The Bride of Christ

Introduction

Most churches in Christendom teach the Church is the “bride of Christ.” But the phrase “bride of Christ” does not occur in the Bible. Furthermore, imagery of the Church as bride is thin at best. The goal of this study is to examine whether the teaching that the Church, the body of Christ, is the bride of Christ has Biblical merit.

The Bride in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, the idea of Israel as the “wife” of God is developed. Though Israel was “married” to God she proved an unfaithful spouse. The nation’s unfaithfulness was expressed as spiritual adultery: it deserted Him for false gods, e.g., Baal, Asherah, Molech, Dagon, etc. Despite these failures, God declared the nation would return to Him, that they would become what He had purposed for them, and that He would fulfill His covenant promises to them. According to God’s promise, the entire nation would become priests (Exodus 19.6) and a faithful wife. With this in mind, Isaiah wrote:

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. “For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. “In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer (Isaiah 54.4-8).

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. 2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate. 3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; but you will be called, “My delight is in her,” and your land, “Married”; for the Lord delights in you, and to Him your land will be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons will marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you (Isaiah 62.1-5).

Jeremiah wrote:

“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion (Jeremiah 3.14).

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31.31-33).

God used the prophet Hosea’s personal life as an object lesson to instruct idolatrous Israel. To present His case, God told Hosea to marry an idolatrous woman,1 to represent Israel’s faithlessness in serving other gods. Hosea had three children by his wife, Gomer. Their names depicted God’s judgment of the nation. The first child, a son, was named Jezreel (God scatters). God judged (scattered) the northern kingdom with the Assyrian invasion (722 B.C.). The second child was a daughter named Lo-ruhama (not pitied) and the third child, a son, was named Lo-ammi (not my people). But God’s disfavor would be temporary. He promised that the nation would repent of its unfaithfulness and return to Him. Hosea wrote:

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. 15 “Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 16 “It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali17 “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more. 18 “In that day I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety. 19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, 20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD (Hosea 2.14-20).

In this tender passage, God is seen as a courting lover. He “allures” the object of His love and speaks kindly to her. The passage speaks of a refreshed relationship in which His wife (Israel) will call Him  אִישִׁי “my husband” (Ishi) instead of בַּעְלִי “my Lord.” Baal (בַּעַל) was one of the false gods Israel discovered when they came into the land of Canaan (Numbers 22.41; Judges 2.13). In the prophecy of this restored relationship, in which God will put His Spirit into the nation (Jeremiah 31.31-40), the animal kingdom will also be at peace (cf. Isaiah 11.6-9) and war will be no more (Isaiah 2.1-4). This renewed betrothal will be eternal and Israel will know the Lord–the One True God.

The Bride in Revelation

The book of Revelation reads like an Old Testament book. And for good reason. Most  of its symbols and imagery are found in the prophets. To a discerning reader, it should be clear that Jesus’ messages to the assemblies (ἐκκλησία) in Revelation 2-3 were not Christian, i.e., Pauline churches. The language the Lord used towards them has no correspondence to the language or the concepts Paul had received and communicated to Christian churches. John wrote to these seven Jewish assemblies to encourage them in the tribulation they were experiencing (cf. Revelation 1.9). Of the seven cities Jesus mentioned, only three are found elsewhere in the Bible: Ephesus (Acts 18.19, 21, 24, 19.1, 17, 26, 35, 20.16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15.32, 16.8, Ephesians 1.1, 1 Timothy 1.3; 2 Timothy 1.18, 4.12), Thyatira (Acts 16.14), and Laodicea (Colossians 2.1, 4.13, 15-16; 1 Timothy 6.21). We have no information about Smyrna, Pergamon, Sardis, or Philadelphia. The interpretation of the events of Revelation remain future. Those who have attempted to make church history correspond with the messages to these churches (see below example) or worse, have tried to fit the events into a pre-70 A.D. timeframe, have replaced sound exegesis with fantasy.

The character of these assemblies is Jewish. No Church, i.e., body of Christ, doctrine is present in them. The Lord’s message to them is wholly different from the language He gave to Paul for the body of Christ. No hint of the gospel or the doctrines of grace may be found in Jesus’ words to these assemblies. Jesus’ refrain is “he who has an ear, let him hear” and His command is to persevere and endure. None of this is present in Paul. The warnings Jesus gave the assemblies echo His warnings to the Twelve on the Mount of Olives. In that address, He warned them not to be deceived and to endure to the end (Matthew 24.4, 11, 24, 13). The great temptation that will confront Israel, as well as the world, during the period of time foretold by Revelation, will be to accept a false Messiah. This will involve the worship of Satan, the beast (Satan’s man, the Antichrist), the Antichrist’s image, and the taking of his mark (Revelation 13.4, 8, 15, 16-17). Jesus’ refrain to the seven assemblies is repeated in Revelation 13.9. In Revelation 14.9-11, God’s angel warned of the consequences of submitting to the temptation. Revelation 14.12 describes the “patience,” “perseverance,” or “endurance” (ὑπομονή) Jesus described in the Jewish assemblies in Revelation 2.3, 19, 3.10. During this period of time salvation is possible only through endurance (Matthew 24.13). Jesus’ words about salvation during this period are as straightforward as words can be: only by enduring to the end, i.e., the end of one’s life (martyrdom) or until He returns is salvation possible.

