The Church - Faithful Generations

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The Church

The Church

THE DAY OF THE LORD, THE DAY OF CHRIST, THE DAY OF GOD
By now we should have developed some appreciation of the importance of making proper distinctions as we study the Sacred Scriptures.  When we come to the study of future events, we will have a headstart in understanding them if we are able to distinguish the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ, and the Day of God.


The Day of the Lord
It is certainly not a day of twenty-four hours, but a period of time with certain characteristics.
In the Old Testament "the Day of the Lord" was used to describe any time of judgment, desolation, and darkness (Isa. 2:12; Joel 2:1, 2).  It was a time when God marched forth against the enemies of Israel and punished them decisively (Zeph. 3:8-12; Joel 3:14-16; Obad. 15, 16; Zech. 12:8, 9).  It was also any occasion on which God punished His own people for their idolatry and backsliding (Joel 1:15-20; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:7-18).  The Day of the Lord spoke basically of judgment on sin and of victory for the cause of the Lord (Joel 2:3 1, 32).
In the New Testament, the Day of the Lord covers approximately the same period as "the times and the seasons" (Acts 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:1).  It begins after the Rapture and includes

1. The Tribulation or, as it is also called, the time of Jacob's trouble (Dan. 9:27; Jer. 30:7; Matt. 24:4-28; 1 Thess. 5: 1-11; 2 Thess. 2:2 ASV; Rev. 6:1-19:16).  This is the first phase of the Day of the Lord.  It will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.  It will also come deceptively, suddenly, destructively, inevitably, and inescapably.  It is a period of approximately seven years during which God will pour out His judgments on apostate Judaism, apostate Christendom, and the Gentile nations.  These judgments of ever-increasing intensity are pictured in Revelation under the symbols of seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls.  The last half of the Tribulation is known as the Great Tribulation; it will be the worst time of trouble that the world has ever experienced or will ever experience.
2. The Coming of Christ with His saints (Mal. 4:1-3; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).  At the end of the Tribulation Period the Lord Jesus will return to earth with His mighty angels "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel." He will destroy all His enemies before He sets up His kingdom on earth.
3. The thousand-year reign of Christ.  This is included in the day of the Lord (Joel 3:18, cp. v. 14; Zech. 14:8, 9, cp. v. 1).  It will be a time of instant judgment for anyone who rises in rebellion against the Lord (Isa. 65:17-25).  The King will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:15).
4. The final destruction of the heavens and earth by fire (2 Pet. 3:7, 10).  At the conclusion of Christ's millennial reign, the heavens and the earth will pass away with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat.  This is the final phase of the Day of the Lord.

The Day of Christ
Whereas the Day of the Lord is a time of judgment on a world that has rejected God's Son, the Day of Christ is a time of blessing for those who have trusted Him and who are thus members of His Church.  There are two main features of the Day of Christ.

1. The Rapture of the saints (1 Cor. 5:5; Phil. 1:6, 10).  The dead in Christ will be raised.  Living believers will be changed.  Together they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and to return with Him to the Father's house in heaven.
2. The Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 2:16).  Believers will appear before the Bema-the judgment seat-for review and reward.  It will not be a question of their salvation but of their service.  Rewards will be given for all that meets Christ's approval.  Those who have wasted their lives will suffer loss, but they themselves will be saved, though "as by fire" (1 Cor. 3:15).

Through an unfortunate translation in the King James Version, "the Day of Christ" appears in 2 Thessalonians 2:2, whereas it should be "the Day of the Lord." Because of the intense trial which they were experiencing, the Thessalonian believers thought the judgments of the Day of the Lord had already begun.  Paul assures them that two events will precede the inauguration of the Day of the Lord-a worldwide falling away from the faith, and the revelation of the Man of Sin-the Antichrist.
The Thessalonians would have had no reason to fear the coming of the Day of Christ.  For them that would have meant deliverance from trial forever.

