The Marriage of the Lamb (Ephesians 1v22, 5v22-33, Revelation 19v1-10)
There are two key passages of scripture dealing with the Marriage of the Lamb, Ephesians 5v22-33 and Revelation 19v1-10. In terms of the sequence of events, the marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven (this is clear from Revelation 19), it takes place after the Lord has returned to receive us to Himself (John 14v2) and after the Judgement Seat of Christ (His wife hath made herself ready, Revelation 19v7).
The reference to the Marriage of the Lamb in Ephesians 5 is in verse 27, ‘that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing’.
We consider these two passages in turn.
There are seven matters dealt with by Paul in Ephesians 5v22-33 relating to the relationship of Christ and the church
- Christ’s headship of the church (verse 23)
Christ’s headship of the church is a parallel for the headship of the husband over his wife. In turn, the wife is to be subject to her husband even as the church is to Christ.
It is always timely to note that the church has no earthly head – Christ has nowhere delegated this to a man. This implies that the church takes direction from Christ alone – this is why the scriptures are our sole authority and guide.
- Christ’s salvation of the church (verse 23)
Christ is the Saviour of the body. The salvation of every member of the His mystical body is the result of His cross-work. The text involves more – the salvation, indeed the preservation of the body of Christ is the result of His own work. Subsequent verses develop this truth.
- Christ’s love for the church (verse 25) – the past
Christ gave His all for the church – He gave Himself. This statement expresses the supreme love of Christ for His church, He loved the church and voluntarily gave Himself. His death was an act of selfless sacrifice of love. This is the challenge now to husbands, who are now to so love their own wives.
- Christ’s present ministry for the church (verse 26) – the present
His love is not in the past alone. He continues to love the church, evidenced by His present ministry towards the His church. He works to ‘sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word’. Though in a defiled world, Christ through the application of His word sets the church apart and cleanses it of defilement. Though this may be carried out through human agency, it is seen here to be a present demonstration of the love of Christ.
- Christ’s presentation of the church (verse 27) – the future
This present ministry has in view a future event, the marriage of the Lamb. At this event Christ will present the church to Himself. What kind of church will this be? Paul is emphatic, it will be ‘a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’
The church will be glorious – it will, as it were, be arrayed in glory. Conformed to His image, the church collectively will be arrayed with the glory of Christ. She will declare His excellence.
Negatively, the church will not have spot nor wrinkle- a spot is the mark of a blemish, a wrinkle is the sign of decay. In this day both will be absent – unspotted morally and spiritually, with no sign of inward decay or corruption.
The church will be holy and without blemish – suited to God’s own nature, perfected with no flaw.
Though the church is not perfect practically in the present in testimony, this passage shows that Christ’s design for the church will be realised.
- Christ’s care for the church (verse 28-29)
Paul applies the present ministry of Christ towards the church to husbands in their love for their wives. In effect, for the husband to love himself means he is to love his wife. Christ’s care for the church is expressed in the words, but nourisheth and cherisheth it. Our Lord is engaged in feeding His church and caring for it; a husband must so provide for his wife.
- Christ’s union with the church (verse 30-32)
Believers of this era are in union with Christ, we are members of His body. This principle is drawn from the first marriage in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2v23-24). It is the principle for marriage for all time. It has though a deeper significance; ‘this mystery is great: but I speak of Christ and the church’. In Ephesians 1v22, the church is described as the fulness of Him that filleth all in all’. The idea in the fulness’ is that the church makes Christ complete, the church is His complement, in the same way that Eve was the complement of Adam. It is God’s intention that His Son will not be alone, but when He enters His glorious kingdom, He will have His church with Him.
The joyous marriage of the Lamb is set against the judgement of the great whore – Babylon the Great. Note the repetition of the statement l heard’ (verses 1, 6). In verses 1-4, we have the heaven’s response to the judgement of the great whore, in verses 5-8 the marriage of the Lamb.
We note briefly some details:
- The ascription of praise – ‘Alleluia’ (verse 1)
- The execution of judgment – ‘Alleluia’ (verse 2, 3)
- The worship of God – ‘Alleluia’ (verse 4)
- The call to praise – (verse 5)
- The united praise of the Lord God- ‘Alleluia’ (verse 6)
- The joy at the marriage of the Lamb (verse 7)
- The attire of the Lamb’s wife (verse 8)
We note four details regarding the marriage in verse 7 and 8.
- The designation of the event- ‘marriage of the Lamb’ – it is His day!
- The designation of Christ – the Lamb’ – His wife is the fruit of His sacrifice as the Lamb.
- The identity of ‘His wife’- the church of this age (the clear teaching from Ephesians 1v22, 5v22-33
- The attire of His wife – the fine linen are the righteous acts of the saints – what His people did during the period of His rejection.