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If the church is the bride of Christ" Eph. 5, II Cor. 11:2:

I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Ephesus and Corinth were gentile congregations were they not?

So what do we make of the fact that Jews cannot marry gentiles, Deut. 7:3:

Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son.

Israel is clearly the bride of YHWH in the OT (Jer. 2). The New Jerusalem is clearly the bride in Rev. (Rev. 21:2, 9).

So does God have one wife or two? Or are the two wives one?

Or are these just metaphors.

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  • This question is not based on a text but is rather an attempt to synthesize different passages by different authors.
    – Ruminator
    May 4 '18 at 13:44
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I would first like to offer one passage in the New Testament that effectively answers both the issue of intermarriage between Israel and Gentiles, as well as the state of the Torah of Moshe.

In Ephesians 2:14-16, the apostle Paulos wrote,

14 For he is our peace, who made both, one, and destroyed the middle-wall of the fence, 15 when he abolished the enmity by his flesh, the Law of commandments in decrees, in order to create in himself one new man of the two, making peace, 16 and in order to reconcile both to God in one body, by means of the cross, when he slayed the enmity on it.

In the Epistle of Aristeas, §§139-143, it is written,

Now our Lawgiver being a wise man and specially endowed by God to understand all things, took a comprehensive view of each particular detail, and fenced us round [περιφράσσειν] with impregnable ramparts and walls of iron, that we might not mingle at all with any of the other nations, but remain pure in body and soul, free from all vain imaginations, worshiping the one Almighty God above the whole creation. Hence the leading Egyptian priests having looked carefully into many matters, and being cognizant with (our) affairs, call us "men of God." This is a title which does not belong to the rest of mankind but only to those who worship the true God.

The rest are men not of God but of meats and drinks and clothing. For their whole disposition leads them to find solace in these things. Among our people such things are reckoned of no account. but throughout their whole life their main consideration is the sovereignty of God. Therefore lest we should be corrupted by any abomination, or our lives be perverted by evil communications, he hedged us round [περιφράσσειν] on all sides by rules of purity, affecting alike what we eat, or drink, or touch, or hear, or see.

English translation according to R.H. Charles.

According to Aristeas, Moshe "fenced" the Israelites with the Torah in order to prevent inter-marriage and a variety of other acts. The verb translated as "fence" is περιφράσσειν, which is related to the noun φραγμός in Eph. 2:14.

The apostle Paulos states that Christ destroyed the Torah by his death on the cross. Likewise, by destroying the Torah, he united both Jews and Gentiles into one new man in his body, the body of Christ.

The body of Christ is known as "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16), for the apostle Paulos states (Rom. 9:6-7), "Not all those who are of Israel are 'Israel,' nor because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but 'In Isaac shall your seed be called.'"

While unbelieving Jews, i.e. the seed of Avraham according to the flesh (Rom. 4:1), are "Israel according to the flesh" (1 Cor. 10:18), they are not the promised seed, the Israel of God, i.e. Israel according to the spirit. Rather, only those who believe in Christ, and are thus "in Christ," comprise the Israel of God.

In summary,

  • the Torah of Moshe was destroyed on the cross, along with the enmity it produced between Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, the restriction on intermarriage is void.

  • Believing Jews and Gentiles become one new man in the body of Christ.

  • There is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ, according to the spirit.

Israel is indeed the bride in the Old Testament, and Israel (the Israel of God), i.e. the Church, remains the bride in the New Testament. As for New Jerusalem, a case can be made that it is a metaphor for the Church. I believe Soldarnal made a recent thread about John 14 where Jesus says, "I go to prepare a place for you." I can't find the thread though.

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  • Thank you for this answer. This is a low rated question (as is your answer, presumably because the question is poor). If you feel your answer is worthy of my improving the question I would gladly do so; I flagged the moderator for help doing so. If not I would willingly delete the question if the answer were removed. Or, if you think it is OK sitting here in case someone else wonders about it, even though it rates low, we can leave as is. What are your thoughts?
    – user2027
    Feb 10 '14 at 20:52
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While there are verses such as Jer. 2:1-2 that likens the people's early relationship with Yehovah (the Father) to an espousal period, The Lamb's Bride is most clearly New Jerusalem, as per Rev. 21:9 (KJV):

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.

In Matt. 9:15 (KJV), Jesus says his disciples are the children of the bridal chamber:

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

John the Baptist himself identifies as a friend of the groom, but not as part of the Bride:

John 3:29 (KJV) He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

Now, could the fact that "all men come unto him" indicate that "all men" are 'the Bride'? Or could in be a location, much as New Jerusalem is a location, so to speak?