The Day of God

The Day of God is not to be confused with the Day of the Lord or the Day of Christ.  It is the day of God's final triumph.  It will take place after all evil has been forever put down, and after the heavens and the earth have been destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 3:12).  For all practical purposes, the Day of God is the same as the eternal state.


ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
We should probably enlarge this title to read The Gentile nations, Israel, and the Church.  The reason we say this is that the New Testament divides all mankind into these three categories.  For example, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:32, "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."
In Acts 15:14-17 these three sections of humanity are mentioned again:
The Church

God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name (v. 14).

Israel

After this I will return, and will build you the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up (v. 16).

The Gentile Nations

That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things (v. 17).

The Apostle Paul also distinguished between

the Jews-the circumcision made with hands (Eph. 2:11).
the Gentiles-the uncircumcision (Eph. 2:11).
the Church-the circumcision made without hands (Col. 2:11).

Generally speaking, Bible students do not confuse the Gentiles with either Israel or the Church; that has not been a problem.  So in this lesson we will confine ourselves to the distinction between Israel and the Church.  This is of great importance.  Unless we see that these two groups are separate and distinct, it will seriously affect our interpretation of the Bible, especially in the areas of Church truth and prophecy.
In order to show why the subject is important, we should mention that some people teach that the Church is merely an extension or an outgrowth of Israel.  They say, "God has had a continuing Church down through the centuries.  Israel was the Church in the Old Testament, but when that people rejected the Messiah, God rejected them forever.  There is no future for Israel nationally.  The New Testament Church has now become the Israel of God, and all the promises made to Israel nationally now have a spiritual fulfillment for the Church."

We believe that the Scriptures teach otherwise-that Israel and the Church are different in origin, character, responsibility, and destiny.
When Israel rejected the Lord Jesus as her Messiah, God set the nation aside for a time.  Then He introduced something entirely new-the Church.  When His program with the Church is finished on earth, He will resume His dealings with Israel nationally.  So the Church has been brought in as a sort of parenthesis during the interruption of God's relations with Israel, His ancient people.
The distinction between the Church and Israel may best be seen by the following set of contrasts.

The Church

Israel
1. Paul speaks of the Church as a mystery "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3:5).  He says that this mystery was hidden in God from the beginning of the world (Eph. 3:9) and kept secret since the world began, but that it is now made manifest by the prophetic Scriptures (Rom. 16:25, 26).  (See also Col. 1:25, 26.)      1. Israel is never spoken of as a mystery.  None of the descriptions in the opposite column are true of Israel.
2. The Church began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given (Acts 2).  We deduce this from the following series of facts.

a. The Church was still future when Christ was on earth, because He said, "I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18).
b. When Paul wrote his First Letter to the Corinthians, the Church had by then come into being.  He speaks of the believers having been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13 NASB).
c. We know that the promised baptism of the Spirit took place at  Pentecost.  Therefore, that was the birthday of the Church.
2. The nation of Israel began with the call of Abraham (Gen. 12).
3. Christ is the Head of the Church.     3. Abraham was the head of Israel.
4. Membership in the Church is by spiritual birth.      4. Membership in the nation was by natural birth.
5. The Church is God's heavenly people.  The blessings of the Church are spiritual blessings in heavenly places.

The citizenship of Christians is heavenly.

The hope of the Church is to be with Christ in heaven.
5. Israel was God's chosen earthly people.  The blessings of Israel were primarily, though not exclusively, material blessings in earthly places.
The citizenship of Israelites was earthly.
The primary hope held before Israel was the earthly reign of Messiah in the land. (This does not deny that believing Israelites went to heaven when they died, or that they had the hope of heaven.  But that was not the emphasis that was set before them.)
6. In the Church, believing Jews and believing Gentiles become one in Christ.  They become; fellow-heirs, fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ by the gospel.  In Christ, the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile is broken down, and both are made one (Eph. 2:13-17; Eph. 3:6).      6. None of this is true of Israel.  As far as Israel is concerned, Gentiles are "without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12).
7. In the Church, all believers are priests-holy priests and royal priests.  As such they have access to the presence of God by faith at any time (1 Pet. 2:1-9; Heb. 10:19-22).      7. In Israel, the priests were chosen from the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron.  Only the high priest could enter the presence of God, and only on one day of the year (Heb. 7:5, 11;  9:7).
8. The Church will be taken home to heaven at the Rapture, then will return with Christ and reign with Him over the earth during the Millennium.      8. Redeemed Israel will be the earthly subjects of Christ when He reigns.

