Mystery or Parable?

The word “mystery” appears numerous times in the scriptures. Also the word “mysteries”. Every use of the word appears in the new testament, and whether a singular “mystery”, or plural “mysteries”, all are translated from the same word. The word “mystery” has come to be used, in the common vernacular, as something deep and hidden, something too high and lofty for the common individual to grasp. A very common saying (which I have never really cared for) is: “God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform”. When this saying is put forth to indicate that the Lord’s ways are beyond comprehension, and one must accept that he/she will never understand certain things in this life, then it is a false and dangerous statement. I say dangerous, because it lends itself to the idea, that the individual must content him/her self with accepting the explanation or musings of the religious elite. The above mentioned saying is only truthful, in my experience, when the word “mystery” is chewed on and digested.

The following is taken from Abarim Publications Online Greek Biblical Dictionary:


μυω  μυστηριον

The verb μυω (muo) and its future form μυσω (muso) predominantly means to shut (of eyes or the mouth), but with the secondary meaning of to cover, to hide or to be just under the surface.

It is the root of the word μυς (mys), meaning both muscle (hidden just under the skin) and mouse (hidden just under the floor — our English word “muscle” is the diminutive form of the Latin word for mouse). The link exists even in Semitic languages: the Arabic word for muscle is ‘adalah and the word for mouse is ‘adal.

Perhaps via the mess mice make, or the tendency of people to hide their dirt, or perhaps completely unrelated are the noun μυσος (musos), meaning uncleanness or defilement, and the adjective μυσαρος (musaros), meaning foul, dirty, and thus loathsome and abominable.

On the other hand, our verb μυω (muo), meaning to hide or cover, may also have spawned — or perhaps merely lubricated the formation of — the familiar word μουσα (mousa) or Muse (hence our words “music” and “museum”), which is commonly taken from the same Proto-Indo-European root as the English word “mind”. The adjective μουσικος (mousikos), whether derived from the above or merely inspired by it or having nothing to do with it, means devoted to the muses: artistic or musical. This word occurs in the Bible only in Revelation 18:22.

The root verb μυω (muo) is not used in the Bible, but from it comes the verb μυεω (mueo), which means to initiate into the mysteries (the hidden things) or to be introduced to things not known before or not commonly known. This verb occurs in the Bible only in Philippians 4:12.

From the previous verb derives the noun μυστης (mustes; not used in the Bible), which denotes a person initiated into the mysteries, and from the latter in turn derives the noun μυστηριον (musterion), which denotes a mystery, secret or bit of knowledge. But note that in antiquity, the wizard (which means “wise-man”) was not a magician or entertainer but the doctor and chief engineer of a tribe or village. His knowledge may have seemed magic to the uninitiated but it was not supernatural in any way, but rather based on what we would call today scientific and technological skills (1 Kings 4:33-34).

Even by usually sound commentators on the Bible, the noun μυστηριον (musterion), or “mystery”, is commonly rendered a far too great hocus-pocus factor. A “mystery” is not an enigma, but something hidden just under the surface, something that can be pried out from under observable reality just like a mouse can be pried out from under its cover. A mystery is a “mousery”; a nest of living mice cuddled under a flimsy cover, or a “musery”; a fountain of inspiration suddenly bursting from the earth.

The Greek idea of the “mystery” quite literally refers to a “discovery” or to something “to-be-discovered”. It is the same thing as a modern scientific theory, and has nothing to do with classified information, esoteric secrets or unsolvable puzzles, and everything with the truth behind observable reality.

Neither the “mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7), nor the “mystery of the faith” (1 Timothy 3:9), nor even the “mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4) are anything other than descriptions of the natural causes of visible effects (Hebrews 11:1), which can be explained by someone who gets it, and be made understandable by means of a verbal explanation.

Hence Paul speaks of being informed of a mystery (Romans 11:25), of telling a mystery (1 Corinthians 15:51), of being stewards of a mystery (1 Corinthians 4:1) and even “full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery” (Colossians 2:2).

All in all, this magnificent word μυστηριον (musterion) is used 27 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.

Our verb μυω (muo), meaning to be covered, and its derivation μυστηριον (musterion) meaning discovery, are obviously closely akin the verb λανθανω (lanthano) and its derivation αληθεια (aletheia), meaning truth.


The words “mystery”, or “mysteries” appears in the following verses:

Mat 13:11,Luk 8:10,1Co 4:1,1Co 13:2,1Co 14:2,Mar 4:11,Rom 11:25,Rom 16:25,1Co 2:7,1Co 15:51,Eph 1:9,Eph 3:3,Eph 3:4,Eph 3:9,Eph 5:32,Eph 6:19,Col 1:26,Col 1:27,Col 2:2,Col 4:3,2Th 2:7,1Ti 3:9,1Ti 3:16,Rev 1:20,Rev 10:7,Rev 17:5,Rev 17:7.

“Mystery” , derives from μυστήριον, or “mysterion”, and is derived from “muo”, “To shut the mouth”.

Jesus said a marvelous thing about this:

[Mar 4:11 KJV] And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them.

Reading the uses of “mystery” in scripture will yield an understanding that the mystery boils down to this: “Christ in you”.

[Col 1:26 KJV] [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Now to use great plainness of speech. The mystery is either in us by faith, or it is not. And if so be He dwells in us by faith, He is there to be discovered, explored and understood. Christ in you is the mystery, of which Jesus said, “seek and you will find, knock and it shall be opened, ask and you will receive”. The idea of shutting the mouth, or using parables where the mystery does not abide, indeed, the many times Jesus did wonderful things and spoke that they should not be published abroad, all these point to the fact that these things are hidden in a people, in Christ. And they do not accept the witness of man, or of men. They are not far off religious conundrums to be held in ignorance. The kingdom of God is within you. It can not at this time be found anywhere else, and it certainly can not be manufactured. If I show you an apple seed, and tell you the orchard is in there, I believe you know what I mean. If you plant the seed, the truth of what was said will manifest itself.

The mysteries of the kingdom of God ARE GIVEN TO YOU TO KNOW, exactly as Jesus said. Ask, seek, knock…and you will find. We are not relegated to be eternal seekers. We are to receive what is given, see what is opened, walk in what is found.

You are partakers of the mystery. No one can take that from you, or hide it from you. In fact, it is hidden in you. The way the mystery is dealt with, derives from the fact that is is in you, and comes from the Father. Flesh and blood can not give you the kingdom, reveal it to you, or explain it. It is first, in you by faith, and secondly, opened up and walked in, in the fellowship you have with the Father and with the Son. It can only be hinted of to the world in parables, because it can only be seen and walked in, in substance and reality.

I am writing to encourage all to strength, patience and perseverance. The difficult times we find ourselves in, and the confusion and decay of the world around us, are not our inheritance. We have received a kingdom that can not be moved. When the scriptures speak of the mysteries of what is in you by faith, understand that they are there, hidden by a mere veil of flesh, ready to be discovered and revealed. They are only unattainable conundrums to them who do not possess them…to them that are “without”. Understanding comes first, by receiving in faith. What Jesus spoke of this, is a succession of events: (Luk) 11:9 And I say unto you, (1)Ask, and it shall be given you; (2)seek, and ye shall find; (3)knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Mystery or Parable? which do you prefer?

From John 14:

“…And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being [yet] present with you. But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”.

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