For an explanation of “Ordinary Time,” please see “Introducing ‘Ordinary Time’ to Evangelical Churches, Year III” under the “Ordinary Time, Year III: The Letters” tab.
The Mystery Revealed
There are many mysteries revealed to us in the Christian faith. By saying that such wonderful matters are revealed, we in no way mean that such mysteries are now completely understood or scientifically verified; we mean that something previously unknown or that was yet too subtle for human discovery and comprehension (the human mind being so darkened and impaired by sin) has now been revealed to us such that we may understand of it what we need to know for God’s intended purposes, but not to any exhaustive extent. Examples of such would be the doctrines of the Trinity (that God is three-in-one and one-in-three), the Incarnation (that God became man while remaining God), election (that God chose those whom He shall save before the foundation of the world yet without violating their freedom of will), or even the wisdom and knowledge of God, the depths of which shall forever remain unsearchable to us (Romans 11:33), and so many other mysteries of our faith.
And here is another such mystery—though it might not seem so mysterious to us two thousand years after the fact and as Gentile believers ourselves—and that mystery is that “the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus though the gospel.” Well, why is that so mysterious? After all, the promise to Abraham was that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). And isn’t God’s care for the meanest Gentiles displayed through the ministry of reluctant Jonah? And space would fail us to cover all of the prophecies about the ingathering of the Gentiles before the end of time (e.g., Isaiah 2:1-4). We wonder why the Jews didn’t grasp this then. Well, they did understand that the Gentiles should come in, but only under Jewish domination and the Mosaic regulations. And since many Gentiles did believe in the God of Israel and the Ten Commandments, but would not submit to circumcision and the dietary laws, the Jews created a special category for them called “God-fearers,” in which they could come to synagogue but still not be full-fledged members of the community. Well, that wasn’t the fulfillment of God’s plan. The mystery to be revealed was that Gentiles who came to saving faith in Christ Jesus would be “fellow heirs, members of the same body,” no exceptions.
What a joyful mystery to celebrate—the ingathering of all those who are called from every nation, tribe, and tongue—when all the nations flow to the mountain of the house of the Lord, that they may walk in His paths.