Several places in the Bible use the imagery of marriage to describe the relationship between Christ and the church.
How is the church the bride of Christ?
Ephesians 5 uses the example of Christ's relationship to the church as instructive for marriage. Ephesians 5:23 talks about the husband being head of the wife (leader of the family) and compares that to Christ being the head of the church. Similarly, verse 24 notes that the church is to submit to Christ; the comparison here involves the submission of a godly woman to her loving husband.
Ephesians 5:25-27 describes how Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. Likewise, a husband is to love His wife unconditionally and without limit. Christ loves the church as He loves Himself (Ephesians 5:28-30). Likewise, a husband is to love his wife as himself, considering their marriage as "one body."
The Ephesians 5 passage on marriage summarizes, "let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (v. 33). Mutual love and respect form the basis for a God-honoring marriage. Likewise, Christ's love for the church and the church's love and respect for Christ form the basis for a God-honoring church.
Second Corinthians 11:2 offers a similar look at Christ as the groom and the church as the bride of Christ. Here Paul writes, "For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." Paul uses this analogy to show his love for the Corinthian believers, serving in the role as a spiritual father, offering the church at Corinth to Christ as the groom.
In addition, the New Jerusalem described in Revelation 21 is called "a bride." It is the place where all of God's people will dwell here with Him for all eternity. The beauty of this "bride" is stunning.
Though the New Jerusalem is not the bride of Christ, it complements Ephesians 5 in showing the loving relationship between Christ and His people. The marriage relationship, rightly practiced, reflects many of the ways Jesus loves His people, the church, as its husband.
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