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.”
THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB
Marriage Supper of the Lamb – “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Marriage Supper of the Lamb – Revelation 19 v.9 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints). Then the angel said to me, “write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God”.
At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19 v.7-10)
The marriage supper of the Lamb is a subject greatly misunderstood, not because of erroneous teaching, but because it is almost neglected in preaching today. The main source of information concerning this coming event is found in Rev. 19 v.7-10, which falls into two main divisions: (1) the marriage of the Lamb, and (2) the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The marriage supper of the Lamb is after the Rapture and following the judgment seat of Christ, where the members of the church will be rewarded for their faithful service (See 1 Cor. 3 v.10-15; 2 Cor 5 v.10). A marriage will take place. The church, “the bride of Christ” and our Lord Jesus Christ will be officially married in heaven. While the earth is suffering through the last throes of the Tribulation, the church will enjoy a heavenly wedding. And then a feast!
The marriage supper of the Lamb was one of the themes on which the Lord Jesus loved to dwell. In many of His stories or parables, He spoke of marriage suppers. For instance, in the parable of the ten virgins, He told about the preparation for the coming of the bridegroom. In Matthew 22 v.1-14 He spoke of the parable of the marriage of the king’s son. At this festive occasion the king sent out servants to invite people to come to the blessed event.
Who is the Bridegroom – The question has but one answer. The Bridegroom can only be “the king’s son” of Matthew 22 v.1-14, the Lord Jesus Himself. In John 3 v.29, long after John the Baptist had introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1 v.29)
John was asked to identify himself. He made it clear that he was not the Christ; in John 3 v.29 he referred to Christ as “the bridegroom,” to himself as “the friend who attends the bridegroom [and who] waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.” Clearly Christ is here referred to as the Bridegroom as well at the Lamb. Thus, Christ is the Bridegroom at the marriage of the Lamb.
Who is the Bride – A verse of importance is found in Ephesians 5 v.32. The Apostle Paul, speaking to husbands and wives of their relationship together, likens the husband to Christ and the wife to the Church., He sums it up in v.32 by saying, “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church,” clearly indicating that the perfect picture of the relationship between the Lord Jesus and His Church is that of a bride and a bridegroom.
Therefore when a person accepts Jesus Christ, he or she becomes a member of the Church, the true invisible Church, and is automatically espoused or engaged to Christ. This engagement will be finalized at the marriage of the Lamb.
Where and When Will This Marriage Take Place – The marriage of the Lamb must take place in heaven, for in Rev. 19 v.11, after the marriage of the Lamb and the marriage supper of the Lamb, we find the Lord Jesus coming in what we call “the Glorious Appearing” to set up His kingdom. For this reason we must conclude that the marriage and the supper have occurred in heaven. Their location in Rev. 19 shows these events to have taken place at the end of the Tribulation, just before the millennial reign of Christ on the earth.
Ephesians 5 v.27 indicates the manner in which the Bride will be presented to Christ: “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” This condition will exist only after the judgment of Christ when believers have been completely cleansed and the Church is made whole.
For that reason we believe that the Judgment Seat of Christ, which will take place during the Tribulation, will precede the marriage supper of the Lamb, and immediately after the judgment of reward has been presented to the last believer, the marriage of the Lamb will take place. All Christians who have trusted in Christ during the age of grace, from the day of Pentecost to the Rapture of the Church, will make up His Bride.
How Does the Bride Make Herself Ready – We ought properly to take periodic inventories to see if we are truly serving Christ. In that Day all unfaithful Christians will rue their unfaithfulness, for it will not only keep them from the position with Christ they might desire, but will limit the extent to which they rule and reign with Christ during the millennial kingdom.
The attitude of the Apostle Paul should characterize every Christian: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22 v.10) That kind of attitude will provide such motivation in believers that they will not only receive a “full reward” but hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your Master’s happiness!” (Mat. 25 v.21)
The Identity of the Guests – Some invited to the wedding ceremony are guests and not the Bride. Obviously, a bride is never invited to a wedding supper, nor is a bridegroom. Those who are invited are the friends of the bride and groom. Who are these friends or guests? It cannot be the Church because the Church is the Bride.
John the Baptist, one of the last Old Testament saints, indicated that he was a friend of the Bridegroom. (John 3 v.29) These Old Testament saints will be in heaven and will have their rewards, but they are not the Church, not the Bride of the Christ. They are the friends of the Bride and Bridegroom, who at this point can be seen as the ones invited as guests to the feast.
So then all the believing dead from Adam until the resurrection of Christ will be guests at this feast. In addition to them will appear those who have received the Savior during the Tribulation, both Jew and Gentile, many of who will have been martyred for the testimony of Christ.
Not to imply that the Old Testament saints are inferior to the Church, or the body of Christ, but merely to point out that this is a special blessing for the Church. Now Israel, or the guests at the wedding supper of the Lamb, have promises and relationships to Him in which we shall not share; however, the marriage supper of the Lamb is an experience reserved for the Church.