Doctrine Article
Expanded Internet Edition - January 1, 2004 

The History of the
Revelation of the Mystery

by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1992
Edited by David Sielaff, January 2004

Read the accompanying Newsletter for January 2004

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The history of the development of doctrine within the 1st century ekklesia (often mistranslated “church”) is one of the most important aspects of the New Testament to understand; yet it is sadly neglected (or even abandoned) by most leaders in the Christian denominations today. They fail to realize that a brand new revelation called “the Mystery” (“the Secret”) was revealed to the apostle Paul and others about the Sabbatical Year 62/63 C.E., reckoned from the Hebrew month Tishri in 62 to the same month in 63. “The Mystery” profoundly altered the way the first teachings of Christ and the apostles were to be interpreted.

While the revelation given to Paul in that year did not depart from the doctrinal elements that made up the teachings of early Christianity (the teachings given from the time of the crucifixion in 30 C.E.to 62/63 C.E.), they did elaborate and expand the interpretations of those early teachings to such an extent that a whole new manner of looking at essential Christian doctrines came into view. This was the mature teaching of God that he intended to give mankind from the beginning. 1

Part “A”

So radical and revolutionary were these elaborations and expansions on earlier interpretations that most Christians revolted against them in the first few years after Paul and others began to teach them. The first hints of this revolt against Paul were recorded in his letter to the Philippians written about 64 C.E., about one year after “the Mystery” was first revealed. Paul mentioned that Timothy was a young man he could truly trust. Indeed, Paul stated,

“I have no man like minded, who will naturally care for your state. For ALL seek their own [welfare], not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.”

Paul even got more bold and said to the Philippians that many people he commended in the past now had turned aside from Paul and his teachings, and that they had become the enemies of Christ.

“For MANY walk, of whom I have told you often [Paul spoke of these many colleagues very often in the past], and NOW TELL YOU WITH WEEPING, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.”

The Rejection of Paul’s Teaching of the Mystery

While this revolt against the apostle Paul and his teachings was already beginning about 64 C.E., in the next two years it developed into an outright rebellion with wide scale implications. So serious had the revolt become against Paul and “his” new teachings that the Christians in Ephesus and the whole province of Asia turned away from the apostle (2 Timothy 1:15). Even Paul’s trusted friend and colleague named Demas left Paul over these matters (2 Timothy 4:10). And of those who were formerly with Paul in Rome, only Luke stayed faithful to Paul and his teachings (verse 11).

In fact, in his first trial before Caesar not a single witness came forward to testify in his defense and speak in favor of Paul, even when their true testimony would have greatly benefited the case Paul was presenting (2 Timothy 4:16). Interestingly, Caesar himself (who was none other than the infamous Nero) judged in favor of Paul and granted him a reprieve (verse 17). It is remarkable how many times authorities within the Roman Empire came to Paul’s rescue, while his own people with whom he had once preached the Gospel turned against him wholesale during his last imprisonment.

This abandonment of Paul from about 65 to 66 C.E. caused a very serious disruption in Christian unanimity. It resulted in a cleavage of the ekklesia with the majority of 1st century Christians withdrawing from association with Paul. Most must have thought he had lost his ability to reason in regard to “his” new interpretations. Perhaps some thought that the many deprivations Paul endured throughout his ministry, and the several times he was in prison (Clement said Paul had been imprisoned seven times), could have had a toll on his physical and mental stability.

Of course, none of us knows exactly what was going in the minds of the early Christians that caused them to abandon Paul. We are not told in detail the reason they deserted Paul, but in fact they did abandon him on a prodigious scale!

Only in the last few weeks of Paul’s life does history show the apostle Peter making a journey to Rome to confer with Paul on important matters involving the ekklesia. Peter had come to see (when the rumblings of war with the Romans began to emerge in Jerusalem and throughout Judaea) that Paul was correct in what he was teaching. Even though Peter knew Paul was correct, and that his teachings were divinely inspired from Christ himself, he gave a warning to many Christians reading Paul’s writings that the subjects Paul dealt with were admittedly not easy to understand (2 Peter 3:15–16).

