“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27)
“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him.” (Ephesians 3:8-12) [emphases not in original texts]
In the Pauline corpus of writings, there are numerous references to Christ being God’s mystery hidden from all eternity and which God now reveals in Jesus. The mystery is a revelation about the nature of God – God is Trinity. The mystery is a revelation about God’s own abilities to limit Himself and to enter into His creation in the incarnation. They mystery is about what a human is – capable of being united to divinity, capable of sharing the divine life. All of this we celebrate in the Feast of the Annunciation. One of the hymns from the prefeast of the Annunciation proclaims:
THE MYSTERY HIDDEN FROM ALL ETERNITY,
UNKNOWN EVEN BY THE ANGELS,
IS NOW ENTRUSTED TO THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL.
HE WILL COME TO YOU, PRECIOUS VESSEL;
HE WILL SALUTE YOU, CRYING IN JOY:
REJOICE, PURE DOVE! REJOICE, ALL HOLY ONE!
MAKE READY BY YOUR WORD TO CONCEIVE THE WORD OF GOD!
The time comes for God to reveal the mystery: His plan for humankind is theosis. It was always God’s plan to share the divine life with humanity. It is given to the Archangel Gabriel to announce this plan of salvation of God entering into His own creation: God becomes that which is “not God”! The Archangel comes from the throne of heaven to a backwater village, to an impoverished, young maiden. The Archangel must have been amazed himself to the surroundings he could see when talking to the Virgin. The incarnation defied belief, but then the very life God the Son embraced was poverty in the boondocks of Palestine. Yet this is the very place where God begins the salvation of the world.
“… I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me. For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 1:25-2:3)
“For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:9)