Let's compare The Message and New Living Translation of the same passage:

Jesus said, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!” Mark 2:19-20; The Message

Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. Mark 2:19-20; New Living Translation

Considering that the Bride [Church] was revealed to us later in Ephesians 2:25 and 2nd Corinthians 11:2. Not to mention, no other translation reads the bride and the groom. It's just the groom. So many would argue that "the bride" is not the correct choice of words.

On second thought tho, the disciples mentioned here had eventually expanded into the church so I don't think calling them bride is a stretch.

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    Metaphors and parables don't have to use the same roles everytime. Consider each one by itself.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 11:53
  • But metaphors aren't self contradicting.
    – user48517
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 12:02
  • And it isn't just a metaphor. The groom is actually refering to the deity of Christ. It's who He is; a husband to the church
    – user48517
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 12:03
  • Ephesians 2:25?
    – pbarney
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


This is a problem of translation because there are distinct Greek words for 'bride' and 'bridegroom'. John the Baptist showed this (when denying that he was 'the bridegroom' - the Messiah) in John 3:29. If we turn to that first, then all should become clear. John the Baptist said:

"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom..." where 'bride' is numphe, but 'bridegroom' is numphios (Young's Concordance, p116)

There is yet again a different Greek word for bride-chamber, which is in Mark 2:19-20 in translations that stick to the Received Text. The two translations you use are not literal translations. Indeed, 'The Message' is not really translation, but a rendering of the Bible in vernacular English language of today, intending to give the meaning as people today might best understand it. It follows the 'dynamic-equivalence' method of treating scripture. The NLT combines that with a bit of formal-equivalence. Neither stick to the Received Text. It is the Authorised Version, and Young's Literal Translation that stick purely to the Received Text, giving formal-equivalence (literal translation). That is why the A.V. and Y.L.T. bring in the word 'bridechamber' at Mark 2:19, for this third Greek word is in the Received Text:

"And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? " (A.V.)

"And Jesus said to them, 'Are the sons of the bridechamber able, while the bridegroom is with them, to fast?' (Y.L.T.)

This third Greek word is numphon. Yet in no Greek manuscripts can the word for bride - numphe - be found in the two verses you ask about. This immediately removes the problem you raise. There is no problem when the exact Greek words are exactly translated. As you have pointed out, only 'The Message' introduces 'the bride' into the text, but it should not.

Having cleared that up, the next point to make is the context, where Jesus was addressing a question raised as to why the disciples of John the Baptist, and the Pharisees, fasted, but his disciples did not fast. That is in Mark 2:18. Jesus then replied that whilst he (the bridegroom) was in their midst, those around him would celebrate - not fast! When the time came that the bridegroom would be taken away from them, then his disciples would fast.

This leaves the rest of New Testament scriptures about the future marriage of the Lamb to his 'bride' to be understood as Christians have always understood them. The Church that Christ builds, which the gates of hell cannot overcome, will be united to him in heaven at that glorious marriage supper, after the old heaven and earth have passed away, and God has created a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell. Then the Bride appears, as the city of New Jerusalem, with 12 gates having the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, built upon the 12 foundations of the Apostles of Christ. This shows that all who had saving faith in both Old and New Testament eras, form that heavenly city, which is also described as a woman, the wife of the Lamb.

To answer your main question: No, the wedding had not yet started in Mark 2:19-20. But the bridegroom had arrived on earth, and all who recognised him as such rejoiced in his presence. They celebrated and did not fast while he was with them. When he was taken away from them, then the situation changed, but they had the promise of being reunited with him in heaven. Then, once all had been resurrected, judged and assigned their eternal portion, the symbolic 'bride' of Christ would experience that heavenly 'consummation' of their union with Christ.

  • Just to make sure I got it right. Did you mean the Church is not the bride of Christ? If you think that the city of New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ that's not biblical. I explained that in my answer. Read 2nd Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 2:25. Sorry I have learning disorder. But from what I read, I think you were trying to say that the city of New Jerusalem would be the bride of Christ. And that's not biblical.
    – user48517
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 16:46
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    @Koko Of course the Church is the bride of Christ. But the last book in the Bible also depicts her (allegorically) as a great city coming down from heaven, the New Jerusalem. The two symbolic references are in Rev. ch. 21 vss 1-2 & 9-14. These descriptions are not to be taken literally. They teach us things that would be impossible for us to grasp were it not for God's explanations. More than one illustration is used in the Bible to speak of the same thing. Here is an example of that.
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:16
  • Yeah thank you I just wanted to make sure if I got you right and I understand that they're all metaphors. You might wanna read my answer. That's my response on why New Jerusalem was called the bride.
    – user48517
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:17
  • The city is called the bride because it encompasses all who are the bride. That's how I interpret it.
    – user48517
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:21
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    @Koko I've read your question and your answer and agree that the disciples of Jesus are called his "bride" (as a class; a group). This symbolic bride is also depicted in the Revelation as being a symbolic city. See how Revelation shows Satan to have a symbolic 'woman' who is both described as being a whore, and a great city, Babylon the Great? God's symbolic 'woman' is a virgin bride and a great city, New Jerusalem. I have to close down now, till tomorrow. Be blessed!
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:39

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