The "Bride of Christ" Is Not the Church
The Bride of Christ
Do you still believe women should not be pastors or leaders in the church? Do you still believe healing was for the early church? Do you still believe the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was for the early church and not for the body of Christ today also?
Many of the church's views on these doctrinal pillars have been revised in recent years. With a spirit of honest examination, the church has realized that they were not quite right. With that said, I believe its time to take a closer look at the "Bride of Christ" doctrine as well.
Here are the reasons why:
9. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 10. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
1. While there is a "lamb's wife, the bride of Christ", it is not the church—Revelation 21:9-10 clearly states that the "the bride, the Lamb's wife" is the Holy Jerusalem.
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.
2. Revelation 19:7 says, "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." Again, this lamb's wife, the bride of Christ cannot be refering to the church! If the church is "the bride of Christ," then the Christian has to do something to get "herself ready." This requires "works" to be done by the Christian to get ready. The Word says that we are already made righteous and are already sanctified. So then, the church, in God's eyes, is already ready. The bride of Christ has to be something else!
3. If the Church were "the bride, the Lamb's wife," then the angel in Revelation 21:9-10 would have shown "the Church," not the Holy Jerusalem.
4. Jesus did not teach that his body is also his bride. Paul didn't teach it either.
5. Christians are repeatedly called "sons of God," "the body of Christ," and "the church" throughout the New Testament but are never called "the bride of Christ."
Currently, the main teaching regarding the "Bride of Christ" is that she is the church and must make herself ready. This teaching is inconsistent with the entire Pauline Revelation of the Gospel of Grace.
Because of the free gift of grace, we are already righteous and without spot nor blemish in the Lord's sight. We are already ready! Therefore, it stands to reason that the church can't be the one "getting herself ready." The "Bride of Christ" then must refer to something or someone else! The "bride" must refer, not to the church, but to the Holy Jerusalem, just as the Word of God says in Revelations 21:9-12.
The Unfortunate "Bride of Christ" Doctrine: Readying Ourselves Lies in God's Hands
The "Bride of Christ" teaching says the church has to do something to make "herself ready," to be perfect. If this is true, then there is absolutely no way Jesus will ever return and get us. We can't get "ready" ourselves or achieve perfection by our own doing. It'll never happen. We are not perfect, and we can never be perfect outside of his gift of righteousness. It is just not possible. It will never be possible!
Can't Ignore the Comparison of Worship and Marriage
Though I do not believe that the "Bride of Christ" refers to the church, I do think that the comparison of our relationship to God with the covenants, promises, or vows made in marriage is helpful. The Word does make those comparisons. I don't refute that. God has made a lot of promises to us similar to those we make to each other when we get married.
But as far as my personal relationship with God? I am a friend of God. He is my Dad, and I am His son, too. In the Scripture, it reads "...whereby we cry Abba (literally: "daddy"), Father." The closeness and intimate nature of our relationship with Him has the quality of the relationship between a father and a son, not a relationship between spouses. He is a Dad who has promised me an inheritance and the ability to come boldy to His throne of grace.
Neither Jesus Nor Paul Ever Preached That the Body of Christ is a Bride
They did not tell us the body of Christ is a bride of any kind. Perhaps Israel is the bride, but the body of Christ certainly isn't.
Jesus never told His disciples He would someday be their bride. Paul didn't say we are the bride. In fact, nowhere in scriptures does it ever say Christians are the bride of Christ. Not only that, it just seems strange.
The Term "Bride of Christ" Never Appears in the Bible
While a "Lambs' Wife" is mentioned in Revelations, the term "Bride of Christ" is never used in the Bible. I searched the Bible for the term "Bride of Christ". I couldn't find it. It surprised me when I did that search and came up with no results! And to think, after all these years of hearing how we are the bride of Christ and He will come get us once we have made ourselves ready.
What Does the Bible Say about the "Bride of Christ"?
What does the word say about the "Bride of Christ"? Nothing really. The term "Bride of Christ" is nowhere in the Bible. Aside from being first coined by the Roman Catholic Church, this term has been invented out of perceived inferences of certain passages that says God's relationship to us is "as a bride". These passages are all parables or similes. They are simply making a comparison of our relationship to Him. He loves us and has made covenant promises to us, similar to how a husband loves and upholds promises to his wife.
Again, the passage that comes closest to mentioning a bride from Revelation:
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, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel...
This passage does not say the body of Christ is the the Lamb's wife. It does not say Israel is the Lamb's wife. It clearly states however that "that great city, the Holy Jerusalem" is the Lamb's wife. In verse 10, it also says that John the Revelator saw that great city descending down from heaven adorned as a bride. He doesn't even refer to it as the bride but that it is adorned as a bride.
Read This Parable from Matthew Again
Matthew 22:1-14 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.
The bride is not the subject of this story—the guests are. The commonly accepted interpretation of this parable is that the guests represent the church—how can the guests be considered the bride?
Taking the leap from the guests representing "the bride of Christ" can't be done, but the proponents of the "bride of Christ" concept do it with this passage all of the time!
