MYSTERIO CHRISTI

Latin, I think, for the “Mystery of Christ”.  For the English speaker, doesn’t it just sound more mysterious in Latin?  My understanding is that even St. Augustine did not speak Hebrew, yet he commented on the scriptures in his writings written in Latin.  In fact, he seemed to pull all kinds of scriptures together to make his points.  Granted that he was a genius, well read, well versed in classical writings, schooled in rhetoric, etc., but I take my cue and encouragement from him to attempt to make Old Testament verses connect with New Testament verses without the advantage of advanced textual criticism.  My research is very basic as I struggle with the Greek and Hebrew meanings of words translated in online bibles, commentaries lexicons, etc.  This is indeed scary for scholars; and I might be subject to their interpretive corrections…however, my intent and hope is that these connections flow from the rivers of living waters inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s see and let the prophets judge.

[1]Jeremiah 30:24 “The fierce anger of the Lord shall not return, until He have executed, until He have performed the purposes of His heart; In the end of days ye shall consider it.”
[2]Ephesians 3:10-11 “…to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purposes which He accomplished in Christ Jesus the Lord.”

Jeremiah is prophesying about the future, seeming to indicate a time for his readers to consider his words may not really be realized until the “end of days”.  Who knows how long that will be?  Did Jeremiah have any inkling about such a time frame?  Nevertheless, what caught my attention was the “purposes of His heart” which indicated that the Lord (Yahweh) had plans that were in process or, at least, needed to be executed prior to Jeremiah’s audience eventual consideration of the activation of those plans.

[3]Ephesians 3:1-11 The apostle Paul also alluded to preset plans of the Lord when he referred to them as the “eternal purpose.”  It may be a leap, but I am thinking that Jeremiah’s reference to the “purposes of His heart” can be connected to Paul’s reference to His “eternal purposes.”  A key contrast is that the purposes mentioned in Jeremiah are yet to be revealed, whereas Paul is declaring that these (or, at least) some of these were accomplished in the life, work, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord.  A few verses earlier in his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle said that this mystery (of Christ) was not made know to the sons of men in ages past.  While Jeremiah may have prophesied of such things as the new covenant, even he did not know this great mystery that in this new era following Jesus was revealed to Paul, the holy apostles and prophets.  Obviously, there was select timing in God’s plan to reveal this mystery of Christ.  Why, at this point in Israel’s history, was this mystery being revealed by the Spirit?  Verse 6 indicates that this is the beginning of the Lord bringing Gentiles (en masse) to be fellow heirs (with faithful Jews?), making them into one body AND partakers of His promise (to Abraham? David?) via the good news of Christ, the “son of David”.  Paul is telling his readers that God is pulling in the Gentiles into this promise, causing them to see the mystery that is now being revealed to them.  Verse 9 informs us that this mystery has been in God’s plan from the very beginning of time, but was hidden in Him until this time of revelation via Paul’s ministry.  For some reason, God determined that He was going to reveal His wisdom via the vehicle of the church which will declare and testify about its verity to the principalities and powers in heavenly places.  Now it gets really interesting.  The Lord Yahweh ‘s purpose was not just to enlighten the sons of men, but also to announce to spiritual beings this great mystery.  Obviously, these celestial inhabitants also did not know about this mystery, its purpose nor its impact.  God chose mortal men, made a little lower than the angels (the church), to reveal this mystery to those whom are mightier than the mortal men.  Why?

There is a much larger back story that needs to be told in order to answer that question.  These answers reside in my belief in the unseen realm which includes the idea that all of reality does not consist only of the material, tangible world.  My worldview and core beliefs are not comfortably fitted into empirical rationalism but are in agreement with one of my favorite authors who writes: [4] “My contention is that, if our theology really derives from the biblical text, we must reconsider our selective supernaturalism and recover a biblical theology of the unseen world.  This is not to suggest that the best interpretation of a passage is always the most supernatural one.  But the biblical writers and those to whom they wrote were predisposed to supernaturalism.  To ignore that outlook or marginalize it will produce Bible interpretation that reflects our mindset more than that of the biblical writers.”

Suffice it to say that the Bible records divine beings rebelling against their Creator. Adam was not the only rebel.  Not only does the Apostle Paul refer to these principalities and powers of heavenly places, but also [5]Jude refers to the “angels who did not keep their proper domain.”  The Apostle Peter mentioned these celestial rebels leaving their proper domain via expulsion when he [6]wrote, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into darkness, to be reserved for judgment…”  So, what does Paul’s mysterio christi have to do with this cosmic confrontation?  Perhaps we find a hint in the apostle’s reasoning for obeisance to the Father of our lord Jesus Christ [7] “…from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…”  What does this have to do with Jeremiah’s reference to the purposes of His (God’s) heart?  For now, I suggest that all of this was in His big plan from the beginning.

To be continued.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

[1] The Holy Scriptures, (1955). According to the Masoretic Text. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America
[2] The Holy Bible, (2010).  New King James Version.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers
[3] The Holy Bible, (2010).  New King James Version.  Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers
[4] The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (2015). 
Michael S. Heiser. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press (p. 18)
[5] Jude 6
[6] II Peter2:4
[7] Ephesians 3:15

Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash


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