There is a common belief popular today among the Christian masses that there is something called “The Bride of Christ.” This Bride is thought to be what is also called “The Church.” It is commonly stated that “we are the Bride of Christ,” and that some day we will all be the honored Bride at a “wedding feast,” when we will be married to Christ. But is this idea really Biblical? The fact is that the phrase “the Bride of Christ” never appears in the Scriptures. It is a phrase that is common in some people’s doctrinal vocabulary, but it finds no basis in the Word of God. This fact surprises many who hold to this belief when I point it out to them. They have always just “assumed” that it must be so. “The Bible says the Church is the Bride of Christ,” I have heard many say. But this statement is just simply never made in the Bible. So then the question becomes, “Is there enough evidence in the Bible in order to prove that there is a Bride of Christ, even if it is not stated in so many words? And if so, who or what exactly is this Bride?” This is the question I seek to answer through this study.

In considering the topic of “The Bride of Christ,” I have completed a comprehensive study of all of the following English words: bride, bridegroom, wedding, marriage, wife, husband, virgin, virginity, virgins, betroth, and betrothed. I went through all these words in a concordance, looking at every English occurrence of the words, and looking up and reading all passages I felt were relevant. Thus I have, I believe, examined every passage that may have bearing on the topic. If I have missed any words or passages, I apologize.

First I will examine every occurrence of the word “bride” in Scripture and comment on it. Then I will list all the other relevant passages I discovered in making my study of the other words listed above and give my thoughts on them.

Here is a complete list of all occurrences of the word “bride” in Scripture and what we can learn from them:

Isaiah 49:18. “Lift up your eyes, look around and see;
All these gather together and come to you.
As I live” says the LORD,
“You shall surely clothe yourselves with them all as an ornament,
And bind them on you as a bride does.”

Here, Zion is the one binding (verse 14,) and her sons are the ones she binds on her “as a bride does” (verse 17.)

Isaiah 61:10. “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Here, Zion again is the bride, although here the context is more remote (60:14,) and the LORD, of course, is the bridegroom.

Isaiah 62:5. “For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.”

Zion and Jerusalem are the bride (verse 1,) and God is the bridegroom.

Jeremiah 2:32. “Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.”

Jerusalem (verse 2,) the house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel (verse 4,) and Judah (verse 28) are the ones compared to a bride, with the LORD as the forgotten husband.

Jeremiah 7:34. “Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate.”

Jeremiah 16:9. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will cause to cease from this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.”

Jeremiah 25:10. “Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.”

Jeremiah 33:11. “the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:
‘Praise the LORD of hosts,
For the LORD is good,
For His mercy endures forever’—
and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,” says the LORD.

In these four passages the voice of the bride is spoken of as a joyful sound that will be blotted out in punishment. Notice that the place this will occur is “the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem.”

Joel 2:16. “Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.”

This occurs in Zion (verse 15) as part of a call for fasting and weeping to plead with the LORD for mercy upon the city.

These are all of the occurrences of the word “bride” in the Old Testament. Notice that all of those occurrences of this word that speak of literal brides are connected with judgment, mourning, and the cessation of mirth. All of those that speak of the LORD and of His people are figurative, and identify either the children of Israel, Jerusalem, or Zion as the bride. Now, let us move on to the New Testament occurrences of the word “bride.”

John 3:29. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.”

The speaker is John the Baptist, who identifies himself with the friend of the bridegroom. The bridegroom is identified as Christ in verse 28. The bride is not identified. Here is one of the only places where “the bride of Christ” is even implied, but notice that the term does not actually occur here!

Revelation 18:23. “And the light of the lamp shall not shine in you anymore. And the voice of the bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.”

Again, the voice of the bride is a joyful sound that will be blotted out in punishment. This verse uses “bride” in the exact same way Jeremiah used it four times, only in this case the city being judged is Babylon, not Jerusalem (verse 21.)

Revelation 21:2. “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Again, Jerusalem is identified as the bride, but again it is figurative “as,” not literal. In this case it is the New Jerusalem, not the old, that is the bride.

Revelation 21:9. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’”

Here the bride is spoken of as literal, and is identified as “The Lamb’s Wife.” This is not the same as “The Bride of Christ.” We must understand the significance God places upon the various names He applies to Himself. Because we are such small and insignificant creatures, one name or two will do, and even then they are not very significant. But with God, the names used are inadequate to describe Him by themselves, so different names must be used in different contexts. Moreover, the bride here is “The Lamb’s Wife.” So not only is the name of God used here not “Christ,” but also it is not “The Bride of the Lamb” but “The Lamb’s Wife” that is spoken of here. And again it is Jerusalem that is the bride (verse 10,) not “The Church.”

Revelation 22:17. And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

So the holy Jerusalem calls to her children. For indeed this must again be Jerusalem, for we have already established her as the bride in chapter 21.

So we see that the idea of “The Church” as the Bride of Christ is without Biblical support. Not only is it never spoken of as the bride of anything, but the only bride which God speaks of for Himself is always a city, the city Jerusalem. To imagine that we are the New Jerusalem, as one person told me recently, is nothing but a flight of fancy. I might agree that the true bride is the people of the city, not the city itself, but if so the people would have to be the children of Israel, not a humble Gentile like myself! If words mean anything, then the Bible has made itself clear as to who the bride is. If not, then we had best give up looking for the truth at all.

But this study would not be complete if I totally ignored other related passages. These contain some of the other words I studied, as I mentioned above. Let us examine them briefly.

