Why Paul Doesn’t Call The Church The Bride of Christ

We need to clear up some confusion about the “bride” so let us consider some of the verses we mentioned last time. Last time we said the following.

Clearly we see a relationship between Christ and the church. But did you ever ask or wonder – if the church is the bride of Christ, why doesn’t Paul, the apostle to the church, ever mention the church is the bride of Christ? Paul tells us of a great mystery of Christ and the church but Paul does not call the church the bride of Christ.

We know from scripture God the Father calls Israel his wife and he also gives her a divorce.

Isaiah 50:1 KJV  “Thus saith the Lord , Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.”

Jeremiah 3:8 KJV  “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”

So when we think of Jesus and the bride of Christ, we have been taught the church is the bride, right? We have been taught the Father married Israel and the Son, Jesus, marries the church.

But then we looked at Revelation 21 where an angel of the Lord shows the apostle John the “bride of Christ”.

Revelation 21:9 KJV  “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

Then read what the angel shows him in verses 10-27.

If God the Father called Israel his wife, who is Israel? God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. You can read the account in Genesis 32:24-28 and Genesis 35:9-13.  But notice how God defines Israel in chapter 35.

Genesis 35:9-13 KJV  “And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him.
[10] And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
[11] And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
[12] And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
[13] And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.”

So when God called Israel his wife, who was God referring to? Jacob? The 12 tribes of Jacob? The nation and company of nations? The kings that would come from Jacob’s loins? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

Relative to Jesus and the church, Ephesians 5:23-32 tells us Christ is the head of the church; and he is the saviour of the body. Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Why?

Ephesians 5:26-27 KJV  “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
[27] That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Jesus Christ is going to present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle…. And verse 30 we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. Paul is comparing the earthly marriage relationship, husband and wife being one and Christ and the church are one. It is a comparison.

There is a comparison of God the Father with Israel –  Isaiah 54:5-6 KJV
“For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
[6] For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.”

Isaiah 62:1-12 KJV  “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.
[2] And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
[3] Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord , and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.
[4] Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
[5] For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
[6] I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord , keep not silence,
[7] And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
[8] The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:
[9] But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord ; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness.
[10] Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.
[11] Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
[12] And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord : and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.”

When we look at the word espoused as Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians espoused means promised in marriage by contract. Mary was espoused to Joseph, Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27; Luke 2:5.  We know the Holy Spirit came on Mary and she carried Jesus, the Son of God. Luke records Mary was great with child when Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem, but notice  Luke 2:5 KJV
“To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”

Mary and Joseph were not married yet. When Jesus was born in the flesh, Mary was espoused to Joseph. Espoused is promised in marriage by contract.

Paul tells the Corinthians in
2 Corinthians 11:2 KJV  “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

The church (all true believers in Christ ) are espoused (promised in marriage by contract). The church is going to marry Christ as Paul says in  Romans 7:4 KJV
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

The church is espoused to Jesus Christ like Mary was espoused to Joseph. As Mary was pregnant with Jesus while she was espoused to Joseph but not yet married to him, the church is pregnant with the Holy Spirit and we are espoused to Jesus Christ. And that is why Paul never called the church the bride of Christ. The church is espoused to Christ. We are promised by contract, the word of God, to Jesus.

As Israel as a nation made up of the 12 tribes, God called Israel his wife. Who makes up the wife? All kinds of people who are of the 12 tribes.

In Revelation 21:9 – 27, the bride is
Revelation 21:9-10 KJV  “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
[10] 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,”

Who makes up holy Jerusalem  (we call it new Jerusalem )? Revelation 21: 11-27.  Revelation 21:24 KJV  “And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.”

Revelation 21:27 KJV  “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

And there is a marriage supper of the Lamb mentioned in Revelation 19:9 KJV
” And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.”

And a few verses later we read Revelation 19:16-17 KJV  “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS .
[17] And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;”

The point? The church is not called the bride of Christ by Paul because the church is espoused unto Jesus Christ by contract, God’s word. And as Israel, as God the Father’s wife, was made up of the 12 tribes of Jacob, so is the bride. Holy Jerusalem, we call it New Jerusalem, is made up of all believers in Christ. Those who by faith have believed on the shed blood of Jesus washing away their sin, making them righteous in Christ.

Thank you for all the questions and I hope this clears any confusion. Until next time.

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