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The Mysteries of the Bible

According to the dictionary Aulete the word "mystery" in the Portuguese language has several meanings, such as: all that one can not explain or understand, the sacraments and papal dogmas impenetrable to human reason and imposed as articles of faith, the body of knowledge allow the domain of art, art or science; secret religious cult which only started participating etc.

Neither conveys the exact meaning of the musterion Greek, which means a secret transmitted only to the initiated, or that is unknown until it is revealed, be it easy or difficult to understand. The idea of incomprehensibility, if implicit, is purely accidental. For better understanding we will briefly consider its use in ancient paganism and then examine more carefully their biblical usage:

•  No paganism

In the classic books in existence is found only once in the singular, but is often found in the plural ta mustēria, "the mysteries", the technical term for the secret rites and celebrations in the ancient religions known and practiced only by the initiated, as the Orphic Mysteries, associated with the name of Dionysus. In the Greek mysteries, we can mention the Egyptian cults of Isis and Serapis, and Persian Mithraism, which in the 3rd century AD. was widespread throughout the Roman Empire. The following are some of its main features:

Appealed more to emotions than to the intellect.
Aimed to provide a mystical union with a deity and a happy immortality.
Their rites are marked by profuse symbolism in word and action, preceded by purification rites by which practitioners had to go.
The cults surrounding a strict exclusivity.
The mysteries were not secret societies, but were open to all who were chosen to be started (except barbarians and criminals). According to Renan they formed a serious part of the pagan religion, were not devoid of noble elements, but also lent themselves to extravagances and serious abuses.
•  In the Old Testament

There were no mysteries of the above type in the worship of God. The entire ritual of the Mosaic law had the participation of ordinary people through their representatives, the priests. There was no ceremonial initiation system in which few had privileges denied to the majority, but the tribe of Levi provided the teachers who taught the people, those who served in the temple and the priests (who were descendants of Aaron, the Levite also).

" The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong unto us and our children forever "(Deuteronomy 29:29), far from requiring silence and secrecy, they should be openly proclaimed (Deuteronomy 6:7). However, " The Lord's advice is for those who fear Him, and He will shew them his covenant "(Psalm 25:14), ie, the Lord has reserved his intimacy to those who have true piety. The Greek word "musterion" occurs in the Septuagint Old Testament only in Daniel, where it appears several times as the translation of the Chaldean Raz, a hiding place or secret, referring to the king's dream, the meaning of which was revealed to Daniel (chapter 2:18-19, 27-30, 47, 4:9).

•  In the New Testament

The word Musterion singular and mustēria plural are found 28 times. In a recent version of Almeida is the word translated as "witness" in 1 Corinthians 2:1 and inexplicably omitted in Revelation 17:5. Fortunately the New International Version has corrected these two errors.

We can distinguish 10 different mysteries in the New Testament:

In the Gospels, was used by Jesus to tell His disciples of why people in general spoke in parables: " And He said unto them, Unto you it is given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything they are told in parables: that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, or they will be converted and be forgiven "(Mark 4:11-12, also Matthew 13:11-13 and Luke 8: 10). It was the fulfillment of prophecy in Isaiah 13:14-15, which states that this would be done because of the wickedness of the people, and is in accordance with Psalm 25:14 quoted above. The parables of the hidden meaning of those who look only to the literal sense, but is the revelation to those who hold the key to its interpretation: " To you is given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is tell them in parables "(Mark 4:11). This is the only time the word "mystery" is attributed to our Lord.
The same effect is found in Revelation 1:20; 17:5,7 and probably also in Ephesians 5:32, where the wedding is called "a mystery", ie, a symbol to be interpreted allegorically of Christ and His church .
The most common meaning in the New Testament "mystery" that is emphasized by the apostle Paul, that is, to be a divine truth hidden, but that has now been revealed in the Gospels. Romans 16:25 and 26 say briefly: " Him who is able to establish you, according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ as the revelation of the mystery hidden for ages ago, but now made manifest, and by the scriptures prophetic, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith . " This is the mystery of godliness that God kept secret from the beginning (1 Timothy 3:16, Romans 16:25), and is basic to understanding God's plan of salvation for all sinners by simple faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
The inclusion of Gentiles in the church (Ephesians 3:3-9). Dake notes that the fact that there was salvation to the Gentiles was no mystery, for the salvation of mankind had been planned from antiquity and the prophets also predicted their salvation (Romans 9:24-33, 10:19-21). The mystery hidden in God at all times past was that the Gentiles would be saved without observing the law, and that both Jews and Gentiles would be released from the law, being one body, the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; 3 :1-11, 4:11-16, 5:23-33, Colossians 1:18,24), formed by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27:31), under the new covenant in that all distinctions of privilege and blessing disappear (Ephesians 2:14-15, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27-28, Colossians 1:18-29, 3:10-11, Hebrews 11:10-16, 13:14, Revelation 21:9-10). This was a new revelation (Ephesians 3:1-9, Galatians 1:12, 2:2, 3:13-14).
The mystery of the seven stars and seven candlesticks (Revelation 1:20).
For only the church of Christ, the future resurrection of the dead and the transformation of the living in incorruptible bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
The mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
The future salvation of the entire remnant of Israel (Romans 11:25).
The scarlet woman, called "mystery" (Revelation 17:7).
In the fullness of time, to converge all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth (Ephesians 1:10).
The first half of the mysteries (to fifth) were not only revealed, but also met until today. The rest will be completed soon within the timescales set by God since the world began.

In conclusion, we see that the mysteries of the Bible are realities known in advance by God and revealed in due course to the wisdom of humanity, in contrast to the wisdom resulting from human philosophy (see especially 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 and compare Matthew 11:25) . The contrast is not that philosophy is humanly understandable as the mysteries are obscured, but that philosophy is a product of human intellectual inquiry as the mysteries are divine revelation and are spiritually discerned.

The Christian faith has no secret doctrines, because its mysteries are revelations made to mankind by God through His Spirit in a timely manner of things that He, knowing all, knew in advance. Some are not understood throughout the world, so the "secret" revealed a few seems to be hidden from others. The doctrines of Christ and his kingdom are hidden from the wise, understood and princes of the world (Matthew 11:25, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16), and all those outside the Kingdom (Matthew 13:11-17) , and there are deeper spiritual truths retained even Christians, while in the elementary stage of development (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Hebrews 5:11-14). On the other hand, there are many passages in which the truths of revelation is said to be communicated freely and without reservation to all (eg Matthew 10:27, 28:19-20, Acts 20:20,27, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:28, 1 Timothy 2:4). The explanation is that, if communication is limited, not because of any confidence in the gospel message itself or any reservation by the communicant, but the receptive capacity of the listener. In the case of those who have a carnal dullness of mind, moral or worldliness that makes them blind to the light that shines on them (2 Corinthians 4:2-4). In the case of " babes in Christ , "the book is apparently due only to the pedagogical principle of adapting education to the progressive receptiveness of the disciple (John 16:12). The strong language Matthew 13:11-15 Hebrew is due to the mode of expression by which an actual result is indicated as was intended. There is no esoteric doctrine or intentional reserves in the New Testament.