence of Christ brought into the vessel of His Body - the Church, and the Church's "hope of glory" thereby and therefore. As this is not an exposition of the Letter, we only mean to keep to the great 'Stewardship' which the Apostle Paul conceived as his trust, and how that stewardship is embodied in the true spiritual Church which is His Body. All the Church's hope of glory is centred in and bound up with this absolute transcendence of "the Son of his love".