In my previous study, The Mysteries of God, I showed how these mysteries had no place in the worldviews of any nation on earth at the time of John’s writing. This is why Jesus’ disciples had such difficulty in grasping the idea that Jesus was not going to physically reign out of physical Jerusalem on a physical throne during the first century AD. Indeed, the scribes and Pharisees, who were the teachers of the Jews, didn’t understand even the basic elements of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus preached (Luke 17:20-21). So, it is little wonder why the pilgrims who visited Jerusalem during the Passover season, just before Jesus was crucified, couldn’t understand Jesus’ plain words that the Messiah must die (John 12:20-21, 32-34).
In this study of these same mysteries, I will speak of the mystery of godliness and the mystery iniquity, which are revealed in the Gospel with the other mysteries of God. I believe it might be best to understand the mystery of godliness as we hold it in contrast with the mystery of iniquity. Likewise, the mystery of iniquity might be better understood, if we see it in light of the mystery of godliness.
Paul tells us that the mystery of iniquity was already at work in his day, but it would be held in check, until Paul would be taken out of the way. Once Paul was removed from the scene through imprisonment or death, then that ‘Wicked One’ would be revealed, whom the Lord would destroy in the brightness of his coming (2Thessalonians 2:7-8). Luke shows us that Paul was imprisoned at Jerusalem in the days of Felix, the governor of Judea. It was after this time that the catholic epistles were written. There suddenly erupted a great persecution in Asia Minor, and it can be proved that the authorities in Jerusalem were behind it all. Paul’s imprisonment occurred in 56 AD or about ten years prior to the beginning of Jews’ war with Rome. It was this work of iniquity in Asia Minor that brought on that war.
On the other hand, great is the mystery of godliness (Christ) which is: “God, manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of messengers, preached unto the nations, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1Timothy 3:16), but not only so, it is this same Christ / God in the believer (manifest in our flesh), who is the hope of the believer’s glory (Colossians 1:26-27). He is the believer’s righteousness, or perhaps it can be said that Christ in the believer produces that righteousness (Colossians 1:30; cf. Romans 3:21-22; Philippians 3:9). Nevertheless, it is not simply the knowledge of this mystery that proves one’s godliness in Christ (cf. 1Corinthians 13:2). Rather, the mystery of faith is proved in men of integrity, whose word is their bond, who are not greedy for gain or overindulgent in wine (1Timothy 3:8-10). They are of the churches of Christ who have submitted themselves to the mystery of the seven stars, who are in the right hand of Christ (Revelation 1:20). These seven messengers to the churches (lampstands) are: Matthew, Peter (Mark recorded Peter’s Gospel) Luke, John, Paul, James and Jude. Their messages (writings) comprise the New Covenant Scriptures.
Returning now to the mystery of iniquity (2Thessalonians 2:7-8) or the man of sin (2Thessalonians 2:3), John tells us of one who is called “Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and abomination of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). This is the woman who sat upon a scarlet colored beast, which was full of the names of blasphemy, and which had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, and in her hand was a cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication, and she was drunk with the blood of the saints, and the martyrs of Jesus (Revelation 17:3-6; cf. Matthew 23:32-38). In other words, she is the persecutor of the saints. She is revealed to be that great city (Revelation 17:18), which is where Jesus was crucified (Revelation 11:8). So, Mystery Babylon (Revelation 17:5) and the mystery of the woman (Revelation 17:7) are one and the same, namely Jerusalem.
All these things were set in place by the time of the days of the seventh angel, when he was about to sound, and by that time the mystery of God was be finished (Revelation 10:7).