The Forum

The Forum

The Bride of Christ

In our investigation into the matter of who or what is the bride of Christ, it seems obvious from our previous examination that Israel is not to be considered His bride, that the future marriage to Christ recorded in Revelation 19:7-9 is not Israel’s marriage to Him. Furthermore, it seems plain that Israel, during this present period of time, is viewed as Jehovah’s estranged wife, a repudiated wife who eventually will be restored to her Husband.

It, therefore, seems necessary to now examine any claims that have been made in this regard for the Church. Could she possibly be the bride of Christ? This interrogation demands an investigation into the commencement of the Church, her relationship to Christ, and her possible future, as well as some of the statements made by our correspondent.

The Commencement of the Church

Is it true that the Church is a fellowship that embraces all the faithful who ever lived: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, as well as Peter, James, John, and Paul?

One readily understands from a careful, prayerful reading of the Word of God that His dealings with men before the coming of Christ are different to His dealings with man after the coming of Christ. There is not only a B.C. and A.D. in time, but with the manifestation of the Lord Jesus there is definitely a transition in God’s purposes.

Certain facts before that transition and certain facts after indicate that the Church came into existence after the appearance of our Saviour, that it did not exist before. Seven reasons are found in the New Testament to support the contention that the Church did not begin until after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord, until after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

Let us notice these:

1. The prediction of Christ to Peter is very interesting for it intimates that the building of the Church was, at that time, yet future (Matt. 16:13-20).

2. The foreshadowings in the Old Testament of the mystery that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs and of the same body as the Jews had to be fulfilled as the Church was being brought into existence (Eph. 3:1-10). An example of this was seen in the work of Paul at Corinth. In writing to the saints there he cautioned them, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32). The Corinthians were no longer Jews and Gentiles, they were members of the Church of God; the mystery was fulfilled at Corinth.

3. The cross work of Christ had to be accomplished before that mystery could be fulfilled. Through His death Jews and Gentiles are brought together. “He is our peace who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14). Reference was made to this by James at the council in Jerusalem: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first (That is, in the house of Cornelius.) did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).

4. Christ had first to be exalted and in His exaltation be made the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:19-23) before that body could be organically linked to the Head.

5. The Holy Spirit had first to descend in order to baptize all believers into one body; this He did at Pentecost (1 Cor. 12:12-14).
J. R. Caldwell has a note on this reference in which he says: “Verse 13 is correctly rendered in the Revised Version, ‘For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body.’ The Spirit is thus shown to be the element in which they were baptized, not the baptizer. It is the Lord that baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:2) where ‘with water’ and ‘with the Spirit’ should be ‘in water’ and ‘in the Spirit,’ according to the margin of the Revised Version. The reference is to some past action.” That action was, without doubt, on the day of Pentecost.

6. The ministry of the apostles formed the chronological foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:18-20). To fulfill that ministry they needed the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Since the Church was brought into being on the day of Pentecost, its development and progress through the ministry of the apostles began on that same day, not before it.

7. The Holy Spirit had to come in a rather unique sense, and, according to the prediction of Christ (John 14-16-18), remains to progressively erect the spiritual building that will be God’s eternal habitation (Eph. 2:- 21-22).

From the evidence of these passages of Holy Scripture the Church did not exist before the ascension of our Lord; it was brought into being on the day of Pentecost, and its development results from the work of the Holy Spirit that is accomplished through the ministry of the apostles and those that follow them.

Having considered this matter, next month we shall look into the different relationships which Christ bears to the Church.

J. G.