Sigurd Grindheim, «What the OT Prophets Did Not Know: The Mystery of the Church in Eph 3,2-13», Vol. 84 (2003) 531-553
The purpose of this essay is two-fold. First, it argues that the inclusion of the Gentiles is referred to as a previously unrevealed mystery because it is based upon the abrogation of the Mosaic law and entails a degree of nearness to the Lord that exceeds the expectations of the old covenant. Second, it addresses the question of authorship. Assuming Pauline authorship as a working hypothesis, it shows that the use of the concept of mystery in Eph 3 is intimately linked with Paul’s terminology and thought world attested in the undisputed letters. It is unwarranted, therefore, to find proof of a post-Pauline development in the use of the term "mystery" in Ephesians.
spirit"8. An absolute meaning of w(j is to be preferred, however. The point is that the mystery that Paul has in mind has not been made known in previous generations, but now it is revealed9. The same temporal contrast is taken up again in vv. 9-10. Here it is made clear that in previous times (a)po_ tw=n ai)w/nwn) the mystery was hidden, but now it is made known10. This interpretation is further confirmed by the omission of the comparative w(j in the parallel Col 1,2611. The question remains, therefore, in what sense could the inclusion of the Gentiles be described as a previously unknown mystery12?
3. The Wider Context
For clues regarding how to understand this mystery, we should examine Paul’s elaboration on the concept. The mystery is further described in what Paul has previously written about briefly (3,3b). Some commentators have suggested that this refers to his earlier letters or to a collection of Pauline letters but it is difficult to imagine that