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Part 56: The Bride of Christ — Who?

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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Students of the Word of God who are agreed on what are called Christian fundamentals, such as the plenary inspiration of the Bible, the eternal Deity f the Lord Jesus Christ, and salvation by grace through faith in His redemptive work on the cross, are not agreed as to who is, or who is to be, the Bride of Christ.

In Revelation 19:7 to 9 we read these words: “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 with 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.” The following footnote appears in the Scofield Reference Bible, explaining these verses in Revelation

“The Lamb’s wife” here is the “bride” (Rev. 21:9), the church, identified with the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22, 23) and to be distinguished from Israel, the adulterous and repudiated “wife” of Jehovah yet to be restored (Isaiah 54:1 to 10; Hosea 2:1 to 17), who is identified with the earth (Hosea 2:23). A forgiven and restored wife could not be called either a virgin (II Corinthians. 11:2, 3), or a bride.

In connection with the verses in Revelation 19:7 to 9, we should read Revelation 21:9 and 10 and 12: “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, 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. And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which arc the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.”

Dr. Scofield’s explanatory note gives us the “Plymouth Brethren” interpretation of these verses and their teaching; that the Church, which is the Body of Christ is also to be the Bride of Christ. This is what might be called the general teaching among Premillennial Fundamentalists. A few of these brethren teach that the overcomers among the members of the Body will be the Bride. All of these Premillenarians, who are sure that the Body of Christ in Ephesians is also the Bride of Christ, strenuously object to calling the “Body” Church, “Israel.” However, they see no difference between the Church of “Acts 2” Pentecost and the Body of Ephesians.

There are other Premillenarians, equally as fundamental, who think that this “Plymouth Brethren” interpretation of Scripture will not stand the Berean test. They think it is inconsistent to object to the Church being Israelitish and at the same time locate the Lamb and His wife in a city that is quite Israelitish in description. That city, according to Revelation 21:9 to 14, is to have the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel written on the gates, or walls and the names of the Twelve Apostles on the foundations. Abraham was not in the Body of Ephesians, but he looked for such a city. The twelve apostles were ministers unto Israel, with the word which God sent to Israel; and they are to sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Galatians 2:9; Matthew 19:28.

Moreover, according to the Greek word in Revelation 19:8, the fine linen of the wife, who hath made herself ready, is “dikaioma” which means “equitable deeds.” This seems to contradict the grace message of Ephesians, in which Epistle the Body of Christ is likened unto a “wife.” Ephesians 5:31 and 32. But the members there have not made themselves ready by righteous acts to become the Bride of Christ.

Some teach that Israel will be the restored wife of Jehovah and the Body of Christ will be the Bride of Christ, the Bridegroom. This is supported by the fact that Eve was part of Adam’s body and also his wife. They also use the Song of Solomon to support their teaching. Also by certain marriages they seek to prove by type, such as Isaac and Rebecca, Joseph and Asenath, Moses and his wife.

There are some who teach that the Church of the “Acts” period will be the Bride of Christ, because the blessings of that Church were on Israelitish grounds. Romans 11:17 to 24. Those members were the seed of Abraham and the Israel of God. Others teach that the Bride will be another remnant of Israel.

It is generally taught that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New. Then the question: Can Jehovah have two wives, if Israel and the Church are separate and distinct?

For your prayerful study and decision we give the Scriptures. Be a Berean

OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES

“SING, O BARREN, THOU THAT DIDST NOT BEAR; BREAK FORTH INTO SINGING, AND CRY ALOUD, THOU THAT DIDST NOT TRAVAIL WITH CHILD: FOR MORE ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE THAN THE CHILDREN OF THE MARRIED WIFE, SAITH THE LORD.”

“FOR THY MAKER IS THY HUSBAND; THE LORD OF HOSTS IS HIS NAME; AND THY REDEEMER THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL; THE GOD OF THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL HE BE CALLED.”

“FOR THE LORD HATH CALLED THEE AS A WOMAN FORSAKEN AND GRIEVED IN SPIRIT, AND A WIFE OF YOUTH, WHEN THOU WAST REFUSED, SAITH THY GOD.”

“FOR A SMALL MOMENT HAVE I FORSAKEN THEE; BUT WITH GREAT MERCIES WILL I GATHER THEE.” Isaiah 54:1 to 7.

