Ephesians: Unfolding the Mysteries through Revelation

By Matthew O. Richardson

Matthew O. Richardson, “Ephesians: Unfolding the Mysteries through Revelation,” in Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles, 31st Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 130–144.

Ephesians: Unfolding the Mysteries through Revelation

Matthew O. Richardson

 

Matthew O. Richardson was an associate dean of religious education at Brigham Young University when this was published.

 

In our current vernacular, a mystery is something that is hidden, inexplicable, or unknown. The term knows no boundaries and can be equally applied to scientific irregularities as to theological principles. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, writes of three doctrinal topics that he calls “mysteries.” The three mysteries include the dispensation of the fulness of times (see Ephesians 1:9–10), the Gentiles becoming fellow heirs in Christ through the gospel (Ephesians 3:3–6), and marital living and stewardship (Ephesians 5:31–32). For those familiar with the general events of Paul’s time, it is clear that these three topics were not only relevant issues but also fiercely debated. Thus, when Paul calls these topics mysteries, one might assume that Paul was stating that the meaning of these topics was hidden, inexplicable, or unknown.

In truth, such conclusions of Paul’s treatment of mysteries can only be made from a cursory understanding of Paul’s writings and a general lack of understanding of the word mystery according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this chapter will consider the gospel meaning of mystery and then examine Paul’s three gospel mysteries in Ephesians as well as other relevant contributions found in the epistle to the Ephesians.

Mysteries

Secular View. While we typically define a mystery as something that is hidden, inexplicable, or unknown, the common perception of mysteries seems to be more than that. For example, it seems that most people accept that a mystery is something that is not only hidden but something hidden from everyone. In other words, if something is determined to be a mystery, no one knows the answer.

Another growing secular perception is that a mystery is not simply something unknown as much as something unknowable. As a result, when something is considered mysterious, it is, at least in a sense, relegated to resolution purgatory. In other words, we can’t really hope to discover an answer, for many believe that there is no answer.

Gospel View. While it is true that Paul taught that the wisdom of God is mysterious because it is a “hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:7), he did not intend to imply that God’s wisdom is unknowable. In fact, considering a mystery as unknowable is in sharp contradiction to gospel doctrine, for the scriptures testify that God not only knows the answers but that He is willing to share them with us. The belief that mysteries can and will be unfolded is a rich and vital part of gospel heritage. For example, after Nebuchadnezzar sent for Daniel to interpret his dream, Daniel informed him that “there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets” (Daniel 2:28). Nephi also testified that “the mysteries of God shall be unfolded” (1 Nephi 10:19). In fact, Nephi not only reminded us that mysteries were revealed in “times of old,” but he also testified that they would be made known “in times to come” (1 Nephi 10:19). As prophesied, hundreds of years later, Paul labored to “make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19), and God has continued to make known His mysteries. In 1832, for example, in a grand vision of the glories of heaven, Joseph Smith learned that the Lord will “reveal all mysteries . . . pertaining to my kingdom” (D&C 76:7).

The word mystery is translated from the Greek mysterion, which is also the same word typically translated as secret. Even though both words come from the same Greek origin and should therefore share the same definition, it is interesting that both words do not have the same modern connotation. A mystery, for example, is often perceived as distant, odd, or as unknowable, whereas a secret never implies that the information is unknowable. In fact, the very essence of a secret implies that knowledge is secured but that it is not yet revealed, for the bearer of the secret has decided not to disclose the information yet. This fits nicely with the literal translation of mysterion, which means “to shut the mouth.”

Thus, at least textually, we know that a mystery can be known. But Paul’s letter to the Ephesians did more than teach that God knows the answers even though He may not be revealing what they are. Paul taught the Ephesians that Christ had “made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself (Ephesians 1:9). More than just knowing all things, Paul taught, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, that “Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are actually giving away the secrets of the universe.” [1]

Paul later teaches that it was by revelation that the mysteries were made known to him (see Ephesians 3:3; see also D&C 42:61, 65). President Harold B. Lee also connected revelation with mysteries, for he felt that a mystery “cannot be known except by revelation.” [2] With this connection in mind, no wonder Jacob warned that we must not “despise . . . the revelations of God,” for “no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him” (Jacob 4:8).

Another important difference between the secular and the gospel orientation of mysteries deals with who can know the secret. The secular concept that if one person does not understand the answers no one else could possibly know the answers is in opposition to the teachings of the gospel of Christ. Alma testified that “it is given unto many to know the mysteries of God” (Alma 12:9). This does not mean, however, that God will reveal all His secrets to all men. Christ, for example, taught: “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables” (Mark 4:11). Obviously then, what is mysterious to some, may not be so mysterious to others. Naturally, this provokes the question: “Why are some able to know the mysteries, while other people are left out?” The answer to this question is not a matter of discrimination but a matter of qualification and disposition.

