“God wanted to make known what is the glorious wealth of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
Paul’s use of the word “mystery” in this passage may strike us as a bit strange. How is the person and work of Christ shrouded in secrecy? And why would Paul present Christ as a mystery if his point is that God wanted to make Christ known?
The answer is found in the culture of early Colossae, a city known for its infatuation with magic and the occult. Among the Gentile cults, “mystery” was often associated with a secret ritual that people must perform to create a relationship with a god. False teachers in the community at Colossae were promoting alternative ways to get to God—secret rituals that would lead to special knowledge for a select few.
Paul contextualizes the gospel for the Colossians. He adopts this “mystery” language to show that Christ is the only way to God. The mystical path pres…