21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
~ Rev 21:1-4
In Part 1, I challenged the view of a false prophetess, the idea that there are only 2 women used as symbols in the Book of Revelation, and I covered the symbol of Jezebel, which is in the second chapter of the book. In Part 2, I showed that in most cases in the OT, a woman symbolized either a city or a nation. In both cases, culture, which includes customs, mores and religious rites, is the common thread. In Part 3, I emphasized the cultural aspect and pointed out that the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 is the city of Babylon, from which most of the worlds customs and religions originate. I also emphasized that the Vatican is not so much a church as it is a ruling city over an internationally recognized government! If you have not read these, please do so, else the rest may not make sense.
All in all, we need to allow the Bible to interpret the Bible and keep the context of prophetic symbols in mind at all times. We are told that the Great Harlot is the “city” of “Babylon”, so who are we to argue?
There is another city pictured at the end of the book, however! It is the counter to the Great Whore, and this is the city in which the Great Harlot counterfeits. Remember, Satan is not as original as he likes to think he is. For almost any given aspect of God’s plan, Satan has at least one, and usually several, counterfeits.
Notice that the New Jerusalem is “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”! Therefore, we should immediately realize that this is the reverse of a symbol! The symbol would be the bride, the woman, and the antitype the New Jerusalem. Here, then, we are being told what the symbol of the “bride” is! So, the question should now be, “Bride of whom?”
9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
~ Rev 22:16-17
We are explicitly told that the New Jeruslam is “the Lamb’s wife“, so again, who are we to argue? We see the bride and the Lamb speaking in Revelation 22, but not God the Father (although His presence is there, and perhaps the reference to “the Spirit” is His way of speaking), so it is obvious that the Lamb and the bride are working in unison.
The New Jerusalem is Jesus’ bride!
But, But, What of the Church?
This will likely blow some people’s minds, but it should not. It has always been in the Bible, after all. The natural question that should be on your mind right now is, “OK, but what of Christ and the Church?”
2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you [the Church] to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin [Remember that phrase! You’ll see it again!] to Christ.
~ 2Co 11:2
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
~ Ep 5:22-32
So, I guess my answer to the question, “What of Christ and the Church?” would be “What of it?” Obviously, both of these, the bride being New Jerusalem and the bride being the Church, must be true somehow, or else Scripture is contradicting itself. Maybe because that is really the wrong question to begin with!
Maybe the question should be: “What is a bride?”
No Longer a Virgin
Remember the part of one passage I said to remember? What is a virgin? Is a virgin still a virgin after she is married?
We need to remember that we are now in the engagement period of Christ and the Church. To be more precise, we are “betrothed”.
to promise “by one’s truth.” Men and women were betrothed when they were engaged to be married. This usually took place a year or more before marriage….
~ Easton Bible Dictionary, as quoted on Dictionary.com
Betrothal in biblical times was a very serious matter. Remember how Joseph was contemplating “putting away”, that is, divorcing, Mary when he found out she was pregnant? They were not even married yet! That is why he wanted to put her away, because as far as he had known up until that point, she was a virgin.
After Jesus was born, Mary had other sons and daughters (Catholic twisting of Scripture notwithstanding). Therefore, she did not remain a virgin, did she?
What of Ruth? She was a Moabite woman. Yet, she gave up her land, her culture and whatever friends and relatives she had to move to Israel. She became a Jew! Once she immigrated to Israel and married Boaz, she was no longer a Moabite!
Change happens. God is a God of change, in fact. He does not sit still. He guides His creation in various ways even today. Jesus made that clear when He stated “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (Jn 5:17).
However, Revelation 21 & 22 make it sound like Jesus and the New Jerusalem were just married. Again, “bride” in English is a good translation but not exact. A bride is a nymphē, Strong’s G3565. While it certainly can be a betrothed woman or one that was just married, it can also mean a “young wife”!
5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.
~ Dt 24:5
So, a woman is a “bride” for at least one year! If a thousand years is as a day to God, then after the Millennium, the bride has only been married for one day in God’s time!
Jerusalem, the Capital City
Remember, a woman represents either a city or a nation. Since we are talking about the New Jerusalem, it should be obvious that we are talking about a city. Whenever a city is spoken of, it is always to my knowledge the capital city, such as Jerusalem, Samaria, Babylon, etc.
So what is the relationship between the Church and New Jerusalem? They are the same!
In Part 3, I spoke of how when Israel came out of Egypt, God gave them a new culture with the exceptions of a new language and a human king. Right now, the Church is called out, and in fact that is what ekklesia, the word we translate into “church”, means! We are not yet given a new language. Our king is in Heaven, but He will soon enough be on earth. We are developing the ability to follow God’s culture now. We will administer that culture in the future.
29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
~ Lk 22:29-30
Where will the apostles sit and judge? New Jerusalem! OK, maybe not at first but eventually!
The point is that a virgin does not have any power, even if betrothed to a king. After the marriage ceremony, however, she is now queen and can wield great power. The Church has no power in this age, but the Church will marry and rule with Christ. It will no longer be the Church! There will be nothing to be “called out” of any longer because Christ will rule!
Is There a Fifth Woman?
Some may have noticed I skipped over yet another woman. Is she different? The answer is, “No, she is the Church because the Marriage Supper of the Lamb has not yet taken place.” IOW, she is not a different woman but a different instance of the same woman: The Bride!
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
~ Rev 19:7
The fact that the marriage “is come” means the wedding is about to take place! She is the Church, but she will eventually become known as the New Jerusalem.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
~ v 8
The saints, of course, are the called out ones (you don’t have to die and have miracles performed to be a saint). The Church wears her righteousness on the day of the wedding. Nakedness in the Bible is a symbol of shame. Wearing the wrong clothing is a symbol of disrespect (think Mt 22:12-13). We show respect towards ourselves and our Savior by being righteous.
Rather than there being a fifth woman, the bride of Revelation 19 becomes the New Jerusalem through marriage and being given the power and authority associated with that marriage.
But! There is one woman left, and she is the most controversial (perhaps).