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What is the Bride of Christ?

Christ with the church, as the bride of Christ, is a mystery, and the apostle Paul said that this mystery is great (Eph. 5:32). Adam and Eve as the most excellent picture in the entire Bible typify this great mystery. The Bible not only begins with this picture of a husband and wife but also consummates with the New Jerusalem prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2).

After God created Adam, Adam named all the animals, but none of them matched him as his counterpart with his life and nature (Gen. 2:20). God then put Adam to sleep and took a rib out of his side to build the woman Eve (v. 21). God used only what came out of Adam to make Eve. When Adam first saw Eve he said, “This time this is bone of my bones” (v. 23), recognizing her as part of himself, even his increase.

Christ will gain a pure bride who is one with Him.

As Eve was built physically from the rib out of Adam’s side, the bride of Christ is formed spiritually by the blood and water that came out of Christ’s side on the cross (John 19:34) and is His increase (3:29-30). The Lord’s precious blood cleanses us of our sins, redeeming us to become part of the church, His bride. The water out of His side refers to the flowing life of God (Exo. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:4; John 7:38-39; Rev. 21:6; 22:1, 17). This water of life cleanses us from our natural life and saturates us with His life, making us Christ’s spotless bride (Eph. 5:26-27).

Today many things in the church are not purely from Christ and therefore cannot be part of the beautified bride presented to Him. Ephesians 5:25-27 say that Christ gave Himself up for the church “that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she would be holy and without blemish.” This washing water is the cleansing by the life-giving Spirit through His instant speaking to us from the Word of God.

Christ gains His bride by redeeming us through His blood and by beautifying us through His ongoing salvation in His divine life, indicated by the water. Every day we need to be washed not only in His blood but also in the water of His word to be sanctified until we are holy and without blemish. Then we can be presented to Christ as a glorious bride. Romans 5:10 corresponds to these two aspects of the bride’s preparation, saying, “For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled.” Through this preparation process, one day the bride will be ready (Rev. 19:7), so the angel eagerly said to John, “Come here; I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (21:9).

The entire Bible is a romance between God and man. Christ will gain a pure bride who is one with Him as John declares in Revelation, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come” (22:17). May we love our bridegroom Christ supremely and be daily washed in the water of His word to be prepared as His glorious bride, matching Him in His life and nature.

For further reading on this subject, please see The Glorious Church, by Watchman Nee and Life-study of Romans, message 1, by Witness Lee, both published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 46, February 2002

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