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A Matter of Faith (01/13/2008)
From: Jamie Smith

Virgin, Bride, Wife, Body, Church, New Israel?

What figure(s) does Scripture use to describe today's believers, often called the church? I'll introduce the scriptural term "ecclesia" instead of church. Could the ecclesia (church) be a betrothed virgin? If so, in what way?

2Cor 11:2-3: "for I am jealous over you with a jealousy of God. For I betroth you to one Man, to present a chaste virgin to Christ. Yet I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deludes Eve by its craftiness, your apprehensions should be corrupted from the singleness and pureness which is in Christ."

Here God compares the ecclesia to a betrothed virgin. In what way is the ecclesia like the figure? It is the quality of "singleness and pureness" God is declaring, not a relationship of marriage. Paul never uses the term bride. The figure of a virgin must be kept within proper bounds.

Well, if the ecclesia is not like a betrothed virgin in a relationship sense, but rather in a motivational sense (singleness and pureness), then what about the ecclesia as a wife?

Eph 5:25: "Husbands, be loving your wives according as Christ also loves the ecclesia, and gives Himself up for its sake,"

If the present ecclesia were the bride of the lamb, this would be a perfect place for Paul to state it "...as Christ loves the the ecclesia, His bride." Instead Paul writes:

Eph 5:28-29:"Thus, the husbands also ought to be loving their own wives as their own bodies. He who is loving his own wife is loving himself. For no one at any time hates his own flesh, but is nurturing and cherishing it, according as Christ also the ecclesia,"

Why say a husband is to love his wife as his own body? Why love his wife as himself? Why say the ecclesia are members of Christ's body?

The basis for the answer can only be that the ecclesia is not figured by a bride or wife but that marriage, making two one flesh, has a resemblance to the fiqure of the one body of Christ. Therefore, the one body, not the bride or wife, is the basis of this exhortation.

This is a much closer union than marriage. No sane person hates his own flesh. Can we say that no one ever hated his wife? Even God temporarily divorced His wife. The intensity of Christ's love for the ecclesia is far beyond that figured by betrothal, bride or wife. There is a closeness unsurpassed, a relationship with no divorce. When thinking Christ will lose some of His ecclesia (church), think of Him severing His hand.

Let's lose aspiration to be Christ's bride and seek the Scriptural teaching that today's believers are truly part of one body of Christ with and unbreakable bond.

Now, who is the bride? Who is new Israel? Maybe time will allow a discussion later.



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