Readers Question / Comment - Is the New Jerusalem or the church the bride of Christ?
Christians are not the bride of Christ, that is the New Jerusalem; Christians are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.
Israel is the "woman" of the Bible: Jer 3:6 The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot.
Can Christ marry His brothers: John 20:17Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
1John 3:1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
The Bride of Christ is Jerusalem: Rev 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
Christians are sons of God: John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Joint heirs with Christ making them His brothers and sisters: Rom 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Jews invitation to supper and refuse it: Luke 14:16 Then He said to him,“A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,
17 “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’
18 “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’
19 “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
Gentiles invited to the supper because of the Jews rejection of Christ: Luke 14:21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’
22 “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’
23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Christians are invited to the "supper of the Lamb": Rev 19:9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
Thanks for the email although clearly we have some different beliefs here! Do you believe that we will get to marriage of the Lamb, the culmination of the redemptive purposes of God throughout all the ages, and find that the Bride, the one above all others, the greatest love of the Lord Jesus, is... a city that He built?!? While those that He died for are merely guests at the wedding to see Him finally united with a city??? No. I don't.
Let's take the most well-known scripture in the New Testament:
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
When you read that do you think that the love of God is for the physical world (dirt, trees, rocks etc) or for the human beings that dwell in the world? Obviously the human beings. In like manner when John is shown the New Jerusalem as the bride and/or wife you should realise that it is showing the home of the bride and it is the PEOPLE that dwell in the city that are the bride, the greatest love of Bridegroom.
The bride/wife has always been PEOPLE, whether it was the nation of Israel as the wife of Jehovah in the Old Testament or the Church as the bride of Christ in the New. Paul said it clearly (writing to the church):
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Or, as an easy read version says:
2 Corinthians 11:2 I am jealous for you with a jealousy that comes from God. I promised to give you to Christ. He must be your only husband.
I want to give you to Christ to be his pure bride.
John Macarthur comments on this verse:
"I have betrothed you to
As their spiritual
father (2Cor 12:14; 1Cor 4:15; cf. 2Cor 9:1-2), Paul portrayed the Corinthians like a daughter, whom he betrothed to Jesus Christ (at their conversion). The OT pictures Israel as the wife of the Lord (cf. Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14; Hos 2:19-20), while the NT pictures the church as the
bride of Christ (Eph 5:22-32; Rev 19:7).
Having betrothed or pledged the Corinthians to Christ, Paul wanted them to be pure until the marriage day finally arrived (cf.
Rev 19:7). It was that passionate concern which provoked Paul's jealousy (see note on 2Cor 11:1) and prompted him to set forth his
Other verses in Revelation show that the bride cannot be an actual city.
Revelation 19:7-8 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready
." (8) It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and
clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints
The above verse makes no sense if the bride is an actual city! The bride is made up of the saints whose corporate acts of righteousness form her clothing in preparation for the wedding. You will see also that the bride, still dressed in fine linen, bright and clean, follows Christ out of Heaven later in Rev 19:14, riding on horses. Again makes no sense if the bride is a city!
John the Baptist said the same thing when the people were going to Jesus and not him. He knew that PEOPLE make up the bride.
John 3:26-30 They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan--the one you testified about--well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." (27) To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. (28) You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' (29) The bride belongs to
. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and
listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice.
That joy is mine, and it is now complete
. (30) He must become greater; I must become less. (
He clearly said that the people that were going to Jesus were the bride, going to their bridegroom. He, as the last of the Old Testament saints, was not the bride but the friend of the bridegroom (like a best man). J Vernon McGee writes:
"One cannot escape the tremendous force of
this, friend. John the Baptist is the last of the Old Testament prophets. He is
actually not in the church. He makes it clear here: "He that hath the
bride…." Who is the bride? The church. "He that hath the bride
is the bridegroom." Then who is John? He is the friend of the Bridegroom. He
will be present at the marriage supper of the Lamb, but he is not a part of the
church by any means. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who walks out
of the Old Testament onto pages of the New Testament to announce the coming of
Also I don't believe it is valid to say that the church can't be the bride because we are also portrayed as Jesus' brothers and sisters or sons of God. Each simply portrays different aspects of spiritual truth as a whole. I could say that we can't be Jesus' brethren because we are actually His body and He is the head. So how can we, as His body, also be His brothers? But it's pointless. It is all true and expresses a different aspect of spiritual reality. And one aspect of the spiritual reality is this - marriage (a husband and wife) is simply a picture of the reality of Christ and His bride, the Church:
Eph 5:31-32 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (32) This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Well, I have written more than I expected. I hope it helps,
All the best.