Since the book is primarily about Israel and reads like the Old Testament, only one conclusion remains: that is just what it is. The bride of Revelation 19 is Israel, not the Church, the body of Christ, since the Church is nowhere in the book. John wrote:

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.” 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. then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’” (Revelation 19.7-9).

In the marriage of the Lamb, we read that the bride has made herself ready. Does this sound like the Church, the body of Christ? Paul declared that members of the body of Christ have been made complete in Christ (ἐστὲ ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρωμένοι, Colossians 2.10). The Church needs no “preparation.” We are complete in Him! No, the bride here is Israel and the “marriage of the Lamb” is the reconciliation of Israel with God which the prophets foretold.

In Revelation 21, John described a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21.1) to replace the old heaven and earth which had departed (ἀπέρχομαι). Along with the new heaven and earth is the new Jerusalem. It comes down from heaven onto the new earth (Revelation 21.2). John described the city as a bride adorned for her husband. In Revelation 21.9, one of the seven angels of the seven bowls showed John the bride, called the wife of the Lamb. This was the new Jerusalem. Again, everything is Jewish. The city has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel written on them (Revelation 21.12). The twelve foundation stones have the names of the twelve apostles (Revelation 21.14; cf. Matthew 19.28). Nothing of the Church is here.

Israel had both an earthly and a heavenly calling. They were called out from among the nations of the earth and given earthly promises, e.g., a kingdom and preeminence among the nations (Deuteronomy 28.1, 13). But they had a heavenly calling also, described in Hebrews 3.1 that began with Abraham, cf. Hebrews 11.8-10. Abraham anticipated (ἐκδέχομαι) a heavenly city. How much he knew of it is unknown. But he looked for a heavenly city. The new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 was that city.

The first two callings pertain to Israel. The third calling is for the Church, the body of Christ (Ephesians 1.18; 2 Timothy 1.9). God’s promises to the Church are wholly heavenly, not earthly (Ephesians 1.3, 2.6; Philippians 3.20).

Paul and the Bride of Christ?

Paul taught that the Church was the body of Christ (Ephesians 1.22-23; Colossians 1.18, 24) and that believers become members of His body through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12.13). This revelation was one of the “secrets” (μυστήριον) the glorified Lord revealed to Paul alone. Paul was the only writer of Scripture who taught that the Church was the body of Christ. He declared that before him this truth was not known (Ephesians 3.3-7).

We have established that the Scriptures teach that the Church is the body of Christ. How is it that most of Christendom teaches that the Church is the bride of Christ? Two passages have been used to make this argument. They are the following:

2 Corinthians 11.2

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Read out of context, this passage may appear to support the idea that the Church is the bride of Christ. But the verses that follow correct such wandering. Paul continued,

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things (2 Corinthians 11.3-6).

Paul’s point was to encourage the Corinthians to remain faithful to Christ and his gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). Paul constantly had to defend his ministry–from both unbelievers and believers. From his words in this passage he recognized he was not the most polished speaker. But in terms of knowledge, he was far ahead of anyone else: he was God’s apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). The risen Lord had commissioned him and revealed to him secrets no one else knew.2 Paul’s choice of words to the Corinthians, “present you as a pure virgin” was to illustrate his desire for holy living for these believers, not to teach that the Church is the bride of Christ–any more than Paul taught that he was their mother (Galatians 4.19) or their father (1 Corinthians 4.15).

Ephesians 5.22-33

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

In the passage above, Paul argued that as a husband is the head of a wife, Christ is the head of the Church. This fit with Paul’s teaching that the Church is the body of Christ with Christ Himself as the Head (Ephesians 1.22; Colossians 1.18). Paul noted that husbands should love their wives as their own bodies (v. 28) because no one ever hated his own flesh (v.29). One nourishes his body and cherishes it (v.29). It is this nourishing and care of a husband for his own body that Paul used to make the analogy regarding Christ’s care for His Church, i.e., His body (v. 29-30). Paul quoted Genesis 2.24, not to make a point about the husband/wife relationship or that the Church is the bride of Christ but to emphasize the unity and care for the body. Paul declared this “mystery” or “secret” was great but that he spoke with reference to Christ and His Church (v. 32).

Since the Church is the body of Christ it means that if Christ is the bridegroom we are part of His groomsmanship. Thus, we are of the bridegroom, not the bride!

Conclusion

Wife and bride are titles that belong to Israel not the Church. Our title is “the body of Christ.” As the body, we are part of the bridegroom, not the bride. If you cannot tell the bridegroom from the bride at a marriage it is going to be a confusing wedding. But God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14.33). He wishes believers to understand who they are, where they fit in His plan, and what promises belong to them. When we do, we can rejoice in the grace God has given to us and serve and honor Him effectively.

