Not Just For Men

Who created marriage? How should a marriage function? What is the role of the husband? How is a man to conduct himself towards women in general? How did Christ behave in that regard? Was Jesus married? Will He marry His bride when He returns? Who is His bride?

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Who is the bride? When the Bible speaks of the “bride,” is it only in reference to the saints who will be in the first resurrection?

The answer is that the bride will ultimately involve many more
than those who are given eternal life in the first resurrection. A
review of this topic will reveal just what the Bible means when it
refers to the “bride.”

First of all, Jesus Christ is presented as
the bridegroom in many examples. Even at His appearance as a human and
before His death, Jesus spoke of Himself as the “bridegroom” (Luke
5:34-35). In this account, Jesus taught that He would be taken away and
that no “marriage” would be consummated at that time.

Note, as
well, that Jesus gave a parable indicating that He, as the bridegroom,
would return (Compare Matthew 25:1-13). In this story, Jesus began His
teaching with these very important words: “‘The kingdom of heaven shall
be LIKENED to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the
bridegroom’” (Matthew 25:1).

Jesus presented this example of
bridegroom and virgins (that is, the bride) to instruct His Church to
be ready for His return. Most importantly, the Church was to remain
vigilant and not let God’s Holy Spirit (the “oil” for their lamps) fade
out of their lives! He would only marry those who were ready.

the Baptist also referred to Jesus as the bridegroom (Compare John
3:29).In his statement, John attested to the fact that Jesus was the
Christ, and that he (John) was serving as if he were the friend in a
marriage ceremony. This is, of course, just an analogy, as John will be
in the first resurrection and therefore part of the bride.

In a
deeply symbolic series of statements, Paul instructs married members of
the Church to love their mates (Compare Ephesians 5:22-33). He draws on
the selfless example of Christ’s love for His Church to make his point.
Then, he mentions a profound truth about marriage, calling it “a great
mystery” (Verse 32).

Why is it a mystery? Because it is a truth
hidden in the plan of God—hidden to those not called by God! Yet, God’s
Church understands this mystery: Jesus Christ will marry His Church
(Compare, especially, verses 25-27)! Note what Paul also stated in this
connection: “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” (2 Corinthians 11:2). It is important to understand the
concept of “betrothal.” That concept is fully explained in our booklet,
“And Lawlessness Will Abound…”, on pages 47 and 56-59.

describes a binding agreement or covenant of engagement, which could
only be annulled or dissolved through divorce, but it does not describe
the consummation of the marriage. As will be shown, God’s “betrothal”
is not limited to those who will be in the first resurrection. The
above-quoted booklet also explains that the New Covenant IS a marriage
agreement between Christ and His disciples–but it is not limited,
either, to those who will be in the first resurrection; rather, it will
also apply to those who will live in the Millennium and during the
Great White Throne Judgment, and who will become converted at that time
(For more information on that aspect of God’s great Master Plan, please
read, “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)

In the many examples where
the Church is referred to as a “virgin,” the intent is one of our
spiritual condition. It is important that we not deduce an entire
teaching from a symbolic phrase! This vital key for understanding is to
look to Scripture for the meaning behind difficult verses, parables and
symbolic analogies.

However, the fact remains that Jesus Christ
will marry His Church! We find this specifically promised in Revelation
19. Verse 7 states: “‘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.’” Understand that the wife spoken of here is comprised of ALL
the saints—ALL those counted worthy for the first resurrection.
Christians, who live just before Christ’s return, also must be
prepared—just as the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 so
clearly teaches.

Now carefully consider what is stated in
Revelation 19:8: “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine
linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is THE RIGHTEOUS ACTS of
the saints.” The focus for who will be in this wedding ceremony centers
on those who are righteous—that is, those who obey God! Here we gain
insight to the fact that Christ will marry those who live righteous
lives—something only possible through having the help of God’s Holy

In the Old Testament, God says that He is Husband to
Israel: “‘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’” (Isaiah 54:5). Even as Israel rejected God, He
reminded them of Who He was: “‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says
the LORD; ‘for I am married to you…’ (Jeremiah 3:14).