Many more contrasts between the Church and Israel could be listed.  In his Systematic Theology, Chafer enumerates twenty-four unmistakable distinctions.  But the ones we have given should be sufficient to show that the Church occupies a unique place in the plans and purposes of God, and that it must not be confused with Israel.
One of the Scripture passages in which Israel and the Church are regularly confused is the Olivet Discourse, found in Matthew 23:37-25:46.  This passage concerns Israel-not the Church.  It describes conditions prior to and including the return of Christ to reign as King.  Notice that it says in 24:16, "Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains--the locale is clearly Jewish.  And in verse 20 we read, "But pray ye that your flight be not . . . on the Sabbath day." The Sabbath was never given to the Church-only to Israel.  The elect mentioned in verse 22 are God's Jewish elect.  The coming of Christ described in verse 30 is not His coming into the air for the Church, but His coming to the earth as Israel's King.
So the Bible student should discern whether a passage is referring to Israel or the Church.  If he is reading about the Day of the Lord, he can be sure that the passage refers primarily to Israel.  If, on the other hand, he comes to references to the Day of Christ, he can be sure the Church is in view.  Thus the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11 has to do with Israel, because that is part of the Day of the Lord.  But the "last trump" of 1 Corinthians 15:52 relates to the Church, because the subject is the Rapture, and the Rapture is connected with the Day of Christ.
In closing, we must consider two of the arguments most commonly used to attempt to prove that the Church is not distinct from Israel.

1. In Acts 7:38 Israel is called "the church. in the wilderness." But we must realize that the word "church" simply means an assembly or company of people.  The same word is used to describe a heathen mob in Ephesus (Acts 19:32).  The New Testament Church is identified as being related to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. In Galatians 6:16 Paul says, " As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." The expression "the Israel of God" is used to assert that all believers today constitute "the Israel of God." But we believe this is a misunderstanding.  When Paul says, "Peace be on them" he is referring to all believers.  But in the words "the Israel of God" Paul singles out those believers of Jewish birth who walk according to the rule of the new creation (v. 15) and not according to the rule of the Law.

THE CHURCH AND THE KINGDOM
It will probably come as a surprise to many readers to learn that the Church is not the same as the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.  In Christendom at large the Church and the kingdom are usually taken as synonymous.  But failure to distinguish them leads to serious problems in both doctrine and practice.
In the last chapter we discussed the Church at some length and therefore it is not necessary to go over that material again.  It is enough to remind ourselves that the Church is a unique society, unlike any other in God's dealings with mankind.  Christ is the Head and all believers are members.  Distinctions of race. social status, and sex are abolished in Christ; all become one in Him.  The Church began at Pentecost and will be completed at the Rapture.  It is spoken of as the body and bride of Christ, and is destined to reign with Him in His Kingdom and to share His glory eternally.
But what about the kingdom of heaven?
The kingdom of heaven is the sphere in which God's rule is acknowledged.  The word heaven is used figuratively to denote God; this is clearly shown in Daniel 4:25, 26.  In verse 25, Daniel said that the Most High rules the kingdom of men.  In the very next verse he says that heaven rules.  Thus the kingdom of heaven announces the rule of God, which exists wherever men submit to that rule.
There are two aspects of the kingdom of heaven.  The broadest aspect includes everyone who merely professes to acknowledge God as the Supreme Ruler.  But its inner aspect includes only people who have been genuinely converted.  We may picture this by two concentric circles, a small one inside a large one.


