By Patrick Hawthorne
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,27 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. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (Ephesians 5:22-29 KJV)
If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you have probably heard someone preach, “The Church is the Bride of Christ.” For that matter, you may have expressed the same thought, based off of the introductory verses in Ephesians.
Before I get to the sacred cow tipping, I would like to express that this post is being written in good humor. Frankly speaking, this topic has nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. In other words, to be mistaken on this subject is not something that will affect your eternal destiny nor your dignity. However, once identified, that ole sacred cow needs to be butchered and readied for the BBQ.
“Oh no he di’nt just go there.”
Yep, I did…
“Ok, Mr. Smarty Pants. If not the Church, just who is the Bride of Christ?”
I’m glad you asked. But first, let me express that, in the above verses, the Church is the Body of Christ with Jesus as the head. When read in proper context, Ephesians chapter 5:22-29 is not about our identity with Lord Jesus but instead is showing us how to have a right relationship with Him. Paul was simply using the relationship of a husband and a wife as an example.
So, if the Church is not the Bride, who is?
9 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 Lamb’s wife.10 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, (Revelation 21:9-10 KJV)
The Bride – the wife – of Christ is New Jerusalem.
“No, no,” you say. “That is from the Book of Revelation and is symbolic of the Church.”
First of all, not everything in the Book of Revelation is symbolic. Even so, let’s look at Revelation 19:7-8 (KJV).
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.
Isn’t that interesting. This passage is referring to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The WIFE – New Jerusalem – has made herself ready by being arrayed with the righteous acts of the saints who make up her dress. But, how can a city be a bride? I have no idea. It wasn’t my idea; it was the Lord’s. However, it is made clear that the Church is not the Bride and to that I say, “Yes Lord.” Be blessed.