Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Church, The Bride, And You

God has made Christ the supreme head of the church.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The church represents the body of Christ.  When you look at human anatomy, you find the head attached to the body and the body attached to the feet.  The head (Jesus) is attached to the body (the church) which is attached to the feet.  But what is the body of Christ?  Just as the human body is comprised of many parts working together as one, so it is with the body of Christ.  In fact, the members are baptized by one Spirit to form one body, nourished by the same Spirit so there is no disunion in the body.  You are the body of Christ and member of the body, individually.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked:  that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (I Corinthians 12:12-27).

We know the body of Christ is referred to as the church.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).

Traditionally, we have been lead to believe the church is the bride of Christ and that he is coming back to get his chaste bride.  But is the church truly the bride of Christ?  If not, then who or what is the bride?  Let us examine the anatomy of the human body substituting the bride for the church.  With this in mind, we find the structure of the body has been altered somewhat.  We now have the head (Christ), which is male part connected to the body (the bride) which is a female part, all attached to the feet, another male part, we assume.  Metaphorically and symbolically speaking, this has created an interesting image of male parts at the head and the feet and a female part in place for the body, the part we now label as the bride.  Since we, being the bride, do not appear to fit this example, then who or what is the bride?

We have learned throughout the years, based on the contents found in the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians, the church is compared to that of the wife.

Wives, be under the authority of your husbands, as of the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body.  And as the church is under Christ's authority, so let wives be under the rule of their husbands in all things.  Husbands, have love for your wives, even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it; so that he might make it holy, having made it clean with the washing of water by the word, and might take it for himself, a church full of glory, not having one mark or fold or any such thing; but that it might be holy and complete.  Even so it is right for husbands to have love for their wives as for their bodies.  He who has love for his wife has love for himself:  for no man ever had hate for his flesh; but he gives it food and takes care of it, even as Christ does for the church; because we are parts of his body.  For this cause will a man go away from his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  This is a great secret: but my words are about Christ and the church.  But do you, everyone, have love for his wife, even as for himself; and let the wife see that she has respect for her husband (Ephesians 5:22-33).

This passage has been used as proof text for the church being labeled the bride of Christ because of the correlation to the husband-wife-one-flesh ideology.  A careful reexamination of these scriptures reveals instructions for the perfect Christian family.  The godly instructions for the husband and wife are illustrated through the unique relationship shared by Christ with the church (Ephesians 5:33).  This is not a comparison of Christ and the church to that of the marriage ceremony but one where the roles of the husband and the wife are defined by the actions of Christ and the church.  Here the wife is to submit to the husband, respecting his position over her like the church respects the position of Christ over it.  The husband is to love his wife much like Christ loved the church when he gave himself for it.  His death and resurrection was to sanctify, cleanse, and glorify the body so that it would be without a single spot or winkle or any other blemish, being holy and without a single fault.  By cleansing the body, it allowed the body (the church) to be raised with him to the heavenly place and allowed it to sit with him at the right hand of the Father.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

If not, there would be the head (Jesus) and the feet without a body (the church) because the body (the church) would still be unholy and blemished.  The head (Jesus) is attached to the sanctified, cleansed, and glorified body, the part we now label as the bride, with all attached to his feet.  If Jesus is coming back for his bride, then the bride (the church) cannot be with him at the right hand of the Father.  Since we, being the bride, do not fit this example, then who or what is the bride?  Here is a little something that we found to be interesting.  The New King James Version has substituted the words her or she for the church as opposed to the word it that was used by the original King James Version and several other translations.  Do you get the sense that there is a change afoot?
Enjoy your blessings – KW

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