The ancient meaning of the word mystery is related to the cults of Babylon and Rome, and to imparting of the knowledge of these secrets as in the modern lodges or fraternal orders where secrets are considered essential. The popular use of the word applies it to that which is mysterious or unknowable.

The New Testament use of the term relates it to some work or purpose of God hitherto unrevealed. It may be related to something which needs to be understood but must have a key (Rev. 1:20). The word is employed in the New Testament twenty-seven times excluding 1 Corinthians 2:1 (where see R.V. margin). Paul used it twenty-one times himself. The "mysteries" comprise practically all the added truth found in the New Testament supplementing that of the Old Testament, apart from its history (Deut. 29:29).

The New Testament mysteries are not indeed secrets to be withheld, but to be published (1 Cor. 4:1). "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16), said Paul, in contrast to the anathema falling upon the member of a lodge or cult who divulges their secrets.

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