And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . . .
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…
Revelation 21:2, 9-10
sk any Christian to tell you who the bride of Christ
is and virtually everyone you ask will respond by saying
, the church
. Several years ago that would also have been my answer. But, in recent years, I have re-examined the Scriptures and have come to a different conclusion. Hopefully this thesis will explain my position and will explain why I reached this conclusion.
First, the phrase, the bride of Christ, is not recorded anywhere in the Bible. This is easy for anyone to discover simply by looking up the words in a concordance. If any Bible version other than King James contains the phrase, and I do not know if any does, then they have taken a liberty not substantiated by any Bible texts. The phrase, the bride of Christ, has been used for so long and by so many that we have simply accepted it as Biblical without requiring the Bible proof. Why do we accept so much without seeing it clearly in the Scriptures? We need to be more like the Bereans who;
searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Generally the Scripture most often quoted to support the church as the bride of Christ is from Ephesians 5:25-32;
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The love of Christ for the Church is used as an example for the love with which a husband is to have for his wife. The mystery
that Paul speaks about is the unity of Christ with His Church but in the passage
, the Church is referred to as the body;
specifically, members of His body
. The husband and wife relationship is used as a type of the relationship of Christ with His Church, but Paul does not call the Church the bride
Another Scripture that may be used is II Corinthians 11:2;
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
The husband that Paul is talking about is himself; he describes his jealousy for them in the light that there were false apostles who challenged the authority of Paul’s apostleship. Since he was their apostle his desire was to see them perfected in the faith.
Another fact to consider is that the word virgin can refer to male as well as female. Consider this passage from Revelation;
These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.
This passage refers to the 144,000 Jewish men who are sealed during the time of the Great Tribulation.
Another passage is Colossians 1:28;
. . . that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Paul is not referring to them having a relationship with Christ as a Bride, but that he would present them to Christ as complete in the faith. Paul was their rightful
, spiritual husband.
Consider also the following passage from Ephesians 4 as Paul talks about the gifted persons given to that early church;
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The goal was that the church would be a perfect man
. A man is not a bride.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
We have all heard of the marriage supper of the lamb, and we have been encouraged with the hope of participating in this feast. But if the church is not the bride in this celebration
, then who is the bride? The answer is in the first scripture that we looked at, in Revelation 21:2;
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And Revelation 21:9-10;
Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God . . .
These Scriptures support the fact that Israel is the true bride; in fact, Israel was the wife of long ago. The verse in Revelation 21:9;
. . . I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
A bride is not a wife until after the wedding ceremony. But here the bride is also called the wife. This points us back to the Old Testament and the relationship that God had with His people Israel. In Jeremiah 3:14, God says to His people;
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.
God’s relationship with His people was like a marriage.
In Jeremiah 31:32, when God promised to establish a new covenant with the house of Israel, he said;
. . . Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, saith the Lord.
Again, God claims to be Israel’s husband which makes Israel the bride. This relationship will certainly be restored in the new covenant with Israel. In Hosea 2:19-20, God again speaks of the restored relationship with His people;
And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
Isaiah also spoke of this relationship in the book of Isaiah 54:5;
For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
These Old Testament verses speak of Israel. They are not applicable to the church. The church has not taken the place of Israel; God will restore Israel in the end times. Israel forsook God and went after other gods. For this they were cursed and rejected by God. God said in Jeremiah 3:8;
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Although God divorced
His people for a time, He will take them back. This is why John was told;
. . . I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
Israel is the Lamb’s wife that in their restoration will also be the bride. And from that same chapter of Revelation we get this further description of the bride;
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; and had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
This certainly does not diminish in any way the position of the church, the Body of Christ. But we must remember that the promises made to Israel were promises that God intends to keep. He will bring to pass his purposes for Israel. We will be at the wedding feast as members of the Body of Christ
, not as the Bride.