John and Jesus are clearly in different locations at this point:

John 3:22-23 KJV After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

Jesus is is Judaea, which I contend is the Bride he is speaking of here, i.e. John is standing outside of Judea on the other side of Jordon. Geographically, he is standing just outside of Judah and hearing the report, i.e. 'the voice' of the bridegroom who is filling the land with reports of his miracles.

To go into all the OT prophecies that liken the Land of Israel and Jerusalem to a spouse would take up a lot of space. Here's the one quoted in the question:

Ez. 16:1;8 Again the word of Yehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause

Jerusalem to know her abominations... Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.

Even Hosea says,

"Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD." Hos. 1:2 KJV

So it is the land and Jerusalem that are likened to a Bride, not the people themselves. The children God begets of Jerusalem and the Land are the generations that would worship there and will worship there. These are the children of the bride chamber, not the bride herself. The intimacy that the children of Israel will have with God, who is their Father, will be mediated through this city, who is in a sense their mother:

Gal. 4:26 (KJV) But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

In the New Testament, Paul refers metaphorically to the Conrinthian congregation as a virgin he espoused to Christ, but this is the individual congregation, not to one collective Bride-Church:

2 Cor. 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

The key here is 'as', and we're not even sure this means 'to marry Christ' or if the 'one husband' is in fact referring to Paul's presentation of the gospel. I.e. he's saying he hasn't taught them different doctrines, but a consistent one (one husband/man) so they would not be beguiled by false teachings. Why would he have to espouse to one husband in order to present her as a chaste virgin to Christ? The only answer is that the 'one husband' is the real gospel. Then, the future presentation of said virgin congregation would be in keeping with the wise virgins who are granted entranced into the marriage supper (they are not the Bride).

This metaphor Paul uses also conjures up the confusion that could occur if a girl became espoused then had second thoughts. I believe Paul uses this metaphor to drive home a point. Any father who had ever betrothed his daughter to a husband could understand how many problems another suitor could cause. This is why Paul uses the metaphor in relation to the true Jesus he's communicated to them, not because he's saying Jesus is going to wed every church, or every church is a spiritual bride.

The 10 virgins parable in Matt. 25 likens the wise and watchful believers not to the Bride, but to guests at the wedding banquet who are permitted to draw near to the bridal chamber for the festivities, which in ancient times included a celebration of the marriage's consummation. This business of "hearing his voice" is pertaining to the custom of the groom's friend waiting outside the bride chamber to receive the garment that was proof of the virgin's purity, etc., after intercourse.

We do have an address to a 'chosen lady' in 2 John, but this is likely to be a person named Cyria:

2 John 1 (BSB) The elder, To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth--and not I alone, but also all who know the truth--

[Thayer's Greek Lexicon]has this entry on the work 'lady' or 'Cyria', 1κυρία, κυρίας, ἡ, Cyria, a Christian woman to whom the Second Epistle of John is addressed.

I think the personal nature of 2 John backs that up, as does the fact that he says this in verse 12 (KJV):

but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full

So, the usurpation of the Bride Jerusalem by the false Bride the Church of Rome was induced by interpreting the Church itself to be the only Bride of God there could possibly be.

However, New Jerusalem is the Lamb's pure Bride, prepared from the foundation of the world, containing the garden of Eden and the Tree of Life. During the 1000 years reign on earth, we will prepare for that wedding in a kind of special rehearsal in Jerusalem, preparing our garments for this:

Rev. 19:8-9 She was given clothing of fine linen, linen bright and pure.” For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel told me to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

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The original question is "Who is the bride of Christ?" but in the body of the question it confuses the question with the parable of the unfaithful Israel being like an unfaithful wife to YHVH, based on Trinitarian assumptions. I'm only going to address the original question "Who is the bride of Christ?". For information about the analogy in Jeremiah 3 please see:

https://outreachjudaism.org/god-divorce-israel/

The bride of Christ is "the Israel of God". This is to be distinguished from unfaithful national Israel. These are the faithful remnant of Jews, who are partakers in the new covenant:

NIV Galatians 4: 21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 24These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

So the bride of Christ is the body of faithful Jews represented as a city from above called the "new Jerusalem":

NIV Revelation 21: 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. ... 9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.

While Jesus is temporarily lord of all peoples he will, in the future surrender the rule of the nations to God and will be the king of the Jews forever, under God's solo rule:

NIV 1 Corinthians 15 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

NIV Luke 1: 31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

So while the gospel is for the whole world, Jew and gentile alike, Christ's bride is specifically the Jewish remnant, the new Jerusalem and the city of God over whom he will be the king forever.