The large circle is the sphere of profession; it includes the true and the false, the wheat and the tares.  The inner circle includes only those who have been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
By a comparison of all the Biblical references to the kingdom, we can trace its historical development in five distinct phases.
First of all, the kingdom was prophesied in the Old Testament.  Daniel predicted that God would set up a kingdom that would never be destroyed and that would never yield its sovereignty to another people (Dan. 2:44).  He also foresaw the coming of Christ and His universal and everlasting dominion (Dan. 7:13, 14; see also Jer. 23:5, 6).
Second, the kingdom was described as being at hand and present in the Person of the King.  First, John the Baptist, then The Lord Jesus, then the disciples announced that the kingdom was at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7).  The King had arrived to present Himself to the nation of Israel.  The Lord Jesus said..........     if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matt. 12:28 NASB).  On another occasion He said..........  the kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21 RSV).  It was present because the King had arrived on the scene. (While the last two references deal with the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of heaven, we shall show later that the two terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament.)
Third, the kingdom is described in an interim form.  After He was rejected by the nation of Israel, the King returned to heaven.  The kingdom exists today in the hearts of all who acknowledge His kingship while the King is absent, and the moral and ethical principles of the kingdom are applicable to us today.  This interim phase of the kingdom is described in the parables of Matthew 13.
The fourth phase of the kingdom is its manifestation.  This is the literal, thousand-year reign of Christ on earth.  It was foreshadowed on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the Lord was seen in the glory of His coming reign (Matt. 16:28).  The Lord Jesus referred to this kingdom when He said, "Many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 8:11).
The fifth and final form will be the everlasting kingdom.  It is described in 2 Peter 1:11 as "the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is found only in Matthew's Gospel.  The term "kingdom of God" is found in all four Gospels.  For all practical purposes there is no difference; the same things are said about both.  For example, in Matthew 19:23 The Lord Jesus said it would be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  In Mark 10:23 and Luke 18:24 The Lord Jesus is quoted as saying the same thing with regard to the kingdom of God.  Then Matthew also quotes The Lord Jesus as saying virtually the same thing with regard to the kingdom of God (compare Matt. 19:23, 24).
Other passages in which the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are used interchangeably are:


Matt. 4:17 compare with Mark 1:15
Matt. 8:11 compare with Luke 13:29
Matt. 10:7 compare with Luke 9:2
Matt. 11:11 compare with Luke 7:28
Matt. 13:11 compare with Mark 4:11
Matt. 13:31 compare with Mark 4:30, 31; Luke 13:18
Matt. 13:33 compare with Luke 13:20, 21
Matt. 14:14 compare with Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16

We mentioned that the kingdom of heaven has an outward aspect and an inner reality.  The same is true of the kingdom of God.  This may be demonstrated as follows:



Paul was referring to its inward reality when he said that "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17).  He also emphasized that "the kingdom of God is not in word but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20).
The distinction between the kingdom and the Church may be seen in the following: The kingdom began when Christ initiated His public ministry; the Church began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).  The kingdom will continue on earth till the earth is destroyed; the Church will continue on earth only until the Rapture; then it will return with Christ at His Second Advent to reign with Him as His bride.  At the present time the people who are in the kingdom in its true, inner reality are also in the Church; this is the only respect in which the two overlap.


MYSTERIES OF SCRIPTURE
The New Testament presents us with a series of mysteries.  The danger is not so much to confuse them as to fail to understand them.  We will therefore devote this lesson to a short summary of the meanings of the various mysteries.

Definition
A mystery is a truth which has never before. been revealed, which man could not arrive at by his own intellect, and which has now been revealed by God to men.

