Prophecy and Mystery
PROPHECY AND MYSTERY OVERVIEW
Integral Component of Hermeneutics at the PMI Center
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1) and provided two distinct ordinances governing them: the ordinances of heaven and earth (Jeremiah 33:25).
When the Bible was written it was divided into Old Testament and New Testament, but the Bible is basically divided into two more well defined, descriptive terms, and these are prophecy and mystery.
Prophecy is basically the purpose God has for the earth and Christ’s reign upon it, which includes the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem (2 Peter 1: 16-19). This is the Kingdom of heaven that will in the future be set up on the earth, literally. The Mystery is that body of truth proclaimed by the Apostle Paul, concerning heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ in heaven, together there with Christ (Eph. 2:4-10, 3: 1-4).
The titles “Old Testament” and “New Testament” are not accurate descriptions of the two sections in the Bible that they represent. The Old Testament is really the old covenant of the law and was later titled “Old Testament” or old covenant. This covenant of the law was not even made until 2500 years of human history had taken place. The covenant of the law was given through Moses (John 1:17). It was given to the people of Israel through Moses at about 1500 B.C. as seen in Exodus 19 and 20. But what was the system of government before Moses? What about the time from Adam to Moses? There was “no law” or “old testament” from the time of Adam until the time of Moses (Rom. 5:13-14). The covenant of the law had not yet been given in the period of time between Adam and Moses. Technically this means that the book of Genesis does not have one word of the Old Testament, or old covenant of the law, in it. There are some Jewish people today who believe that the Old Testament is for the Jews and the New Testament is for the gentiles. If that were true . . . then who is the book of Genesis for? Since Israel did not even begin as a nation until after she was delivered by God and Moses from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.
Mankind lived under the Dispensation of Conscience from Adam to Noah and then the minor Dispensation of Human Government once Noah and his family survived the Great Flood and human government was set up for the first time. A dispensation is a program that God administers or dispenses out to mankind, the word “dispense” means to deal out. God never changes but the dispensations or programs He deals out to man have changed throughout human history.
The New Testament or new covenant in actuality was not made until the death of Christ on the cross, ” . . . He is the Mediator of the new testament (covenant) that by means of death . . . they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). Also in (Luke 22:20) “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you”. This means that the major part of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were all actually under the Old Testament rather than New Testament history and that the Lord Jesus and the disciples were all under the old covenant at that time. Both the old and new testaments were made WITH THE NATION ISRAEL, not the church. The new covenant promises that Israel in the near future will render the obedience that was required of her under the old covenant (Deut. 5:1-3) (Jeremiah 31:31).
The separating of the Bible between the Old Testament and New Testament is really not a very accurate division. What most Bible readers fail to realize is that most of the written Gospel accounts are a continuation of the OT narrative since the New Covenant didn’t come into existence until ratified by the death of the Testator, Christ (Heb. 9:16-17). The The most descriptive, most accurate and most important division in the Bible is between “prophecy” and the great “mystery” which was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul. Again, “prophecy” is the purpose God has for the EARTH and Christ’s reign upon it. The “mystery” is that body of truth proclaimed by the Apostle Paul concerning the Body of Christ in HEAVEN.
The very first words in the Bible state: “In the beginning God created the HEAVEN and the EARTH” (Gen. 1:1). It does not say God created the UNIVERSE; it does not say God created the heavens and the earth as many people make the mistake of saying. It says God created the HEAVEN and the EARTH. This is because He has a special purpose concerning the earth which is completely different from His purpose concerning heaven. His purpose that concerns the earth has to do with Christ’s future reign upon it, and this is the subject of “prophecy” (2 Peter 1:16-19). His purpose for heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ there with the Lord Jesus Christ is the subject of the “mystery” (Ephesians 2:4-10, 3:1-4). This is why the Bible is really divided into two great subjects: Prophecy and Mystery [A full explanation of Prophecy and Mystery available FREE in CR Stam’s insightful book: Things that Differ].
