The bride is the New Testament Church and the Bridegroom is Jesus Christ the Son of God. The terms ‘wedding’ and ‘marriage’ are synonymous from the Greek gamos which means the actual and permanent joining together of husband wife.
According to Jewish tradition the marriage between the bridegroom and bride occurred in several stages.
The initial step was the choosing of the bride. The bride was typically selected by the Bridegroom’s father with little input from the prospective bride. A price was then paid for the bride. This first step is the betrothal.
After the betrothal but before the marriage ceremony, the bridegroom would return to His Father’s house to prepare a place for the couple to live.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3
The Apostle Paul taught that the relationship between God’s Son and the Church was a mystery revealed in the present age.
“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32
A mystery in the Bible is the unveiling of a previously hidden truth to be revealed at the precise timing on God’s time span.
Inasmuch as Christ’s bride, i.e. the church represents the elect during the present age, and the elect were chosen and written in the Book of Life at the foundation of the world, it can be concluded that the betrothal was also accomplished at the foundation of the world.
Another aspect of the mystery revealed by Paul was the price paid for the bride.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves…to Shepard the church of the Lord and God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28
Paul also considered that part of his calling was to prepare the bride for her husband. He refers to himself as a father figure to the church at Corinth.
“…For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2
The next step in the marriage covenant is for the bridegroom to return for His bride. Most Bible students are in agreement that the return of Christ for His bride is illustrated in the following:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout…And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
The exact timing for this event is unknown, however, its’ sequence in the chain of pre-written future events is well known. The ‘rapture’ according to Scripture occurs prior to the tribulation period.
During the tribulation period, the bride and Bridegroom will be at the center of marriage festivities which will be concluded with the marriage supper.
“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…Then he said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” Revelation 19:7, 9
The marriage clearly takes place after the varied activities described in the final book in the Bible, i.e. The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Thus, the bride has definitely ‘made herself ready’ for the marriage. It should be noted, however, that the bride’s readiness has little to do with her personal efforts but rather her readiness must be attributed to the actions of the Bridegroom.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church…holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27
Therefore, the plan of God for the New Testament church is right on schedule confirming Jesus’ teaching.
“…and on this rock (Petra, immovable boulder) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18