Both Nephi and Paul testified that mysteries are unfolded by the Holy Ghost (see 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Nephi 10:19). This is no surprise to most theologians who believe that it is through the Spirit that all truth is revealed (see John 14:26; D&C 75:10; Moroni 10:5). Just because God unfolds His mysteries to man through the Spirit, however, does not mean that man will receive or understand the mystery. Nephi illustrated this point well when he taught that even though Lehi’s dream was revealed to Laman and Lemuel, they found it difficult to understand because of the hardness of their hearts (see 1 Nephi 15:3–11). Paul described this situation well when he wrote, “The things of God knoweth no man, except he has the Spirit of God” (JST 1 Corinthians 2:11). Thus, while God reveals His mysteries through the Spirit, many cannot know that mystery unless they qualify by having the Spirit with them.

Paul’s Teachings Concerning Mysteries

“The testimony of the Holy Ghost,” President Joseph Fielding Smith taught, “is Spirit speaking to spirit, and is not confined solely to the natural or physical sense.” [3] Since God’s ways are spiritually transmitted, they can only be “spiritually discerned.” This leaves the natural man unable to understand things of a spiritual nature (see 1 Corinthians 2:14), and unless he yields to the “enticings of the Holy Spirit” he will forever remain incompatible—an adversary or enemy—with things of the Spirit (see Mosiah 3:19). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul emphasized that we must “put off. . . the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts . . . and . . . put on the new man, . . . created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Paul then uses much of his letter to the Ephesians to endorse spiritual behavior which affords revelation and condemns those things that distance man from the Spirit (see Ephesians 4–5).

Unfortunately, it is difficult for natural man to yield to the enticings of the Spirit when he finds spiritual matters unattractive. For those who rely upon their natural or physical senses, it is difficult be interested in the mysteries of God because they “appeal more to the spirit” than to the flesh. [4] Even more limiting than the lack of a spiritual interest or appetite, however, is natural man’s inability to comprehend the possible significance of God’s ways. The Lord aptly described this clash to Isaiah when He said: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). Since the thoughts of God are foreign to the natural man, God’s ways appear to be foolish (see 1 Corinthians 2:14), and as a result man remains in the dark concerning those things of greatest importance. Since the natural man cannot discern a solution to the problem, he confidently declares that there is no solution and that no one else could possibly know what is hidden from him.

With a basic understanding of the gospel perspective dealing with mysteries, we find that Paul’s view of mysteries is substantially different from most of our contemporaries, who emphasize the secular perspective. In brief, Paul believed that mysteries could be unfolded (see Colossians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 15:51) and that the Saints should not be ignorant to the mysteries of God (see Romans 11:25). With this in mind, we find Paul’s labor dealing with mysteries was meant to reveal and not to obscure. Thus, the three great mysteries in the letter to the Ephesians were actually three secrets made known by revelation to the prophets. Without revelation, prophets, and the Holy Ghost, these three topics would be truly mysterious (unknowable) and would not bring the promised gospel blessings.

Unfolding the Mysteries of Ephesians

Mysteries and the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. Paul taught that by having the “mystery of his [Christ’s] will” made known unto him, “in the dispensation of the fulness of times he [Christ] might gather together in one all things, . . . both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9–10). With a cursory reading of these two verses, it appears that the mystery revealed to Paul (Ephesians 1:9) is the dispensation of the fulness of times (Ephesians 1:10). Thus, most students of this segment of Paul’s writing focus their attention entirely on the dispensation of the fulness of times and related topics. But a careful textual study of these two verses reveals a different understanding of Paul’s first mystery.

Most people in religious circles interpret dispensation to mean a “period of time.” [5] This interpretation rivets the attention to a specified future event. While this perspective is generally correct for most discussions, it does not fit well with Paul’s teachings in Ephesians. In fact, considering a dispensation to mean only a “period of time” can distract from understanding the actual point Paul was trying to make. Paul is the only biblical writer to use the term dispensation [6] and his treatment of the term was quite different from contemporary usage. The term dispensation is translated from the Greek oikonomia, which is the common root for our modern term economy. By our standards, economy is generally defined as the “management of affairs” and as such fits nicely with other earlier translations of oikonomia, rendered “administration” or “stewardship.” By understanding the historical meaning of dispensation, we quickly see that Paul’s emphasis was not on a period of time per se but on the economy or administration of a time. The relevance of this can only be seen with further textual investigation.

