The concept of the church being the bride of Christ comes only from Paul. The question we need to ask ourselves is, what did Jesus and His apostles say about the bride of Christ.
Eph 5:29-32 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
While Paul says that the church is Christ’s body and He nourishes and cherishes it, Christ does not have the same view.
- Christ is denies access to tree of life for the church that doesn’t overcome. Rev 2:7.
- Christ is allowing the church that doesn’t overcome to get hurt from second death. Rev 2:11.
- Christ will even fight against the church that eat things sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. Rev 2:16.
- Christ will push the church which commits adultery with a self-claimed prophetess into great tribulation and kill her children Rev 2:22-23.
- Christ will blot the names in the church from the book of life if they defile their garments. Rev 3:4-5.
- Christ will not keep the church from the hour of trial if they had not kept My His command to persevere. Rev 3:10.
- Christ will even vomit the church out of His mouth if their works are lukewarm (Rev 3:15-16).
As you can clearly see, Jesus does not nourishes or cherishes the church if it doesn’t overcome. The best clue for the bride of Christ can be found in the parables of Jesus which came from Jesus Himself.
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Matt 22:2-4 The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.
Luke 14:16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’
The Father is inviting the Jews to His Son’s wedding or marriage supper. But the Jews refused, killed all their prophets (Luke 11:49-51) and went their own way, the Father was furious and destroyed the murderers and burnt the city of Jerusalem as it happened in 70 AD.
Matt 22:8-10 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Because those who were invited where were unwilling and unworthy, the Father sent the apostles to the gentiles and invited them to the Son’s wedding. If you carefully note, neither the Jews who were invited first, nor the Gentiles who were invited second are the bride of Christ, but were invited for His wedding.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Matt 25:1-9 Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’
In the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise virgins had oil and the five foolish virgins didn’t.
Matt 25:10-13 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’. But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
When the lamps of the foolish virgins were going out, they went to by oil. A lit lamp giving light is compared to good works by Jesus Himself (Matt 5:15-16) and we need to watch that we do good works all the time for we never know when the Son of Man comes. Both the foolish and wise virgins are followers of Christ expecting His second coming. As Jesus clearly explained in the parable, the virgins are not the bride of Christ but they go in with him to the wedding to stand beside the wedding couple.
We are friends of the Bridegroom, not bride
John 3:29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.
When John the baptist refers to himself, he calls himself as a friend of Christ, not the bride of Christ. He also clearly excludes himself from being part of the bride.
Matt 9:14-15 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Jesus Himself refers to His own disciples as friends of the bridegroom and not the bride. Hence, neither the Jews, nor the church are the bride of Christ.
Who is the bride of Christ?
Rev 19:7-9 “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.” 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. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
Rev 21:1-2 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. …. (9-10) 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,
New Jerusalem that comes down from new heaven and earth is the bride of Christ. So, who belongs to New Jerusalem if neither Jews nor apostles were just friends of the Bridegroom?
Rev 21:12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: … (14) Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The foundation of the walls of the city had twelve foundations representing the 12 apostles and the 12 gates in them have the names of the 12 tribes. The wall is to protect the city, and not the city itself. This explains why the apostles and Jews were considered friends of the apostles and not the bride of Christ.
Rev 21:16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
The biggest clue comes from the structure of the city. It’s a cube. The only other place where a cube structure can be found in the Bible is holy of holies in the Temple. It’s length, breadth and height are 12000 furlongs.
Rev 7:4-8 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.
In New Jerusalem, the length is same as width, and it is same as height which are 12000 furlongs representing a cube. But a cube does not have only length, breadth and width as 3 edges but actually has 12 edges on all sides. Each edge represents the 12000 from each tribe, joined together to form a perfect cube as the holy of holies, a dwelling place for the glory of God.
Rev 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. … (4) These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
These 140000 who were be sealed and have the Father’s name on their forehead and without fault before the throne of God is the bride of Christ. They are the fruit fruits to God and to the Lamb and they follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
What does 12000 which is 12 times a thousand mean? Thousand simply refers to “many in count” but not “complete” as it had been used in several OT passages (Exod 20:6; Song 4:4; Ps 105:8; Ps 84:10; Ps 90:4; Isa 60:22). But why are there 12 divisions in each tribe? The answer is the same reason why there are 24 elders before the throne of God instead of 12.
Rev 5:8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation
The most likely answer is, one for each tribe of Israel and one for each apostle of the Lamb representing the gentiles, since they are redeemed out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Ezek 47:21-23 “Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord GOD.
The book of Ezekiel has an interesting prophecy where strangers who don’t inherit any land in Israel do inherit according to the above prophecy. Hence, the 144000 symbolically represents many people who are without fault before the throne of God, redeemed from 12 tribes of Israel and the gentiles among the 12 tribes.
Lev 23:10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.
These people will be chosen by the Lamb Himself as first fruits from the harvest who are without fault before the throne of God and they are the wife of the Lamb, and they go wherever the Lamb goes.
Where is the church?
Rev 21:24-26 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
The nations who are saved shall walk in the light of the Lamb and shall enter through the gates and bring glory and honour. The nations who are saved, representing the church is not the bride but rather they enter into New Jerusalem which is the bride.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
As you can see, the church which does His commandments may enter through the gates of New Jerusalem. Notice that the church is not New Jerusalem but can enter into the city.
Rev 22:17 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.
The bride of the Lamb is asking the church to come and drink from the water of life freely. In new heavens and earth, will you listen to what the bride says or demand to be the bride itself?