Bride of Christ
Jesus Christ is coming to rule this world as King of Kings! The Book of Revelation says He will have a bride. Who will this be? Is it the New Testament Church? Israel Restored? Or those redeemed from all ages of this earth?
These questions have plagued those who await His triumphant return at the end of this age. Many believe the status of bride will apply to only a few who have been called in this age. Some believe it applies to ancient Israel restored as God’s favourite.
Christ’s humble entry into Jerusalem two thousand years ago foreshadowed His return at the end of this age when He will enter Jerusalem on a white horse with the power to defeat His enemies and the authority to rule the world, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war… … And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11, 15-16 see also Psalm 110).
The world will become His kingdom. The word ‘kingdom’ is derived from the words ‘king’ and ‘dominion’. A kingdom comprises the subjects over whom the king has dominion. While God the Father has supreme authority over the whole universe, Christ as an emissary of God’s Kingdom, will be given dominion over this earth to begin His task of redeeming mankind. During His reign people of this world’s nations will receive the opportunity of salvation and those who accept will have access to eternal life in God’s Spiritual Kingdom.
When Christ has completed the task of redeeming mankind He will deliver those who are saved up to His Father and resume His place with the Father to rule the universe with Him, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
A New Age
Christ’s return will be heralded by a pronouncement from Heaven (Revelation 19:1-9) which indicates a major historic event is taking place. The Babylonian system has fallen and Christ now rules, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (verse 6).
This is the beginning of a new age when Christ as King of Kings (Revelation 19:11-21) will vanquish His adversaries and incarcerate Satan and his demons, who have ruled the earth for six thousand years during this current age (Revelation 20:1-2). Satan will no longer have any influence over those whom Christ rules. Later, after one last ditch effort to destroy God’s work Satan will be destroyed for all eternity (verses 7-10).
During the last six thousand years preparations have been made for the salvation of those who are willing to accept God’s way. Christ has been preparing a group called to assist in the next age who will be resurrected to spirit when He returns, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:4). And, “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4). They will assist Christ during His millennial (1,000 year) reign during which time Satan will be incarcerated (Revelation 20:1-3).
During Christ’s millennial rule, under perfect conditions, many will be converted. After the final demise of Satan all those who have ever lived, but never had a chance of salvation will be resurrected to physical life. At that time their minds will be opened to understand the Books of the Bible and those who accept God’s way have the opportunity of eternal life, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12). This is what is known as the Great White throne Judgment Period.
The word Greek word ‘krino’ (Strongs 2919) translated as ‘judged’ not only means to pronounce judgment but also to govern or rule. It is possible that Isaiah 65:20 indicates a period of time for each person to prove themselves during the creation of the new Jerusalem, “… for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.” (Isaiah 65:18-20). This does not mean that the Great White Throne Judgment period is only one hundred years long, but rather indicates that each person will get sufficient time to make the changes necessary for eternal life. It is possible that successive generations may be resurrected in order, however this point is open to debate.
Mercifully those who have not previously had access to God’s Spirit will be given the opportunity for salvation before a judgment is pronounced on their lives. This is what was preached to Abraham all those thousands of years ago, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8, see also Genesis 12:3).
Bride of Christ
John the Baptist who preceded Christ’s first coming two thousand years ago revealed Him as both the Son and the Lamb of God, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” … “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29 and 34).
Those who comprise the Lamb’s bride are symbolized as the holy city New Jerusalem, “…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,” (Revelation 21:9-10). They are, “… they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (verse 27). The bride will include everyone resurrected to spirit from the time of Christ’s return to the very end when He delivers all those over whom He has dominion to His Father as we read earlier in I Corinthians 15.
Those who are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be destroyed, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14-15).Death itself will be destroyed because all those who are left alive will have eternal life in God’s Kingdom, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4).
Bride Not Limited
Based on what the Apostle John said earlier in the Book of Revelation many believe that the bride only comprises those who are resurrected at the return of Christ, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 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.” (Revelation 19:6-9). However, further examination reveals otherwise.
Although John said, “… his wife hath made herself ready.” - he immediately qualified that statement by saying she has yet to be arrayed for the wedding, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen,”. This implies that although the preparations for the bride have been completed she is still to be clothed in the wedding garment which is of ‘fine linen’ symbolizing righteousness. In other words the processes are in place and arrangements completed except for the act of clothing the bride in righteousness, which will take place before the wedding.
Some may be troubled by the use of the word ‘wife’ in this passage, but according to Bullinger (Companion Bible) a betrothed maid was legally a wife in ancient Israel. He cites Deuteronomy 22:23-24 and Matthew 1:23-24 as evidence of this. Those betrothed to Christ are similarly referred to as His wife even before the marriage has been formalized.
Clothed in Righteousness
We have already established that the bride will include all who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 15:20) and that the bride will be clothed in righteousness. Paul said that the righteousness of God comes by believing Jesus Christ and all who have faith will receive it without exception, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (Romans 3:22). There is no distinction between Gentile or Jew, or between those called now or later, righteousness is imputed upon everyone who believes, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:4). Because Revelation 19:8 defines the wedding garment as righteousness, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen …… for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”, it can be safely concluded that all who attain righteousness are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and because they have received God’s righteousness are clothed in the fine linen of the wedding garment. Therefore the bride also includes all those, without exception, who are clothed in righteousness, from the return of Christ until the Kingdom is delivered up to the Father when the bride is seen as, “… the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2). Look at the words from Isaiah the prophet, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10).
The Bible does not say when the actual wedding feast will take place. Revelation 19 indicates that when Christ returns the bride has yet to be arrayed in her wedding garment. Revelation 20 describes a number of the events that will occur from the time Christ returns to the revelation of the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 21 and it is only then that we see the bride finally adorned for her husband. The arraying, or adorning of the bride in righteousness obviously continues to take place between Christ’s return and revelation of the new heaven and earth. This period of time includes the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20.
The outcome of these events is that everyone who turns to Christ and then through the process of conversion is resurrected to eternal life are clothed in righteousness will become part of His bride. Those who refuse will be subject to the second and eternal death.
All Who Receive Salvation
Christ’s return to this earth will usher in a new age. It is an age of salvation culminating in the marrige of the Lamb to the bride who will be adorned in righteousness. That adornment symbolises the conversion of those who accept Christ and are purged from sin in preparation for eternal life in God’s Kingdom. The bride will include the New Testament church and the Israelites providing they accept Christ as their saviour and through the process of conversion undergo the preparation for eternal life. Every single person who has ever lived from Adam until the end of the White Throne Judgement period will have the opportunity to be adorned in righteousness so they can be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and be counted as part of His bride.
All this will begin at the end of this age when a voice like mighty thunder from Heaven will announce the beginning of the age of salvation when Christ will rule and His bride is to be adorned for a marriage that will last for all eternity.