Read This Parable from Matthew Again, Too
Matt 25:1-13 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.
It goes without saying that the ten virgins are not this groom's wife. They are only guests trying to get into the wedding.
Once again, taking the leap from the ten virgins being guests to them being the bride and representing "the Bride of Christ" can't be done. This story is about being ready to be accepted into the kingdom of heaven. How is that done? By accepting Jesus as our Lord.
That story is as simple as that!
Another Argument Lies in Isaiah 62
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
Some have said the Lord would not marry a city, but here the Lord is married to the land. It is not a stretch that He could be married to a city if He wants, as has been indicated in Revelation 21:9-10. God can do what He wants, whether we understand it or not. After all, when did God ever do anything that really made sense to us?
In Jeremiah, God Is Already Married to Israel
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
In the Old Testament, the church of Christ had not yet been established. Therefore, there was no church yet; furthermore, the prophet says God is already married to Israel! There is never any mention of a wedding for Jesus, simply one to the lamb's wife.
Why Do We Always Read Things into the Word?
So, how did some miss that passage and turn the church or even Israel into the "bride of Christ"? Israel makes more sense, but still, I'm not sure why people draw conclusions like these without clear evidence. The very human desire to understand everything has led to people reading into things that aren't really there in order to make some sort of sense out of it.
Preachers Aren't Always Right
Just because it was said by somebody in the pulpit doesn't make it true. The only thing you know must be true is the Word of God. So instead of putting unwavering faith in preachers, examine stories that seem clear to you.
Why the "Bride of Christ" Doctrine Is Important: Christianity Becomes Like All the Other Religions of the World
I used to think the "Bride of Christ" doctrine was an issue of secondary importance. However, with further consideration, I have concluded it is a fundamental concern. What the doctrine teaches causes to do works to become "without spot or wrinkle." Our Christianity becomes just like all the rest of the religions of the world. It becomes a religion of works and not one founded in God's grace. The "Bride of Christ" teaching takes away from us God's grace and gift of riaghteousness. We then become all about works. The Galations were all about works. What did Paul call those Galations? He called them fools.
Other Problems with the "Bride of Church" Doctrine
In addition to devaluing His gift of righteousness, the "Bride of Christ" doctrine also devalues our authority and position in Christ. Being in his body is much more powerful than simply being his bride.
For example, when it comes right down to it, my wife is limited in her authority over me because she is a separate person. It's not that way with the body of Christ. He gave us all of His authority as kings and priests in the earth. We are his body. We have His authority in the earth. That authority is the Word of God He gave us to hear, believe, speak, and live by.
Don't Believe Anything You Hear (Including What I Write) Unless It Can Be Clearly Backed up by the Word
I can clearly backup, with scripture, the fact that the Lamb's wife is the holy city of Jerusalem. But the ones who believe the church is the bride of Christ cannot back it up with obvious scripture.
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
Its good to question everything we are being taught. I have always been puzzled by the "Bride of Christ" doctrine. After all, the Word says that we don't marry in heaven in Luke 20:35. I originally didn't think this verse had much to do with the "Bride of Christ" doctrine, yet, on second thought, maybe it does. There is no limiting language in this scripture—if we won't be given in marriage in heaven, then can it even be possible to be married to Jesus, or anyone else for that matter, in the hereafter? My questioning began with the Scripture.
Origins of the "Bride of Christ" Doctrine
The term "Bride of Christ" has it roots in the Roman Catholic Church. You probably know the clergy or priests of the Roman Catholic Church "marries" their church, taking an oath to celebacy. As a result, the term "Bride of Christ" was eventually coined in relation to this practice. Today, this concept and terminology has spilled over into our own fundamental Christian doctrines.
The Play "The Bride"
Several years ago (early '90s), there was a play called The Bride. This play told a story of how the church is the "Bride of Christ." This play was performed in many cities in the US. It was a nice little drama, but it is unscriptural. However, the play helped engrain the "Bride of Christ" doctrine in the public consciousness.
It just sounds nice. But just because the doctrine sounds good doesn't mean its God. Don't believe a thing just because it makes sense at first glance. If its not clearly in the Word, it is not so.
Inferences Don't Establish Truth
As we have established, the notion that we are the "Bride of Christ" is an inference. Building doctrines on inferences will mess us up and get us off the truth. This is the reason the Jones followers got off and drank the kool-aid. I don't know about you, but I'm not going with any doctrine that is inferred.
For example, it can be inferred that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for the early church only, and that God doesn't operate that way today. For centuries the church, by and large, had been robbed of the comfort, revelation, ability, and power found in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I'm glad we don't believe that's true anymore.
Also consider that "the church" once believed women shouldn't be in ministry or pastoring or in any leadership positions. That misconception came from inferences as well.
I take the Word literally for what it says unless it specifically says otherwise. For instance, Jesus told many stories that had meanings and were similes. Before He told His stories, He always led the listeners know He was about to tell a parable.
We don't accept those inferences about baptism or women in the ministry as truth anymore, and we shouldn't. Neither should we accept inferences in regards to the "Bride of Christ" teaching.
© 2008 cdacoffee