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.
In the following verses, this new status is described as being grafted into a cultivated olive tree. As a result, the Gentile believer is now a partaker (sugkoinwno/j, cf. Eph 3,6) of the rich olive root (11,17) of Israel. The primacy of Israel in this entity is then underscored (11,18-24). The salvation plan of God is also called a mystery (11,25). Clearly, this passage betrays significant parallels to the description of the mystery in Eph 2,11–3,13. But the significant differences should also be observed. The mystery in Rom 11,25 does not refer directly to the incorporation of the Gentiles. Rather, the primary reference is to God’s way of bringing salvation to Israel by first bringing it to the Gentiles. Moreover, the primary referent of the "reconciliation" in Rom 11,15 is not the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles, but Christ’s reconciliation of human beings with God. Neither is the time difference between the reconciliatory work of Christ and the resulting new reconciled state as clearly reflected in Romans as it is in Ephesians. We note, however, that Christ’s reconciliation is described in terms of its effects for the church and the incorporation of the Gentiles into Israel. Moreover, the term "mystery" is used for God’s plan of bringing salvation to the Gentiles and subsequently to Israel. The description in Ephesians is prepared for in Romans.
The differences are probably best explained as a result of the different purposes of the letters. J.P. Sampley has suggested that Ephesians is about "identity formation"68. The ecclesiological focus of the description of Christ’s work that we have seen in Rom 11,11-36; Gal 3,25-29, is amplified in Ephesians in order to educate the addressees about their status in Christ. If Clinton Arnold is correct that a main purpose of Ephesians is to help the readers gain an adequate understanding of the "powers" and their subjugation under Christ69, then this ecclesiological focus would serve to explain that the headship of Christ and the resulting reconciliation is already manifest in the church. This manifestation then in turn serves as an announcement of the effects of Christ’s work to the "powers" (3,10).
Helmut Merklein further contends that there is a development from the undisputed letters to Ephesians regarding the technical term for the content of the apostolic preaching. In the homologoumena this technical term is "gospel", whereas in Ephesians this term has been