1 Hosea’s wife אֵשֶׁת זְנוּנִים (Hosea 1.2) was most likely an idolater, not a physical prostitute. This is what seems to be indicated in Hosea 2.8, 13, 3.1, 4.12-19, etc. God used Hosea’s personal life to address the spiritual adultery of the nation, their unfaithfulness to God as Israel’s husband.

2See the author’s study on Paul’s “Mystery.”

©2012 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated January 4, 2014


68 Responses to The Bride of Christ

  1. beth lowe says:

    I can not express the depth of gratitude I feel upon reading this. I knew it !! I knew that we the church was not the bride but I could not explain it. I didn’t have the knowledge to do so. maybe not fully understanding it fully myself , but I knew with just common sense of how some scripture read that it could not be true. So again I say Thank you!

  2. Matt Taylor says:

    Trying to wrap my head around this and have more questions:

    Isn’t Paul referring to the church in this part of Ephesians 5?

    “also loved the CHURCH and gave Himself up for HER, 26so that He might sanctify HER, having cleansed HER by the washing of water with the word, 27that He might present to Himself the CHURCH in all HER glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that SHE would be holy and blameless.”

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Matt,
      Good observations and questions. In Ephesians 5.25, Paul used αὐτῆς, genitive feminine singular of αὐτός so, “her.” In v. 26 and 27, he used αὐτήν, the accusative feminine singular, “her.” Why did Paul use the feminine pronoun? Wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to use the neuter pronoun, especially since the noun for body, σῶμα, is neuter? Normally, yes. But if we consider the context, Paul’s subject is marriage, especially the relation of husbands and wives. The wife’s position is one of subjection, just as the body is subject to the head (vv. 22-24). The role of husbands is to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, vv. 25, 28. The conclusion is that both, men and women, husbands and wives, are members of His body (v. 30). In the context of Ephesians 5, Paul was making an illustration, not establishing a doctrine. Paul quoted Genesis 2.24 (v. 31), for the integrity of the marriage relationship is like that of the Head and body. Paul explicitly stated the Church was the body of Christ. He never stated the Church was the bride of Christ. One was illustrative, the other doctrinal.

  3. Dymesha says:

    So with your evidence, can you expound on how Israel is related to the bride in Revelation based on Revelation 21:2, 9-10; 22:17, which point to the holy city, New Jerusalem? Something isn’t quite adding up on my end. Also, doesn’t Paul say in Galatians 3:28-29 that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs, according to the promise?” How can there then be a distinction made between Israel and the Church when Paul states, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that we are all one?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Dymesha,
      John wrote that the New Jerusalem was “as a bride,” ὡς νύμφην, not that it was the bride. During the Church Age, in which God is forming the “body of Christ” there is no “Jew or Gentile” just as Paul wrote. But God works one plan at a time. When the body of Christ came into existence, Israel was set aside (see Romans 11). When the body of Christ is complete, God will remove it from the earth and finish his dealings with Israel (Romans 11.25-27). During that period, God will fulfill His promises to the nation which culminate in the kingdom of God on earth. In the kingdom, the New Covenant will be enacted and God will fulfill His promises to Israel, such as Exodus 19.4-6, Deuteronomy 28.1, 13, etc.

      • Dymesha says:

        So why do you suppose that when the angel said to John “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife” does John get “carried…away…and showed…the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” and then goes on to describe this city in great detail? I understand that there are metaphors and symbolic meanings in scripture but this seems to be literal concerning the city. What do you suppose Revelation 22:17 means by “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come?”

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Dymesha,
          Consider: Revelation is wholly Jewish. Jesus addressed Jewish assemblies in Rev. 2-3. The New Jerusalem on the New Earth will be the eternal abode of saved Israel (cf. Revelation 3.12, 21.2, 22.14, Hebrews 12.22). Saved Israel is the bride/wife of Christ and by metonomy the New Jerusalem is described as the bride, since it is the residence of the bride/wife. We have no information about the relationship of the body of Christ, the Church, to the New Jerusalem. God has chosen to keep that secret. The most we have is what Paul wrote in Romans 8, that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ. Since the Church is a heavenly people we can speculate that our destiny is involved in the New Heavens rather than the New Earth.

          • Rosemarie C. says:

            Thank you for this study about the bride of Christ. I just want to add something to your comments above on the New Jerusalem…

            In Galatians 4:22-31, Paul says we are the children of promise and that New Jerusalem is the Mother of us all.

            I understand this to mean all of us; both saved Israel and the Body of Christ.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Rosemarie,
              Yes, the heavenly Jerusalem, the greater reality of the earthly Jerusalem, is the mother of all believers, Israel and Church. This heavenly city is the meeting of heaven and earth for while it is currently in heaven, John saw it descend upon the earth in the new heavens and new earth of eternity.

