The Bible mentions the words "Bridegroom" and "Bride" at various instances, therefore, coining the term "Bride of Christ". What does this phrase mean? We will help you in understanding all about the Bride of Christ, in brief.
Did You Know?
The term, “The Bride of Christ” doesn’t appear in the Bible as it is. It is referred to the various instances where the scripture mentions about a bride and a bridegroom, implicating the presence of bride when Jesus is referred as the bridegroom.
How many times have we heard of the “Bride of Christ”, mostly getting confused of her actual identity! Is she of this world, or of the heaven above? Is she an actual person, or perhaps a holy entity that is worthy of Christ our Savior?
The Bible mentions the ‘Bride’ in both the New and the Old Testaments. We also see the word ‘Bridegroom’ appear several times, therefore implying of the presence of a bride as well. For several centuries, the main symbolism of the Bride of Christ is considered to be that of the Church.
However, as the Church has several denominations, the interpretation of the Bride of Christ varies from one denomination to the other. The given sections explain these varied interpretations by going through the verses that mention of the Bride and the Bridegroom in the scriptures.
Bible Verses that Speak of the Bride of Christ
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
― Revelation 21:2, English Standard Version
Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” …
…And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
― Revelation 21:9-11, English Standard Version
“Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
― Revelation 19:7-8, English Standard Version
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
― Revelation 22:17, English Standard Version
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
― 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, English Standard Version
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.”
― Mark 2:19, English Standard Version
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
― John 3:29, English Standard Version
The aforementioned verses are a few among the various instances where Christ is referred to as the Bridegroom and a Bride is mentioned, who is sometimes referred as the new Jerusalem, and at the other verses, called the church.
For many centuries―almost 1,500 years―a majority of believers identified the Church as the bride betrothed to Jesus Christ. However, as mentioned earlier, the identification varies from one church to the other. The given sections explain the different analysis of the term.
The Church is the Bride of Christ
The Bible clearly states in Ephesians 5:22-33, the last verse in the section mentioned earlier, that the love of a husband and wife, or to say, a bride and bridegroom, is similar to that of Jesus Christ and His church. Before we enumerate on this point, let us first understand what exactly is a church.
A church is not a building, it is not a place where people go and worship. While this has become the connotation of the term more or less, in truth, we are the church.
Yes, the church is anybody who believes in our Savior’s sacrifice for us, who believes in His resurrection, who follows His commandments, and who works on His mission and works on His ministry. A building with fancy architecture and interior decor doesn’t make a church, it is made by us, the believers in Christ.
The scripture says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.“
This only implies that Christ expects us, the church, to submit ourselves to Him, just as a bride submits herself to her husband. Therefore, it could be derived that we are the Bride of Christ.
Just as a bride is solely devoted to her groom, we too must be devoted to ours, living up to His word, without any sin, without any blemish that would make us unworthy to be called His own.
This can be said in reference to the lines mentioned in Ephesians 5,”Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.“
In conclusion, this verse clearly states the relationship between a husband and wife (bride and bridegroom) to be similar to that of Christ and the church.
Other words that indicate the bride to be the church, the church which constitutes none other than Christ’s followers, are those in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.
These lines state, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.“
The words imply the church to be betrothed to Christ, referring to her as a pure virgin, worthy of unity with Christ. This emphasizes on the purity of the church in body and mind.
Paul, through these lines, worries of the false teachers that may enter the church, distracting the devotion of the church who is betrothed to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and not a false Christ, an imposter, who will come to snatch away the purity of church.
The Bible warns of the coming of a false Christ in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 13, verse 6, which states, “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.
The Bride of Christ is the New Jerusalem
There are a few Christian denominations that state that the church is not the bride of Christ. In reference to what John has written in the Book of Revelation, “Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying,…
…”Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem …“, it is believed by certain denominations that the Bride of Christ is none other than the New city of Jerusalem.
However, in response to this, there have been arguments by certain experts that a city cannot be the Bride of Christ as He died for His people and not for a city.
Although the city has been called her, it is likely because it encompasses all those who are worthy to be called the bride, which, as discussed in the previous section, is none other than His followers. The adornment of the city may be symbolic of the togetherness of all those who are the Bride of Christ.
The Bride of Christ are the 144,000 Anointed
Chapter 14 of the Book of Revelation states, “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven alike the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder….
…The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth….
…It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.“
Christian denominations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Shepherd’s Chapel believe that the Bride of Christ is the term used for the worthy 144,000, redeemed by God and free from sin. Just as a bride is dressed in purity, without any blemish or spot, the 144,000 are chosen and sealed, and therefore, are the true image of the Bride of Christ.
The Bride of Christ is Israel
The Old Testament mentions the “Bride” in Hosea 2:14-20,
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”
“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground….
…And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
This passage from the Old Testament refers Israel to be the one betrothed to God. He declares that He should be called “My Husband” instead of “My Baal”, which is translated to “My Lord”. Here, God speaks to Israel as His wife, and willingly restores His relationship with her, which was broken previously.
Revelation 22:17, states, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.“
In reference to this verse, the World Mission Society Church of Godbelieves that the identity of the Bride of Christ is hidden, therefore, her mention is in the form of parables, the mystery of which will not be revealed until the last day.
They highlight the fact that the living water is only provided by God, therefore, if the Bride of Christ has the authority to call us all to drink the living water, her place would be in the heaven above.
Speaking of a divine identity, another denomination known as Heavenly Faithbelieves the Bride of Christ to be none other than the Holy Spirit, who in turn, is considered to be another form of the church itself. Therefore, it can be concluded that the Bride of Christ is again, none other than the church itself.
From what comes forth from the aforementioned points, although the identity of the Bride of Christ may vary, one cannot deny the fact that she is the chosen one to be united with Christ forever. The age in which we live is the Church age, a time which could be synonymous with that of a “betrothal period” in the biblical age.
This period is symbolic of the essential separation between the bride and groom until the final matrimonial ceremony. In this time, the bride was required to be patient, faithful, and totally devoted to her bridegroom.
This is quite similar to our case today, where we (the church) are separated from the bridegroom (Christ), waiting for Him to come back to us, when we could finally unite with Him eternally. Amen