The Church: The Bride of Christ

For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body…  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:23-25).

The relationship of Christ and the church is likened to the relationship of husband and wife.  Why is this comparison made?  (1) It has to do with love.  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  Adam was put to sleep and had his side opened up to receive Eve (Genesis 2:21-22).  Christ freely gave up His life and even had His side opened to receive His bride (Acts 20:28; John 19:30-34; Ephesians 5:25).  Some in the Bible offered or gave a dowry for their brides (Genesis 24:53; 29:16-18; 31:41; 34:11-12; Exodus 22:16-17; Judges 1:12-13, 14-15; 1 Samuel 18:25; 2 Samuel 3:14; 1 Kings 9:16).  Jesus freely gave His life (John 10:17-18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25).

(2) It has to do with oneness.  God created Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:18-24).  God’s ideal plan, from the beginning, was one man and one woman to be joined together for life (Genesis 2:24 cf. Ephesians 5:31-32; Matthew 19:4-6; Romans 7:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:39).  Christ has one bride.  There is one church (Ephesians 5:23 cf. 1:22-23; 4:4). [Note: The spiritually wise carefully study and search to find that one true church, and how to enter it. They will accept nothing less. They will accept no counterfeits]

(3) It has to do with provision.  “Christ… gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).  He made all the provisions necessary for us to appear before Him glorious.  Albert Barnes comments, “In all this there is an allusion doubtless to the various methods of purifying and cleansing those who were about to be married, and who were to be united to monarchs as their brides” (Barnes’ Notes, Vol. 12, p. 110; see also, Clark’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 463). Consider: Esther 2:12; Psalm 45:13-14; Ezekiel 16:9-13.  He made it possible for us to stand before Him as His beautiful bride.

(4)  It is about authority, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:23-24).  The church is to be submissive to Christ.

(5) It is about purity.  Paul wrote, “I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).  Sometimes the church is depicted as married to Christ (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 5:22-32).  At other times, the church is depicted as espoused to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), with the wedding day in the future (Revelation 19:6-9).  How can this be reconciled?  The solution is found in the Jewish customs of the day.  A woman betrothed (espoused) to a man was in a sense, legally considered married (Exodus 21:9; Deuteronomy 22:23-29).  Infidelity was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 22:23-29).  However, they did not yet dwell together.  The groom typically used this period of time to prepare a place for them (cf. John 14:1-3).  The wedding ceremony would occur at a later date.  Then, the bride would be taken home (cf. John 14:1-3)  The church is currently betrothed to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2).  We are expected to remain faithful.  May we keep ourselves pure, and without spot for His coming (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27; James 1:27).

O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land, As on thy highest mount I stand, I look away across the sea, Where mansions are prepared for me, And view the shining glory-shore, My heav’n, My home forever more” (Song: Beulah Land by Edgar Page).


About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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