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MONDAY August 28

MONDAY August 28

The Church as the Bride of Christ: Part 1

Compare Ephesians 5:25–27, 29 with the foundling story of Ezekiel 16:1–14. What elements of that story does Paul reflect in his own sketch?

As Paul, in Ephesians 5:25–27, 29, shapes his wedding-marriage metaphor for the church and its relationship with Christ, he draws creatively on the customs and roles of an ancient wedding. In relationship to the church as bride, Christ is the divine Bridegroom who:

(1) Loves the church as bride (Eph. 5:25). We must never forget that this is heart work for Jesus. He loves us!

(2) Gives Himself as the bride price. In the context of ancient wedding arrangements, the bridegroom would “purchase” the bride with the “bride price,” which was usually a large sum of money and valuables, so large that ancient village economies depended upon the custom. Christ pays the ultimate price for the church as His bride since He “gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25, NKJV). In the incarnation and at the cross, He gives Himself as the bride price.

(3) Bathes His bride. The preparation of the bride was an important part of the ancient wedding festivities. As is also true today, it was the bridesmaids and female relatives of the bride who prepared her for the ceremony. Paul, though, imagines the divine Bridegroom preparing His bride for the wedding! It is He who sanctifies and cleanses her “by the washing of water” (Eph. 5:26, ESV), a probable reference to baptism.

(4) Speaks the word of promise. This cleansing is performed “with the word” (Eph. 5:26, ESV), pointing to the word of promise that the divine Bridegroom speaks to His bride, perhaps in the context of the betrothal ceremony (compare Eph. 1:3–14, Eph. 2:1–10, noting God’s promises to believers at the time of their conversion). Betrothal was the ancient version of modern engagement, but was a much more serious set of negotiations, which included a written agreement about the bride price (from the husband) and the dowry (assets the bride would bring to the marriage from her family).

(5) Prepares and adorns the bride. When the bride is finally presented to her Groom, she is fabulously beautiful, appearing in flawless splendor (Eph. 5:27). Christ not only bathes the bride; He prepares and adorns her, as well.

How do these verses help us understand the way Christ feels about us? Why should we find this so comforting?

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