  4. Darlene Leistner says:

    Thank you for your article. I also have raised my eyebrows when it is mentioned that the church is the Bride of Christ. Nowhere in scripture does it say that; but it says that we are the body of Christ, which is a doctrine of the church. I think that sometimes the church forgets that God is not through with His people; we have been the ones grafted in by the grace and mercy of God. I would like to point out, however, that Paul taught that the Jews and Gentiles have been united to God as one new body through the cross (Eph. 2:16). The separation is not with the spiritual Jews and Gentiles in Christ, but with the earthly Israel, the nation of Israel, who will one day see their Messiah and will mourn for their unbelief.

  5. De doven says:

    Well well cried when I read this as I knew in my heart that we as a church were trying to rob Israel of her inheritance as the bride.yes we are the body of Yashua and should be very honoured to have this privilege, thank you so much for saying what I could not explain, thank you again.

  6. true doctrine says:

    when Paul tells the church, “for I betrothed you to one husband” (2 Cor 11:2), [husband being Christ] doesn’t that make them the bride?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      No, I answer that question in the article. If God is the husband of the Church does God have two wives? If the Church is the body of Christ how can it be the bride? Bride and groom are different.

  7. true doctrine says:

    why cant the church be the bride & the body? the Bible has many metaphors for the church?

  8. Alan Raine says:

    Thanks so much for your clarification. Ever since immersing myself in Darby, and the Berean Fellowship writers ( Stam, Brock, Sadler et al) and now Feldick I’ve been able to see clearly the role of restored Israel including the fact that the Body of Christ is not in Revelation. However I’m really surprised that Darby, Stam and Feldick all refer to the Body of Christ as the Bride of Christ. At least Sadler takes issue with Stam over the concept. I keep wondering how they can make that mistake since they are so advanced in their understanding of Scripture. How do you integrate their mistake with their otherwise ultimate interpretations of Scripture? Thank you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Alan,
      Thank you. I really can’t explain it. It seems pretty straightforward to me.

      • Judith Benson says:

        I have heard Feldick say the Body of Christ is not the Bride of Christ. That is what started my investigation of this. I have never liked the term Bride of Christ for the Body of Christ. I thank you, Doctrine, as well for the clarification. I read the article through tears of understanding as well.

  9. Taylor says:

    Thank you for the article. I have a question, reason with me. Everyone born in the Israelite family in this day in time has to believe and receive Christ as their Saviour, and the Holy Spirit just as everybody else to be saved right? In this light, wouldn’t that make them part of the “body of Christ”? That being said, with them being of the Israel nation, they are also the “bride of Christ” are they not? That being said referencing Eph. 2:16, if the Jews can now grab hold of being the “body of Christ”, they can now hold both titles. Therefore, would not the Church be able to hold both titles also? Just reasoning thought, please give feedback.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Taylor,
      Thank you. Interesting thought but it doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t matter if one is a Jew or a Gentile at present since Paul taught that in the “body of Christ” no distinction exists between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3.28). All who are saved today have believed Paul’s gospel, 1 Corinthians 15.1-4, which makes them a member of the body of Christ.

      • Lloyd says:

        He makes a good point. And you only addressed it by saying “it doesn’t work that way”. Can you elaborate on how it doesn’t work that way? I found your entire article to rely on assumptions to reach conclusions. Particularly that Revelation is for Jews only. Your interpretation of Ephesians chapter 6 is less than compelling. Yes there is talk about the husband loving his wife as his own body, but just before Paul mentions the “mystery” he quotes Genesis 2:24, so the immediate context is actual marriage of a man and woman. I believe that the church, and true Israel, are the Bride of Christ and the Body. I believe that this was why God created humankind, to be married to him. In Isaiah 62:2 the prophet says that God will give Zion (historically Israel) a “new name” which the Lord will designate.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Lloyd,
          My point was that at the present time, God makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile when one believes Paul’s gospel and becomes a member of the Church, the body of Christ. So one doesn’t hold dual “citizenship” as it were because it doesn’t exist. We know Revelation was written primarily for Jews for the churches John writes were all Jewish. No Church, i.e., Pauline language exists in Jesus’ words to them. Furthermore, salvation is not based upon faith the the death and resurrection of Christ but upon “overcoming.” See my article Understanding the Book of Revelation for more information.

          • Lloyd says:

            Sorry, this is really long. I understand how you see the Church and Israel and how Jewish people who accept Christ will be in the Church. But that seems so messy. What happened to Israel when the Church came? Did they cease to be the bride? Is their status on hold until the Church age was finished?
            Your argument that Revelation has no Church or Pauline language means it’s a Jewish book for Jews, well why does the type of language dictate the audience. This is the only New Testament book that is apocalyptic. So we don’t have any “gentile” apocalyptic books to compare it to. Might it be that it isn’t Jewish in character, but how God chooses to reveal the future no matter the audience. I found this argument that Revelation is not primarily for Jews, but the Church as a whole and am curious how you respond to it.

            “Revelation certainly has many Old Testament themes and allusions, which might make it appear very Jewish. It was also written by a Jew, which also gives it a Jewish flavor. Further, it is really the only prophetic/apocalyptic book in the New Testament — all the other books that closely resemble it are in the Old Testament, which may also make it appear Jewish.

