The Mystery of God could be called the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery. No, I do not mean a mysterious married couple from a city in Texas.
The Mystery of God goes without elaboration or explanation when first mentioned in Revelation 10:7. It is just suddenly dropped into the Apocalypse’s eccentric mix. Because that is so — because it is not elaborated upon or explained, the Mystery of God can be missed by readers. Joe Reader might not consider what the Mystery is. Joanna Reader might not even notice it there. Nevertheless, the Mystery of God carries a lot more narrative importance than Joe or Joanna Reader may recognize. Since the Mystery of God immediately follows an awe inspiring celestial appearance and a solemn vow made by the Mighty Angel (who is actually Christ Jesus incognito), it must matter. Indeed, the Mystery matters a great deal. The mentioning of the Mystery even serves as a rudder for the ensuing narrative. It steers the remaining course of the Book of Revelation. Everything to follow 10:7 concerns the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery. That is not an overstatement.
Although I discussed the Mystery of God in my last blog-cast, a refresher may be necessary and helpful here. Just what is the Mystery of God? For the sake of simplicity, readers can equate the Mystery of God with the Church of Christ, which is sometimes metaphorically called the Body of Christ. The Mystery of God could be called the Corpus Christi, since Corpus Christi is the Latin translation of the Body of Christ. Since the Latin phrase helpfully rhymes, I suggest readers remember it as the Corpus Christi Mystery. But one more elaborative word should be inserted into that that title. The word to add is coupled, resulting in the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery.
The Mystery of God, the Church, can thus be likened to a body. This is an anatomical analogy. Like a body, the Church is an extension of and living instrument of its Head, who is Christ. Corporately, believers form a living entity that cooperatively accomplishes Christ’s purposes. Believers do so by daily drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Cooperative Christians function on Earth as the Corpus Christi, the instrumental anatomy of Christ.
In my last blog-cast I used another analogy. I equated the Mystery of God with adoption. That analogy has not been abandoned. It still holds true. Adoption is a great way to think about the Mystery of God, about the Church, the Christian community. Adoption brings a blended family immediately to mind. A blended family could also be called a coupled family. And that is how the Church is supposed to behave — like a caring, nurturing blended (or coupled) family.
The adoptive coupling is the big surprise. It is a marvel and a mystery that God invited Gentiles into the household. Even Gentiles are invited. Gentiles! This was shocking and scandalous to Jesus’ first followers. Gentiles were hitherto anathema. Gentiles were polluted. Gentiles were infectious. Was it possible that God would open the family of faith to Gentiles?
It was possible. And today God continues to invite distant strangers and even once hostile enemies to come join the household of God. That even includes foolish, stubborn sinners like you and me. God has invited us turn away from our sin and from ourselves. God has invited us to take a new path and follow Christ. And God has invited us to become part of a larger, longstanding family of faith. Surprisingly, complete strangers and awkward aliens like us are included in the invitation. We too are welcome to join the family, if we will only accept the invitation to submit to the leadership of Christ.
Once we are adopted into the family, we are incorporated into the anatomy. Notice the metaphorical mix and the symbolic switch, then. Anatomy and adoption are my two operative metaphors. To talk about the Church, we may and sometimes should switch up the descriptive symbolism. We do this since various metaphors are variously apt. Also notice that both the adoption metaphor and the anatomy metaphor are taken straight from scripture (see Ephesians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:27).
In subsequent episodes, beginning in Chapter Eleven, Revelation is going to switch the symbolism some more. Revelation will use several additional metaphors or symbols for the Church, for the Corpus Christi Coupled Mystery. Borrowing from the end of the Prophecy of Ezekiel, the Church will be depicted as a temple. Borrowing from the middle of the Prophecy of Zechariah, the Church will be depicted as two olive trees and two lamp-stands. But the primary, overarching symbolic image for the Church will be that of two fire-breathing martyrs — two testifying, miracle-working, persecuted, slain, but eventually resurrected and raptured martyrs. Be ready. We will see a mash-up of metaphors for the Church.
In summary, as we follow the narrative of Revelation our focus now and from hence is the Church of Christ, which is a blended family of native Jewish believers and adoptive Gentile believers, believers who have been coupled together by one Spirit to form a body — the Corpus Christi Coupling, the Mystery of God.