Ephesians 5:25–27 (ESV)… Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such
The Bible mentions that the Church is “The Bride”. Some theologians say that “The Bride” mentioned repeatedly in the New Testament is not the Church but it seams pretty obvious to me that both Jesus, Paul, John and the apostles used this image to define the covenant relationship between Jesus and the Church.
Revelation 19:7–9 (ESV) Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age.
I don’t have the intention of exploring a particular doctrine or theological view but would like to encourage you to deepen you intimacy with God in view of this prophetic image of a Covenant with God that is a unity commitment when two become one.
“The Bride” is a Church that is wise and ready
In the scriptures the Savior uses His title “the Bridegroom in reference to His Second Coming:
Matthew 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep“ (vs.1-5).
Jesus wasn’t teaching that a bridegroom was getting married with 10 women but this is a parable or an image of a covenant relationship. Jesus immediately separates those who are awaiting his return into two types of individuals: the wise and the foolish. Notice that all of the virgins began their wait with full lamps, which seems to indicate that they all had anticipated that they were going to have to wait in the darkness for some time before the bridegroom came to bring them into the wedding banquet.
The implication here is clear. If the Bride is watching she will not be taken by surprise when her Husband Yeshua comes for her. This is not to say that the Bride will know the exact time of His return, but rather that she will be able to discern the signs of the times and thereby know approximately when that promised return will take place.
Why are there ten virgins in this parable? Why not seven or twelve? After all, seven is considered to be the number of perfection and completion, and twelve is the number of governmental perfection.
Ten, however, has a somewhat different meaning from the above numbers which makes it very important to the understanding of this parable. In Jewish practice it required ten men, who knew the Torah, in order to form a new assembly or synagogue. Such a group of men were called a `minion.' (Interestingly enough, when an assembly became to large it was expected that at least ten men would break off and form a new synagogue)
This principle was derived from the custom established by Moses at the suggestion of his father-in-law, Jethro.
"So Moses' father-in-law said to him, `The thing that you do is not good. ... Listen to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: ... "`...you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them Judge the people at all times. ...'" (Ex. 18:17,19,21-22)
Ten was considered the smallest unit that was practical for matters concerning judgment. Also, it was a number that allowed all of the members to be active participants in the congregation or assembly, thus providing leadership training so that when the assembly again became to large, ten qualified men could be found to form another new assembly.
“At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' 'No, 'they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut“ (vs.6-10).
“Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' But he replied, ' I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.' Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour wherein the Son of man comes“ (vs.11-13).
Jesus wasn’t teaching that a bridegroom that get’s married with 5 smart wives and rejected 5 foolish. The principle is that the bride is an image of people that form his Church and the attitude we should have as we wait for the Bridegroom to be united with us. The Bride of Messiah is composed of many members. Each one of the ten virgins represents a part of the Bride
Anyone who is called to salvation must be ready, consistent, and faithful at all times. Remember, it is the person who overcomes to the end that is saved. Whenever that end comes for us, whether we die tomorrow, are martyred for our belief in the Father and his Son, or live until the return of Jesus Christ, it is the consistent overcomer who secures eternal and immortal life in the Family and Kingdom of God.
A lamp symbolizes the word of God (i.e., the truth of God) which lights one's pathway through life. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path“ (Psa.119:105)
Meeting the Bridegroom
In Biblical times the destination of those who “went forth to meet the bridegroom” was the bridegroom’s home. Under the heading “Marriage” in the Bible Dictionary, we read: “On the marriage day, the bride was escorted to her [bridegroom’s] home by a procession consisting of her own companions and the ‘friends of the bridegroom
Matthew 22:1-3,6 “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come, . . . and insulted and killed the messenger“
Our relationship with Jesus is an invitation to join the Bridegroom. In this parable I believe that the lesson is the union between God and His bride (The saved) and the ones that killed the messenger are obviously the people that killed Jesus.
Putting aside the fact that is not 100% clear in Scripture that the Church is the Bride, all theologians agree that the image of the bride represents in the Old Testament the union between God and his people and in the New Testament it includes the Church. So if you are saved you are “The Bride”. This is a mystical image that is referred in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and it is crucial that we understand it well if we are going to be saved.
Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Right at the end of the Book of Revelation The Bride is also referred as “The Holy City” and it’s mentioning the assembly of God’s chosen.
Revelation 21:1-2 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her.
The Keyword when the Bible talks about the Bride is “prepared” or “ready”. Are you prepared to meet God? If so are you “adorned” with obedience, holiness and praise?
Believers in Jesus Christ are the bride of Christ, and we wait with great anticipation for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom. Until then, we remain faithful to Him and say with all the redeemed of the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
One would be hard pressed to find an occasion more joyous than that of a Jewish wedding. In Hebrew, it’s called a simcha (a joyous occasion).
“Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither people nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom.” (Jeremiah 33:10–11)
Traditionally, in preparation for the betrothal ceremony, the bride (kallah) and groom (chatan) are separately immersed in water in a ritual called the mikvah, which is symbolic of spiritual cleansing.
In Matthew 3:13–17, we read that Yeshua has already been immersed (baptized) by Yochanan (John) in the waters of mikvah at the Jordan River.
As the Bride-to-be, we are also asked to be immersed.
“Whoever believes and is baptized [ritually immersed] will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Jewish weddings have many rituals, one being the blessing of the bread and the drinking of wine. Communion in the last supper was a more than a simple ritual between Jesus and his disciples but it’s a wedding ritual between the Bridegroom and his Bride.
(c) Tony Silveira, 2017