The Bride of Christ
Paul, as their spiritual father (1 Corinthians 4:15), told the church at Corinth, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2) To the Church at Rome he said, “that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead” (Romans 7:4).
Paul pointed out to the Church at Ephesus, in no uncertain terms, that marriage between a man and woman has a direct connection to Christ and the Church. Don't miss the analogy:
“the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23).
“as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands” (Ephesians 5:24)
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25)
Marriage speaks of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
The church is also called His body (Colossians 1:18, 24)! “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ephesians 5:30) You cannot get more intimate than that. We are “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28), He becomes our life (Colossians 3:4). But where does the apostle Paul get this idea? He gets it right out of the book of Genesis. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:23-24)
You see, we are talking about marriage. Jesus also referred to the Genesis passage on marriage saying, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Still not convinced? Let's go back to Paul's teaching. “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:30-32) When Paul is here speaking about marriage, he is speaking about “Christ and the church”.
Do not confuse this with Jehovah who is the husband of the earthly nation Israel, the adulterous and unfaithful wife of the Lord in the Old Testament (Isaiah 54:5, Hosea 2:19-20, Jeremiah 31:31-32)! Do not confuse Israel and the Church as so many are tragically doing these days. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ is seen as the future Bridegroom of His Church, who will be coming to Him as a virgin Bride (2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:25-27). It may be mystical, but it is not mythical!
Here is something else to think about, Jesus Christ is a type of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). In the beginning, God created Adam in His own image (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 5:1-2). Likewise, God also prepared a body for Jesus Christ to dwell in (Hebrews 10:5, Colossians 2:9), He also is the “express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). God created the woman from the man when He put Adam in a “deep sleep” and created the woman from his side (Genesis 2:21-22). Likewise, Christ was also “put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18) and was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), and by that wound in His side (John 19:34), He would procure a spouse through His shed blood on the cross.
Just as the woman was “of the man” and they were joined together in marriage (Genesis 2:23-24; 1 Corinthians 11:8), even so, the Church is of Christ (Ephesians 2:10, Colossians 3:10), and become united together, “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 6:15).
Most of those who deny that the Church is the Bride of Christ usually go to the end of the Revelation, and will argue that the Bride of Christ is a city, the New Jerusalem. They look to Revelation 21:9-10, where it says, “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 for them that settles it. But it does not say here that the Bride of Christ is “the holy Jerusalem”.
When Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children” (Matthew 23:37), it was not the physical city that killed the prophets, it was the “children”, the inhabitants of the city. Likewise, the New Jerusalem is the dwelling place of the Lamb's Bride.
But the Bible says much more, both about the Bride of Christ and the New Jerusalem.
Just before this, the apostle John said, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2). First of all, this event happens 1000 years after Christ's Kingdom reigns on earth, it happens after this present world is burned up making way for a new heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1). Secondly, it says that the New Jerusalem is prepared “as a bride”. It does not say it “is” a bride, and if anything, New Jerusalem is the eternal habitation of the Bride who resides therein with the saints of all ages.
The New Jerusalem is the “city of God” (Revelation 3:12), which Christ has gone to prepare for His Bride, the Church (John 14:1-4). In Hebrews we are told that God “hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16, 1 Corinthians 2:9), which shall endure forever (Hebrews 13:14), whose eternal inhabitants are outlined in Hebrews 12:22-23. Where Christ is, there shall we be also (John 14:3), with Him, forever more (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
It seems that the replacement theologists have a hard time differentiating between the Church and Israel in so many ways. They have difficulty seeing the Pre-Trib rapture of the Church which does not go through any part of the 7 year tribulation. The Tribulation is primarily for the judgment and purging of the unbelieving Jews (Zechariah 13:8-9, Ezekiel 20:33-36, 37-38) who in the latter times, have been gathered back into her homeland in unbelief (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
Just as the Lord first brought His people Israel out of the Land of Egypt, He “afterward destroyed them that believed not.” (Jude 1:5) History will repeat itself. He will first gather Israel out of all the nations where they had been scattered because of their rebellion, then, in the time of “Jacob's trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7), the great Tribulation, He will purge them which believe not.
But, His wrath will not only purge out the unbelieving Jews, the Tribulation is designed to destroy all the enemies of God and those nations who are seeking to destroy His chosen people the Jews (Joel 3:1-3, 6-7, Zechariah 12:2-3). The seven year tribulation is the beginning of the Day of the Lord, it is a day of wrath (Zephaniah 1:15-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). At that time He will pour out His indignation upon all nations (Isaiah 34:1-2, 8, Zephaniah 3:8, Revelation 16:16; 19:11-21), to “destroy sinners out of the earth” (Isaiah 13:9), to “punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:11).
There is no mention of the church in the book of Revelation after chapter 3. You do not see them again till they are mentioned at the close of the Tribulation with their marriage in heaven (Revelation 19:7-8), before returning with Christ for the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-14, Zechariah 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 1:14-15).
In figure, or type, we see several men in the Old Testament who typify Christ taking a gentile bride. Moses was a type of Christ (Deuteronomy 18:15) who took a gentile bride (Exodus 2:21). Moses was a type of Christ in that he was God's chosen deliverer; he was rejected by Israel and turned to the Gentiles, taking a gentile bride; afterward he again appears as Israel's deliverer and is accepted. Boaz, a type of Christ as kinsman redeemer married a gentile, Ruth the Moabitess.
Joseph, also is seen by many as a beautiful type of Christ. He was sent by his father to his brethren, God's chosen people, but was rejected and they thought to kill him. His brethren hated him and cast him into a pit, but he was brought up out of that horrible pit, but as far as his brethren were concerned, he was dead to them and so told their father Jacob. Joseph was sold as a slave. We then see Joseph cast into prison, and there taking on the form of a lowly servant, but then highly exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh to be ruler over the kingdom where all had to bow the knee to him. In the time of his rejection by his brethren, he took a gentile bride (Genesis 41:37-45, Philippians 2:7-10).
So too Christ, who having been rejected by His brethren Israel, is now calling out of the Gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14). When a man and woman are married, the bride takes the name of the groom. When the children of Israel's eyes were opened to see Joseph in all his glory they were astonished and there was great weeping and mourning (Genesis 45:1-8, 14-15, Zechariah 12:10). Joseph delivered them from the destructive famine that had overtaken them and the whole world, thereby, becoming Saviour to the whole world, and they made obeisance to him (Genesis 37:7-9) and were gathered into the kingdom.