Summary: An textual sermon on Romans 16:25-27 focused on the mystery (Material adapted from Dr. Jack Cottrell's Roman's Commentary)
How many of us enjoy a good mystery? The entertainment industry has made a living on “mysteries”. They will make documentaries on unsolved crimes, the building of the pyramids, and every other “mystery” under the sun. In order for it to be a mystery, there needs to be a seemingly unexplainable situation - something that we can’t figure out without help. If it involves murder, hatred, politics, or romance - it’s all the better. When the mystery is revealed by clear and indisputable evidence - it makes it exciting as we go back over the details.
The Bible mentions a mystery. It began on the first Christmas and it wasn’t revealed until after his death, burial and resurrection. It all involved Jesus Christ.
A little girl, dressed as an angel in a Christmas pageant, was told to come down the center aisle. The child asked, “Do you want me to walk or fly?” She felt as if she could fly because she was an angel. May we never lose the wonder and mystery of Christmas.
Peter Marshall said: “When Christmas doesn’t make your heart swell up until it nearly bursts and fill your eyes with tears and make you all soft and warm inside, then you will know that something inside of you is dead” (James T. Garrett, God's Gift).
Thesis: Let’s talk about the mystery from Romans 16:25-27
The revelation of the mystery (Vs. 25)
In the Bible a “mystery” is a truth hidden in the mind of God and undiscoverable by humans. It is only known through God given revelation.
This can apply to many things, but for these verses it is mainly God’s plan to include Jews and Gentiles together in the church. “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:6, NIV. The unity of Gentile and Jew comes “through the gospel,” the good news that the Son of God has died for the sins of men. Jews must come to God through the gospel just the same as Gentiles.
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” Romans 11:25, NIV. In Ephesians 3 the emphasis is on the fact that God is bringing the Gentiles into the church; here in Romans 11 the emphasis is on the fact that unbelieving Jews may still be brought into the church. More specifically, in Romans 11:25, not only are the Jews and Gentiles united together in one church, but in accordance with God’s plan each group in part owes its salvation to the other.
Hidden for long ages past (Vs. 25)
Hidden means that it was kept secret. For a long time God kept this a secret. The word mystery here does not mean something that is and forever will be mysterious and beyond understanding. This refers to a truth once hidden, but now made known by revelation and open to human understanding. For at least 17 centuries the Jews had taken special pride in being God’s chosen people. Now all barriers between the human family have been removed
The long ages past is referring to Old Covenant which started to end with the first coming of Christ and really did end with the Day of Pentecost. This mystery was there in the OT but no one was able to put it all together until the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How could this mystery have been a mystery in OT times if it was made known through the OT prophetic writings? Explained in next points
Now revealed (Vs. 26)
“Now” refers to the NT era.
The decisive revelation of the mystery was accomplished through the incarnation (what we celebrate through Christmas “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called ... Mighty God, Everlasting Father,” Isaiah 9:6, NIV.), ministry, and saving work of Jesus Christ. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8, NIV.
Following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the full meaning of mystery was revealed. “which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” Ephesians 3:5, NIV.
Their revealed and inspired message is given to us in the NT writings.