What is at the heart of Prophecy? The Messianic kingdom; that is, the “kingdom of heaven” which was spoken of by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ and the twelve disciples, which will be set up on the EARTH; (Matt. 3:1-2, 4:17, 10:5-7). Since the “kingdom of heaven” is not yet established on the earth, it will be set up in the near future when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, returns to the earth on the Mount of Olives, then on to Jerusalem at the Second Advent and sets up His kingdom and reign upon THE EARTH for one thousand years. This is also called the Millennium. The main purpose or the main goal of prophecy is the establishment of the “kingdom of heaven” upon THE EARTH (Rom. 11:25-29). The Messianic Kingdom will be set up on THE EARTH: (Psalms 2:8) “I shall give Thee . . . the uttermost parts of THE EARTH for Thy possession”. (Jeremiah. 23:5) “A King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in THE EARTH”. The Lord Jesus Christ who is the second member of the Godhead, who is God, will rule as God, from Jerusalem and He will reign over the entire world. It will be a theocracy. “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Isaiah 7:14) (Matt. 1:23). “And His name shall be called . . . The mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6). “The Lord shall be King over all THE EARTH” (Zech. 14:9).
God’s purpose concerning HEAVEN and the exaltation of the Body of Christ there with the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Body, is the subject of “The Mystery”. What is the Mystery? There are many mysteries in the Bible, but this refers to “THE MYSTERY” which is that great body of truth given to the Apostle Paul by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ, from heaven. The “kingdom of heaven” one day being set up on the earth and the coming Messiah was well known and prophesied by the holy prophets. But, the Body of Christ with its heavenly calling and position was not prophesied. Nothing, not even one mention can be found in the pages of prophecy about the Body of Christ. God kept this a complete secret until the proper time when He brought the Body of Christ into existence, revealing THE MYSTERY only to the Apostle Paul. (Rom. 16:25) “kept secret since the world began”. Then also in (Ephesians 3:9) “from the beginning of the world . . . hid in God”. “hid from ages and from generations” (Col.1:26).
The nation Israel was temporarily set aside along with the unbelieving Gentiles. “Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for” (Rom. 11:7). “Because of unbelief they were broken off” (Rom. 11:12). A new dispensation was slowly being brought in and mercy was shown to all. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all (Rom. 11:32). “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek (gentile)” (Rom. 10:12-13). No longer is the gospel of the kingdom proclaimed, but the gospel of the Grace of God, which is Christ’s finished work on the cross. The Apostle Paul declared “the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD” and “THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD which is given me to you-ward” (Acts 20:24) (Ephesians 3:2).
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth – Proper Biblical Hermeneutics
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
As you probably know, improperly dividing the Word of truth is the cause for more heresy and misunderstanding than any other single factor I know of. For instance, there are vast distinctions between things given to Israel by prophecy (Promised Land, Davidic Covenant, etc), and those given to the church- not by prophecy, but by the revelation of hidden mysteries given to Paul (Col. 1:26)- such as the mystery of Christ in His Body, the Church (Eph. 1:9-10; 5:32; Col. 1:26-27), the blindness of Israel (Rom. 11:25), the rapture of the church (1 Cor. 15:51-53). These components remain unseen to those who simply divide the bible into Old and New Testaments. Dispensational scholar Cornelius Stam writes:
The supposition that the most important division of the Bible is that between the Old and New Testaments has often been expressed in the statement: “The Old Testament is for the Jews; the New Testament is for us.” This is quite incorrect, however.
