The mystery of faith is a term that occurs in 1 Timothy 3:9. “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.“
Whenever I hear the word “mystery”, my curiosity kicks in. I want to know.
Depending on the English translation, the Greek phrase τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως is translated “the mystery of faith,” “the mystery of the faith,” or “the deep truths of the faith.”
The verse in which the phrase appears is about servants (aka deacons). Paul is advising Timothy about what sort of man should be trusted with the office of deacon in order to serve the local church body.
Paul says a deacon should be dignified, truthful, and one who “holds to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9). In this context, Paul is simply saying that the man who serves the church should be a believer who is mature, who has a firm grasp on the basic elements of the good news, and whose life matches his profession of faith.
Mystery as God’s plan of salvation: God’s plan, now revealed, has been hidden for long ages.
- Ephesians 3:9 — And to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things.
- A “mystery” in the New Testament is something that had at one time been hidden but is now revealed to God’s people.
- Jesus told His disciples, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matthew 13:11, NASB).
- The apostle Paul often spoke of such “mysteries”:
- Jesus’ incarnation (1 Timothy 3:16)
- The indwelling of the Spirit (Colossians 1:26–27)
- The unity of the church (Ephesians 3:4–6)
- The rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51–52)
- And the good news itself (Colossians 4:3)
- All these truths were “hidden” from the prophets of old but have been revealed plainly to us today.
- Romans 16:25 — Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my good news and the preaching of Jesus the Messiah, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past.
- 1 Corinthians 2:7 — But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory.
- Colossians 1:26 — That is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints.
- They are “mysteries” that are no longer mysterious to the child of God. “The mystery of faith” is the divinely revealed truth about grace, redemption, and forgiveness in the Messiah.