The Church: The Bride of Christ

The church being the bride of Christ always made me a little uncomfortable because that meant I was “marrying” Jesus, the groom! But the metaphor is rich in meaning. In fact, it’s beautiful in a way that some of the other metaphors are not. Let’s dive into the metaphor.

Firstly, the bride’s allegiance is to Christ. Marriage is a partnership. So when Scripture uses the imagery of the church being the bride of Christ, that partnership is implicit. Our role as the church is to show allegiance to Christ, our “husband.” According to Romans 7:1-6, we were once married to the Law, but when we die (through baptism), we are released from the Law and allowed to marry Christ. Our loyalty has shifted to another. In Ephesians 5:24, “the church submits to Christ” just like wives show allegiance to their husbands.  Concerned that the Corinthians are going after false teachers—"other husbands”—Paul passionately says, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2). This resonates with the story of Hosea and much of the imagery in the OT that equates going after idols to committing adultery on God.

Secondly, the bride must love the groom. A marriage is more than just loyalty—it involves love. Love is of course one of God’s defining characteristics (1 Jn. 4:8). Christ, our bridegroom, “loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). In turn, we must relate to God with love. “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God” (1 Cor. 8:3). Our love for Christ also leads us to respect God’s wishes for our lives. A poignant reminder is 1 John 2:3, 5b-6, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. …By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

Thirdly, the bride will be perfected at the final banquet. Good news! The church is not perfect right now, but it will be eventually. Paul write sin Ephesians 5:25-27, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Revelation paints this picture of this final ceremony. Revelation 19:7-8 says ”Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” Eventually, we will be perfected. On that beautiful day, Jesus will look at us like a bride walking down that aisle and welcome us finally into the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Being the bride of Christ is truly a wonderful thing!

Discussion Questions

  • How can we maintain loyalty with Christ even when the world pulls us in other directions?
  • What does it look like to love God?
  • What sort of attitude should we have when obeying our bridegroom Jesus Christ?
  • How do we prepare ourselves for the “wedding day?” What does it look like to wait for that day?
  • How do our lives change if we truly embrace being the bride of Christ?

Prayer Prompt

Confess to God that times you have committed spiritual adultery. Pledge allegiance to God and Christ alone. Pray that you may be filled with love for Christ that prompts you to follow his commandments.

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