“FOR AS A YOUNG MAN MARRIETH A VIRGIN, SO SHALL. THY SONS MARRY THEE; AND AS THE BRIDEGROOM REJOICETH OVER THE BRIDE, SO SHALL THY GOD REJOICE OVER THEE.” Isaiah 62:5.

“THEY SAY. IF A MAN PUT AWAY HIS WIFE, AND SHE GO FROM HIM, AND BECOME ANOTHER MAN’S, SHALL HE RETURN UNTO HER AGAIN? SHALL NOT THAT LAND BE GREATLY POLLUTED? BUT THOU HAST PLAYED THE HARLOT WITH MANY LOVERS; YET RETURN AGAIN TO ME, SAITH THE LORD.”

“TURN, O BACKSLIDING CHILDREN, SAITH THE LORD; FOR I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU; AND I WILL TAKE YOU ONE OF A CITY, AND TWO OF A FAMILY AND I WILL BRING YOU TO ZION.”

“SURELY AS A WIFE TREACHEROUSLY DEPARTED FROM HER HUSBAND, SO HAVE YE DEALT TREACHEROUSLY WITH ME, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL, SAITH THE LORD.”

“RETURN, YE BACKSLIDING CHILDREN, AND I WILL HEAL YOUR BACKSLIDINGS.” Jeremiah 3:1, 14, 20, 22.

“NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS IN THE DAY THAT I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO BRING. THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; WHICH MY COVENANT THEY BRAKE, ALTHOUGH I WAS AN HUSBAND UNTO THEM, SAITH THE LORD.” Jeremiah 31:32.

“. . . . SEEING THOU DOEST . . . .THE WORK OF AN IMPERIOUS WHORISH WOMAN.”

“BUT AS A WIFE THOU COMMITTETH ADULTERY, WHICH TAKETH STRANGERS INSTEAD OF HER HUSBAND.” Ezekiel 16:30 and 32. “PLEAD WITH YOUR MOTHER, PLEAD; FOR SHE IS NOT MY WIFE, NEITHER AM I HER HUSBAND; LET HER THEREFORE PUT AWAY HER WHOREDOMS OUT OF HER SIGHT, AND HER ADULTERIES FROM BETWEEN HER BREASTS.” Hosea 2:2.

“AND SHE SHALL FOLLOW AFTER HER LOVERS, BUT SHE SHALL NOT OVERTAKE THEM; AND SHE SHALL SEEK THEM, BUT SHALL NOT FIND THEM; THEN SHALL SHE SAY, I WILL GO AND RETURN TO MY FIRST HUSBAND; FOR THEN WAS IT BETTER WITH ME THAN NOW.” Hosea 2:7.

“LAMENT LIKE A VIRGIN GIRDED WITH SACKCLOTH FOR THE HUSBAND OF HER YOUTH.” Joel 1:8.

“GATHER THE PEOPLE, SANCTIFY THE CONGREGATION, ASSEMBLE THE ELDERS, GATHER THE CHILDREN, AND THOSE THAT SUCK THE BREASTS; LET THE BRIDEGROOM GO FORTH OUT OF HIS CHAMBER, AND THE BRIDE OUT OF HER CLOSET.” Joel 2:16.

NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES

“AND, JESUS SAID UNTO THEM, CAN THE CHILDREN OF THE BRIDECHAMBER MOURN, AS LONG AS THE BRIDEGROOM IS WITH THEM? BUT THE DAYS WILL COME, WHEN THE BRIDEGROOM SHALL BE TAKEN FROM THEM, AND THEN SHALL THEY FAST.” Matthew 9:15.

“AND JESUS ANSWERED AND SPAKE UNTO THEM AGAIN BY PARABLES, AND SAID, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE UNTO A CERTAIN KING, WHICH MADE A MARRIAGE FOR HIS SON.” Matthew 22.1 and 2.

“THEN SHALL THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BE LIKENED UNTO THE VIRGINS, WHICH TOOK THEIR LAMPS, AND WENT FORTH TO MEET THE BRIDEGROOM.”

“WHILE THE BRIDEGROOM TARRIED THEY ALL SLUMBERED AND SLEPT, AND AT MIDNIGHT THERE WAS A CRY MADE, BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH; GO YE OUT TO MEET HIM.”