First of all, the titles Old Testament and New Testament are not accurate designations of the two sections of the Bible which they are supposed to represent. To the Apostle Paul was committed the greatest revelation of all time: “the mystery,” the secret of the gospel and of God’s eternal purpose (Col. 1:25,26). To him was entrusted “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-3). His ministry superseded that of Peter and the eleven as, upon Israel’s continued rejection of Christ and His kingdom, he became the apostle to the nations (Rom. 11:13). Solemn recognition was given to this fact by the leaders of the twelve (including Peter himself) as they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, acknowledging Paul’s divine commission to go to the Gentiles, and agreeing thenceforth to confine their own ministry to Israel (Gal. 2:2,7,9). In connection with this commission Paul was also the divinely appointed minister of the Church of the present dispensation, “the Body of Christ” (Col. 1:24,25).1 No other Bible writer has one single word to say about “the Church which is [Christ’s] Body.” None of the other apostles mention it. Not only would we seek in vain for such phraseology in their writings, but we would seek in vain for any discussion of the subject, for they do not discuss the Church of which believers today are members. But Paul, who wrote more of the books of the Bible than any other writer, deals consistently with those truths which concern “the Church which is His Body” (Eph. 1:19-23).
The Revelation Lost Sight Of
But this great revelation and the glorious truths associated with it have been largely lost to the professing Church. The Church of Rome ignores the facts we have stated above, though they are clearly set forth in her own translations of the Bible. She insists that the true Church of today is a perpetuation of that which was founded by Christ while on earth; a kingdom to be established on earth, over which Peter and the eleven were appointed to be heads and rulers during His absence. And even though our Lord said nothing about a prolonged absence or of any succession of such rulers, Rome declares that her present pope is a successor to Peter and, as such, the Vicar of Christ and supreme Head of the Church on earth [Editor’s Note: this is blasphemy]. Consistent with this she holds that she is laboring to fulfill the “great commission” given to Peter and the eleven, requiring water baptism for the remission of sins and claiming to possess miraculous powers. But Protestantism, while boasting freedom from the tyranny of Rome, has by no means emerged entirely from the shadows of the dark ages. She still suffers a Roman hangover. While renouncing papal authority, she nevertheless still clings to the Roman teaching that the Church of today is a perpetuation of that to which our Lord referred in Matthew 16:16-18 and that it is God’s kingdom on earth [Editor’s Note: this is a Satanic heresy called Replacement Theology]. She too seeks to carry out the “great commission” given to Peter and the eleven, though half-heartedly, for she cannot make up her mind whether water baptism is or is not necessary to the remission of sins and is also confused and disagreed as to whether or not she possesses the miraculous powers of what she calls the “great commission.” Martin Luther, under God, shook Europe to its foundations with a partial recovery of Pauline truth, but the Protestant Church has done little to further that recovery, so that rather than recognizing the distinctive character of Paul’s position as our apostle, most Protestants think of him simply as one of the apostles, along with Peter and the eleven. In taking so short a step away from Rome the Protestant Church has assumed a very weak position, for if Paul is to be considered as one with the twelve, Rome can easily prove that Peter, not Paul, was appointed as their chief (See Matt. 16:19; Acts 1:15; 2:14,38; 5:29, etc.). We will now contrast Prophecy (for Israel) and with Mystery for the church also by Stam, first by defining each:
Prophecy: That which was spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. It pertains to specific promises of God to and through the nation of Israel. All of those promises are in an earthly setting. They are both literal and visible.
Mystery: The preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, until the Lord gave to the Apostle Paul an abundance of visions and revelations about the heavenly aspects of God’s purpose and plan. (Definitions from AV1611.com)
Contrasting Prophecy and Israel
- Concerns a kingdom; a political organization (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 6:10).
- The kingdom to be established on earth (Jer. 23:5; Matt. 6:10).
- Christ to be its King (Jer. 23:5; Isa. 9:6,7).
- The kingdom prophesied “since the world began” (Luke 1:68-70; Acts 3:21).
- Israel to be given supremacy over the nations (Isa. 60:10-12; 61:6).
- The Gentiles to be blessed through Israel’s instrumentality (Gen. 22:17,18; Zech. 8:13).
- The Gentiles to be blessed through Israel’s rise (Isa. 60:1-3; Zech. 8:22,23).
- Prophecy mainly concerns nations as such (Isa.2:4; Ezek. 37:21,22).
- Prophecy concerns blessings, both material and spiritual,on earth (Isa. 2:3,4; 11:1-9; etc.).