            On the other hand, most of the books of the New Testament were written by Jews (some argue that even Luke and Mark were Jewish), which should not be surprising since all the apostles were Jewish. But this leaves us with a distinct lack of Gentile Christian apocalyptic/prophetic literature for purposes of comparison. In other words, there is really no good way to tell if Revelation is distinctly Jewish in style, or if it is simply Christian in style (with Jewish and Gentile Christians sharing the same style). Several facts imply that the original audience of Revelation was not distinctly Jewish: 1) Revelation does not distinguish between Jews and Gentiles in the church, implying that such a distinction is not very relevant to how its message is received; 2) Revelation was written in Greek (not Aramaic or Hebrew), indicating that any Jews in the original audience were at least somewhat Hellenized; 3) the original audience dwelled in Asia Minor, which was a predominantly Gentile area; 4) the biblical information regarding other churches in Asia Minor, such as that contained in Acts and the Pauline epistles, indicates that they contained both Jews and Gentiles — this is explicitly the case with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and Ephesus was part of the original audience of Revelation.” http://thirdmill.org/answers/answer.asp/file/39816

            Regarding the salvation by “overcoming” comment. You mention the future active tense of “grant salvation” as the reason these congregations have not been saved by faith. But then mention that the congregations are going to be present during the Tribulation. It makes sense that Jesus would extend a future salvation to a future people. Their faith is also future when they will exist on the earth. The degree to which everyone’s salvation is by faith, is so completely expounded throughout the Old and New Testament that I can’t imagine why you draw up this distinction other than to support the “Revelation is for Jews” line of reasoning.
            I have to ask, what is your training? How did you formulate your doctrine? On your own, did you go to a school, study under someone? I ask because you have such unorthodox teaching. (I’ll be the first to admit that is not always bad) After a second reading of your definition of “overcoming”, one can say that this is really just the definition of “having faith”. So I am not as alarmed as I was when I read your response, though still very concerned. Saying that under any circumstances salvation for anyone is not by faith alone in the Sacrifice and Resurrection of Christ is rightly considered heresy.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Lloyd,
              You’ve posed many questions. As to what happened to Israel, I recommend my article, The Olive Tree. With regard to Revelation in general, we simply do not find Pauline language there. We have no mention of the cross of Christ or by believing in the death and resurrection of Christ for salvation. The reason is that God has removed the Church and these final seven years involve God again dealing with Israel according to His revelation in the Old Testament–again, see The Olive Tree. I think I’ve answered most of your questions in my articles. If you persevere you will find the answers. As to my background, see the Contact page.

            • Isobelle says:

              I agree with you totally and would like to add this… The word, Church or Churches, mysteriously disappears from the Revelation after 3:22 and is not mentioned again until Rev 22:16 and then, it only references back to what the Angel was going to tell John in the first 3 chapters concerning “these things in the Churches”. Too many people are trying to put the Church into all of Revelations when the fact is the Church is NOT mentioned or seen on earth during the Seven Seals of Judgment.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Isobelle,
              Please see my article, Understanding the Book of Revelation. The “churches” Jesus addressed in Revelation 2-3 were Jewish assemblies, not Body of Christ churches. Paul divided the human race into three categories: Jews, Gentiles, and Church. Revelation primarily concerns Israel (Jeremiah 30.7) as well as Gentiles (nations). The Church, the body of Christ is not addressed or present. The language Jesus used in His address to those assemblies was wholly Jewish. We find no Pauline language there.

          • Lloyd says:

            One last comment. It seems unlikely that the Church at Pergamum was only Jewish if they had those who were of the Nicolaitans in their number. For those who don’t know, this was a corrupt sect of early Christianity that allowed adultery/polygamy and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Unimaginable acts for Jews.

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Perhaps. But in the OT Jews did unimaginable things. Can you imagine making a golden calf to worship immediately after God had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt? We really don’t know what was going on with these assemblies. What we can know is that the language the Lord used to address them was all Jewish, i.e., OT language. Not one hint of Paul’s gospel, grace, etc. is there.

  10. Taylor says:

    In addition to my prior post, what about Romans 7:4? Paul is speaking to believers (body of Chris). He specifically states that they are to be “married to another”, i.e. Christ.

  11. Hova says:

    To me, Revelations clearly states that Jerusalem is the bride of Christ. To many, “the church” is clearly the bride. Israel, now to me, seems to make more sense than either of the before mentioned, however Jerusalem is in Israel. So I guess what is unclear to me is, is the people of Israel his bride, or the actual land? Because if it is the land, then Jerusalem (the place) is also to considered Israel, which would then also be considered the bride? What does not make sense to me is how confusing Revelations seems to be on that point, and that God knew before hand how confusing it would be. What was God’s thoughts on this (no i don’t expect you to know this answer but I’m gonna pose it anyways). God’s thinking is as follows?: I am going to have this angel tell John exactly this, knowing that most my people will read it “, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And 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,” and then go on for the whole chapter to describe that city, BUT, its not actually the bride, nor will I have John ever explain any of it. At least if that part was left out of Revelations, it would be SOOOOO much more clearer to SOOOO many more people, that Israel is the bride. Furthermore, what about polygamy? Wasn’t that acceptable in the Old Testament for Gods people? Would Jesus not be able to take more than one wife? Please don’t confuse my search for answers, for anything, but that. The more I think about some of this stuff the more confused I get. The only thought about all this that does give me peace is that, I don’t feel that if I am wrong about who the bride is, it will cost me my salvation. As a friend just reminded me earlier, God judges the heart right?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Hova,
      Revelation 21.2 states the new Jerusalem was prepared as a bride. This is a figure of speech for its beautiful appearance. In verses 9-10 it seems the figure is continued for the new Jerusalem seems to be Israel residence. God allowed polygamy but this was not God’s express will. Usually, polygamy did not work out well. It just caused problems. God created Adam and gave him one wife. That was the divine design.