What Christians today must recognize clearly, if we hope to comprehend what was going on among 1st century Christians, is that there was an almost wholesale abandonment of Paul after he began to teach the revelation of “the Mystery.” These new interpretations caused the great exodus away from Paul and his teachings. This must be the case because Paul said his preaching and teaching to the Gentiles (with matters involving his apostleship) were “these things that caused his sufferings brought on by the abandonment (2 Timothy 1:11–12, 15).

What caused most Christians to be upset with Paul were the drastic new interpretations put on some essential doctrines of the ekklesia involving,

The Ultimate Goal of Salvation — Rejected!

One of the greatest stumbling blocks over the teaching of “the Mystery” was Paul’s insistence that Christians are now to be reckoned as seated on the very throne of God next to the Father himself (Ephesians 2:6). 2 This smacked of making human beings to be ranked as “Gods” — to be classified as divine beings while yet human. To most Jews such a concept was anathema to their thinking. This teaching of Paul made them revolt. Such a belief meant, to many people, that instead of humans worshiping the true God sitting on his throne, this made Christians to be sitting on that throne and (as people no doubt interpreted it) that these humans were now to be worshiped. 3

Of course, Paul did not mean that Christians should now be worshiped as Gods. He merely stated that since Christ is now a divine person sitting on the right hand of the Father, and since we are now reckoned to be “in Christ,” then we are legally in the same position. And indeed, Christians have that legal status. But Christians are not to be worshiped even though they are in that position because we are also (and still are) human beings. Our actual deification will come only, according to the teaching of “the Mystery,” when Christians are resurrected from the dead and they are made to be the very children of the Father, actually sitting on the throne next to the Father (as Christ sits now on that throne). 4

People have always found it difficult to believe that mankind is destined to be deified in Christ. Indeed, Paul’s teaching (and later that of John) that salvation is deification, was the major reason that caused so many early Christians to stumble in regard to the teaching of “the Mystery.” Many Christians found it difficult to fathom that the destiny of the human race was to become deified — to become Deity!

Our deification, however, is not to be Deity to other humans, but to be Deity to the angels and to other beings throughout the universe. This is the teaching of “the Mystery.” But for some reason people find great offense in Paul’s teaching that salvation is deification. The result of Paul’s stand on these matters caused the wholesale desertion of Paul (with a mere remnant of believers remaining with Paul) after the disclosure of “the Mystery” about the year 62/63 C.E.

But deification with Christ (and in Christ) is the very teaching that Paul was finally told by Christ and the Father to teach to the world. In Philippians Paul taught,

“For our conversation [Greek: citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body [i.e. to have the exact composition in body as Christ is now in his divine state], according to the working whereby he [Christ] is able even to subdue ALL THINGS [Greek: the universe] unto himself”

It should be noted that the Book of Philippians was placed in the New Testament canon right between the two Mystery epistles of Ephesians and Colossians. This is a clear indication that Philippians was written during Paul’s imprisonment at Rome about 64 C.E. — a time when he wrote First Timothy and was expecting to be released soon from prison (see Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 4:13). Paul was indeed released from that incarceration, and in his trip back into central Asia Minor about 65 C.E. he met with strong resistance to his teaching from those to whom he preached (2 Timothy 3:11).

But as Paul taught in Philippians, those who are now “in Christ” in the teaching of “the Mystery” are ordained to sit on the very throne of God in heaven (on the right side of the Father himself). That is correct; those who understand “the Mystery” are promised to inherit a rule with Christ over the entirety of this universe! Or, as Paul taught in Ephesians:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings [i.e. not a few blessings but ALL spiritual blessings] in the heavenlies in Christ.”

This is what the basic teaching of “the Mystery” is all about. We are truly destined to sit on the right hand of the Father in heaven and govern the totality of this universe with Him and with Christ.

