This post accompanies the sermon on 3/2/2014 entitled Christ-centered Leadership.
What is this mystery that Paul speaks of in Colossians 1:26, 1:27, and 2:2? It is not a secret available to only some, as now it has been revealed to all the saints. In fact, the meaning of the world "mystery" in this context seems to mean something that cannot be discovered by human intellect, but which must be revealed by God. So what was revealed by God?
To understand you need to know that Jews in Jesus day were looking forward to the Day of the Lord; when God would rescue Israel, hold everyone accountable for their misdeeds, and raise the righteous to eternal life. And Paul was waiting for this Day like everyone else.
To Paul the mystery is that God’s rescue of the Jewish people is not a literal day, but an age, during which an ingathering of all the nations (the Greek word ethne translated "Gentiles" literally means "nations") would take place. And God’s glory is displayed in gentiles through “Christ in you.” So the Day of the Lord is the world age we currently live in. It is an expression of God's patience precisely so that all the elect may come to faith in Christ.
But how can gentile and Jew alike be included in the people of God? Not by good works. Not by obeying the Jewish law. But by trusting in the finished work of Christ, believing that they are NOT good enough to earn God’s favor, but relying on Christ to be included in the people of God by faith.
In the OT suffering and persecution always accompany the Day of the Lord. That's why Paul rejoices in suffering, because it is a sign that the Old is passing away and the New Creation is dawning.
In the kingdom, God's patience is not for people to start acting right. Patience is for people to realize that they will never be good enough and to trust in Christ. This is the essence of the mystery.