Ephesians 5:31 is clearly talking about marriage – a man leaving his father and mother and joining to his wife. What Ephesians 5 does is that it uses the husband/wife relationship as a metaphor, a symbol, for the relationship between Christ and the Church. Notice, however, that this passage does not use the word “Bride”.
As Christians, we must get into the practice of using words the way the Bible uses words. Let Scripture define terms and then use those terms appropriately.
There is never a time in Paul’s writings where he labels the Church, the body of Christ, as being “the Bride of Christ.” Paul never uses that term. Thus, let us search the Scriptures in order to gain an understanding of just who or what the “bride of Christ” is:
We will start with Matthew 25:5-6
Next Matthew 25:13
In the parable of the ten virgins, the ten virgins are waiting for the Bridegroom to come. When you read verse 13, it identifies who the Bridegroom is – the Son of Man (Jesus Christ). This a parable concerning Kingdom saints looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Olivet Discourse has nothing to do with the Church, the body of Christ. This is instruction for the Little Flock (Lk 12:32), the Kingdom church, as to how they are supposed to wait for the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bridegroom is unmistakable, it is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The next piece of evidence we collect comes by way of John 3:29 – “Friend of the Bridegroom” (or, the best man). The person speaking in Jn 3:29 is John the Baptist. John the Baptist says “the Bridegroom hath the Bride” and we know who the Bridegroom is. In Jn 3:29, John the Baptist describes the best man. “This MY joy is fulfilled” is John the Baptist talking about himself.
Q: Was John the Baptist teaching about the dispensation of the grace of God and the formation of the body of Christ? No. He could not have been – it had not even been revealed at that point in history.
Q: Would John the Baptist have joy over the Church or over Israel?
John the Baptist was teaching and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. He was all about the nation Israel.
The Gospel of the Kingdom (Mt 4:23) was going to form a believing remnant out of the nation of Israel. What is happening during the Lord’s earthly ministry is that He was forming a Little Flock, a believing remnant that stood outside and apart from the apostate leadership of the nation.
Matthew 9:14-15 – we know the Bridegroom is Christ. We know that the friend of the Bridegroom is John the Baptist. What we are learning here is that there are those who are labeled “the children of the bridechamber”. It should be clear that these are the Lord’s disciples. Mt 9:14 – “thy disciples fast not”
They are not fasting because the Bridegroom is still with them.
Mt 9:15, however, tells us that the Bridegroom is going to be taken away and then the disciples (the children of the bridechamber) will fast. The children of the bridechamber is a reference to the Lord’s disciples during the Lord’s earthly ministry.
Those disciples during the Lord’s earthly ministry are not the same thing as the body of Christ. They are saved under a different gospel (Gal 2:7-9). They are part of a different church. They have a different destiny. Those who were saved under the Lord’s earthly ministry will, for all eternity, end up on the New Earth. Those who are saved during the dispensation of grace will spend eternity in the New Heaven.
The children of the bridechamber is not a reference to the body of Christ. Every piece of evidence that you have seen thus far indicates that “the Bride of Christ” has something to do with the Kingdom program and not with Paul’s mystery program.
Revelation 21:2 – the apostle John indicates that the bride is actually not a group of people, but rather a city.
Revelation 21:9 – the particular phrase “bride of Christ” never appears in Scripture, but within this verse, we have the closest approximation to it. There can be no confusion about the label “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” The Lamb is clearly Jesus Christ. This is the closest thing in Scripture to the phrase “bride of Christ”.
Revelation 21:10 – this is not complicated – the bride of Christ, the Lamb’s wife, is unmistakably the New Jerusalem that will descend out of heaven.
Q: Is the body of Christ going to end up in the New Jerusalem? No.
Ephesians 1:3 – “in heavenly places” – that is where God intends for us (the body of Christ) to operate.
Isaiah 62:1 – the subject within this chapter is Jerusalem.
Isaiah 62:6 – the author is addressing Jerusalem, he’s addressing the city.
Isaiah 62:12 – “them” is third-person, this is someone that he is speaking about not to. “And thou” – this is who he is speaking to. “A city not forsaken” – the Lord is speaking to the city in Isaiah 62. Isaiah 62 is addressed to the city, Jerusalem.
Back to Isaiah 62:2 – “And thou shalt be called by a new name” – Q: what happens when a Bride gets married? A: she gets called by a new name.
The “thou” here is the city Jerusalem and the Lord is stating that Jerusalem will be called by a new name.
Revelation 3:12 – It is clear that the Lamb’s bride is the city, the New Jerusalem. It is clear that Jerusalem will be called by a new name. Rev 3:12 is talking about some of the people that are going to inhabit the New Jerusalem. What is written upon them is the name of God and the name of the New Jerusalem.
The first part of Rev 3:12 tells us that the individual saints are made pillars, they are a fixture, they are “cemented” into the New Jerusalem and they will never be kicked out of the land again (unlike Israel’s recorded history).
Isaiah 62:4 – “And thy land shall be married” – God is marrying the land, He is never going to be separated from it again.
Hephzi-bah in Is 62:4 means my delight is in her.
Beulah in Is 62:4 means to marry.
This passage of Scripture is all about God marrying the land.
John 2:16 – What the Lord is doing here is that He is rebuking the religious leaders and He is stating that they are taking His Father’s house and making it a house of merchandise. Contrast that with:
Matthew 23:37 – the Lord is addressing Jerusalem and He is rebuking them for their rebellion.
In Matthew 23:38 the Lord says “your house” vs. John 2:16 (my Father’s house).
When the temple exists, the temple’s value is not found in the physical objects found within (the furnishings, the construction materials, etc.), but rather the fact that God dwelled there – it is speaking to God’s presence. In Jn 2:16, the Lord is saying that they are tarnishing the Father’s house with the way they are behaving. In Mt 23:37-38, what He is saying to them is even worse – what He is saying is “it’s your house, cause I’m leaving…” “You want to act like this, ok, it’s yours and I’m departing.” The vail was torn, etc. Q: What good is the temple if God leaves it? A: Nothing!
In Hosea, God gives Israel a bill of divorce. This is not a new concept.
What all of these passages are telling us, however, is that there is coming a day when God is going to marry the land and He is never going to depart from it. That is the promise that has been made.
Isaiah 62:5 – the “thee” is Jerusalem. God is going to marry Jerusalem, never to separate from it. The sons of Jerusalem are going to be pillars in Jerusalem and will never depart from it. When the New Jerusalem comes down, Israel is going to be in the land and they will never again be carried away from it and they will never again be expelled from it.
The Bridegroom is Christ.
The friend of the Bridegroom is John the Baptist.
The children of the bridechamber is a reference to the Lord’s disciples.
The bride, the Lamb’s wife, is a city, the New Jerusalem.
The Little Flock, the Kingdom church, has an earthly inheritance and they will occupy the New Jerusalem that God will marry and they will never depart from it.