The Timing of the Mystery’s Reception

Let us now ask an important question regarding the time “the Mystery” was first given to mankind. How can one know when this new revelation was made known to Paul? There is no difficulty in this. A historical survey of Paul’s writings provide the information. We should realize that the revelation of “the Mystery” is found in two main epistles of Paul (Ephesians and Colossians) and in the last three verses of the Book of Romans, which were added to Romans after “the Mystery” was disclosed. 5

Paul told the “Ephesians” (actually, Laodiceans) that a revelation containing this new teaching had just been given to him and he wondered whether they had yet heard it,

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

Though Paul had not met them face-to-face, these people had long been Christians because some of Paul’s professional companions were from their area (Colossians 4:9, 12). Paul’s querying them IF they had yet heard “the Mystery” shows its revelation had come to Paul only recently and he was not sure IF his readers yet knew of it. Though they had long ago heard the original Christian message (the partial Gospel), Paul told them that this revelation of “the Mystery” had not been disclosed to previous ages or generations as it was NOW made known to him and others (Ephesians 3:5 above; see also Colossians 1:26, “but now is made manifest to his saints”). This was mature teaching that most of the Christian world had not yet heard.

When was this brand new teaching given to Paul? We can find out by determining when the twin epistles of Ephesians and Colossians (written at the same occasion) were composed by Paul. There are several ways of showing the time of composition, which I explain at length in Restoring the Original Bible, mentioned above. While the whole world (the whole sphere of earth) had been shown the signs of the zodiacal story of Christ (Romans 10:18), it remained that Paul’s teaching to all the Gentile world assigned to him for evangelization was only accomplished by Paul once he taught in Spain (Romans 15:24, 28). Now, with the disclosure and teaching of “the Mystery,” he stated that all the Gentile world assigned to him had been given the Gospel including “the Mystery.”

“... whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and brings forth fruit, as it does also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.”

“If you continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”

“But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the command­ment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

Thus, with Paul being released from prison in Rome about 61 C.E. to go to Spain, “the Mystery” had to have been revealed after he began his journey to Spain (i.e. after 61/62 C.E.).

A Sign to the World

It is important to realize that THE WHOLE WORLD was given a sign from God (an astronomical sign of some kind) which Paul talked about in his letter to the Romans (Romans 10:18). He said:

“But I say, have they [Israelites and all the people on earth] heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

Paul was quoting Psalm 19 in his teaching that THE WHOLE WORLD had somehow been given an astronomical message [“words”] about the glorification of Christ by the Sabbatical Year of 55/56 C.E.

Since Psalm 19 (the quote Paul referred to) was speaking about astronomical signs — especially those involving the Sun — something must have happened in the heavens to witness to the world about the Gospel of Christ that virtually ALL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD must have observed. Whatever the “astronomical words” were that all the world heard from the heavenly bodies must have been so well known by people all over the earth that Paul simply called attention to the event without comment in Romans 10:18. This must have been a well-known astronomical sign.

Christ said he would give signs in the heavens (Luke 21:25), but what was this sign? Whatever it was, Paul saw a fulfillment of Psalm 19 in it. The principal heavenly body of Psalm 19 is the Sun. David symbolically called it a:

“... bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the earth [in the east]. and his circuit unto the ends of it [in the west, then back to the east]: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

Since Paul said Psalm 19 was fulfilled already when he wrote the Book of Romans, the symbol of the Sun as the bridegroom must have been telling Paul (and the world) something of a symbolic nature to watch for. Christ had been called “the day-spring from on high” (Luke 1:78, a symbol of the Sun), and now we find this “day-spring” in his role as a bridegroom — as a man now having the responsibility to take a wife.