  12. linda c says:

    Great article. I saw that you mentioned that in revelation the church is no longer around. Are you referring to the rapture and if so do you have a link to a study of yours for that? Also, I had read a few days ago on a forum where someone was stating that daniel 9:27 is about Jesus and not the antichrist and that it wasn’t about His crucifixion either. They were saying that it is still a future fulfillment of the new covenant that He has with Israel during that time. That there is no such 7 year tribulation etc Super interesting and I kind of see now with your article how it all is coming together like a puzzle. Would you agree with that statement? Have you ever heard of that and do you think that it makes sense?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Linda,
      Please see my articles, The Rapture, The Day of Christ, and Understanding the Book of Revelation. Someone else just wrote me about the Daniel 9.27 passage. This passage clearly refers to the Antichrist as well as the Lord’s crucifixion. There’s a lot of deception right now regarding the Rapture and end-time events.

  13. b wellskopf says:

    One of arguments that the proponents for the Bride of Christ being the Body of Christ is based on the strict chronology of Revelation 19. We have a celebration in heaven (Rev 19:1 -6) and announcement of for “the wedding of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7- 9) and then Jesus coming back to earth to judge. (Rev 19:11- 21). Therefore, they say, the Wedding of the Lamb is in heaven where the Body of Christ will be during the Tribulation. Could you please explain?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Throughout the Scriptures, Israel is named as the wife of YHVH. Nothing in Revelation involves the Church, the body of Christ. John was one of the Twelve who were apostles to Israel, not the the Church. The marriage of the Lamb is the marriage between the God of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ, YHVH, and redeemed Israel. Jesus told the Jews in Matthew 23.29 they would not see Him until they said, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” For Him to return means they have said this, i.e., repented which Paul declared would occur (Romans 11.26). The marriage of the Lamb is between the God of Israel and faithful Israel. It is the day they once again become “Ammi” rather than “Lo-ammi” (Hosea 1.10 cf. Hosea 2.14-20).

      • b wellskopf says:

        Thank you for your quick response, and I agree but I am still curious as to why Rev 19 was written in this sequence. You can’t have a wedding without a bride present. So it appears that either John did not write this chronologically or the announcement was written in the future tense. What do you think?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          According to Revelation 19.7 the bride has made herself ready and the time for the marriage has come. How has the bride made herself ready? By repenting according to what Jesus spoke in Matthew 23. This is all anticipatory and prepatory. When Jesus comes on His white horse he comes for His bride to receive repentant Israel. In Revelation 19.15 it says the Lord will rule with a rod of iron. This was first stated in Psalm 2. This is the kingdom and anticipates his victory His enemies.

  14. mo praker says:

    pertaining to the difference between the body of Christ and Israel: the first group raptured out of the earth and the second group to endure the tribulations and form the kingdom of god on earth.
    What happened to the analogy that Jesus used to describe how Christian groups could be grafted into the olive tree and therefore enjoy all the blessings with Israel. Aren’t we as believers one with the Jewish people and can enjoy the same rewards as them?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      The Church, the body of Christ, and Israel are different programs. At the present time, in the body of Christ, God has removed these distinctions. Thus, there is no Jew or Gentile in terms of equality in Christ. When the body of Christ is completed, God will remove it (the Rapture). God will reestablish His program with Israel (Daniel’s 70th week). When that has ended He will establish His kingdom on earth. The Bible provides no information as to where the Church will be or what it will do during that 1,000 year period. See my article, The Olive Tree, for more information on that subject.

      • hugandkisses says:

        I knew that Eph 5:25-32 is the key to understanding body/bride concept..after reading what doctrine instructed I compared the different bible versions using the key word her and it and the KJV uses it referring to the church and reading this way the mystery is revealed…most modern bible versions causes confusion using ..her…so the correct meaning is the church is the body of Christ for He careth for it.

  15. Sue says:

    Hi Don,

    We will be (or are ) ‘His Glory’ so we will be with Him in all His Glory.