In a
moving outpouring of God’s love for Jerusalem–here, a type of all
Israel–He speaks of how He chose and tenderly loved her and made her
His: “‘…Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with
you, and you became Mine,’ says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 16:8). In verses
32 and 38 of this chapter, God charges Jerusalem of being “‘…an
adulterous wife’” and compares it with “‘…women who break wedlock.’”

to Israel of a future time—a time when God will establish His Kingdom
on the earth: “‘And it shall be, IN THAT DAY,’ Says the LORD, ‘That you
will call Me “My Husband…”’” (Hosea 2:16). Then, in verses 19-20, we
find that God promises to join Israel to Himself in an unending
marriage: “‘I WILL BETROTH YOU TO ME FOREVER; Yes, I will betroth you
to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; I will
betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.’” It is
important to realize that God will “betroth” Israel in the
future–AFTER Christ’s return and the FIRST resurrection. This shows
that the “bride” cannot only include those in the first resurrection.

qualities of the bride in this marriage are: righteousness; justice;
lovingkindness; mercy; and faithfulness. These are fruits of God’s Holy
Spirit—fruits that Christians, the saints, the bride of Christ, are to
possess (Compare Galatians 5:22-23).

We have seen that the Church
of God is called a “bride.” Also, God’s Word reveals that He addresses
Himself as a Husband to Israel and that He will marry her forever in
the future, after Israel’s conversion! Furthermore, the Bible also
speaks of a “bride” in an even greater context:

“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.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a
great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy
Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9-10).

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

Please note that
the holy city, spoken of as the “bride,” will descend to this earth
after the first resurrection, the Millennium and the Great White Throne
Judgment. At that time, the heavenly Jerusalem, placed on earth, is
compared with the bride; that is, it will be comprised of ALL of God’s
saints. Most commentaries understand this analogy. For example,
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say that the bride in Revelation 21:2 is
“made up of the blessed citizens of the ‘holy city,'” and the Ryrie
Study Bible states that “the heavenly city [when here on earth] will be
the abode of all the saints, the bride of Christ…” Again, we see that
the “bride” includes more than just the saints of the first

In this most remarkable look into the future, God
has revealed that ALL of mankind who become truly converted and become
Christ-like will be joined to Him and His family: “‘HE WHO OVERCOMES
shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My
son’” (Revelation 21:7).

Mankind was created to become members of
God’s Family! As children of God—described as sons of God and brethren
of Christ (Compare Hebrews 2)—mankind also is offered a role with
Christ described as being His “bride.” We are to become helpers
“comparable to [H]im,” as the first woman was created to be a helper,
comparable to the husband (Compare Genesis 2:18). We are to become
united in a permanent relationship within the Family of God!

prayed a remarkable prayer to His Father, which is recorded in John 17.
Jesus asked for something that is—when we understand it—the most
extraordinary of relationships. Note, in particular, verses 11 and
20-26. Jesus specifically asked that His followers might be ONE as both
He and the Father are ONE. Genesis 2:24 states of the married
relationship between man and woman: “Therefore a man shall leave his
father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become ONE

We must understand the significance of what Peter stated:
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God
shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works
righteousness is accepted by Him’” (Acts 10:34-35; Also, compare Romans
2:11; Galatians 2:6; Colossians 3:23-25; 1 Peter 1:17).

understanding about who the bride is must be supported by all of the
relevant Scriptures. Remember, God desires that all men should be saved
(Compare 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Also, consider what Jesus Christ
taught about those who would be saved—about those who would, indeed,
become His spiritual bride: “‘And indeed there are last who will be
first, and there are first who will be last’” (Luke 13:30).

in some of the very last words of the Bible, this heartening plea is
made—it is as if those who now rest among the spiritual virgins
awaiting the marriage of the Lamb speak to us: “And the Spirit and the
BRIDE say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who
thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely”
(Revelation 22:17).

Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link

Why did Mr. Armstrong state that "independents" would not be in the marriage supper of the Lamb?

We addressed this issue, to an extent, in the Editorial, “An Independent Mind,” in Update 208. In the Editorial, we quoted some of Mr. Armstrong’s statements about “independents,” as follows:

“This is what Mr. Armstrong thought about independents: ‘What about a single member, “a joint, or part,” going off by itself–or following a man instead of the Church of God that is in direct continuous succession from the apostolic Church founded by Christ, in A.D.31? He is like a joint or a piece of wood or stone, entirely outside of, and therefore no part of the body of Christ that shall marry Christ’ (The Incredible Human Potential, ed.1978, pp.123, 124-125).”

These appear to be powerful statements; yet, there must have been a reason why Mr. Armstrong felt this way. Mr. Armstrong’s statements are Biblically founded, as explained below.