In the teaching of “the Mystery” (as I will show in “Part B” below), the ekklesia is no longer simply espoused to Christ as Paul taught in the partial Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:2); now Christ has come as the bridegroom to marry the ekklesia. With the revelation of “the Mystery” that “marriage” has already taken place, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). So, the astronomical sign involving the Sun that Paul spoke of in Romans 10:18 (written in the Sabbatical Year of 55/56 C.E.) about the bridegroom being ready for marriage was fulfilled a short time later (during the next Sabbatical Year of 62/63 C.E.) when “the Mystery” was revealed to Paul and others. The ekklesia then had become “married” to Christ (Ephesians 5:32). This shows that something occurred to change the status of the ekklesia from being “espoused” to being “married.”

This information could help a great deal in interpreting a very puzzling section of scriptural teaching given by Paul. He gave a chronological creed for Christians who now understood “the Mystery.” Note what Paul said in 1 Timothy,

“Without controversy great is the Mystery of godliness: God [or “He,” that is, “Christ”] was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

Though all the verbs are aorist (without time limits) the chronological aspect within these creedal statements of Paul are striking.

This glorification was the latest of these events to occur.

When was Christ received up into a glory in which all the world gave Him a recognition of some kind? Read Revelation 5:12–13 for such exaltation to a glory that THE WHOLE WORLD in some fashion acknowledged,

“Saying with a loud voice,

‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.’

 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying,

‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever [ages of the ages].’”

The apostle John recorded this exaltation to glory some time around the year 60 C.E. when the Book of Revelation was first written. This reception (Christ being received up into glory) occurred after the astronomical sign which all the world witnessed referred to by Paul in Romans 10:18. Thus, the full teaching of “the Mystery” must have come to Paul and others near the Sabbatical Year of 62/63 C.E. 6

A Final Proof

There is further proof that “the Mystery” was given to Paul and the other apostles after 61 C.E. In all the epistles of Paul written prior to 61 C.E. (including Hebrews which was written in 61 C.E.), he wrote of the soon expectancy of the Second Advent of Christ. Indeed, in Hebrews he wrote that it was “very, very near” (10:37 with a double emphasis on its nearness). But in Ephesians, Colossians and the Pastoral Epistles there is no appeal for any urgency whatever in regard to the Second Advent.

When “the Mystery” was revealed, Paul knew that Christ would not come in that generation. Even in the epistle to the Philippians, Paul’s phrase that the Lord is near is in a spatial context (not a time context) and he meant that the Lord would always be nearby when one would need him. Again, see my book Restoring the Original Bible for proof that Paul changed his mind about the soon arrival of Christ’s Second Advent. His change of mind came near the time of the Sabbatical Year of 62/63 C.E. Indeed, one of the reasons for the revelation of “the Mystery” was to replace the eschatological expectation of Christ’s soon advent with the spiritual teaching of “the Mystery,” which showed that physical religious expectations were not of paramount importance in God’s economy of things.

Part “B”

Contrasts between “The Mystery” and the Earlier Gospel of Christ

While all the principal features of the first Gospel are retained in “the Mystery,” this latest and final teaching of Christ ELABORATES and FILLS TO THE TOP the first teachings. “The Mystery” is an EXPANSION and a COMPLETION of the doctrinal factors that made up the first Gospel given by Christ and the early apostles — including the earlier teachings of Paul himself. This later interpretation MAGNIFIES and FINALIZES the fullness of the doctrine of God when the teaching of “the Mystery” was given in the Sabbatical Year of 62/63 C.E.

There is no such thing as “dispensational teaching” in this mature revelation. In no way did God wait to see if Israel would accept one Gospel before giving another. This is not another Gospel. The Mystery is simply an EXPANSION and FINALIZATION of the original Gospel of Christ. Revealing the great “Secret” merely brings out the full teaching of God in Christ intended by the Father at the beginning. This is the message that was meant to be given to the whole world (including both Israelites and Gentiles) before Adam and Eve were ever created.

