Israel is God’s Bride, Not the Church

Posted on April 8, 2021

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By David Ettinger

A Controversial Headline
Well, there’s a headline for which some people would like to stone me. Among those are adherents of “Replacement Theology” which teaches that the Church has replaced Israel in the plan and program of God. To them, though there is a nation which calls itself “Israel,” it is totally separate from the Israel of the Bible; therefore Israel can’t be the bride.

Read my blog, “Replacement Theology Mumbo-Jumbo”

Others who would want to stone me include the Antisemitic element which has always been a cancer within Christendom, an element which just won’t die. They wouldn’t take kindly to this headline.

Then there are believers who rightly believe God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled to Israel, but have wrongly been taught that the Church is the bride. They wouldn’t want to stone me, but do require an explanation, which I’ll give them.

Two Other Candidates
Besides Israel, there are two other “candidates” for the “bride of God” or “bride of Christ.”

The most popular one, of course, is the Church. The New Testament, however, doesn’t teach this. The notion comes from Ephesians 5:22-29 in which the apostle Paul implores Christian husbands to treat their wives lovingly and selflessly.

To drive home his point, Paul compares the love a husband should have for his wife with the love Christ has for the Church: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).

This verse doesn’t say that the Church IS the bride of Christ; it is simply using Christ’s love for the Church as an example of how husbands should love their wives. This is clearly the context. Besides this passage, there is no other effective passage saying the Church is Christ’s bride.

The other candidate, which is more feasible but equally incorrect, is the New Jerusalem. In Revelation 21, we read (emphasis added):

  • “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (v. 2).
  • “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (vv. 9-10).

This second passage does seem to indicate that the bride of Christ IS the New Jerusalem, but notice that verse 2 uses the phrase, “prepared AS a bride” (emphasis added). We see here the New Jerusalem being used comparatively as a bride, not as the actual bride.

The Correct Candidate
This leaves us with the third – and correct – candidate for the bride, or wife, of God, that is Israel. Some verses:

  • “‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I am your husband’” (Jeremiah 3:14).
  • “For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5).
  • “I [God] will betroth you [Israel] to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20).
  • “‘It [the New Covenant with Israel] will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them [ancient Israel],’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:32).

Throughout the Old Testament we see Israel as married or betrothed to God, as most of the above verses indicate. Though ancient Israel went astray, God never turned His back on her. God will redeem a remnant of Israel (Romans Chapter 11) and will again be a husband to her, as the Hosea passage shows.

This is far from a full study of the topic as I always keep my blogs short – “bite-size,” one may say. But I have made my claims and provided supporting verses – some food for thought should you wish to study this topic in greater depth.