Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 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. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (II Corinthians 11:1-3).
We have also heard this passage used to support the church is the bride ideation. Because of what Paul stated, many believe the bride (the body) is betrothed to one husband and is to be presented a chaste virgin to Christ. Paul is speaking about himself, speaking about what he has done, and speaking about what he wants to do. Paul betrothed the church at Corinth to Jesus when he converted them and taught them about the gospel of Jesus. Paul wants to present them as pure, natural, and clean in thought and deed to Christ, not having their minds corrupted with false doctrines by false teachers. He is truly concerned that they may lose that which they have received from him and their minds could be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ by one preaching another Jesus (II Corinthians 11:4-33). Basically, Paul wanted the Corinthians to be true to their first love; Jesus like a chaste virgin should be to her future husband. Since we, being the bride, do not fit this example, then who or what is the bride?
A bride is describe as a woman who is about to be married or one who has just gotten married. Let us look at the legalities attached of the title of bride. A bride about to be married has no legal right to the groom’s name. She is still legally bound to her name. She cannot conduct business in his name. She does not have the authority to use his name. The church has the authority to use the name of the groom. Therefore, we as the church do not fit this example. A bride who has just gotten married has the legal right to use the name of the groom. She is not legally bound just to her name, any more. She can conduct business in his name. She has the authority to use his name. The church, the part we now label as the bride, has the authority to use the name of the groom, which is Jesus. Since we, being the bride, fit this example, then we must be the bride. Or are we?
Summarizing what we have discovered thus far; a bride who has just gotten married has the legal right to use the name of the groom. We also know that the church has the authority to use the name of the groom. This means that the church, the part we now label as the bride, actually has the authority to use the name of the groom, which is Jesus. And since we, being the bride, appear to fit this example, then we must be the bride. Or are we?
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor (glory) 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 (bright): 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 (Revelation 19:7-9).
Traditionally, these verses have been used to show that the church, the part we now label as the bride, are they which are being called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The wife was allowed to adorn herself in shining and spotless linen; being the righteousness or righteous works of saints. The saints are the church and the wife is only clothed in their righteousness (Revelation 19:8). The problem is that these verses do not identify those being called to the marriage supper.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? 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 (Matthew 9:11-15).
When the scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus why his disciples did not fast and make prayer like those who were John’s disciples and the Pharisees, he called his disciples children of the bridechamber (also see Mark 2:16-20 and Luke 5:30-35). Will the children of the bridechamber be invited to the wedding of the Lamb?
Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled (John 3:25-29).
When a question arose between the John’s disciples and the Jews about purification, they went to John and inquired of the one who was baptizing all men who came to him. John referred to the one as the bridegroom and of himself, he referred to as the friend. Will the friend of the bridegroom be invited to the wedding of the Lamb?
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matthew 25:1-13).
When the ten virgins went out meet the bridegroom, the five foolish ones were unprepared to meet the bridegroom, but the five wise ones were well prepared and they went with him to the marriage. This parable pertains to the second coming of Christ so that we may be ready upon his return. It illustrates how things will be when the kingdom is delivered up to the Father (I Corinthians 15:24).
It was sometimes customary among the Jews for the bridegroom, with his friends, to go to the house of the bride. As he approached the house, the bridesmaids would go out, with lamps in hand, and light his path to the house. If this be the intended interpretation of this parable, then the virgins would represent bridesmaids at the wedding of the Lamb and not the bride. From the above passage, we find the marriage of the Lamb has finally come and will take place following the return of Christ. Therefore, since the wedding has not occurred, then the bride about to be married has no legal right to use the name of the groom. The bride is still legally bound to her name and cannot conduct business in the name of the groom. The bride does not have the authority to use the name of the groom. Since we, being labeled the bride, do not appear to fit this example, then who or what is the bride?
Here are the facts in the case. The church has the authority to use the name of Jesus, who is truly the groom. The marriage ceremony will not take place until the second coming of Jesus. This means that the bride of Christ does not have the authority to use his name until the marriage takes place. So, does the evidence support the church being labeled the bride? Or does the evidence take you in a different direction? Is any of this the truth? Or is it all fiction? The decision is yours.
We have examined several scriptural references traditionally used to portray the church as the bride. This symbolism of marriage has been applied to Christ and the church. Many have used scripture references from Ephesians 55:22-33 and II Corinthians 11:1-3 as proof text to show the bridegroom, through sacrifice and love, chose us, the church to be his bride. However, is there scriptural evidence that shows clearly who or what the bride of Christ is?
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 (Revelation 19:7). 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, having the glory of God (Revelation 21:9-11). And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2).
Upon his return, the eternal union of the bridegroom and his bride we be realized. As the official ceremony takes place, those dead in Christ first, then those which are alive and remain will be called up to meet them in the clouds (I Timothy 4:16-17). Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, to invite the saints to the marriage supper (Revelation 19:9). Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad, given glory to him for the marriage has come and the bride has displayed the bright, pure, fine linen that is the righteousness of all the saints called to the ceremony (Revelation 19:7-8). In addition, the kings of the earth and the nations will bring their glory and honor in to it (Revelation 21:24-26).
A message truly for those who have an ear to ear; let them ear. Enjoy your blessings and remember to be a blessing to others - KW