New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:4 mystery. The term “mystery” in New Testament times was familiarly associated with the “mystery religions” of the Graeco/Roman world. The initiates in these cults were given access to the pantheistic and occultistic secrets of the spirit world, which were hidden from ordinary adherents of those cults. These secrets were popularly practiced in the polytheistic idolatry devoted to various gods and goddesses representing the different forces and systems of nature. Christ and the apostles adapted the term to refer to God’s plans which previously had been kept secret from His people in earlier dispensations, except in types and shadows, but were now being revealed in all their fullness and grandeur. In Ephesians the term “mystery” is used several times (e.g., Ephesians 1:9; 3:3,4,9; 5:32; 6:19). In this particular passage, it refers to the uniting of both Jewish and Gentile believers in one great body in Christ. This theme is especially developed in Ephesians 2:11-22 and Ephesians 3:6-11. But note also that the “fellowship” of this mystery includes all of those contemplated by God from the creation itself (Ephesians 3:9).