Who is the bride? When the Bible speaks of the “bride,” is it only in reference to the saints who will be in the first resurrection?


The answer is that the bride will ultimately involve many more
than those who are given eternal life in the first resurrection. A
review of this topic will reveal just what the Bible means when it
refers to the “bride.”

First of all, Jesus Christ is presented as
the bridegroom in many examples. Even at His appearance as a human and
before His death, Jesus spoke of Himself as the “bridegroom” (Luke
5:34-35). In this account, Jesus taught that He would be taken away and
that no “marriage” would be consummated at that time.

Note, as
well, that Jesus gave a parable indicating that He, as the bridegroom,
would return (Compare Matthew 25:1-13). In this story, Jesus began His
teaching with these very important words: “‘The kingdom of heaven shall
be LIKENED to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the
bridegroom’” (Matthew 25:1).

Jesus presented this example of
bridegroom and virgins (that is, the bride) to instruct His Church to
be ready for His return. Most importantly, the Church was to remain
vigilant and not let God’s Holy Spirit (the “oil” for their lamps) fade
out of their lives! He would only marry those who were ready.

the Baptist also referred to Jesus as the bridegroom (Compare John
3:29).In his statement, John attested to the fact that Jesus was the
Christ, and that he (John) was serving as if he were the friend in a
marriage ceremony. This is, of course, just an analogy, as John will be
in the first resurrection and therefore part of the bride.

In a
deeply symbolic series of statements, Paul instructs married members of
the Church to love their mates (Compare Ephesians 5:22-33). He draws on
the selfless example of Christ’s love for His Church to make his point.
Then, he mentions a profound truth about marriage, calling it “a great
mystery” (Verse 32).

Why is it a mystery? Because it is a truth
hidden in the plan of God—hidden to those not called by God! Yet, God’s
Church understands this mystery: Jesus Christ will marry His Church
(Compare, especially, verses 25-27)! Note what Paul also stated in this
connection: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have
betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin
to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). It is important to understand the
concept of “betrothal.” That concept is fully explained in our booklet,
“And Lawlessness Will Abound…”, on pages 47 and 56-59.

describes a binding agreement or covenant of engagement, which could
only be annulled or dissolved through divorce, but it does not describe
the consummation of the marriage. As will be shown, God’s “betrothal”
is not limited to those who will be in the first resurrection. The
above-quoted booklet also explains that the New Covenant IS a marriage
agreement between Christ and His disciples–but it is not limited,
either, to those who will be in the first resurrection; rather, it will
also apply to those who will live in the Millennium and during the
Great White Throne Judgment, and who will become converted at that time
(For more information on that aspect of God’s great Master Plan, please
read, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)

In the many examples where
the Church is referred to as a “virgin,” the intent is one of our
spiritual condition. It is important that we not deduce an entire
teaching from a symbolic phrase! This vital key for understanding is to
look to Scripture for the meaning behind difficult verses, parables and
symbolic analogies.

However, the fact remains that Jesus Christ
will marry His Church! We find this specifically promised in Revelation
19. Verse 7 states: “‘Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself
ready.’” Understand that the wife spoken of here is comprised of ALL
the saints—ALL those counted worthy for the first resurrection.
Christians, who live just before Christ’s return, also must be
prepared—just as the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 so
clearly teaches.

Now carefully consider what is stated in
Revelation 19:8: “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine
linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is THE RIGHTEOUS ACTS of
the saints.” The focus for who will be in this wedding ceremony centers
on those who are righteous—that is, those who obey God! Here we gain
insight to the fact that Christ will marry those who live righteous
lives—something only possible through having the help of God’s Holy

In the Old Testament, God says that He is Husband to
Israel: “‘For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His
name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God
of the whole earth’” (Isaiah 54:5). Even as Israel rejected God, He
reminded them of Who He was: “‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says
the LORD; ‘for I am married to you…’ (Jeremiah 3:14).

