The Bride of Christ
Concerning the Bride of Christ,the predominant traditional teaching is that the Church is the Bride. But is the Church the Bride of Christ? If the church is not the bride, then who is? What will a careful study of the Word of God reveal?
In this study We will examine the scriptures that are most often used to support the traditional teaching that the Church is the Bride.
Revelation 19:7-9 is most often used to support this doctrine;and many times is the only verses used to support this entire doctrine. (19:7) "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. (8) 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. (9) 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."
Tradition teaches the Church is the bride that is being called to the marriage supper in verse nine. It is assumed that the ones being invited to the marriage must be the bride.
A careful look at these verses tell the truth. First, verse 7, "...for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready," does not identify the church as being the wife. Neither does verse 8, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen...for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." This verse says that the wife is clothed with the "righteousness" or righteous works of saints. The saints are the church, but the wife is only clothed with them. Also, verse 9 does not identify those that are being called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. As We continue our study We will see that being called or invited to a marriage does not make us the bride.
Remember the marriage in Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning the water into wine? "And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage." (John 2:1,2) We see that Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding, yet obviously none of them were the bride.
Again in Matthew, chapter 22, there is a parable about (2)"...a certain King, which made a marriage for his son, (3) And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding..." If You will read this parable You will see that those bidden were guest and not the bride.
In Matthew 9:14,15, Jesus referes to his disciples as the "children of the bridechamber". According to W.E Vines, "The children of the bridechamber" and "bridechamber" refers to the friends of the bridegroom "who had charge of providing what was necessary for the Nuptials". (9:14) "Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? (15) And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." Our Lord was of course refering to Himself as the bridegroom that would soon be taken away from them, but He did not call His disciples, who were the beginning of the Church, the bride. He called them "the children of the bridechamber" or the friends of the bridegroom.
Now let us go to John 3:29. It reads, "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegrooms voice..." This verse shows us clearly that the Bride and the friend of the bridegroom are not the same.
There is another scripture which is sometimes used to teach that the church is the bride of Christ. It is in chapter eleven of second Corinthians; "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." (2 Cor. 11:2)
Some would say that this scripture shows that the church is the bride of Christ, because the Apostle Paul said, "...I have espoused (betrothed) you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." The Apostle was speaking to the church at Corinth, and simply making a comparison. Let`s read verses 3 and 4; "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (4) For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." Paul was simply telling the Corinthians to be true to their first love, Jesus Christ, as a betrothed virgin should be to her future husband. Verse 13 of this same chapter shows that he was warning of false teachers; "For such are false apostles, and deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." In the Book of Revelation, Jesus himself in his letter to the church at Ephesus gives a similar warning. Even though he praises them for their good works, labour and patience He say`s "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." (Rev. 2:4)
What have we learned so far? We have looked at many of the scriptures that have been used to teach that the church is the bride of Christ. However not one of them has stated directly that the church is the bride. In contrast to this there are several scriptures that tells us that the church is the
"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (1 Cor.12:27)
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph. 1:22,23)In Ephesians Chapter 4, verses 11 and 12,describe the gifts that Christ has given to the Church.Verse 12 tells us that these gifts are "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. The word tells us in the book of Colossians That Christ is "the head of the body, the Church"(Col. 1:18)
These scriptures describe clearly that the church is the Body of Christ, but is there scripture that shows us clearly who the Bride of Christ is? Absolutely, but amazingly these scriptures are often not used either out of ignorance (lack of knowledge) or on purpose because they do not fit into the, "The church is the bride of Christ doctrine."
Let`s read again Revelation 19:7, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." Who is it? Without controversy the Word of God settles it,
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."(Rev.21:2)
"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 shew thee the bride, the Lambs Wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God". (Rev.21:9)
So We see that according to the Word of God that the Bride is the New Jerusalem that will be arrayed with the Saints of God.