Who is the bride of Christ? (Basic version)

A common teaching in the Christian church is that the Church, Christians, are the bride of Christ and that we will be “married” to Jesus in the kingdom. 

There are a number of different passages that are used as evidence to support this claim. 

2 Corinthians 11-2  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.

Ephesians 5- 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Romans 7- 1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

In this writing I am going to look into this claim and see what the Bible says on the subject. 

The first and probably most important fact to note is that the term bride of Christ is not found anywhere in scripture. For those that accept doctrines such as the Trinity and rapture this won’t be such a problem as neither of these are stated in the Bible either, however for those that reject these doctrines, as I do, this fact should be a red flag.   

Although the term bride of Christ does not appear in scripture we do however have a couple of references to the Lambs wife.

In chapter 21 of the book of revelation the angel tells John that he ill show John the lambs wife sch as in Revelation 21-9 

Revelation 21- 9And 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.

So if the lamb has a wife then surely there is a bride of the lamb (who is Christ) and so Christ has a bride who would be the bride of Christ. So this is where the term bride of Christ comes from. Again however it in itself is NOT a biblical term. 

Furthermore when we look at the actual context of this passage we will see that it is not at all referring to the Church in any way. 

Back in chapter 19 of the book of Revelation we are told that the marriage of the lamb is come and his wife has made herself ready

Revelation 19-7 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.

However in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 21 we are told that it is the holy city, the new Jerusalem that was prepared as a bride for her husband

Revelation 21- 1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And we see that after John is told by the angel that he will show him the bride. John is shown the great city of holy Jerusalem

Revelation 10And 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, 11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12And 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: 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

John is NOT shown the church, he is shown the New Jerusalem. It is the New Jerusalem that is the wife of the lamb not the church. John is never shown the church as a bride or a wife. 

Now some people will say that Jesus will not be married to a city and a city cannot be married. But there really is nothing to argue that he cannot apart from the claim that he won’t itself. Clearly from the passage that is EXACTLY what is being stated.

When we go back to the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah we will see that God specifically states that the LAND will be married. 

Isaiah 62-4 Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

So we have clear passages that state the new Jerusalem is Christs wife while there is not ONE verse that states the church is the bride of Christ, which itself is not a biblical term. In order to claim the church is the bride of christ not only do we have to ignore these clearly stated passages but we have to create a term that does not exist and is not once mentioned in the Bible.

Further evidence 

The church is very clearly referred to numerous times as the BODY of Christ, not his bride. 

1 Corinthians 12-27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Colossians 1- 18 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- 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church

But what about the verses that we already saw which are used to prove this doctrine. 

Well first off we already know they do not actually state the bride of Christ as we know this is not a biblical term.  Furthermore, when we examine them we will see that they do not even infer that the church will be married to Christ. 

Let’s start with the passage in Ephesians 5  

Ephesians 5- 22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

While this passage is used to infer a correlation between the human husband and wife and Christ and the Church, Christ being the husband and the Church being the wife this is not what is being referred to at all.  It is The authority that is in reference. Just as the man is head of the woman Christ is the head of the church. Just as a woman is subject to the man the Church is subject to Christ. It simply has no reference to the marriage at all. 

If we continue on in Ephesians 

Ephesians 5- 29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

We are the BODY of Christ, his flesh and his bones. While it is true that the Bible does say that a man and a woman become one flesh through their marriage we are never told that we become the flesh of Jesus through marriage but rather we are joined to Christ in spirit.

1 Corinthians 6-17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

The Church is not waiting to be joined to Christ. We are already joined to him. We are already part of Christ. 

Then we have the passage in Romans 

Romans 7- 1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Here Paul states that we should to the one raised from the dead who we know is Christ. 

Now to start with Paul is talking to Jews. This is evident as he calls them brethren. Brethren is a term used when addressing the Jews not the Gentiles. This has led some to believe that the Israelites are the bride. 

Paul says that the Jews (brethren) are dead to the law by the BODY of Christ, that they may marry another. Paul is using the la to explain that as the law is dead they are free to marry another. However the word translated here as marry is  γίνομαι ginomai which means to be or to become it does not mean an actual marriage which is actually the Greek word γαμέω gameó

As used in verses such as Matthew 22-25 

Matthew 22-25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

And Mark 6-17

Mark 6-17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her.

The verb that Paul used in reference to Israel was not to refer to a marriage as in husband and wife but used to symbolise the fact that through Christ they were free from the marriage, union and bondage of the law and could therefore be married as in belong, to be in union with Christ.

So lets turn to what I say is the most difficult verse to explain. Most difficult as in if we simply take this verse alone it may well appear to support the belief that we are to be married to Christ. 

2 Corinthians 11-2  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.

We must first look at this verse not with the preconceived belief that we are the bride but rather this verse must in itself cause that belief or otherwise we are reading into the text rather than out of it. We must also look upon this verse with the understanding of the witness of the rest of the Bible. It must fit the biblical narrative. Notice that this language is not used ANYWHERE else in scripture. There is not one other verse that states we are married to Christ.  We must also notice that this is PAUL speaking and not God. Pal states that HE espoused them (the church at Corinth) to one husband. 

The Greek word translated as espoused here is ἁρμόζω  harmozó it does not have the same meaning as espoused as in to be married but rather in union.  It is the ONLY place where this word is used. 

It is NOT the same word used for espoused as in to be engaged to be married.

This word is the greek μνηστεύω mnésteuó

This is used of Joseph who was espoused to Mary



Matthew 1- 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

Luke 1-27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary

Luke 2-5 to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

We already know that we are unified, joined to Christ. Paul was not saying that he had arranged for the church to marry Christ but actually saying that he has joined the church TO the husband who is Christ. We are joined to the husband not in marriage but as in we are the body of the husband. We are part of the husband. The church is the virgin body of the Husband presented as his pure body not his pure bride.  We will be presented with Christ to the bride not presented to Christ as his bride.  

The bride of Christ is not the church or Israel but the New Jerusalem.


2 Comments

Marcus · July 9, 2019 at 6:47 pm

Ye know not the scriptures. You should take James 3:1 seriously. Please, properly exegete the word of God.
The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. This is found all over the bible. The church is comprised of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and have received eternal life. Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride (Ephesians 5:25–27). Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age(The coming in of the Gentiles). Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:24). At the rapture, the church will be united with the Bridegroom and the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7–9; 21:1-2).

    ljthriepland · July 11, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    Marcus. I dealt with your verses in the writing simply reasserting them isnt showing nything at all. As for the Bridegroom leaving and coming back…this is all assertion based on the already believed belief …or better pt Circular reasoning.

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