Author: Ron Graham
The Beauty of Heaven (Revelation 21-22) >Seven Final Visions >7th vision >Excursus on the Bride of Christ
Some of the visions in Revelation chapters 18-22 refer to a marriage between the Lamb and his bride. We know that the Lamb is Christ (Revelation 4:6-10), but who is the bride, the Lamb’s wife?
The Bride, the Lamb’s wife, is identified by observing what is said about her in the bride and the bridegroom passages (Revelation 18:23, Revelation 19:7-9, Revelation 21:2-9, Revelation 22:17).
The separation of the two opposed spiritual kingdoms, Satan’s and Christ's, is signified by the rejoicing of the multitude in heaven at marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9). This is in contrast to the wicked city in which the voice of the bride and bridegroom is no longer heard (Revelation 18:23). So we understand that the bride of Christ is a figure of his kingdom or church which he, the Lamb, "purchased with his own blood" (Revelation 5:9-10, cf Acts 20:28, Colossians 1:13).
Within a lengthy lament over the wicked “Babylon” we notice this significant statement: "And the voice of the bridegroom and the bride will no longer be heard in you". On the surface, this is just a metaphor suggesting the loss of joy and celebration in the fallen empire. However at a deeper level it represents exclusion from the joy of fellowship with Jesus the Lamb, and his bride. This is the apalling consequence of wickedness.
The bride’s clothing of fine linen, clean and bright, represents the righteous acts of the saints or holy people (Revelation 19:7-9). It follows sensibly that the bride herself is a figure for those very saints who do the righteous acts through faith in the Lamb, and who together make up the church of the Lamb —the church he makes holy and righteous by his own blood.
By contrast, in the next vision, a multitude in heaven sings, "Let us rejoice and be glad, and give glory to God Almighty, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready".
Verse eight describes the bride's dress (as any decent report of a wedding would do): "She was given fine linen in which to clothe herself, linen bright and clean". What does this clothing represent? "The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints". Incidentally, some are fond of describing the righteous acts of the saints as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) but they are actually the clean fine linen that clothes the bride of Christ.
The bride, the Lamb’s wife, is shown to John, but he sees the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2,9). The bride of Christ and the new Jerusalem are significant of the same thing. The Hebrew writer says, "You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven..." The destiny of the saints of all ages (Hebrews 12:22-24), and the angels of heaven, is to be welcomed into that church when he takes her into heaven.
When John sees the new Jerusalem, he says she was "made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2). At the end of the passage, the angel says to John, "Come. I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife" (Revelation 21:9). John is then swept away to be shown "the holy city, Jerusalem". (Revelation 2:10).
You should have gathered that the bride of Christ and the new Jerusalem both represent the same thing —because the angel said he would show John the bride of Christ, yet he showed him the new Jerusalem. The angel made no mistake. He did not, as it were, slip the wrong disk into his vision projector. Whatever the new Jerusalem is, that is the bride of Christ.
The bride of Christ joins in sending out the invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb and to drink of the water of life (Revelation 22:17). This signifies the great commission which Christ gave to his church: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15-16).
"The Spirit and the bride say, Come." This is the last mention of the bride. She is one of those commissioned to go into all the world and invite all people great and small to come to Christ for eternal life. (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:18-20).
Paul uses the wife metaphor for the church of Jesus Christ: "Husbands, love your wives just like Christ also loved the church. He gave himself up for her so that he might set her apart. By his word he cleansed her with the washing of the water. He could then present the church to himself in all her glory. She is without spot or flaw or any kind of blemish. She is dedicated to him. As Christ loved her, so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies." (Ephesians 5:22-32).
Paul takes the metaphor a step further: "The Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother" (Galatians 4:26). Such highly figurative language may not sit well in the analytical mind, but it does touch the heart. When Jesus pictures his church as his holy bride and the mother of us all, he chooses an analogy soaked in the joyous love of Christ.