The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 13:3-50
In Matthew 13:11 we read of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.  They are presented in this chapter in the form of seven parables.
In the early chapters of Matthew we find the Lord Jesus presenting Himself to Israel as Messiah-King.  But in Chapter 12 the religious leaders rejected Him by accusing Him of performing miracles in the power of the Devil.  So now that the King has been rejected, the kingdom will take a different form.  That is what is found in Matthew 13.  These seven parables give a description of the kingdom in its interim form-during the time between the rejection of the King and His return to reign over the earth.  The King is absent, but His kingdom is found wherever men profess to be His subjects.  There is both profession and reality.  At the close of this interim period the true will be separated from the false and will enjoy the blessings of His millennial reign.  The false will be destroyed.

The Mystery of Israel's Blindness
Romans 11:25
Because of Israel's rejection of the King, God has caused a judicial blindness to come upon the Jewish nation.  This partly explains the great difficulty which Jewish people have in accepting The Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and the relatively small number who are saved.  But this blindness is neither total nor final.  Some do see that The Lord Jesus is the One of whom the prophets spoke.  And the blindness will continue only until the "fulness of the Gentiles" has come, that is, until the Lord takes His Gentile bride home to be with Himself.  Then a believing remnant out of Israel will turn to Christ.

The Mystery of the Rapture
1 Corinthians 15:51, 52
Up to this time in human history it was always believed that everyone would die sooner or later.  But now the Apostle Paul makes the startling announcement that not all believers will die.  Those who are living at the time of the Rapture will go to heaven without dying.  They will be changed-that is, they will receive glorified bodies-and they will never see death.  Those who have died in Christ will be raised and taken to heaven with the living saints.  Further details are found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

The Mystery of the Church
Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:5
The Church was a truth kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25) but revealed to the apostles and prophets of the New Testament period (Eph. 3:5).  This mystery embraces such important features as

1. The headship of Christ (Col. 1:18).
2. The membership of all believers (1 Cor. 12:13).
3. The fact that believing Gentiles share equally with believing Jews, that Christ is their hope of glory too, and that the ancient enmity between Jew and Gentile has been abolished in Christ (Eph. 3:6; Col. 1:26, 27; Eph. 2:14, 15).
4. The Church as the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12, 13).
5. The Church as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-27,31,32).
6. The Church as a display of the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10).
7. God's purpose to make Christ the Head of a redeemed universe (Eph. 1:9, 10), with the Church reigning as His bride and sharing His glory forever.

"This mystery among the Gentiles" in Colossians 1:27 is defined as "Christ in you, the hope of glory.  " This is the same mystery as the Church; it emphasizes that Christ is the hope of glory for believing Gentiles as well as believing Jews-all now have the same standing before God in Christ.
In Colossians 2:2 (RSV and NASB) the mystery of God is identified as Christ.  We understand this to refer to the mystical body of Christ, with Christ Himself as the Head and all believers comprising the body.
Other passages that refer to the mystery of the Church are Ephesians 6:19 and Colossians 4:3.  There is a sense in which this mystery of the Church is the capstone of Scriptural revelation.  The Apostle Paul fulfilled the Word of God when he passed on this truth (Col. 1:25).  It was not chronologically the last part of the Bible to be written but, as far as the revelation of important new truth, it was the climax.

The Mystery of Iniquity
2 Thessalonians 2:7, 8
The only reference to the "mystery of iniquity" is in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, 8. There Paul, says that "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.  And then that lawless one will be revealed..." (NASB).  Even in the early days of the Church a spirit of lawlessness was already operating.  There were many antichrists.  But the full development of lawlessness was restrained by an unnamed Person (whom we believe to be the Holy Spirit).  When that restraining Person is removed (the Holy Spirit will be taken away as the permanent Indweller at the Rapture), then the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist, will stride onto the stage of history.  He will be the very embodiment of sin and lawlessness.  The world will never before have seen such a concentration of wickedness in any human being.

The Mystery of the Faith
1 Timothy 3:9
The "mystery of the faith" refers to the body of Christian doctrine, or what we call the Christian faith.  It is called a mystery because so many of its truths were completely unknown in Old Testament times.