In a
moving outpouring of God’s love for Jerusalem–here, a type of all
Israel–He speaks of how He chose and tenderly loved her and made her
His: “‘…Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with
you, and you became Mine,’ says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 16:8). In verses
32 and 38 of this chapter, God charges Jerusalem of being “‘…an
adulterous wife’” and compares it with “‘…women who break wedlock.’”

to Israel of a future time—a time when God will establish His Kingdom
on the earth: “‘And it shall be, IN THAT DAY,’ Says the LORD, ‘That you
will call Me “My Husband…”’” (Hosea 2:16). Then, in verses 19-20, we
find that God promises to join Israel to Himself in an unending
marriage: “‘I WILL BETROTH YOU TO ME FOREVER; Yes, I will betroth you
to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will
betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.’” It is
important to realize that God will “betroth” Israel in the
future–AFTER Christ’s return and the FIRST resurrection. This shows
that the “bride” cannot only include those in the first resurrection.

qualities of the bride in this marriage are: righteousness; justice;
lovingkindness; mercy; and faithfulness. These are fruits of God’s Holy
Spirit—fruits that Christians, the saints, the bride of Christ, are to
possess (Compare Galatians 5:22-23).

We have seen that the Church
of God is called a “bride.” Also, God’s Word reveals that He addresses
Himself as a Husband to Israel and that He will marry her forever in
the future, after Israel’s conversion! Furthermore, the Bible also
speaks of a “bride” in an even greater context:

“Then one of the
seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues
came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the
bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a
great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy
Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9-10).

in Revelation 21, verse 2, we find this overview: “Then I, John, saw
the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Please note that
the holy city, spoken of as the “bride,” will descend to this earth
after the first resurrection, the Millennium and the Great White Throne
Judgment. At that time, the heavenly Jerusalem, placed on earth, is
compared with the bride; that is, it will be comprised of ALL of God’s
saints. Most commentaries understand this analogy. For example,
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say that the bride in Revelation 21:2 is
“made up of the blessed citizens of the ‘holy city,'” and the Ryrie
Study Bible states that “the heavenly city [when here on earth] will be
the abode of all the saints, the bride of Christ…” Again, we see that
the “bride” includes more than just the saints of the first

In this most remarkable look into the future, God
has revealed that ALL of mankind who become truly converted and become
Christ-like will be joined to Him and His family: “‘HE WHO OVERCOMES
shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My
son’” (Revelation 21:7).

Mankind was created to become members of
God’s Family! As children of God—described as sons of God and brethren
of Christ (Compare Hebrews 2)—mankind also is offered a role with
Christ described as being His “bride.” We are to become helpers
“comparable to [H]im,” as the first woman was created to be a helper,
comparable to the husband (Compare Genesis 2:18). We are to become
united in a permanent relationship within the Family of God!

prayed a remarkable prayer to His Father, which is recorded in John 17.
Jesus asked for something that is—when we understand it—the most
extraordinary of relationships. Note, in particular, verses 11 and
20-26. Jesus specifically asked that His followers might be ONE as both
He and the Father are ONE. Genesis 2:24 states of the married
relationship between man and woman: “Therefore a man shall leave his
father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become ONE

We must understand the significance of what Peter stated:
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God
shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works
righteousness is accepted by Him’” (Acts 10:34-35; Also, compare Romans
2:11; Galatians 2:6; Colossians 3:23-25; 1 Peter 1:17).

understanding about who the bride is must be supported by all of the
relevant Scriptures. Remember, God desires that all men should be saved
(Compare 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Also, consider what Jesus Christ
taught about those who would be saved—about those who would, indeed,
become His spiritual bride: “‘And indeed there are last who will be
first, and there are first who will be last’” (Luke 13:30).

in some of the very last words of the Bible, this heartening plea is
made—it is as if those who now rest among the spiritual virgins
awaiting the marriage of the Lamb speak to us: “And the Spirit and the
BRIDE say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who
thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely”
(Revelation 22:17).

Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link

©2024 Church of the Eternal God