It would be wrong to assume that Paul’s mystery unfolded in Ephesians 1:9–10 was merely exposing the outcomes of the fulness of times. Notice that Paul connected the mystery “made known” unto to him (Ephesians 1:9) to the administration of the fulness times (Ephesians 1:10) by using the conjunction that. The word that, at least in this instance, is translated from the Greek eis, which means “for” or “by.” With this in mind, the literal translation of Ephesians 1:9–10 reads, “making known to us the mystery of the will of Him . . .for [the administration] of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things both in the heavens and the things on the earth; in Him.” [7] Paul creates a mutual dependence between mysteries and the administration of the fulness of times. In other words, we see that mysteries are revealed for (or by) the administration so all things can be gathered in one. Without the revelation of mysteries, it is apparent that the “fulness of times” could not come to pass.

The type of administration that could bring about such unparalleled results is exposed with further review of the term oikonomia. The literal translation of oikonomia is “house-distributor” or “overseer.” [8] Thus, it is by the house-distributor or overseer that the restoration and revelation of all things in the fulness of times will transpire. Throughout the history of man, prophets have been recognized as the Lords servants and overseers. [9]

Amos taught, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, until he revealeth the secret unto his servants the prophets” (JST Amos 3:7). As did Amos, Paul testified of the connection between mysteries and prophets. According to Paul, we understand the mystery of Christ when it is revealed unto “his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4–5). Thus, the administration that will bring about the fullness of times is through authorized stewards who manage the affairs of Gods house. Through revelation, these stewards, the prophets, administer the kingdom of God on earth.

With this line of reasoning, it is more consequence than coincidence that Paul teaches the importance of prophets in Ephesians 4. The mystery of the administration of the fulness of times was revealed to Paul (Ephesians 1:9), and he understood that it was through prophets that all things would be gathered together in one (Ephesians 1:10). To further expound upon this necessary stewardship and the purpose of their administration, Paul explained: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12; emphasis added). By outlining the economy of the times, Paul emphasized that only through authoritative servants can the faith of the Saints be unified so they are brought to a “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Paul reminds us that without the administration of prophets, the Saints will be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).

By revealing His secrets (mysteries) to the authorized house-stewards, God declares His word to those willing to listen and obey. Paul taught the Romans that “by the scriptures of the prophets,” the mysteries are “made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:25–26). Our respect and gratitude for prophets is warranted. The Prophet Joseph Smith encouraged us to “search the revelations of God; study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness.” [10] As the prophets receive revelation regarding the mysteries, it is their responsibility to reveal that which they received as allowed by God (see Alma 12:9–11). Every dispensation (period of time) that has known the fulness of Christ, even in varying degrees, has been due to the administration of the holy prophets. [11]

Surely the Saints of Ephesus looked forward to the day described as the “fulness of times.” Today Saints who understand the mysteries look no further than the present day to find the fulness of Christ. In 1841 the Lord told Joseph Smith that He desired to “reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 124:41). The Lords yearning to reveal His secrets (mysteries) to the prophets has not waned, for latter-day prophets continue to bring together all things in these marvelous times. Priesthood, ordinances, and doctrines have all been revealed through the prophets from the beginning of the earth and continue to be revealed in present day. Thus, it is by the administration of these times, the fulness of times, that all things have been gathered thus far and will continue to be gathered together.

The importance of Ephesians 1:9–10 is that Paul does more than announce the coming forth of a restoration of all things. He masterfully taught that mysteries are unfolded through prophets and that it is through this process that all things on earth and in heaven will be understood. Thus, through the Lord’s authorized servants, mysteries are revealed that make it possible to administer the affairs of Gods kingdom.

Salvation of Gentiles. Paul’s weaving the mysteries, prophets, and administering the kingdom of God together was necessary to understand other topics considered as mysteries. By being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20), Paul taught that we “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). This invitation to be fellow citizens included the Gentiles. Thus, Paul reminded the Ephesians that the “Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). Paul called the relationship of the Gentiles with the Church a “mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3–6) that was “in other ages . . . not made known unto the sons of men” (Ephesians 3:5). Paul testified that this secret of the past was no longer a secret, for it was “now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). Once again we see not only the connection between unfolding mysteries and revelation but the important relationship of mysteries and the dispensation (administration) of prophets and the kingdom of God.

Cornelius, a devout centurion of the Italian band, received divine direction to seek Peter in Joppa (see Acts 10:1–5). The next day, Peter received a vision where he was directed to eat unclean beasts (Acts 10:10–15), and through a series of directed events Peter, Cornelius, and other Gentiles were gathered together in Caesarea. Peter concluded: “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47–48). This event opened the door to many Gentile converts but it also created a passionate debate among the Jewish members whether the Gentiles should be fellow heirs in the gospel of Christ.