The Mystery of Godliness
1 Timothy 3:16
Literally translated, 1 Timothy 3:16 reads:


Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of piety.  He who was manifested in flesh has been justified in the Spirit, has been preached among the nations, has been believed on in the world, has been received up in glory.

The verse does not say definitely who is the subject, but the description could only fit one person-our Lord Jesus Christ.  Up to the time that Christ came into the world, men had never seen perfect godliness in a human life.  But the Lord Jesus came and gave a practical demonstration of what an absolutely godly person is like.
When Paul says that the mystery of godliness is great, he does not mean that it is deeply mysterious, but rather that the truth of the Person of Christ is marvelous and wonderful.
The mystery of godliness stands in contrast to the mystery of iniquity.  The first presents a Man who perfectly embodies piety.  The second presents the living embodiment of sin.  It is the stark contrast between Christ and Antichrist.

The Mystery of the Seven Stars
Revelation 1:20
This mystery is clearly defined.  The seven stars in John's vision are the angels or messengers of the seven churches of Asia.  The seven golden lampstands are the seven churches.  In the next two chapters, the Lord addresses letters to the angels of the seven churches.  These letters may be understood in three different ways.

1. They were seven literal letters written to seven literal churches that existed in John's day.
2. They give a chronological preview of conditions in the Church from the days of the apostles to the end of the Church era.
3. They describe conditions which may be found in the Church worldwide at any particular time in its history.

The Mystery of God
Revelation 10:7
When the seventh trumpet of Revelation 10 sounds, the mystery of God will be fulfilled.  The sounding of the seventh trumpet is accompanied by loud voices in heaven saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever' (Rev. 11:15 NASB).  From this we know that the seventh trumpet sounds at the close of the Great Tribulation, when Christ returns to earth to reign (Rev.  11:17).  At that time the Lord's faithful Tribulation saints will be rewarded and His enemies will be destroyed (v. 18).
The mystery of God will then be fulfilled.  The evil which has been so persistent and apparently triumphant will be put down.  God's seeming indifference to man's wickedness and His apparent inaction will have ended.  "The mystery of God is forever finished; the glory of God shines like the sun; faith is completely justified, the murmur of doubt forever silenced"
(F. W. Grant).

The Mystery of Babylon
Revelation 17:5-7
Babylon the Great is pictured in Revelation 17 as a harlot sitting on a beast with seven heads and ten horns.  She is named Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the earth.  The explanation of the mystery is given in verses 8-18.  The woman is a great city that reigns over the kings of the earth (v. 18).  The beast is an empire that in turn existed at one time, passed out of existence, will be revived, and will be destroyed (v. 8).  The seven heads are seven kings of this empire (v. 9).  The ten horns are ten kings who will be federated with this empire (v. 12).  The harlot rides on the back of the beast for awhile, but is then destroyed by it (v. 16).  The empire itself will eventually be destroyed by the Lord (v. 14).
Our interpretation of the mystery is as follows.  The woman represents a great religious and economic system which will have its headquarters in Rome; it will be a world church with vast financial resources.  The beast represents the revived Roman Empire in a ten-kingdom form, somewhat along the geographical lines of the European Common Market.
After supporting the world church for awhile, the ruler of the revived Roman Empire and the ten kings who are his allies will turn against the system and destroy it.  Further details concerning Babylon and her destruction are found in Revelation 18.


Conclusion
There are four other references to mysteries in the New Testament.
In 1 Corinthians 2:7 Paul says that he and the other apostles spoke the wisdom of God in a mystery.  Then he explains that he means truths which were hidden to previous generations but which have now been revealed through the Holy Spirit.
He and the other apostles were "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1).  Here again the word is used in a general sense to cover all the new truth of the Christian dispensation.
But he reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:2 that it is not enough to know all mysteries and all knowledge, If we do not have love, we are nothing.
And finally, in 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul explains that if a man speaks in a foreign language with no interpreter present, he benefits no one, even though he may be speaking the most profound mysteries.