    Sue

  16. Tom lewis says:

    Thank you for you insight on this teaching. This had bothered me for a long time that people were teaching the church bride thing for many years. I first saw Fred Price’s son first teach about the truth of this matter about 10 years ago and it rang to the Spirit. I have reposted this to face book and I hope it will help those who have been mislead

  17. Tom says:

    Covenant theology has a real problem with what you are sharing, as far as the body or bride of Christ you make a good argument. I would say that the 10 virgins would give some weight to the body being the bride? When the world was more moral a bride was a virgin. Matthew 25 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, open the door for us!’ But he replied, Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Shalom!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Tom,
      Yes, as does most of Christendom. The problem with the 10 virgins passage is that Jesus spoke it to Jews, not Gentiles, not the Church. His ministry did not include Gentiles (Matthew 10.5-6; John 1.11; Romans 15.8).

  18. Ben Miday says:

    Your doctrine divides the kingdom. All have been reconciled into one body both Jew and Gentile. The body is Christ. There is no second visitation to separate the body again. And the body of Christ is made of Jews and Gentiles mentioned in Revelations. 144,000 from every tribe and the multitude that no man could number from every nation kindred and tongue. The 144,000 were the first, not the last, Rev 14, then the Gentiles are brought in from the gospel being preached. Revelation 14, is an outline of the Church age, beginning with the tribes of Israel and ending with world judgement and wrath. Our God is one.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ben,
      God’s kingdom is composed of believing Israel and the Church, the body of Christ. Only Paul taught the body of Christ. Peter, James, John, Jude never mention it. They never had a ministry to Israel. God’s kingdom is composed of all who have put their trust in יְהֹוָה, the Lord Jesus Christ. Within that kingdom are two major programs: Israel and the Church. Mix the two and you have contradiction and confusion. In the Church, the body of Christ, there is no Jew or Gentile. God will complete the body of Christ and remove it (Romans 11.25; 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17). The body of Christ does not exist in Revelation. Read Revelation 7.4. The 144,000 are all Jews.

  19. victor says:

    you made a statement and i quote, “Since the Church is the body of Christ it means that if Christ is the bridegroom we are part of His groomsmanship. Thus, we are of the bridegroom, not the bride!” . this statement goes against pauls analogy in Eph 5, and doesnt create a good picture, because if you say this, then i can also say, “since Christ is the head, we are also the head and part of the head”.
    I think the whole idea, of Father-Son, Bride-Bridegroom, Husband-wife, Friend-friend, Brother-brother, ‘Joined to God=one Spirit’, is to show us that all the relationships known to man is not enough to explain the kind of union and oneness we have come into with God (Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit).
    Because how can you physically or anatomically explain that Someone is the Head and another person is the body (this is equal to chaos in a lame man’s mind).
    I believe the Holy Spirit knows what He’s doing and he made paul make that analogy in Eph 5, because that may just be what a Christian somewhere needed to begin to grasp the kind of union he/she has come into with Christ. Thank you for the article.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Victor,
      Paul’s point in Ephesians 5 was to declare Christ’s love for the Church and that we are members of His body. And in terms of marriage, husbands are to love wives as Christ loved the Church. Paul declared the Church is the body of Christ. We do not find this declaration regarding Church as bride of Christ. We must be careful students and understand what the text says and what the text does not say.

      • victor says:

        i am not saying you are right or wrong, i am saying its all an analogy, its not literal, moreover Jesus never said we are part of His body. My point is, the whole idea is to understand your connection, relationship and union with the Godhead, because Christ is not literally a head and we a body as in anatomy. And Paul using this analogy of body and head to explain husband and wife and Christ and the church shows that there is direct correlation with the responsibility and place of the wife and the church and also of the Christ and the husband. which brings me back to my point, it not whether or not the word bride was directly used for the church, but the fact that Paul could directly proportion or estimate the role and place of the church to a wife and vis-a-vis.
        Another thing is you separate the the church from Israel, you say the new Jerusalem is about jews, but Heb 12vs 22-24 actually describes what is in the heavenly Jerusalem and the mount zion and its not just a jewish thing there. And think about it israel will have their own special jerusalem with their bride and the rest of the “gentiles””christians” what happens to us we stay in the other heaven or another Jerusalem, or since we are the body, then we are also the husbands of Israel. Israel as a land or israel as a country like today, or israel in terms of genes. So can i for example go and nationalise to be an israeli and then qualify to be a bride. You and i know that isael as been conquered different times and there are many mixed jewish blood out there, and many living outside Israel intermarrying, so how to determine exactly.
        Finally Jesus didn’t separate us so why should we, in John 17 when Jesus prayed his final prayer, in verse 20, he included those that will believe in him in the future also with his then present ‘Jewish’ disciples in that prayers.
        So i am not denying that there is no place explicitly written in the bible that the church is the bride of Christ, but Paul implied it and several other places in the bible implied it, which you can easily refute by saying he meant just israel and not the church, and that will mean you believe the doctrine that Israel is more special or superior to other Christians. However its unfair to israel if they are just a wife and we are actually the real body of Christ.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Victor,
          Jesus revealed nothing about the Church, the body of Christ in His earthly ministry. That revelation was held as a secret until the ascended Lord gave it to Paul. I recommend Paul Sadler’s article on the bride of Christ: https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/the-bride-of-christ/. Hebrews was written to Jews. The content is Jewish and was meaningless to Gentiles. It was written to convince the Jews that going forward in Christ was the only choice. Judaism and the Levitical sacrifices was over.