Since the missionary efforts during the mortal ministry of the Savior were restricted primarily to the Jews (see Matthew 10:5–6; 15:24), the membership of the Church was almost exclusively Jewish. After Christ’s Resurrection, the scope of missionary labors changed drastically. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” Christ commanded His disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). While some of those from the other nations (Gentiles) were converted, they were only baptized after first converting to Judaism (see Acts 2:6–12). This was the accepted procedure of the time and was never really questioned or thought of as problematic until Peter encountered Cornelius, and Gentiles became part of the Church without having to first adhere to Judaic ritual. This became a difficult doctrine to accept for many members and, as a result, they struggled with new Gentile converts for they couldn’t understand how a long-standing policy could be changed. Thus, Paul’s doctrine concerning the Gentiles was mysterious to many.

Perhaps Paul, the self-ascribed “apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13; see also 15:16; 1 Timothy 2:7) dealt with this debate more than any other Church leader of the time. It is somewhat ironic that Paul became the champion of the Gentiles; for in his younger days, when he was known as Saul, he zealously fought against the slightest deviation from Judaic worship. Paul’s mighty change and conversion was based upon revelation. It was not only his newfound testimony of truth but his testimony of the power of revelation that served Paul well throughout his life. Thus, what seemed to be mysterious to some, even within the Church, was obvious to Paul, for he understood that revelation can literally change the unchangeable. Because of this background, Paul could earnestly teach that allowing Gentiles into the fold of Christ was something that “in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men” but, at the same time, feel comfortable with changes that were “revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5).

It was Peter, the President of the Church, who received revelation that unlocked the Gentile mystery. To those who could only see through eyes bound by tradition, pride, and prejudice, the Spirit could not speak. Thus, those who spent a lifetime defending the token of circumcision were strangled by tradition and were unable to understand newly revealed ways of God. They remained in the dark until they were willing to yield to the enticing of the Spirit and see with uncircumcised eyes. Without revelation and prophets, this doctrine regarding the Gentiles would still be mysterious. Only through God’s authorized servant, Peter, was the truth revealed.

Although this mystery had particular relevance to the Saints of Paul’s time, the principle is still relevant today. For example, in 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation that allowed all worthy males to receive the priesthood. Although the priesthood was conferred according to set standards in the past, the pattern was altered according to revelation. In some ways, this event was just as mysterious as allowing Gentiles to be fellow heirs of the Church in Paul’s time. At least, it was just as mysterious to some—even in the Church. But those who understood that the administration of the times recognized the prophet as one who held the keys of revelation and the mysteries were able to act in faith and move forward with confidence. Without revelation to make known the secrets of heaven, these principles would still be considered a mystery.

Marital Living and Stewardship. After speaking of the relationship between husband and wife, Paul concludes, “This is a great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). In consideration of spiraling divorce rates, dysfunctional marriages, and even the trend to avoid marriage and family altogether, many would readily agree that understanding how to make this relationship right is indeed mysterious. When, however, one remembers that Paul’s pattern concerning the three mysteries of Ephesians was to illustrate that through revelation and the administration of prophets things are made known, one finds that understanding overcomes confusion, hope endures frustration, and resolve replaces resign.

As we read Paul’s treatise on marriage in Ephesians, it becomes clear that Paul was not merely giving practical marital advice for the Saints. In similar manner, President David O. McKay, who often spoke about marital issues, emphasized that happiness in marriage was only attainable through the “form of marriage which God has ordained.” [12] Paul taught that divinely ordained marriage begins when a couple submits themselves “one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21). This form of submission is more than a couple expressing their love and offering pledges of honor, devotion, and loyalty to each other. The submission Paul speaks of is a submission of a couple to each other in fear or reverence [13] of God. President Gordon B. Hinckley describes such an arrangement as “a contract, a compact, a union between a man and a woman under the plan of the Almighty.” [14]

The Almighty’s plan for marriage emphasized more than a partnership; it required a covenant relationship (see D&C 132). According to God’s plan, a couple enters into a relationship that intertwines them with God Himself. This relationship is described in an unparalleled way by an Old Testament teaching: “Two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). After extolling the benefits of a partnership (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12), God’s form of marriage is succinctly taught in the metaphor of “a threefold cord” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). By weaving a husband, wife, and God together like a traditional hemp cord (rope), a couple receives power that goes beyond their abilities and forms a rope that cannot be “quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

