Interpretations: The Mystery Program - The mystery of the Bride of Christ
This mystery, the bride of Christ, is not explicitly declared as the previous mysteries, but is strongly inferred to in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, Ephesians 5:22-32, and passages in his other epistles. As with other terms used in Christian circles that are not found in scripture, terms like the rapture or the trinity, there is a foundation of scriptural material that are used to substantiate what those and other terms mean.
Some who otherwise support the doctrine of revealed mysteries to Paul, contest the notion that this is part of those mysteries. Others, such as Dr. Schofield include the bride of Christ as one of the revealed mysteries to Paul, due to several passages in the New Testament and patterns seen in the Old Testament. This is precisely why the bride of Christ is included the list of revealed mysteries to Paul on this website. More is found on YouTube concerning the subject of the bride of Christ. The topid is at about the 14-minute mark on the video, presented by Les Feldick. He has other presentations on the Pauline mysteries, which this site is in agreement with.
There are two people groups that have eternal purposes and are agents used by God in two separate domains. The first is Israel, who is the agent through whom God addresses earthly matters. Second is the Body-of-Christ, that God uses as His agent over heavenly matters. Both groups are tied to the Lord Jesus Christ in an intimate way, marriage. Dr. Scofield wrote that marriage is a key element illustrating the depth of God’s relationship to man, illustrating love, intimacy, privilege and responsibility.
|2||The Bride of Christ|
|3||Being Presented to Jesus Christ|
|4||The Spirit seeking a Bride for the Son|
Before delving into the mystery of the bride of Christ, it is important to review Israel’s relationship with the God historically, and what He promised them. This proves that the Lord is faithful in all He says, promises, covenants, and does, 2Timothy 2:11-13.
God the Father remembered the kindness of Israel in their youth, and their love of their espousal to Him in the wilderness. At that time, Israel was holiness unto the Lord, the first fruits of His increase, Jeremiah 2:1-4. Israel was later divided into two, the ten tribes to the north, and the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and the remnant, to the south, 1Kings 12:21-23. Because the northern tribes persisted in committing spiritual adultery and worshiped idols, God divorced them and threw them out of the land, 1Kings 12:26-30, Jeremiah 3:8. The southern tribes were worse and were thrown out of the land, Jeremiah 3:6-11, but He did not divorce them, Deuteronomy 29:22-28, Jeremiah 16:10-13, Isaiah 50:1. The Lord dispersed His people for 70 years, Daniel 9:2, in captivity to the nation of Babylon for all the provocations King Manasseh did against the Lord, 2Kings 23:26, and for all the innocent blood he shed and filling Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon, 2Kings 24:3-4. After their first dispersion in captivity, Israel was allowed to return to their promised land, which again ended almost 40 years after the crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The last time Israel was dispersed was worldwide at the hands of the Romans in 70 A.D., which God had warned Israel of in the last days of Moses, Deuteronomy 30:1. When the Lord calls the dispersed Israel out from the nations to return to their land, it will be due to the regard he has for His name. He will regather them into their land, cleanse them, and give them a new heart and spirit so they would walk in His statutes and judgments, Ezekiel 36:17-28. God promised Israel through the prophet Hosea, that they would be restored in six ways:
- Israel would be allured back to God, Hosea 2:14
- They would be restored to their land, Hosea 2:15
- They would not worship idols but call God husband, Hosea 2:16-17
- They would be in a new covenant and betrothed to Him forever, Hosea 2:18-20
- He will respond to them, Hosea 2:19-20
- He will plant them, and they will be His people, and He their God, Hosea 2:21-23
The regathering of Israel will be so great that it will eclipse the great exodus of Israel out of Egypt, Jeremiah 16:14-15. Israel’s final return to their land will occur after the tribulation, when the Lord establishes His millennial kingdom and sits on the David’s throne, Jeremiah 33:14-17. God pauses the prophetic plan of Israel, but God has a plan that He will accomplish through Israel. This pause in Israel’s prophetic plan is in effect today, since the third rejection of the message of the Holy Spirit through Stephen to Israel’s leadership.
Overlayed on God’s plan for Israel is the church. The church was formed with the resurrection of Christ Jesus, received power with the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4, and will continue to increase until the snatching up. The church will be with the Lord forever more after being taken from this world, 1Thessalonians 4:16-17.
Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus to understand what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:17. That is, to be filled with the Spirit, making melodious songs and hymns to the Lord, and giving thanks always for all things to the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:18-20. Paul then includes submission to one another in the fear (honor and love), of God, Ephesians 5:21.
That submission Paul wrote about, delves deep into the relationship between a husband and wife who are believers in Christ Jesus. This marriage backdrop is used to illustrate the love of Christ Jesus for His church, and His expectation of order in that relationship, Ephesians 5:22-23. In this perspective, the roles of a wife and husband in their marriage relationship are aligned with their relationship with Christ, where a wife is to submit herself to her husband, as she does to the Lord. Similarly, a husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church and savior of the body, or the Body-of-Christ, 1Corinthians 12:27. Paul then takes it a step further in demonstrating the further depths a husband and wife must take in their marriage relationship in view of what Christ Jesus did for the Church, Ephesians 5:24-25. First, the church is subject unto Christ, so in like manner wives are to be subject to their husband in everything. Husbands are to love their wives in the same measure Christ loved the church, in that He gave His life for it.
Paul then provides the reason for the Lord’s desire for His church as put in the context of a marriage. After believing in the work of the Lord on the cross for us, and justified, we begin living a life sanctified to the Lord, to be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1Thessalonians 5:23, and thereby present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, Romans 12:1. So in our life walk in Christ, He sanctifies us with the washing of water by His Word, Ephesians 5:26, Psalm 51:2. He wants to present to Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle; to be holy and without blemish, Ephesians 5:27.
Paul reminds us that we are members of Christ’s body, and again within the marriage context, we are to leave our father and mother to be joined as husband and wife to be one flesh. This is where Paul clarifies this section of his epistle, to draw out the mystery concerning Christ and His church, Ephesians 5:30-32, the church is the bride of Christ.
Paul declared himself to be the least of all the saints, and was made minister to the Gentiles in order to make known the mysteries that were hid by God before creation and make known all of the unsearchable riches of Christ, Ephesians 3:4-9. In this capacity, Paul was jealous of the believing Gentiles with a godly jealousy, 2Corinthians 11:2-4. Paul is the one who espoused the church to one husband, as a chaste virgin to Jesus Christ.
Paul did fear that as Eve was seduced by Satan, we would be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, which is our salvation by God’s grace, through faith and nothing else, Ephesians 2:8-10. Paul was aware of Israel’s own history of being drawn from worshiping the one, true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to the worship of idols and commit horrible sins, even against their own children. Along that thought, Paul expressed to the Corinthians that if they did receive another preacher preaching another Jesus, gospel or spirit, that was not preached by Paul, that they could fall into the trap of spiritual adultery, 2Corinthians 11:4.
That fear of Paul was well founded. Throughout Paul’s ministry, he preached the simply gospel to the Gentiles, which is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1Corinthians 15:1-4. Unfortunately, there were often others who would follow behind Paul to subvert this message. This perverse activity by others ultimately lead to the Jerusalem council, Acts 15:1-29, and the resultant letter to the Gentiles that they were free from having to be circumcised or to keep the law, Acts 15:24-29.
So, Paul continued to preach Christ crucified, 1Corinthians 1:21-24, and to write that we are married to Christ to bring fruit to God, Romans 7:4, since we are now dead to the law by the body of Christ. Because of our marriage to Christ, we are able to bring fruit to God, because He is able to make all grace abound toward us, always having all sufficiency in all things, so we may abound to every good work, and increase the fruits of our righteousness, 2Corinthians 9:8-10.
As a type of what the Holy Spirit is doing today in the dispensation of grace, Genesis 24 provides an exquisite picture of the work of the Holy Spirt, looking for a bride for Isaac based on the command of the father, Abraham, Genesis 24:3. Within this record of Abraham’s effort to find a bride for his son Isaac, Abraham represents God the Father who sends His servant, who represents the Holy Spirit, among the Gentiles to find a bride for his Son, Genesis 24:4. The servant prayed to God for assistance, and he was led directly to where Rebecca was found, Genesis 24:14-22. The servant brought the bride to the son, Isaac, with little delay, Genesis 24:58-61. Then Isaac and Rebecca were married, Genesis 65-67. In the same way, the Holy Spirit is working in the world today, identifying a bride to present to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are other notable Gentile women who married into the Jewish community, such as Joseph who was given a bride, Asenath by Pharaoh, Genesis 41:45, after Joseph was elevated to the second highest ruler over all of Egypt. Other Gentiles like Rahab and Ruth were married into Israel.