“AND WHILE THEY WENT TO BUY THE BRIDEGROOM CAME; AND THEY THAT WERE READY WENT IN WITH HIM TO THE MARRIAGE; AND THE DOOR WAS SHUT.” Matthew 23:1, 5, 6 and 10.

“HE THAT HATH THE BRIDE IS THE BRIDEGROOM; BUT THE FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM, WHICH STANDETH AND HEARETH HIM, REJOICETH GREATLY BECAUSE OF THE BRIDEGROOM’S VOICE; THIS MY JOY THEREFORE IS FULFILLED.” John 3:29.

“WHEREFORE, MY BRETHREN, YE ALSO ARE BECOME DEAD TO THE LAW BY THE BODY OF CHRIST; THAT YE SHOULD BE MARRIED TO ANOTHER, EVEN TO HIM WHO IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD, THAT WE SHOULD BRING FORTH FRUIT UNTO GOD.” Romans 7:4.

“FOR I AM JEALOUS OVER YOU WITH GODLY JEALOUSY; FOR I HAVE ESPOUSED YOU TO ONE HUSBAND, THAT I MAY PRESENT YOU AS A CHASTE VIRGIN TO CHRIST.” II Corinthians 11:2.

“BUT JERUSALEM WHICH IS ABOVE IS FREE, WHICH IS THE MOTHER OF US ALL.” Galatians 4:26.

“ABRAHAM THE FATHER OF US ALL.” Romans 4:16.

“FOR IT IS WRITTEN, REJOICE THOU BARREN, THAT BEAREST NOT; BREAK FORTH AND CRY, THOU THAT TRAVAILEST NOT, FOR THE DESOLATE HATH MANY MORE CHILDREN THAN SHE WHICH HATH AN HUSBAND.” Galatians 4:27.

“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 3:31 and 32.

“LET US BE GLAD AND REJOICE, AND GIVE HONOR 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 19:7 to 9.

“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.

“AND THERE CAME UNTO ME ONE OF THE SEVEN ANGELS WHICH HAD THE SEVEN VIALS FULL OF THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES, AND TALKED WITH ME, SAYING, COME HITHER I WILL SHOW THEE THE BRIDE, THE LAMB’S WIFE.”

“AND HE CARRIED ME AWAY IN THE SPIRIT TO A GREAT AND HIGH MOUNTAIN, AND SHEWED ME THE GREAT CITY, THE HOLY JERUSALEM, DESCENDING OUT OF HEAVEN FROM GOD.” Revelation 21:9 and 10.

“AND THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY, COME. AND LET HIM THAT IS ATHIRST COME. AND WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE OF THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY.” Revelation 22:17.

We are sure that God’s principle for Bible study is to interpret, appropriate and apply all Scripture in the light of the last message of grace which the risen Lord Jesus gave to Paul by revelation. Those last messages had much to say about “the Body of Christ,” But Paul never wrote or spoke of the Church as “the Bride of Christ.” Paul wrote of the members of Christ’s Body as being married to the risen Christ, as the wife of Christ. Romans 7:4.

Note II Corinthians 11:2: “For I have espoused you to one husband.”

It is most interesting to compare Genesis 2:23 and 24 with Ephesians 5:31 and 32. In Genesis we learn that Adam said his wife was taken out of man and the two were one flesh. Very much the same language is used concerning the Mystery of Christ and the Church, one flesh, in Ephesians.

Then we observe that Paul referred to the serpent and the wife of Adam when he espoused the believers to one Husband. Certainly Eve was the wife of Adam, one flesh with Adam, of Adam’s body. Certainly the Church of Ephesians was the wife of Christ, one flesh with Christ, of Christ’s Body.

In the light of this truth note John 3:29: “He that hath the Bride is the. Bridegroom.” In Matthew 9:15: “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn as long as, the Bridegroom is with them?”

Then note carefully Matthew 25:1 to 10.

“Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto.” “At that time” the Kingdom shall be likened. “At that time” refers to Israel’s tribulation. The kingdom of heaven is not the Church of the Mystery. “BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH.” Who will go out to meet the Bridegroom, according to Matthew 25:1 to 10? Israel.

