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.
covenant people21. Their new status is described with imagery that underscores their newfound nearness to God, a nearness that is modeled upon, but yet exceeding that of Israel under the old covenant. V. 17 alludes to Isa 57,19 and 52,722. In contrast to the original context, however, where the promises are given to Israel, here they are applied to the believers. Paul is identifying the Gentile believers with the re-created Israel23. In 2,19 the ce/noi kai_ pa/roikoi probably reflect the Hebrew terms rg% and bw#$t@, which were used in the Old Testament for foreigners that stayed temporarily in Israel without becoming proselytes (Exod 12,45; Lev 25,45.47; Deut 14,21). As such they are apt terms to designate people that are excluded from the service of God. Now, however, the Gentile believers have become fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household. The access (prosagwgh/) now enjoyed by the Gentiles, as well as the Jews (v. 18), recalls the image of the priests and how they were granted access to present sacrifices to the Lord (Exod 29,10; Lev 1,3; 7,8; 2 Chr 29,31; 2 Mac 3,32)24. Now, the Gentiles can even be identified metaphorically with the temple (v. 21), another image that has connotations of the former separation. Access to the Jerusalem temple was denied to the Gentiles. Women were only allowed in the women’s court and men were only allowed in the court of the Israelites. Priests alone could enter the sanctuary (Jos., J.W. 5.194, 199, 226)25. This symbol of gradual separation is now turned upside down in a way where the fulfillment of the prophecies transcends the expectations. The image of the new temple was a stock theme among the OT prophets. In some instances, the Gentiles were included among the