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The term "Israel" was deconstructed by the Christian authors from being an ethnic term to become a supra-ethnic term, for the Messiah is not only of Jews, but likewise of Gentiles as well (Romans 3:29), for which deconstruction Jesus was nearly killed by enraged people from Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:14-28). Thus, if the semantics of Israel is changed in this manner, there is no contradiction between the Eph.5 2 Cor. 11:2 and Deut. 7:3.

Similar thing happened with the term "Roman", for initially the term was connected with ethnicity, but with the conquests, when the term "Latin" also became increasingly political and not ethnical, gradually also those not from Italian Peninsula were allowed to Roman Citizenship, so men of all ethnicities and nations could already be Roman, like Paul, a semite, was also Roman. So with the "Israel": since Jesus called "sheep" - that is to say, His faithful followers - from all nations (cf. John 10:16), the "nation of Jesus", that is to say Israel, the citizens of Heavenly Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26) are those faithful from all nations, analogously to the earthly empire of Rome, of which citizens could become representatives of all nations. Yet, Roman citizenship could be also bought at a very high price (Acts 22:28), whereas citizenship of the Heavenly Kingdom is bought only through faith, prayers, practice of commandments of Jesus with co-working of His grace in us.

To give another clarifying analogy: by some Spanish conquistadors the American Indians were not regarded as humans, so "Indian" meant - "non-human" or "sub-human". Now, if they made a theatre-show at the banks of Amazon with an inscription, "Only humans can enter", they would clearly prevented Indians to enter, even the Indians with greater curiosity for the spectacle and greater artistic taste (let's suppose); but if later their intelligent priest would shake away this stupid bias from their brains and succeed to convince them that Indians are humans in no lesser sense than the Spaniards themselves, then, with the changed meaning of the "Indian" from "non-human" to "human", the Indians would be accepted in the theatre just as Spaniards. Similarly, initially "Israel" was inclusive only of Jews, after Jesus of also representatives of other nations who believed in Jesus as the redeemer of all mankind from the tyranny of sin and death.

Thus, semantics of "Israel" changed from a parochial and ethnic, to the universal and philosophical, as those people, regardless Jews or Greeks or Ethiopians (Gal. 3:28) who accept through faith Christ as the Messiah of the inner eternal Kingdom within their hearts (Luke 17:21).

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  • Gigineshvilli No. I didn't vote this answer down, as you added text to support it, but there are way too many references from both Old and New Testament that disagree with this conclusion. Israel indeed was called by God and was the inheritor of all the promises; her sinfulness didn't revoke them. To "replace" Israel with the church, or to 'semantically' reduce Israel to a metaphor does violence to the text.
    – Tau
    May 5 '18 at 21:45
  • Analogy: Greeks invented philosophy, and so, if there were a verb "to greek"="to philosophize". Initially only Greeks greeked. But time passed, also others started to greek, but Greeks staggered and ceased greeking. But greeking does not depend on ethnicity, but practice of dialectics. So also Israel: chosenness does not depend on ethnicity, but doing God's will, which all nations can practice, just like dialectics. In certain historic sense greeking belongs to Greeks, as "Israel"/"chosennes" to Jews. But in absolute sense both Israel and greeking was elevated - not reduced! - to universalism. May 6 '18 at 6:53
  • Gigneishvilli But you are ignoring Covenant, and the fact that God's Promises are immutable. According to your reading, the minute you quit obeying, is the minute you quit having Covenant-not! No more than a child who is disobedient quits being your child. Stronger forces are at work here.
    – Tau
    May 6 '18 at 18:13
  • If a child does not want to obey a parent, a parent will remain love-full and merciful, but child will not benefit from it. Judas was not only the subject of Covenant, but, exceedingly more than that, was deigned to receive God's absolutely special dispensation: becoming His Son's closest apostle. However, Judas did not keep it, a) betrayed Jesus and b) did not repent it but strangled himself in a stupid despair. Even God cannot help you if you deny Him. This is the cruel mystery of freedom. But without it you will fall into even worse thing - fatalism. But fatalism is a lie, freedom is true. May 6 '18 at 21:33
  • Gigineishvilli Yes, Judas was recipient of the Covenant, yet from the beginning he was also the one who would "strike the heel" at Christ, which proves the love of God is boundless. God never annulled the Covenant, and you can't find 1 Scripture which says He did, whereas I can prove from Scripture He always has. That certain aspects of the Covenant became unworkable is a point taken; whereas to say that the Covenant doesn't exist is the same as saying God doesn't exist. I will leave it here, unless you want to go to chat and produce the evidence that God revoked the Covenant.
    – Tau
    May 7 '18 at 12:07