  20. James Querry says:

    I am amazed how inspired you are all in commenting on the Church as Bride of Christ. Let us not forget the mystery behind. Whether written or not, through the working of the HOly SPirit, the unveiling of the truth continues. Si comprehendis, non est Deus. No one can say this or that is the right interpretation as long as they remain sound with our moral and spiritual life. Your (all) discussions are helpful. May others find them inspiring to live a Christian moral life and praise God for His goodness and greatness. May this bring unity rather than assertion of ones claim to be true and the other as false. For that, the Lord does not intend.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      James,
      Thank you. But I disagree with Augustine. God has revealed so that we can understand. Paul wrote the Ephesians:

      15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1.15-19).

  21. Steve H says:

    Thanks for this chain of comment!

    It was around a year or so ago that the Pastor of our church threw out the comment ‘ The church is not the bride of Christ – it is Israel.’

    And I confess, the theological hairs on the back of my neck began to bristle.

    One of the things I have learned over the past 40 years of wilderness wandering, is that I haven’t got the answers – but God is really interested in hearing what my questions are. Asking questions is the way we keep the conversation concerning Him flowing.

    After my Pastors comment, I decided to check it out & approached it with as open a mind as possible. I know we all bring our presuppositions etc to these things but I do believe if we are honestly seeking truth, God will reveal it.

    God’s interaction with the world has always been through Israel [we can argue about Abraham, as he wasn’t in fact Jewish].

    Israel has been the vehicle that God has presented His message to the world.

    When Jesus came, He came to Israel & presented His credentials to Israel that He was the long awaited Messiah. His whole earthly ministry was to Israel.

    They rejected Him as Messiah & we then see the next phase of God’s plan – the church age as revealed to Paul.

    But the call and destiny of Israel is not over with – one day, they will again be used as God’s vehicle to the world.

    If we work on the basis that Jesus’ ministry was to the Jews, then we see in His accounts & teaching that often He uses marriage language [ie bride/bridegroom stuff] – this is the stuff of Jewish relationship.

    And when the physical, worldly destiny of Israel has been outworked, He returns for His bride [Israel].

    I still struggle with Revelation being solely Jewish Don [as we have already discussed] but believe the understanding of Bride v’s Body are extremely important to grasp & the string of comments to your writing have been evidence of this.

    Thanks for generating such good questions.

  22. J dixon says:

    Your explanation is confusing. It seems you’ve studied a great deal, but your explanation is more complicated than what you’re trying to explain.
    The reason you don’t see the bride of Christ in revelation until rev 19 is because she is in heaven during the tribulation. Raptured away before the tribulation starts, “so shall we ever be with the Lord”
    The nation Israel will sleep in the wilderness in tents in the mellinial reign, with King David as her ruler, and King, but also a co regent prince under King Jesus, (ez 34) whose throne will be in the heavenlies with his Bride in the bridal chamber, US, from the heavenlies. The Bride of Christ IS his body, and will come out of the body of Christ, the church, (kingdom and grace saints, think Rachel and Leah), but not all of the church is the Bride (naomi, Ruth, Boaz). In revelation 21, you see the tabernacle “New Jerusalem”with men” Israel, and those born in the mellinial reign, and then you see the Holy of Holies, “HOLY Jeruselam” the holiest part of the tabernacle, which is where Christ will dwell with his Bride, the saints of the grace dispensation, and enjoy an intimacy with Christ as his queen. Those twelve gates are for his family, king David, and the Apostles, and kings of the earth (grace saints), and the kingdom saints, who will also have access to the “Holy Jerusalem” inside the “New Jerusalem”, but as a family member “children of the Bride chamber”, oart of the body, but not the Bride.
    All the Godly men in scripture from Adam to Jacob, to Joseph, to Boaz, to King David, EVERY ONE of them had GENTILE BRIDES, including Moses and Jacob. as will Jesus. Boaz, the picture of Christ in the OT married a Gentile bride, but she was a Jew by ADOPTION, as we are adopted by “the mother of us all” and the story of Boaz and Ruth is the perfect explanation of the relationship Jesus has with his church, the body, and his Bride, which comes from his body as Adams rib to make Eve. Its plain as day. Jesus Bride is a Gentile, but a Jew by adoption, specifically the Grace dispensation saints, which will come out of the body of Christ, his church. I pray this helps your understanding.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      J Dixon,
      The explanation is simple: Israel is the bride/wife of YHVH. The Church is His body. Paul alone revealed the Church was the body of Christ. He did not state it was the bride of Christ.

  23. Sue says:

    Why is everyone determined to make the body of Christ ‘ the Bride ‘.

    Ephesians shows that the Mystery Church will be ‘His Glory’ manifested because of what He did on the cross.

    If anything the church is ‘in’ the bridegroom ready to receive the bride (Israel) then all the fullness will be summed up in Him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>