This understanding of divine mystery illustrates three aspects of God's character. First, it emphasizes God's . After God revealed the "mystery" of the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream to Daniel, Daniel thanked God in prayer for his wisdom and power ( ; cf. ) and described him as a God who "knows what lies in darkness" ( ). Paul, similarly, after revealing the mystery of God's plan to include the Gentiles among his chosen people breaks into praise of the "depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God" ( ).
MYSTERY: something not understood or beyond understanding | whatever resists or defies explanation | profound, inexplicable, or secretive quality | a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand
The content of the divine mystery is painted in broad strokes in the Old Testament, takes on greater detail in the Gospels, and receives its finishing touches in Paul's letters. In Daniel, where the term first appears ( in Aramaic, always translated with  in the LXX), it refers to God's understanding of the symbols in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, symbols that stand for the rise and fall of human empires and to the eventual establishment of God's own, eternal kingdom ( ; cf. ; ). The details of these events, however, and the nature of God's kingdom, once established, remain sketchy in Daniel. The mystery of God's purposes gains greater specificity in the Gospels, where Jesus, particularly in his parables, reveals the "mystery of the kingdom of God" ( ; cf. ; ). Paul also identifies the divine mystery with the revelation of God in Christ ( ; ) but gives the concept even greater clarity in three ways. First, he equates the divine mystery with the gospel of Christ's atoning death on the cross ( ); second, he describes it as God's plan, through Christ's atoning death ( ), to include the Gentiles among his chosen people; and third, he defines it as the reconciliation of all things to God ( ). Thus, Daniel described the divine mystery in general terms as the eventual establishment of God's eternal kingdom; Jesus defined it more specifically as his proclamation of God's kingdom; and Paul described it more specifically still as the constitution of a new people, from among both Jews and Gentiles, through the atoning death of Christ on the cross.
Second, the biblical concept of divine mystery emphasizes God's . The mystery revealed to Daniel and communicated to the king demonstrates not only that God knows the beginning of history from its end but that the rise and fall of human empires and the establishment of God's own kingdom happen according to his decree ( ). Similarly, Paul says that the mystery of God's intention to unite both Jews and Gentiles in the body of Christ has been in place from ages past ( ; ; cf. ; ).