Monday, September 24, 2018

The Bride of Christ

Revelation 19:6-11
[6] And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. [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. [10] And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. [11] And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Although the term “Bride of Christ” is not actually in the Bible, Christ is called a Bridegroom (Jn. 3:29) and the Bible does refer to His bride and wife. The big question is, who is the bride? The far majority of Christians believe that the church is the bride of Christ, but there are different views concerning who that would include. Some say it includes all believers since the cross or the Day of Pentecost. Others say it includes all believers since Adam. There are even some who say it only includes believers who have been water baptized in a certain way into a certain church (Baptist Briders). 

The church that God is building in this present age (the Body of Christ is made up of all who believe the gospel of the grace of God revealed through the apostle Paul, Gal. 1:11-12; Eph. 3:6) is likened to a bride and wife by way of illustration, but it is a great blunder to jump to the conclusion that we are the bride and wife spoken of in prophecy. 

1) When and where will this marriage take place (v.11)? 
It is clear in the context that the marriage will take place on earth upon the second coming of Christ. The marriage is associated with LAND (Isa. 62:1-5). The context contrasts the whore (Babylon) with the pure wife (New Jerusalem). Tradition says that it will take place in heaven upon the rapture, but there is not a verse of scripture that supports that view. The reason that God uses the figure of marriage in regard to His relationship with His people is that marriage is a union. Upon the second coming of Christ, the believing remnant of Israel (those who faithfully endure) will be regathered and joined to their land, and they will be joined to their Messiah and King (Heb. 3:6, 14). If we are the bride in this passage that would mean that we are going through the tribulation period and that we are not joined to Christ until the second coming! Paul taught that we are permanently joined to the Lord the moment of salvation (1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13; Rom. 7:1-6; 2 Cor. 11:1-3). 

2) How will the wife make herself ready (v.8)? 
She is called a wife before the marriage because betrothal in Israel was so binding that a bride could be also called a wife before the consummation of the marriage (Matt. 1:18-20). She is ready for the marriage because she is clothed in clean and white linen. How did she get that garment (Rev. 3:1-6; 6:9-11; 7:9-17)? The godly remnant in Israel proved their faith by their works in that they overcame the beast and stayed true to Christ. The white garment represents the “righteousness of saints.” How could any of this possibly apply to the Body of Christ? We will be raptured BEFORE the 70th week of Daniel. The prophecy of the 70th week cannot be fulfilled until this parenthetical mystery age closes with th mystery of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:51-52). We are clothed with the righteousness of Christ upon salvation and we are complete in Him (Phil. 3:9; Eph. 1:6; Col. 2:10). 

3) Is this passage the subject of the mystery or prophecy? 
The book of Revelation is called a prophecy five times. It is the culmination of the prophetic kingdom program of Israel. Everything in it is based on what was spoken by the prophets since the world began, but the Body of Christ is a great mystery that was hid in God and kept secret since the world began until it was revealed to the apostle Paul (Rom. 16:25). 

Contrary to popular opinion, Eph. 5:22-32 does not teach that the church is the bride of Christ. In the doctrinal section of the epistle (chapters 1-3), Paul emphasized that the church is the BODY of Christ (1:22-23, 2:1-16, 3:6; 4:4). This passage is in the practical section of the epistle (chapters 4-6). Paul uses the relationship between Christ and His church (one body) to teach about the marriage relationship between believers. It is important to note the little (but very important) word, “AS.” Nowhere in the passage does he say that the church is the bride of Christ. 

The teaching is simply as follows:

I. Christ and His church are one body (1 Cor. 12:12-13)
a. Christ is the head of this body
b. The church is to submit to it’s Head
c. Christ loves the church as His own body, we are part of Him

II. In the marriage relationship the husband and wife are one flesh (v.31)
a. The husband is the head of this one body
b. The wife should submit to her husband as she does to Christ
c. The husband should love his wife as his own body (nourish), she is part of him

“This is a great mystery” (v.32) – The mystery of the church is not that it is the bride of Christ (the “bride” is no mystery for it is in prophecy), but that it is the BODY of Christ (3:3-6). Being the BODY of Christ is a greater position than being the bride. Israel is spoken of many times as being a woman, but we are one new MAN. 

Basic outline of the prophetic doctrine concerning the bride

1) Israel became the wife of God under the old covenant (Jer. 2:1-2)
2) She constantly committed adultery against Him with her idolatry (Jer. 3; Ezek. 16)
3) After much longsuffering, God gave her a bill of divorcement (Isa. 50:1; Jer. 3:8)
4) He promised to betroth her AGAIN as a virgin bride (Isa. 54:6-8; 62:1-5; Hos. 2:14-23) 
5) Christ presented Himself to Israel as a Bridegroom, but was rejected by her (Jn. 1:31; 3:29; Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13)
6) When He comes again she will receive Him and be His bride and wife (Rev. 19:7-11)
7) This relationship will remain in the eternal state, she is still called a bride because the millennial reign was the marriage supper (Rev. 21:1-2, 9-21). 


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