Revelation 19:7. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

Again, the Lamb is the one who is marrying, not Christ. And we have already seen whom the Lamb is marrying in our examination of chapter 21 verse 9 above. So there is nothing new here.

Revelation 19:9. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

Please note, the marriage supper is for the Lamb, not for Christ or even the Bride. He is the One being celebrated! And we have already established who the bride is.

Psalm 45:14. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;
The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.

Here we have the royal wedding procession of Hezekiah commemorated in song. However, this royal wedding, however grand it may be, is only a shadow of the above-mentioned marriage supper of the Lamb, which is here pictured in prophecy. The entire song should be read in reference to this.

Isaiah 54:5. “For your Maker is your husband,
The LORD of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.”

Again, Zion is the subject in the remote context (52:1.)

Jeremiah 31:32. “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.”

This is speaking of the LORD as being the husband of the house of Israel and the house of Judah (verse 31.)

Ezekiel 16:32. “You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband.”

Here, Jerusalem (verse 2) is compared to a young wife (verse 8) whom the LORD took unto Himself, having rescued her in her infancy when her father was an Amorite and her mother a Hittite (verse 3.) Notice that this could only be true of the literal Jerusalem, not its people. The whole chapter should be read to get a full idea of the picture God is presenting here. Notice, however, that again it is Jerusalem that is the wife.

Ezekiel 23:3. “They committed harlotry in Egypt,
They committed harlotry in their youth;
Their breasts were there embraced,
Their virgin bosom was there pressed.”

Jerusalem and Samaria (verse 4) are compared to two sisters who had been taken by the LORD out of harlotry but had returned to it again as in the days of their youth. Here it would appear to be the people, not the cities, which are spoken of, since the cities obviously were never in Egypt. Again, the whole chapter should be read to get a fuller idea of what the LORD is trying to picture by using this illustration.

Hosea 2:2. “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges;
For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!
Let her put away her harlotries from her sight,
And her adulteries from between her breasts;”

The children of Israel are the subject here (1:10,) and are spoken of as being put away from the LORD, even as Hosea’s harlot wife had run away from him.

Hosea 2:19. “I will betroth you to me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;”

The divorcement of Israel is spoken of as being reversed in this prophecy of the future. Again, this whole chapter, or better yet all of chapters 1-3, should be read to get a full idea of what the LORD is trying to get across by this illustration.

Matthew 9:15. And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Here, Jesus Himself is the bridegroom (verse 14,) and the disciples are the friends of the bridegroom. No mention of the bride or who she might be is made here.

II Corinthians 11:2. “For 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.”

Here the Corinthians are the chaste virgin who is betrothed, and Christ is the one to Whom they are betrothed. Here the connection is spoken of as being literal, not figurative. And since Paul addresses this to “the ekklesia of God which is at Corinth” (1:1,) we do indeed have a church here as the betrothed. However, in the remoter context, we have already read of the Corinthians that “all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (I Corinthians 10:1-2) This would seem to indicate that the ekklesia at Corinth was made up of Israelites, which would be totally in line with what we have already read of the bride and the betrothal of our Lord.

Some may scoff at this. Some will merely spiritualize I Corinthians 10:1-2, and make both books written to Gentile believers in Corinth rather than Jews. Then, they will nod their heads and affirm that II Corinthians 11:2 transfers the many-times-repeated promise of God from Jerusalem to a collection of Gentiles. But I would ask all such, is it really right of you to take this one passage and use it to knock down all that God had written on this subject before? Is it right of you to take one passage of Scripture and use it to negate everything that had come before that God had written on the subject? If you wish to do so, you may, as I cannot stop you. However, I will take the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10 by faith, as well as those in all these other passages that I have mentioned, and believe that it is the people and the city of Jerusalem that God speaks of as His bride, and I have nothing to do with it! This is what I believe, and I would ask if the evidence does not support me?

Ephesians 5:23. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,”

Verses 22-33 should be read in their entirety here to give us the full argument as presented by Paul. This, along with the passages in Revelation, is the main passage used by modern theologians to craft the idea of “The Bride of Christ.” The word “bride” does not appear here, but is borrowed from Revelation. However, they insist that this identifies the church with the bride, setting Israel aside forever (in spite of Hosea 2) and putting the church in its place. Notice, however, that not only is the connection between Christ and the church not spoken of as a literal marriage, but it is never spoken of as a marriage here at all! It is the love of Christ for His church that is similar to the love of a man for his wife, but the actual relationship of Christ to His church is given in verse 23 as the relationship of a head to a body! “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” But there is no statement here that Christ is the husband of the church, or that the church is the bride of Christ. The theologians read these ideas in, but they do not exist in the passage! The husband and wife relationship is used as an illustration of Christ’s relationship to His church in His headship of them, His self-sacrifice for them, His desire to present them as holy before God, and His love for them, but it is never spoken of as an actual relationship that Christ has with His church. Why not? Because that relationship has already been taken…that position has already been filled. If we would seek the bridal relationship, then we only prove ourselves to be adulterous women, for we seek that which was promised to another long ago! But the Scripture does not lie, and God has not broken His promise. Our relationship to Christ is the relationship of a body to its head, and not of a wife to her husband. That is clear in this passage, if it is read without bias.

So we find that there is no bride of Christ, only a Wife for the Lamb. And the church or ekklesia is not this bride, but rather the city Jerusalem and its people. Those who try to twist the Scriptures to say something different had best consider the evidence given here. If you really wish to twist one passage in II Corinthians to negate all the rest of Scripture, then you may do so. But how much better would it be to embrace advanced dispensationalism, and admit that II Corinthians was written to the same people who have always been promised the position of a bride.