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The Church as the Bride of Christ: Part 2

TUESDAY August 29

The Church as the Bride of Christ: Part 2

How does Paul use elements of the ancient wedding in appealing to Christians in Corinth? When does the presentation occur? (2 Cor. 11:1–4).

Using one final element of the ancient wedding, in Ephesians 5:25–27 Paul portrays Christ as the One who: (6) presents the bride (to Himself!). In ancient times the bride would be given away by the best man, best men, or her father. Never by her groom! Here, though, Paul imagines Jesus presenting the church as bride to Himself.

Paul uses marriage customs and roles to highlight Christ’s relationship to the church in an unfolding, chronological pattern: (1) Betrothal. Christ offered Himself up for the church (as “bride price”) and so became betrothed to her (Eph. 5:25). (2) Preparation for the wedding ceremony. The attentions of the Bridegroom continue in His present efforts to sanctify and cleanse the bride (Eph. 5:26). (3) The wedding ceremony itself. Christ’s present attentions are in view of the “presentation” of the bride at the wedding (Eph. 5:27). This last element looks to the grand wedding celebration at His return, when Christ, the Bridegroom, will come to claim the church as bride and present her to Himself (Eph. 5:27; compare 2 Cor. 11:1, 2; Col. 1:21–23, 28).

Ancient weddings often began with a nighttime parade (see Matt. 25:1–13). The groom and his entourage would gather at the groom’s home—the couple’s new home—and with grand ceremony begin a procession. Lit by torches and accompanied by joyful, lilting music and great rejoicing, the crowd jostles toward the home of the father of the bride. Gathering up the bride there or meeting the bride’s own procession on the way, the parade would convey the couple to their new home, where the guests would settle into a weeklong feast, culminating in the wedding ceremony, when the bride would be presented to the groom.

When Paul portrays Christ presenting the church to Himself, he alludes to this grand parade and to the moment of presentation. In doing so, he provides a moving portrait of Christ’s return as a future wedding ceremony, when the long betrothal between Christ and His church is complete and the wedding celebrated.

What message should we take for ourselves from all this positive, happy, and hopeful imagery?

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