Question: Who or what is the Bride of Christ?

I was reading in Revelation this morning and had prayed for God to reveal some truths to me. He did, and it was something that I have missed each time I have read those scriptures in the past. It has always been my understanding from hearing preachers and word of mouth that the church is the bride of the Lamb. But Revelation 21, Chapters9-10 clearly state that New Jerusalem is the bride.

 Revelation 21

9:And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.

10: And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

            It goes on then to describe the 12 gates, etc. I went to my concordance and could find nothing any place else in the scriptures to say the church is the bride. Have I misunderstood all these years? Any clarification you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

            Something occured to me this morning as I re-read the chapter. In verse 11 where the scripture reads "Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;" Here God's word adds gender to this description in saying "her". The chapter goes on in verse 22 and 23 to incorporate God and the Lamb as intrinsic components of the city. "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" then adds "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." The word "it" is used several times in the text but I still see the use of "her" in the initial description as significant.

            It appears to me that the scripture is portraying to the reader a complete picture of the bride which includes the city, God and the Lamb. In verse 27 it also adds God's people. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth,neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."

Just trying to sort through this and understand clearly what God is saying. I found even more evidence this morning in Revelation 22 where Jesus is speaking to the churches.

16: I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 

17: And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
               When it says "the Spirit and the bride say, Come...." Obviously the bride would not be inviting the bride. Interesting isn't it!!! This shows how much of what we have heard is not scriptural.

      Let me first quote from Dr. M. R. DeHaan’s work on the subject titled “35 Simple Studies and the major themes in Revelation.” The specific section I am reading from is Chapter 34, titled The New Jerusalem:
“… Let us now consider the description of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, the Lamb’s wife. Theologians have been confused by this expression “the holy Jerusalem, the Lamb’s wife.” How can the New Jerusalem be a city and at the same time be the wife of the Lamb, the bride of Christ? If we study the passage carefully, there need be no difficulty. The city and its occupants are one. This chapter of Revelation concerns a literal city of inexpressible beauty. It is the New Jerusalem. The redeemed Church of Christ, the bride of the Lamb, is to dwell in that New Jerusalem. The city and its inhabitants are one.
      Today we speak in the same manner concerning cities. When I mention a certain city, for example Grand Rapids, Michigan, I may mean either or both the material city and its buildings or the inhabitants of Grand Rapids. From one point of view Grand Rapids is a city. However, Grand Rapids is also a company of people who, like myself, live here. For instance, if I say Grand Rapids is a beautiful city, you know that I refer to the beautiful location and its fine buildings and streets. But if I say Grand Rapids is a wicked city, you know immediately that I am referring to the people of Grand Rapids and not to its buildings, streets, and trees. The term “Grand Rapids” may refer either to the city itself or to the people who live there. In the same way God speaks of the New Jerusalem. The term indicates both a literal city and also the occupants of that city; it is both the city and the bride, the building and its occupant. That is why God calls it both “the holy city” and “the wife of the Lamb.”
Dr. H. A. Ironside, in his book titled simply “Revelation,” Lecture XXII titled “Closing Scenes” says: 
“…In Chapter 21, vers. 1-8 inclusive, we have the eternal issues. In verses 9 to 27, and the first five verses of chapter 22, we have a supplementary portion giving us a detailed symbolic description of the Holy Jerusalem, the city of God, holding sway over the earth during the Millennium. Then from verse 6 of chapter 22 to the end of the book, we have the divine epilogue, consisting in the main of practical messages from the glorified Lord to all those to whom this book may come in the course of time.  

            In regard to the first division it is important to note that prophecy does not properly relate to the eternal state. It is particularly occupied with this earth up to and including the Millennium. Only occasionally do we have any reference in the prophetic scriptures to the unending ages that are to follow afterwards. Here we are told, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (ver. 1). This reminds us of Isaiah’s prophecy, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isa. 65: 17); and in verse 22 of chapter 66, he says, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.” Now the two chapters from which these verses are quoted have to do with the Millennium, but I take it we have here faith’s telescope looking out, even in that past dispensation, to the unchanging and unchangeable condition that shall abide forever. I have no doubt it is to these promises that the apostle Peter refers in his second epistle, after describing the destruction by fire of the heavens and the earth that now are, he says, “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (chap. 3:13). This then, is the glorious consummation to which the opening verses of our present chapter introduce us. And the most marvelous object of that unending condition, next to the blessed Lord Himself, will be the church, which has been redeemed to God by the precious blood of His Son. For, observe, the bridal condition does not cease at the close of the Millennium. Verse 2 says, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” A thousand years of the reign of righteousness will have rolled by ere the fulfillment of this verse, and yet the holy city is seen in all the freshness and loveliness of an adorned bride. And this happy state will abide forever, for the next two verses describe a scene of blissful continuum, which is never to be terminated…

     Beginning in the ninth verse we have a marvelous description on the New Jerusalem. Note that this comes in upon the conclusion of the prophetic outline. It is a kind of appendix or supplementary description. Just as one of the seven angels which had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues gave to John a vision of Babylon the Great, in the 17th and 18th chapters, so here one of the same angels now bids him come and view the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. Carrying him away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain he shows him that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Babylon was both a city and a woman – both a great system and a company of people professing to be in bridal relation with the Lamb, so here the holy Jerusalem is both a city and a woman. The city is the Bride as well as the home of the saints; just as we speak of Rome when we mean the church that has her seat there, as well as the city where she sits.”


These represent two variations of interpretation that still conclude the same concerning the nature of the Bride.

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