An “independent” has in essence taken upon himself the prerogative to reject the government of God which was established by God Himself, and which was revealed by Christ in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping [or perfecting] of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [or full-grown] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”

The purpose of the ministry is to edify the members to achieve the goal of becoming sons and daughters of God. In addition, Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, especially on the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days, to be nourished by God’s Church and His ministry, and to encourage each other through uplifting and positive communication.

God’s Church is a spiritual organism, but this does not mean that it is not organized. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12:18-28: “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased… And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you, ‘[i.e., I am an independent; I don’t need the Church or anyone in the Church]; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’… But God composed the body… that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it… And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.”

Christ said to His Church in John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love ONE ANOTHER as I have loved you.”

Can’t we see that passages like the ones quoted above totally disprove and refute the concept of an “independent”–that he can be on his own, and still be a part of the Church? The Bible makes it very clear that he CANNOT BE.

Christ will marry His bride–His Church–when He returns. At that time, the bride will have made herself ready (Revelation 19:7). This means, the Church has allowed Christ to “sanctify and cleanse her… to present her to Himself as a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish… For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:26-30). Christ has decreed, as we saw earlier, that Church members can only become “perfect” WITHIN the Church–within HIS very Body. Christ told us in John 15:6: “If anyone does not abide in Me [that includes Christ’s BODY, His Church, compare Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 2:18-19; 3:15; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 12:27], he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

To reject the ministry established by God and Christ, and to separate from Church brethren who are sanctified by God, is paramount to rejecting Christ and His Body, as well as the government of God which God established in His Church.

Let us examine an example of this rejection in the Old Testament, as revealed in 1 Samuel 8:4-7:

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel [or, was evil in Samuel’s eyes], when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Heed [or listen to] the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

Notice that when the nation insisted on having a king over them, like the nations around them, they rejected God’s rule over them. By extension, they rejected God. In the same manner, when people reject God’s true ministry in this Church era, as established by God, they reject the government of God, and by extension, they reject GOD.

As a result of this rejection, God has no choice but to reject THEM. Notice what Christ says in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him–the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

Some might justify becoming independent in the face of widespread heresy in the doctrines, teachings and practices of the Church. False leaders have arisen and have actually gained control of some of the membership and assets of God’s Church. That has forced faithful members to withdraw from those who begin to preach “a different gospel” (compare Galatians 1). In times like this, the people of God have become scattered; however, far too often, this has become an opportunity for false ministers to build their own following. John wrote of this very attitude and problem in the Church at his time: “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the pre-eminence among them, does not receive us” (3 John 9).

Paul instructed Timothy, who was a minister under his guidance: “Take heed to yourself and to the DOCTRINE. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

The Church of God has experienced a very challenging time following the death of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. Those who gained the leadership in the Worldwide Church of God rejected the core doctrines, as established under Mr. Armstrong. In this context, it is difficult for those who now seek to faithfully and zealously adhere to the gospel brought by Jesus Christ and faithfully proclaimed by His established ministry! However, Christ says that when we ask, seek and knock, we will find, as God will open the door of understanding to us.

Our advice to “independents” is to look to the Word of God to test what is being taught. Note the record of the people in Berea: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Even though we recognize the difficulties for those who want to stay loyal to God and His Church to find and identify their brethren who have remained faithful, to become an “independent” is not the answer–judging by God’s inspired Word. This is even more so, when a follower, be it for imagined or even real “injustice,” or because of MINOR disagreements with perhaps technical points of non-salvational issues, leaves a faithful organization, which belongs to the spiritual Body of Christ, to BECOME an “independent.” As explained herein, “independents” are in a very precarious position if they do not repent in time, since they, in effect, might miss out on salvation. We should bear in mind that it was Satan who originally rejected the government of God and invented an alternate way of doing things– following the way of competition, get and self-aggrandizement, which he felt was superior to God’s way of cooperation, give and humility.

In summary, when a person rejects the government of God, including the true and faithful ministry established by God in His Church, he rejects God. This sin MUST be repented of! Mr. Armstrong once asked, that if in this life we do not want to be ruled by the government of God, how can God use us to rule over others in the future? This is a serious matter which anyone who is inclined to reject God’s government in His Church has to consider, for the sake of his own salvation. Therefore, it is imperative to those who by their words and/or actions have rejected the government of God in the Church, to repent before it is too late.

Lead writer: Rene Messier

©2023 Church of the Eternal God