God simply kept it secret from the knowledge of the world (and from those in heaven) until the apostles were MATURE enough in the faith to bear it. In order to better see the contrasts between the doctrines given in the first 33 years of teaching the Gospel (when only a partial Gospel was dispensed) and the FULL and COMPLETE Gospel given with the revelation of “the Mystery,” the pre-Mystery revelation (the partial Gospel) is given with regular type while the FULL and COMPLETE Gospel of “the Mystery” is given in bold.

Contrast Number One

1. Earlier Gospel. The apostle Peter said that Christians should “grow in grace and in knowledge” (2 Peter 3:18) and Christ himself taught,

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all the truth.”

1. Mystery. Paul said that the revelation of “the Mystery” was a message,

TO FILL UP the word of God, the Mystery that was hidden from the ages and from the generations, but is NOW manifested to his saints.”

Paul taught that “the Mystery” FILLED UP or COMPLETED the word of God to the world as God’s final doctrines of the Gospel. This was the teaching that Christ told the apostles about that they in their early stage of spiritual growth could not then bear (John 16:12–13). But with the Sabbatical Year of 62/63 C.E., the time had come to reveal the FINAL and COMPLETE Gospel of Christ. By this time, the apostles should have been able to bear this MATURE doctrine. This final teaching showed how Christ is “the FULNESS of the Godhead bodily, and you [Christians] are COMPLETE in Him” (Colossians 2:9–10).

Contrast Number Two

2.   Earlier Gospel. In the first Gospel, the tribes of the commonwealth of Israel were the only people on earth who had the covenants of promise and all Gentiles were reckoned as aliens to Israel. All people except Israelites were cut off from the promises of salvation “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). To be saved from 30 C.E. to 62/63 C.E., the Gentiles (though they did not have to be circumcised) were required to accept Christ and be grafted into Israel (Romans 11:11–25). All people had to become “Israelites” by their attachment to Christ who was the perfect Israelite. If people were not reckoned as “Israelites” (or children of Abraham), they could not be saved. But being “in Christ” made them “Israelites” and inheritors of the promises given to Abraham.

2.   Mystery. With “the Mystery,” however, being an Israelite ceased to be important. Now both Israelites and Gentiles are joined together to form “one new man” [a new type of human] who is neither Jew, Greek, or whatever (Colossians 3:10–11) and both together as a new man have become joint heirs, joint bodied, and joint partakers of the promise IN CHRIST (Ephesians 3:6). But now, being “in Christ” does not make one an Israelite or an heir of Abraham. One is now an heir of Christ solely, and will receive all that Christ (as the divine Son of God) is entitled to, and not simply what Abraham is entitled to. Now, all people in Christ have become the “new man” and they now have a heavenly citizenship (not a citizenship in the commonwealth of Israel). Now we are all sitting in Christ on the very throne of God at the Father’s right hand (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1).

Contrast Number Three

3.   Earlier Gospel. Being “in Christ” in the partial Gospel provided several blessings to the recipients. Israelites by being “in Christ” were made “pure Israelites” and Gentiles were made to be “spiritual (and also pure) Israelites.” All were also made to be true children of Abraham. Through baptism, all were accounted “dead” in Christ and as having come out of the water of death to be reckoned as “resurrected” in Christ. They were then reckoned to be in a legally resurrected state and awaiting the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged for their sins on earth (Romans 14:10–11; 2 Corinthians 5:10–11).

After this future Judgment (to determine what positions people would have in the Kingdom of God), all were finally promised to be a part of the New Covenant marriage to be given to Israel just after the Second Advent. Their positions in that Kingdom were to be decided in accord with their deeds on earth that the future Judgment would determine (1 Corinthians 3:11–15). The reason that all early Christians partook of the Lord’s Supper was in anticipation of the future marriage to Christ after they passed the Judgment Seat of Christ.

