Bride of Christ


Bride of Christ
An 1880 Baxter process illustration of Revelation 22:17 by Joseph Martin Kronheim.

The Bride of Christ or bride, the Lamb's wife is a term used in the New Testament of The Bible. Sometimes the Bride is implied through calling Jesus a Bridegroom. Sometimes the Church is compared to a bride betrothed to Christ. However there are instances where the interpretation of the usage of bride varies from Church to Church. The majority believe it always to refer to the Church, other beliefs include a "Heavenly Mother."[1] or The 144000 anointed elect[2][3]

Contents

Christ is a bridegroom

The three Synoptic Gospels all refer to Christ as a bridegroom thus implying he must also have a bride. In Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34 the Apostles are referred to as the guests, or children depending on the translation, of the bridegroom commonly accepted to be Jesus Christ.

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 9:15]

In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist also calls Jesus Christ a bridegroom

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 3:29]

Mentions of the bride

The bride's appearance

The Book of Revelation in multiple instances shows the appearance of the Bride.

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. [Revelation 19:7]

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. ... 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. 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 21:2,9-10]

In the above quotes, John, the author of the Book of Revelation, speaks of seeing the bride revealed and refers to her as the New Jerusalem, first mentioned in Revelation 3:12.

The bride giving water of life

Towards the end of the Book of Revelation John describes the spirit and the bride giving access to the water of life

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. [Revelation 22:17]

Comparing the church to a bride

Ephesians 5:22-33 compares the union of husband and wife to that of Christ and the church. [4] The central theme of the whole Ephesians letter is reconciliation of the alienated within the unity of the church.[4] Ephesians 5 begins by calling on Christians to imitate God and Christ, who gave himself up for them with love.[5:2] Ephesians 5:1-21 contains a rather strong warning against foolishness and letting down one's guard against evil. Rather, the author encourages the readers to constantly give thanks with song in their hearts because of what God has done for all in Christ. That prelude to the subject's text takes up again the theme of loving submission that began with the example of Christ in 5:2 where all are called upon to "Be submissive to one another out of reverence for Christ." 5:21 It implies, but is not specific, that the "Bride" is the body of believers that comprise the universal Christian Ekklēsia (Church) (lit. "called-out ones").

The ekklēsia is never explicitly called "the bride of Christ" in the New Testament. That is approached in Ephesians 5:22-33}. A major analogy is that of the body. Just as husband and wife are to be "one flesh,"[Eph. 5:31] this analogy for the writer describes the relationship of Christ and ekklēsia (v. 32). Husbands were exhorted to love their wives "just as Christ loved the ekklēsia and gave himself for it (v. 25). When Christ nourishes and cherishes the ekklēsia, he nourishes and cherishes his own flesh. Members of the ekklēsia are "members of his own body" (vv. 29-30).[5]

Other Interpretations of the bride

While the most commonly accepted interpretation of the bride of Christ is the Church, other interpretations are common throughout the Churches. The World Mission Society Church of God believes the bride to be God the Mother. Also, the Jehovah's witnesses, along with other ministries such as Shepherd's Chapel, preach the Bride to be the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7 and 14.

God the Mother

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. [Galatians 4:26]

The World Mission Society Church of God believes that the Bride of Christ is another God hidden in the parables of Jesus Christ, not to be revealed until the last day.[1] They point to the fact the Bride gives the water of life in Revelation 22:17 and they claim that because John 4:10-14 explains that water of life is eternal life, only God can give eternal life. Also, in Jeremiah 2:13 and Revelation 21:6, it is written that God said that he is the source of living water.

They also state that because, to Christians, Jesus is the father of all, his wife must be the mother of all. They claim that the Bride is the heavenly Jerusalem, and point out that the apostle Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, stated that Jerusalem was their mother. [Galatians 4:26]

144,000 anointed

The Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the 144,000 are the only ones who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven and as such believe the Bride is another term among many to refer to the 144,000 who will be allowed to enter.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b World Mission Society Church of God: Heavenly Mother
  2. ^ Survivors Out of All the Nations, ©1984 Watch Tower, page 65
  3. ^ "Congregation of God", Watchtower Publications Index 1930–1985, "CONGREGATION OF GOD (Also called 144,000; Anointed; Body of Christ; Bride of Christ; Chosen Ones; Elect; Holy Nation; Israel of God; Kingdom Class; Little Flock; New Creation; New Nation; Royal House; Royal Priesthood; Sanctuary Class; Sons of Levi; Spirit Begotten; Spiritual Israel; Spiritual Sons)"
  4. ^ a b Osiek, Carolyn. "The Bride of Christ: a problematic wedding - Ephesians 5:22-33." Biblical Theology Bulletin, Spring, 2002. Web: 20 Oct 2010. [1]
  5. ^ Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology. Broadman, 1962. ISBN 0805416137

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