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.
That which is hidden in 2 Cor 3,13-14 is the abrogation of the old covenant. This confirms our interpretation that the gospel in Eph 3 can be described as a mystery, previously unknown, because it entails the abrogation of the Mosaic law. The abrogation of the Mosaic law is a familiar Pauline motif (Rom 7,1-6; Gal 3,25; 4,5; Col 2,14)55.
These observations lead to the conclusion that the mystery can be referred to as previously unknown because of the unexpected manner in which the Gentiles are saved56. There are specifically two aspects of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the body of Christ that represent such a mystery. First, there is a degree of nearness enjoyed by the new covenant saints that transcends the expectations of the OT. Second, the inclusion of the Gentiles takes place on the basis of the abrogation of the Mosaic covenant57. As a result, Paul’s view of the Gentiles is radically different from that of his contemporaries. No longer was a right standing with God conditioned upon observance of the Mosaic law. Nor could compliance with the Mosaic law code be seen as an adequate expression of a life governed by the Spirit (cf. Gal 5,18). The Gentiles’ inclusion in the new body could therefore take place on quite unexpected terms, without them having to become Jews in order to enter into the people of God. They are not seen as proselytes to Israel58. To force them to become as Jews is a sin (Gal 2,11-14).
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