During this life, however, all Christians were to remain in an espousal state with Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2) until after the Judgment by Christ and then the great marriage supper would occur. Being “in Christ” during the period when the first Gospel was taught (though that partial Gospel was glorious and wonderful), the guarantees of the Gospel WENT NO FURTHER THAN THESE PROMISES. In the partial Gospel taught in the first 33 years of proclaiming Christian doctrine, all the assurances of salvation and rewards in the Kingdom were solidly anchored only to those promises given to Abraham and to Israel. At that time, being “in Christ” gave one the right to be reckoned a “pure and virgin Israelite” and to inherit the promises given to lsrael (Ephesians 2:12–18).

3.   Mystery. But with "the Mystery," one being “in Christ” made both an Israelite and a Gentile to be a “new man” [a new humanity]not simply a pure and virgin Israelite. In the Mystery one’s citizen­ship is in heaven, not simply to be an Israelite on earth (Philippians 3:20). With “the Mystery,” Christians are reckoned as now married (not espoused) to Christ (Ephesians 5:32) and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19–22). All in “the Mystery” who are “in Christ” are not only regarded as going back to Abraham as their father, but they go back farther — to being in Christ before the world’s foundation, long before Abraham was born (Ephesians 1:3–13; 2 Timothy 1:9). And since all people who die are to be judged for their lives on earth (Romans 14:10–11; 2 Corinthians 5:10–11), this also included Christ (Hebrews 9:26).

But the Father found nothing wrong with Christ in His Judgment. God sat Christ on his right hand in glory and places us in the same position (Ephesians 2:6; 1:3; Colossians 3:1–4). We passed the Judgment with Christ and we by-passed all the lesser Kingdom promises of ruling over a few cities (Luke 19:17–19), or maybe a nation (Matthew 19:28), or even ruling over all nations on earth (Revelation 5:10). We go to the highest position of all, on the Father’s right hand ruling the entire universe with Christ (Ephesians 2:6).

Our rule occurs within the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3). Paul firmly believed at the conclusion of his ministry that his exaltation in Christ would be to inherit “the heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18), not alone the one on earth during the Millennium. Indeed, we are even now regarded as joint bodied with Christ (Ephesians 3:6) and this places us right now in a legal sense within the Godhead bodily:

“For in him [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, AND YOU ARE COMPLETE IN HIM.”

In other words, we are accounted by the Father as having passed the Judgment (that all people have to endure) and we are already sitting in Christ as a deified person on the right hand of the Father. Of course, we do not yet possess the power of the Godhead, but when we are resurrected from the dead, we will pass through the Judgment without a word being said because we already went through that ordained Judgment with Christ and we are now assured the same grace and position that Christ now enjoys.

Contrast Number Four

4.   Earlier Gospel. In the partial Gospel it was possible to miss out on inheriting the promises of the New Covenant. If Israelites or Gentiles persisted in unbelief and sinful ways in a deliberate and premeditated way in order to spite the Father and Christ, they were told that they would not inherit the Kingdom of God, though they would finally experience salvation (1 Corinthians 3:10–15; 5:5; Hebrews 10:16–31) — the sanctification of a person in Christ has perfected all people forever (Hebrews 10:14). But one can miss out on the reward of experiencing the Kingdom of God which will start with the first resurrection at Christ’s Second Advent if one persists in unrepentant and premeditated sins designed to spite God and his ways.

4. Mystery. Those who understand the teaching of “the Mystery” can also miss experiencing the first resurrection and being in the Kingdom of God (earthly or heavenly) if one persists in unrepentant and premeditated sins that are designed to spite God and his ways. Though all people will eventually receive salvation in Christ, 7 a person even though he or she understands “the Mystery” can still miss out by not receiving their salvation at the resurrection associated with the Second Advent.

Paul said that his desire was to have a part in “the out-resurrection out of the dead” (Philippians 3:11, see the Greek). Paul was talking about the “earlier” resurrection (i.e. the first resurrection) which takes place at Christ’s Second Advent. Paul also warned the Ephesians (to whom he taught “the Mystery”) that a proper and reasonable conduct was necessary on their part in order to inherit the Kingdom phase of God and Christ along with salvation (Ephesians 5:3–5). So even in the mature Gospel of “the Mystery,” Christians are warned to live with a reasonable conduct if they hope to achieve the “out-resurrection” (the first resurrection) at Christ’s Second Advent.

Contrast Number Five

5.   Earlier Gospel. In the partial teaching of the Gospel in the first 33 years of Christian doctrinal development, the physical Israelites continued to circumcise their sons, people were baptized on their conversion to Christ, and they kept the Sabbaths and the Lord’s Supper on the eve of Passover. The apostles were also recognized as mediators involving doctrines associated with conduct and eating (or not eating) certain things (Acts 15). The apostles as mediators were even able to forgive sins (Matthew 16:19; 18:18; John 20:22).

During the partial Gospel, the apostles reckoned that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised if they were in Christ because Abraham received the promise in an uncircumcised state. But Gentiles were still required to be baptized, refrain from certain foods, and keep the Lord’s Supper as a token of their espousal to Christ so they could inherit the promises given to Israel.

5.   Mystery. All that changed with “the Mystery.” No longer are human mediators needed — including human apostles or hierarchical ministers (1 Timothy 2:4–6). Being “in Christ” in the COMPLETE and FULL doctrine of God makes both Israelites and Gentiles reckoned together as a “new man” who is no longer an Israelite or a Gentile (Colossians 3:10–11). We are now viewed as having been “in Christ” from before the world’s foundation (Ephesians 1:3–13).

When Christ entered the world, we entered with him. When Christ was circumcised at eight days of life, we are recognized by the Father as having been circumcised at the same time (Colossians 2:11). When Christ was baptized by John the Baptist, the Father reckons us as also being baptized by John (Colossians 2:12), and this is the “one baptism” that the Father accepts — not our own physical baptisms (Ephesians 4:5).

When Christ was crucified, we were regarded as crucified with him (Colossians 3:3). When Christ was resurrected we were deemed as resurrected with him (Colossians 2:13; 3:1). When Christ passed the Judgment Seat of God, we victoriously passed that Judgment Seat with him and are now accounted worthy (with Christ) to sit on the Father’s right hand (Ephesians 2:6).

In truth, Christ became a SUBSTITUTE for us in all requirements that God has ever made for mankind. Being “in Christ” in the FULL and COMPLETE teaching of “the Mystery” means we have met all the requirements of the Father in a perfect way. This is the Good News (the Gospel) that Christ told Paul (and Christ tells us) to teach to all the world.

Ernest L. Martin, November 1992
Edited by David Sielaff, January 2004


1 This article was originally published in November 1992. See an earlier article by Dr. Martin, “The Mystery and the New Covenant” from May 1992 at: http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d920501.pdf.

2 For the full discussion of this concept in book length form, see Dr. Martin’s Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (Portland, OR: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 2001)

3 The rejection of this concept of deification was no doubt a reaction against the pagan concept of deification, which was completely wrong and not based on a biblical understanding. See Dr. Martin’s expositions on the ridiculous idea of deification from a pagan perspective in “The Secret of Ancient Religion Revealed, Part 1” (www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030201.htm) and its companion article, “The Secret of Ancient Religion Revealed, Part 2” (www.askelm.com/doctrine/d030301.htm)

4 For a full discussion on salvation being a person’s deification (and how almost all the early scholars in Christendom understood it that way), read my research study “Salvation and the Biblical Doctrine of Deification” which can be ordered from A.S.K.

5 See Dr. Martin’s book Restoring the Original Bible, pages 253–254 where this and additional points are discussed.

6 See chapter 20 “When Was the Book of Revelation Written?” in Dr. Martin’s book Restoring the Original Bible for information on the dating of the first time that the Book of Revelation was given.  DWS

7 See my research study “The Way to Salvation in the Christian Gospel” at www.askelm.com/doctrine/d890101.htm where this is explained.  ELM

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