We believe that Christ will come for His Church before He comes with His Church, before He comes to Israel. If Christ will be joined to His Church, married to His Church, then, of course, we must explain how Israel can be Christ’s Bride when He already has a wife.

The Bible teachers, who teach that Israel is the Bride of Christ, do not all use the same arguments to reach their decisions. Every Christian who has not read “The Silence of God” by Sir Robert Anderson, should do so. It is a splendid book which provokes the reader to search the Scriptures.

Sir Robert Anderson taught that Israel is the Bride of Christ. Like all other brethren, who have taught that restored Israel, is to be the Bride of Christ, Sir Robert Anderson taught definitely that the nation Israel had not been set aside when the twelve apostles addressed Israel on the day of Pentecost.

We quote from his book, “The Silence of God”:

“My contention is that the Acts, as a whole, is the record of a temporary and transitional dispensation in which blessing was again offered to the Jew and again rejected.”

“As indicated in these pages, it gives the clue to the right understanding of the Acts of the Apostles—a book which is primarily the record, not, as commonly supposed, of the founding of the Christian Church, but of the apostacy of the favoured nation.”

“It has been further argued that, so far as their evidential force was concerned, the ‘Christian Miracles’ were for that favoured people ‘of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.’ And if this be well founded we shall be prepared to find that so long as the kingdom was being preached to Jews, miracles abounded, but that when the Gospel appealed to the heathen world, miracles lost their prominence, and soon entirely ceased.”

In agreement with this teaching we quote from a Bible message, printed some time ago, in the Moody Monthly, from the pen of Pastor George Douglas. We understand that this same Mr. Douglas is now pastor of the Baracca Baptist Church in Philadelphia

SPIRIT MANIFESTATIONS—A WORD OF WARNING

By Rev. George Douglas, Cardiff, Wales

“Only as we recognize and understand the place which Israel holds in the divine scheme of revelation, can we read and understand aright the Book of Acts.

“It is a common error to assume that the rejection and crucifixion of Christ was the historical crisis at which Israel was set aside.

“When we come into the Acts we at once discover that a place of repentance was granted to Israel, and a ‘blotting out of sins’ was preached to them through the Messiah whom they had rejected and crucified. Acts 2:14, 22, 36. Doubtless repentance would have brought them ‘times of refreshing’ and ‘the times of restitution of all things’ spoken of by all the ‘prophets since the world began,’ Acts 3:19 to 21. That was the Pentecostal proclamation of the Divine amnesty for the guilty people of Jerusalem, and their answer to it was the stoning of Stephen. Acts 7.

“But that crowning sin of Jerusalem was not laid upon the Jews of the dispersion and so the disciples who were scattered abroad by the persecution which followed, carried the Pentecostal gospel to them, for in the first period of the Pentecostal dispensation the preaching was ‘to the Jews only.’ And in the second part of the Pentecostal period or dispensation, they still enjoyed a distinctive priority for now it was ‘to the Jew first.’ But in this Christian dispensation, ‘there is no difference between Jew and Gentiles.’

“The simple answer is that in this Book (Acts), we have the Divine record of the Pentecostal dispensation, and that transition period was now ended. And here we notice a very significant fact, which surely can not be said to be accidental, that in the New Testament Books written after the date of Acts 28, there is not a word to be found about Spirit manifestations except as a warning, such as I Timothy 4:1 and 2.

“That explains why the Apostle Paul performed no miracles in Rome, did not even speak in tongues.”

We cannot decide, from this article, whether Pastor Douglas believes that Israel is the Bride of Christ, or not. But virtually every Bible teacher who propagates this extreme teaching, that the Pentecostal dispensation ran to the end of Acts and then the Christian (Body) dispensation began, does teach that Israel, or an Israelitish Church, is the Bride of Christ.

Among those who teach that Israel is the Bride, beside the Denver Bible Institute, and one other little group of believers in California, I do not know of any men of God who teach that the Body of Christ began on the day of Pentecost. Those who dogmatically affirm that the “Joint- Body” of Ephesians 3:6 could not be both the “Bride of Christ” and “the Church of the Mystery,” likewise dogmatically affirm that the Body of Christ is not prefigured in type or shadow in the Bible history of Israel.

However, they have a real problem on their hands when they endeavor to explain away Ephesians 5:31 and 32:

“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.”

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.