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Mystery

MYSTERY (Gr. mystērion). The Greek word occurs twenty-eight times in the NT (including 1Cor.2.1 where it appears in the better MSS; see niv footnote). Neither the word nor the idea is found in the OT. Rather, they came into the NT world from Greek paganism. Among the Greeks, mystery meant not something obscure or incomprehensible, but a secret imparted only to the initiated, what is unknown until it is revealed. This word is connected with the mystery religions of Hellenistic times (see separate article). The mysteries appealed to the emotions rather than the intellect and offered to their devotees a mystical union with the deity, through death to life, thus securing for them a blessed immortality. Great symbolism characterized their secret ritual, climaxing in the initiation into the full secret of the cult.