- Prophecy concerns Christ’s coming to the earth (Isa. 59:20; Zech. 14:4).
- In prophecy salvation by grace through faith alone is not contemplated.
- The proclamation of the prophetic program com- mitted particularly to the twelve (Matt. 10:5-7; Acts 1:6-8; 3:19-26).
- The prophetic program revealed through many of God’s servants (Luke 1:70; II Pet. 1:21).
- Old testament writers frequently did not understand the prophecies made known through them (Dan. 12:8-10; I Pet. 1:10-12).
Mystery and the Church
- Concerns a body; a living organism (I Cor. 12:12,27; Eph. 4:12-16).
- The body given a position in heaven (Eph. 1:3; 2:5-6; Col. 3:1-3).
- Christ its living Head (Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:18).
- The body chosen in Christ before the world began, but “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:4-11; 3:5-9).
- Jew and Gentile placed on the same level before God (Rom. 10:12; 11:32; Eph. 2:16,17).
- The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s obstinacy (Acts 13:44-46; Rom. 11:28-32).
- The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s fall (Acts 28:27,28; Rom. 11:11,12,15).
- The mystery concerns individuals (Rom. 10:12,13; II Cor. 5:14-17).
- The mystery concerns “all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies” (Eph. 1:3; Col. 3:1-3).
- The mystery explains Christ’s present absence from the earth (Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 3:1-3).
- Salvation by grace through faith alone lies at the very heart of the mystery (Rom. 3:21-26; 4:5; Eph. 2:8,9).
- The proclamation of the mystery committed particularly to Paul (Eph. 3:1-3,8,9; Col. 1:24-27).
- The mystery revealed through one man: Paul (Gal. 1:1,11,12; 2:2,7,9; Eph. 3:2,3).
- Paul both understood and longed that others might understand the mystery revealed through him (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Col. 1:9-10; 2:1-3).
[A full explanation of Prophecy and Mystery available FREE in CR Stam’s insightful book: Things that Differ].
More info: Things that are Different
Rightly Dividing Between God’s Two Overarching Programs:
Prophecy and Mystery (scroll down for videos)
Dr. Mike Johnston, Editor
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
God has two overarching programs discussed fully in the videos below: One from prophecy for Israel and earth, and the other from mystery for the Body of Christ and heaven. Both of these programs have separate participants, purposes and ordinances (Jer. 33:25); existing “since the world began” (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25).
In the Providential panorama, all Scripture exists to either explain or enhance the propheticprogram for Israel concerning earth, or the mystery program for the Body of Christ concerning heaven.
The Prophecy program:
“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70). “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21).
The Mystery program:
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25).
How to Understand the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwOtKMO1h6s
How to Read and Understand your Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAxBpRzhTko&nohtml5=False
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0OEsGFOMBU&nohtml5=False
Synopsis of the Old Testament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LclLrTXCfxw
Synopsis of the New Testament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcg8xkZBXvg
Rightly Dividing and Following Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0abp15uLFT8
God’s Three Programs- Time past, but now, ages to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUhd5kMeHoQ
Complete Bible Overview in one hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVmCChH0MJE
001 Introduction to Right Division: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk0ie_Bzl1g
Hyper Dispensationalism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpgxaj8sXnI
Knowing God’s Timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2pq8FRYKI8
Rightly Dividing the Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4GQB4UOpMk
Rightly Dividing of the Dispensations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAy0G9x8EYI
Matthew 24 Explained Rightly Divided Proving PreTribulation Rapture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxIUpkLi7Ck
The Grace Message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH8qy5NCwXw
Standing for the Truth of the Mystery is no easy task: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UMauSZj-Vw
Thy Kingdom Come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ii0y0BVpEUQ
Mystery Body of Christ – the Gospel of Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRwStPIDPNs
Only Paul’s Gospel Saves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcTI-T-SJAE
What is Satan Thinking About Right Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWdrQ3yVHa4&nohtml5=False
Ministries of Peter vs. Paul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQhaOCKswnk