Extending James Jordan's observations, posted here earlier today: When Paul talks about the "mystery" revealed in the gospel in Ephesians, he does not confine it to the redemption of sinners from sin. The secret/mystery that had been hidden is about the "summing up of all things in Christ" (1:10) and the inclusion of Gentiles as "fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, fellow partakers of the promise" (3:6). Jesus does indeed redeem through His blood by which we are forgiven (1:7), but this is not the specific content of the mystery. The specific content of the mystery is God's "summation" of all in Christ, and specifically the inclusion of the Gentiles.
And this mystery is called the "mystery of the gospel" (6:19).
6:19 is one of four places in Ephesians where Paul uses the word "gospel." In 1:13, it is the gospel of salvation, which means rescue from death and sin. Elsewhere, it has a specific reference to the inclusion of Gentiles. 3:6 explains the mystery as the incorporation of Gentiles, "through the gospel," and 6:15 speaks of the "gospel of peace," which in Ephesians means the good news of peace between Jews and Gentiles (2:14-18).
In short, in Ephesians at least, Paul does not associate "gospel" merely with "justification" or "forgiveness." In most of the uses, it's associated with the "mystery," which is broader than justification and forgiveness. The mystery of the gospel, God's secret now openly told in the gospel, has to do with the union of all things in heaven and earth in Christ; it has to do with the union of the heavenly people (Jews) and the earthly people (Gentiles) into one new man who stretches between heaven and earth.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 04:20 PM
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