Ephesians 5:31 and 32

Paul’s stunning statement in Ephesians 5:31,32 regarding Jesus’ marriage to His Church contains multiple elements that identify this marriage as much more than merely a figure of speech.

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 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.”

Beyond the direct statement in this passage that Jesus Christ will wed His Church, Paul’s comment that this event is a “great mystery” identifies it was being a substantial issue. Moreover, throughout the passage there are hints of romantic love, and that in a highly possessive sense, on the part of Jesus. Possessive love and its attendant sense of ownership between persons is most pronounced in the marital union. The passage also includes the notion, in the words that a man shall leave his Father and Mother, that the event is also of life-changing significance. Furthermore, in identifying the Church as consisting of Jesus’ own members, Paul explains Scriptural references to the attribute of the Church as the “Body of Christ” as being of Christ’s substance in a possessive sense, in perfect harmony with the account in
Genesis 2:18-22 of the creation of Eve out of Adam’s flesh and bone, excerpts of which are given below.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help fit for him. . . And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

In repeating the words of Adam in the Garden and of Jesus in Matthew 19, both in the context of marriage and the physical union between a man and his wife, Paul, by placing this marital union in the context of Jesus and His Church, plainly stated that the Church will be the spiritual Bride of Christ.

In developing in more detail the interpretation of the Church as being “the Body of Christ”, in Paul’s commentary in Ephesians 5: 28, that So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies, Paul emphasizes the image developed in the restatement of Adam’s commentary regarding Eve of two becoming one flesh such that in the marital union the wife is considered to be the man’s body. Here Paul extends the image of the wife being the body of the man to Christ and His Church, in line with an alternate description of the Church as the Body of Christ.

Romans 7:4 and elsewhere

Multiple passages in Romans 7:4 and elsewhere, including 1 Corinthians 2:15-20, corroborate Jesus’ marriage to His Church; beyond that, they identify the union as creatively productive.

“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.”

“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I, then, take the members of Christ, and make them into the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he who is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is outside the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

These passages of Romans 7:4 and 1 Corinthians 2:15-20 echo the numerous allusions in addition to Ephesians 5:31 and 32 that Jesus and those closest to Him made to His own future marriage. They describe the spiritual nature of the Church and her intimate relationship to Jesus as both a feminine spouse and the spiritual Body of Christ through the union of gendered complements capable of bearing fruit.

Another passage of that nature is John 3:29, which quotes John the Baptist in reference to Jesus’ spiritual marriage.

“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice; this my joy, therefore, is fulfilled.”

In addition to New Testament pointers to Church in a bridal/marital context, there are at least two strong indicators of the same in the Old Testament in Genesis 24 and the Book of Ruth.

Genesis 24 describes the betrothal and marriage of Rebekah to Isaac. In Genesis 22 God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, which identifies Isaac as a type of Jesus Christ. In line with that identification, Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah identifies her as a type of Christ’s bride. According to Galatians 3:28, in which spiritual individuals do not possess gender, this bridehood cannot be fulfilled in individuals: the fulfillment must come for a collection or aggregate of individuals, which would suggest the Church. This identification of the Church as the Bride of Christ is strengthened by Paul’s characterization of the Church in 1 Corinthians 12 as a collection of individuals, each possessing specific gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In the Book of Ruth, Ruth’s husband Boaz is routinely identified by the Church as the Kinsman-redeemer, a type of Christ. It follows that Ruth, a female, represents His spiritual Wife, the Church.

Not only is the future bride of Jesus feminine, but she is a living being, as clearly stated in Matthew 22: 31, 32:

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

John 2:1-12

Jesus first miracle described in John 2:1-12, the wedding in Cana wherein He changed water into wine, is prophetic of His own future marriage to His Church. The prophetic nature of the passage is emphasized in Jesus’ words that “Mine hour is not yet come”. The event identifies Jesus as anticipating with joy His own future spiritual marriage. The fact that this was Jesus’ first miracle highlights its significance.

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana, of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they lacked wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatever he saith unto you, do it.

“And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw some out now, and bear it unto the governor of the feast. And they bore it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not from where it was (but the servants who drew the water knew), the governor of the feast called the bridegroom. And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine and, when men have well drunk, that that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana, of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples; and they continued there not many days.”

In the parables of the marriage feast (Matthew 22) and the ten virgins (Matthew 25), Jesus further describes His own future marriage without ambiguity as an important and joyful occasion.

Isaiah 54, as a follow-on to the great messianic Chapter 53, is another passionate statement of Jesus’ future marriage and is summarized as such by Paul in Galatians 4:27.

“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 who hath an husband.”

In Isaiah 54, from which this passage was extracted, verses 5 through 7 amplify its meaning:

“For thy Maker is thine 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 like 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 with I gather thee.”

Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon is a romantic, explicit depiction of the bonding between male and female; Chapter 5:10-16 typify the romantic flavor of this book:

“My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is like the most fine gold, his locks are bushy and black as a raven. His eyes are like the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are like a bed of spices, like sweet flowers; his lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. His hands are like gold rings set with the beryl; his belly is like bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are like pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold; his countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet; yea, his is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

Why, if the spiritual domain is genderless, would this overtly sexual document be a part of the Bible? This imagery would have no place in the canon of Scripture if gender was not a vital attribute in the spiritual realm. If such were to be the case, the entire Song would be utterly superfluous.


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