Who or What is the Bride of Christ?

Posted: June 14, 2013 in Hermeneutics, Theology

I had always been taught that the church is the bride of Christ, but hearing some different opinions and theories about it made me realize that I didn’t really know if what I believed was really the truth or how I could back it up with solid Scriptures. The first Scripture I found didn’t say what I thought it might say.

Revelation 21:9-10 says “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride , the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”

This totally messed with what I believed; I had to find more scripture to see if this was true or what this really meant. Is New Jerusalem really the bride of Christ? And what does this mean? Where did the bride of Christ being the church even come from?

Revelation 21:2, “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”

Revelation 19:6-9, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ‘ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’”

Isaiah 62:4-5, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (The word “sons” can also be translated “Builder”.)

Isaiah 54:4-6, “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit – a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God.”

Matthew 22:11-14, “But when the king came in to see th guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. ‘Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ‘For many are invited, but few are chosen.’”

Hebrews 13:14, “The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.”

Galatians 4:24-26, “These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”

Hebrews 12:22-24, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

From these Scriptures we can see that the bride of Christ is clearly New Jerusalem. The last cite from Hebrews tells us who will be in New Jerusalem. It tells us that the angels, the church of the firstborn, God, spirits of righteous men, and Jesus will all be in New Jerusalem. You can take this to mean that along with the city, we will also be part of the bride of Christ. They will be with God, as Revelation 21:3 says:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

It is this closeness that is like marriage, the closeness and relationship between husband and wife is like the relationship and closeness we will have with God as part of His bride. His bride will be the city of New Jerusalem and all the things in it, and part of that is “the church of the firstborn” which we know to be Jesus.

Romans 8:28-29, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Colossians 1:15-18, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Revelation 1:5, “and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”

So because we are His church, we will be part of His bride. It’s still hard to comprehend, the idea of God being married to New Jerusalem. What would make God want to marry New Jerusalem and everything within? How does this relate to us in a way we can understand it?

Matthew 22:29-32, “Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead – have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’”

1 Corinthians 7:8-9,”Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Romans 7:2, “For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.”

1 Corinthians 7:33-36, “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lords affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way with undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

1 Corinthians 7:1,”Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.”

1 Corinthians 7:28, “But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

1 Timothy 4:1-3, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have ben seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”

1 Peter 3:1-7, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

Titus 2:4-8, “Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Colossians 3:18-19, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

Ephesians 5:22-30, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.”

These verses together tell us that we won’t be married to the people we marry here on earth on the other side of resurrection because the law of marriage is only in effect until “death do us part”, and that despite our marital status we are still part of the church of Christ. We are to still honor marriages here on earth, even though we are part of the bride of Christ, and do our best to keep our focus on God and pleasing Him. Ultimately, marriage displays the type of relationship Christ has with His church. We are to show love to our spouse just as Christ did to the Church and the Church does to Christ. Christ displayed His love for us (His Church) already in dying for us. His relationship with us is as a husband to his wife, the love and intimacy that He shares with us and the way He knows our hearts is just like that of a marriage relationship. It makes sense that His bride would be New Jerusalem when you take into account what He has done for His bride already and how He loves her as a whole. He wants to be close to us, to His people and His angels, this is why New Jerusalem is His bride.

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