According to God’s ways, the marital wrapping of man, woman, and God can only be accomplished by covenants, priesthood power, and sacred ordinances. Only through revelation have the ordinances, priesthood, and covenants been revealed again to the earth. Understanding the power of priesthood covenant in marriages is mysterious to those who lack the spiritual ability to see spiritual things. As a result, many rely only on traditional marital practices. To this, however, Elder Maxwell warns: “Even when secular solutions help, such programmed scratching often goes on after the itching stops. The surf of secularism, therefore, seems so often to carry its sincere seamen against the rude reefs of reality.” [15] In contrast, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that those who partake in God’s plan “have the most reassuring of all final promises: that power which binds us together in righteousness is greater than any force—any force—which might try to separate us.” He then concludes: “That is the power of covenant theology and the power of priesthood ordinances. That is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” [16]

Priesthood ordinances and covenants emphasize the protocol of stewardships. Thus, it is of little wonder that Paul outlines a pattern of stewardship for his “marital mystery.” He teaches that wives should submit themselves to husbands only as husbands submit themselves to Christ (Ephesians 5:22–24). With Christ as the “head,” the power is found in the Savior (Ephesians 5:23) and not in gender or even assumed marital roles. If a steward oversteps the boundaries of the allotted responsibility in vain ambition, to gratify pride or exercise control, dominion, or compulsion in any degree of unrighteousness—power is withdrawn (see D&C 121:36–38). Therefore, Paul admonishes wives to love their husband as Christ loved the Church and that husbands should love their wives even as the Lord loved the Church (see Ephesians 5:25, 28–29, 33). The outcome of this style of marriage allows the partners to “sanctify and cleanse” their relationship (Ephesians 5:26–28).

It is of little wonder that such teachings are incomprehensible to those who lack spiritual insight. Through prophets, seers, and revelators, priesthood was restored and revealed to make marital covenants possible. Through living prophets, the mysteries of marriage continue to be revealed. In September 1995, for example, President Hinckley stood and proclaimed to the world that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creators plan.” [17] While prophetic statements may seem to be overly simple to some, in reality, they dispel confusion and offer essential advice that seems to elude the masses. Prophets, seers, and revelators reveal the secrets of marriage and those who understand the connection between revelation and mysteries find wisdom and understanding “what the will of the Lord is” concerning marriage and covenants (Ephesians 5:17).

Enlightenment through the Spirit

A mystery is a truth that is only known by revelation to those authorized to receive the mysteries of the kingdom. Thus, prophets reveal the mysteries as revealed to them. Through revelation, Gods ordinances, truths, doctrines, and priesthood have been revealed and continue to be revealed. Without revelation, the fulness of Christ would still be a mystery to mankind. Even though many mysteries have been revealed, some cannot understand the importance of the counsel and are indifferent to the counsel given.

Since the Spirit is required to understand the mysteries revealed through prophets, seers, and revelators, Paul admonishes the Ephesian Saints to “walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17–18). Because of this relationship, Paul encouraged the Saints to discern spiritual things. As we do that, we find that all truth is revealed according to God’s good measure, and we find peace in our existence. Through revelation, God’s secrets are unfolded. Paul testified that the Lord “shall make known to you all things . . . that he might comfort your hearts” (Ephesians 6:21–22). In this we find peace.

Notes

[1] Neal A. Maxwell, The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, ed. Cory Maxwell (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997), 222.

[2] Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 211.

[3] As quoted by Henry D. Moyle in Conference Report, April 1957, 34.

[4] Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 1:296.

[5] This seems to be especially true for Latter-day Saints and is readily apparent in most Latter-day Saint commentaries (see Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979], 200–202, s.v. “Dispensations”).

[6] See 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10, 3:2; Colossians 1:25.

[7] Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, 3d ed., Jay P. Green Sr. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1996), 590–91.

[8] Oikonomia is derived from oikonomos, which means “house-distributor.” A house-distributor was considered an employee with the capacity to manage the affairs of the house. It has also been interpreted to mean “overseer.”

[9] An excellent example of the Lords prophet in the role of steward is in the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5; see also Doctrine and Covenants 1:38.

[10] Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 12.

[11] From a Latter-day Saint perspective, the major dispensations are known by the names of the prophetic administrators; namely, Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith.

[12] David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1953), 465.

[13] The Greek fobos lends to not merely being afraid of but respecting or reverencing God.

[14] Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something (New York: Times Books, 2000), 135.

[15] Neal A. Maxwell, “Eternalism vs. Secularism,” Ensign, October 1974, 69.

[16] Jeffrey R. Holland, However Long and Hard the Road (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 110.

[17] Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995,102.