The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is going to be married. Who is the Bride? When does the marriage supper of the Lamb take place?
The book of Revelation contains an intriguing vision in which the apostle John heard a great multitude say, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 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” (Revelation 19:6-7).
Continuing, the passage explains how the Bride will be dressed: “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” (verse 8). This short passage concludes with an instruction to John to “write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” (verse 9).
Righteousness identifies the Bride
The key to identifying the Bride is found in her clothing—“fine linen,” which represents “the righteous acts of the saints.” Additional scriptures add to our understanding of this important point.
Discussing the responsibilities of husbands and wives, Paul likened this human relationship to the relationship between “Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). This relationship between Christ and the Church will be based on righteousness. Both parties will do what is right, good and holy.
With this spiritual relationship in mind, Paul wrote: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (verses 25-27).
This emphasis on being righteous is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. Through Moses, God told the ancient Israelites: “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
Speaking of those who would be in God’s Kingdom, Christ said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Christ’s apostles and ministers taught this same message. Peter succinctly told the brethren, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).
These scriptures tell us that the Bride of Christ will be the Church. Members of the Church will be people who upon receiving God’s grace—unmerited pardon for their sins upon repentance and baptism—will, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, live righteous lives. To learn more about grace, read our article on “What Is Grace?”
Who selects the Bride?
In our modern world, most men and women choose who they will marry. In years gone by, parents often selected who their children would marry. In the Old Testament many marriages were arranged by the parents. A prominent example is that of Abraham sending his servant to pick a wife for his son Isaac (Genesis 24:1-4).
In the marriage of the Lamb, it is the Father who chooses the Bride for His Son. Christ made this point when He said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). Repeating this point, Jesus said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father” (verse 65).
Preparation of the Bride
When men and women marry, much time is often spent in preparation for the special event. As members of God’s Church look forward to marrying Christ, there is also much for us to do. A parable about the Kingdom of God provides an important lesson about being prepared.
In Matthew 25 we find a parable about 10 virgins preparing to meet the bridegroom. The text reads: “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
“Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (verses 1-13).
Those who have been called by God and who have God’s Holy Spirit are preparing and making themselves ready for marriage to the Lamb. This is done by praying and studying God’s Word daily and applying what we learn. These activities help us live godly lives and prepare us for assisting Jesus Christ as “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15) when He returns to this earth. These people will be growing in grace and knowledge so they can become like Him!
New Jerusalem: the Bride’s home
The book of Revelation seems to imply that New Jerusalem is the Bride of Christ. “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2, also see verses 9-10). Does Jesus marry a city or does He marry His Church?
The apostle Paul writes that the Church is the Bride of Christ, “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). God had previously inspired Isaiah the prophet to write of this marriage relationship between God and His chosen people (Isaiah 54:5-6). The Bible consistently says the Bride of Christ is the Church.
Let’s consider now Revelation 21:9-10: “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.”
We are told by the author of Hebrews, who many scholars believe was Paul, that the patriarchs looked for a city and that a heavenly city was being prepared for them (Hebrews 11:10, 16). He goes on to say that the Church is seeking the “heavenly Jerusalem” and “the city to come” (Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 13:14).
The scriptures noted above make it clear that the Bride is the Church and that the city of New Jerusalem is being prepared for the Bride of Christ. This will be the dwelling or home for His eternal Bride. Jesus is marrying forever the Church of eternal righteous beings and not the city of New Jerusalem.
When the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place
The Bible shows that God the Father is in control of end-time events. Speaking of His return to earth, Jesus said that only the Father knows “that day and hour” (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). When the Father determines that the time is right, Jesus Christ will then send His angels to gather “His elect”—the saints who will be His Bride (Matthew 24:31).
This group of faithful people will include those who are alive and those who have died in the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). They will be changed into spirit at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). It is this select group that will be the Bride of Christ and be at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
For additional study, see the articles in the sections on the “End Times.”