Apr 25th, 2021
Hello and welcome to season 3 episode 25 of The Berean Manifesto; 10 minutes or so a week of Faith , Hope, and Love for the Modern Christian. This is Pastor Bill of The Ekklesian House, and in this installment we are going to be talking about the Bride of Christ.
In Christian circles you hear this term, “Bride of Christ,” and it’s always in reference to The Church as a whole. I rejected this concept pretty early on in my studies of the Bible for a few reasons and it wasn’t until recently that I came around on this theology. So starting off, what led me to reject this concept?
First, I had met no one who used the term, “Bride of Christ” who when asked could explain to me what the term meant or even show me a scripture that indicated the Bride of Christ was The Church. Both ministers and everyday Christians alike were just repeating what they had heard.
Second, in this “Bride of Christ” movement that I saw spreading across the nation, people were getting up and saying things like, “Ladies, you’re a son of God; get used to it. Men, you’re a bride of Christ; get used to it.” And something about the attitude didn’t sit right. I still don’t adhere to the personal – you as a person are the Bride of Christ. That doesn’t fit the Biblical definition of Bride of Christ.
Third, the term “Bride of Christ” cannot be found in the Bible. The closest you get is in Revelations 21:9 CSB, “Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’” Then in verse 10, the angel shows John the New Jerusalem coming down out of the sky and settling on the New Earth.
And Fourth, there are several scriptures in the New Testament that seem to allude to Christ as a soon to be Groom, but in every occasion it could just as easily be translated into English with alternative meanings that don’t implicate The Church as His Bride. This left me unsure if the translations lending themselves to Christ as a soon to be Groom were accurate or translated that way to support an existing theology when the translation was created. Kinda the chicken and the egg problem.
So, in true Berean fashion let’s walk through the scriptures that brought me around. I started in Revelations 21:9 that we read earlier and worked backward through the scriptures with the expectation of finding support for my belief that The Church was not The Bride of Christ, and then turned around and had my theological belief corrected by the scriptures.
We won’t follow that exact same route, we’re going to start in Isaiah 54:5-6, “Indeed, your husband is your Maker — his name is the Lord of Armies — and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of the whole earth. For the Lord has called you, like a wife deserted and wounded in spirit, a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God.”
God here is specifically talking to the Nation of Israel referring to Himself as its husband. It’s important to note that the word for “husband” used in verse 5 there is the word:
H1166 בָּעַל bâ‛al baw-al' A primitive root; to be master; hence (as denominative from H1167) to marry: - Beulah have dominion (over), be husband, marry (-ried, X wife).
This “marriage” relationship, really for lack of a better human term, was one of master and submissive spouse for the purpose of redeeming the people of Earth. If you have time, pause the podcast and read through Ezekiel 16. We find here in verses 3-13 God spinning a narrative of wooing and going through the steps of marriage to an unwanted, despised, and abandoned Jerusalem, or the Nation of Israel called Jerusalem here. God spends all of verses 14-45 really laying into Jerusalem with accusation after accusation of their betrayal of this relationship that God crafted with them. If you didn’t have time to read through the whole chapter earlier then you really need to pause now and read just verses 46-63 and keep in mind that when God talks about Jerusalem’s older sister Samaria, theologians have identified this is those who lived from Noah to Moses and Jerusalem’s younger sister, Sodom, theologians have identified those as gentiles. Here God speaks of everyone with the same regard as to their relationship with God.
This “marriage” relationship, is one where God has made overtures through the law. Law, that applies to everyone and we have responded by either committing ourselves to follow the law of the Lord or rejecting His relational advancements. Samaria, having been given the law of not shedding human blood, Jerusalem having been given The Law of Sin and Death, and Sodom; all those born outside of the Jewish bloodlines after the Law of Sin and Death was given all the way up to modern day. None of this leading us to Christ as a groom and the church as a bride. For the first real evidence of this, we turn to Hosea 2 CSB.
In verse 16 it says, “In that day — this is the Lord’s declaration — you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer call me, ‘My Baal.’”
It’s an interesting verse given that “My Baal” there is the same word used in Isaiah 54:5 for husband with the pronominal suffix for “mine”. So that’s, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer call me, “My husband.” The difference being the first “husband” in this verse is the word:
H376 אִישׁ 'ı̂ysh eesh Contracted for H582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.) : - also, another, any (man), a certain, + champion, consent, each, every (one), fellow, [foot-, husband-] man, (good-, great, mighty) man, he, high (degree), him (that is), husband, man [-kind], + none, one, people, person, + steward, what (man) soever, whoso (-ever), worthy.
A certain champion. More appropriately, “You will call me, ‘My champion,’ and no longer call me, ‘My master.’”
In John 3:29, John refers to The Messiah as the groom and himself as a friend of the groom. In Matthew 9:15 Jesus refers to himself as the groom and the Disciples as wedding guests. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul says he endeavors to present The Church in marriage to one husband; Christ. In Matthew 22 Jesus tells a parable about a wedding spurned by the original guests so new guests were invited and when one of them was found to be a pretender he was thrown out of the wedding. This fitting perfectly with Christ coming for the Jews first then presenting the Gospel to the Gentiles when the Jews rejected Christ and some at the end who have claimed to be Christian but never actually were being cast out. Ephesians 5:27 commands husbands to love their wives like the Christ loved The Church and describes the mighty conquest our champion undertook for us. The problem with all these verses being the ability to translate them differently like we talked about before.
But the proof for me, the one that really hits the nail on the head is Romans 7:4-6, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another. You belong to him who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions aroused through the law were working in us to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law.” We were, well like I said “for lack of a better human term,” “married” to God through the law. Because God is perfect, this required a level of perfection that no man could live up to, the Law.
We died with Christ and dying died to that relationship. Freeing us to step into a new, better covenant relationship with Christ as friends of the groom who when we work, love, and move together are the Bride worthy of Christ that Paul sought to present to Christ. That perfect unity of The Church won’t exist until the Heavens and Earth pass away and the New Jerusalem, The Bride of Christ, all of us in perfect unity, descend out of Heaven onto the New Earth to live for the rest of eternity in the manifest presence of our champion.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”