by Rayola Kelley
Q: There is a debate about who really is the bride of Christ: the Church or the nation of Israel. Could you please clear up this confusion? There seems to be so much emphasis put on Jesus and His bride that is both questionable and confusing.
A: I am aware of this debate about the bride of Christ. I can see how people can get confused, especially since there are those who believe in Replacement Theology, where the Church supposedly has replaced natural Israel.
According to my studies concerning this subject, I do not believe the Church has replaced national Israel, but I do believe it is the bride of Christ. These are the reasons I maintain this particular stand.
In Hosea, Israel was referred to as an adulterous wife that was always straying after other lovers (idols). You can see where the Lord is trying to lure this wayward wife back to Himself. According to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, Israel represents the lost son who has squandered its spiritual inheritance, but who will one day return to Jehovah God as a servant. Upon Israel’s return, it will be restored to its original position and will be able to reclaim in full the inheritance promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.
Meanwhile, there are Jewish people who are discovering that Jesus is indeed their Messiah. We are told in Ephesians 2:13-16 that the middle wall of partition that existed between the Jews and Gentiles was torn down by Jesus for the purpose of making each of us one body. Galatians 3:28 tells us that there is no distinction in His Body based on race, gender, or status. All those who belong to the Body of Christ are one in Him; therefore, standing equally important to the whole function of the Church.
In John 14:1-3, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them. He also commanded the disciples to go out and make other disciples, or followers, of Him. Those who understand the culture of that time explain that the Jewish tradition required the espoused man to first prepare a place for his bride before the marriage could be consummated. Since Jesus was talking to His disciples, no doubt this was in relationship to the Church or the Body of Christ.
This brings us to Ephesians 5, which unveils the mystery hidden in marriage. It is to serve as an example of Christ's relationship with the Church. Eve was taken from the side of Adam, and the blood came out of the side of Jesus that would be used to redeem a bride for Him. Until the marriage feast of the Lamb takes place in Revelation 19, the Church remains espoused to Christ, waiting for the completion of the place He is now preparing for her. Once it is properly prepared, the Bridegroom will return to be united with His Bride forever.
In the meantime, the Holy Spirit is the One who searches for those who are part of the Bride through the conviction of sin, bringing the contrast of righteousness, and reproving of the judgment to come. We also know the invitations are going forth to be part of this wedding feast. The Father draws potential heirs to His Son, and Jesus invites them to come to Him (John 6:44; 7:37-39; 16:7-13). Clearly, man does not have a part in establishing his position or place in the Bride other than accepting the invitation by faith to simply come to share in the blessings (Revelation 22:16-19).