Ephesians Teaching Series

This beautifully constructed letter can best be understood by paying attention to its amazing structure.

21. Eph 5:25-32 What does it mean that we are the Bride of Christ?

  • Paul says: This mystery is profound, and I speak with reference to Christ and the church.
  • By bringing in verses from throughout the Bible, we can shed some light on this amazing truth!

Play Audio:

Video cover image by Anna Vi Upsplash

Please open the page showing this passage by Clicking here,
or download the PDF handout of the page here.

  • Last week I spoke on wives and husbands from Ephesians 5
    • I focussed on what the passage says about human relationships
    • But I didn’t spend much time on the teaching in the passage about us being the Bride of Christ
  • This is such an important topic, I have decided to spend a whole sermon on it
  • We are going to look at this passage in Ephesians…

What does it mean that we are the Bride of Christ?

  1. What Eph 5:25–32 says about marriage to Christ
  2. The context of the whole Bible
  3. How we can respond

1. What Eph 5:25–32 says about marriage to Christ

Ephesians 5:25–32 – Bride of Christ

  1. Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας, Husbands, love your wives,
καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
  1. ἵνα αὐτὴν ἁγιάσῃ καθαρίσας τῷ λουτρῷ τοῦ ὕδατος ἐν ῥήματι, that he might make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water through the word,
  2. ἵνα παραστήσῃ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ ἔνδοξον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, μὴ ἔχουσαν σπίλον ἢ ῥυτίδα ἤ τι τῶν τοιούτων, that he might present to himself the church, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
ἀλλ’ ἵνα ἁγία καὶ ἄμωμος. that she might be holy and without blemish.
  1. οὐδεὶς γάρ ποτε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ σάρκα ἐμίσησεν, ἀλλὰ ἐκτρέφει καὶ θάλπει αὐτήν, For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it,
καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, just as Christ does the church,
  1. ὅτι μέλη ἐσμὲν τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ. because we are members of his body.
  2. ✽ἀντὶ τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος [τὸν] πατέρα καὶ [τὴν] μητέρα “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother
καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, and hold fast to his wife,
καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν.✽ and the two shall become one flesh.”
  1. τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν, This mystery is profound,
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω εἰς Χριστὸν καὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. and I speak with reference to Christ and the church.

Translation and structure by Andrew Fountain

  • v.26 Holy = dedicated and special
    Washing is probably not baptism, but the truth of God’s grace, the word, which flows over us, frees us, and
  • v.29 This only makes sense if we are actually his own body
  • v.30 The word members here means parts, like limbs are members
    (used to be used much more like that, but we still have phrases like dismember for removing limbs)
  • v.31 He quotes this because he wants to make a parallel
    In the marriage act, their bodies are united in a kind of way
    But there is something more than this with Jesus
  • We read in 4:15 we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
  • This is a level of unity that I think is currently beyond our comprehension
    • I honestly don’t think we will understand this until we get to heaven!
  • Let’s look at this passage in the context of the whole Bible!

2. The context of the whole Bible

The Bride in the Old Testament

Ezekiel 16

  1. Then I passed by you and watched you, noticing that you had reached the age for love. I spread my cloak over you and covered your nakedness. I swore a solemn oath to you and entered into a marriage covenant with you, declares the sovereign LORD, and you became mine.
  2. Then I bathed you in water, washed the blood off you, and anointed you with fragrant oil.
  3. I dressed you in embroidered clothing and put fine leather sandals on your feet. I wrapped you with fine linen and covered you with silk.
  4. I adorned you with jewelry. I put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck.
  5. I put a ring in your nose, earrings on your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head.
  6. You were adorned with gold and silver, while your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidery. You ate the finest flour, honey, and olive oil. You became extremely beautiful and attained the position of royalty.
  7. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty; your beauty was perfect because of the splendor which I bestowed on you, declares the sovereign LORD.
  8. But you trusted in your beauty and capitalized on your fame by becoming a prostitute. You offered your sexual favors to every man who passed by so that your beauty became his.
  9. You took some of your clothing and made for yourself decorated high places; you engaged in prostitution on them. You went to him to become his.

Psalm 45 (addressed to Jesus, and his bride)

  1. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever.
  2. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
  3. you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
  4. your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
  5. …at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
  6. Hear, O daughter, and consider …the king will desire your beauty.

Song of Solomon 2

  1. I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
  2. As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women.
  3. As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
  4. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
  5. Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love.
  6. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me!

Jeremiah 2

  1. “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

Jeremiah 3

  1. “Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your husband”

Isaiah 54

  1. For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
  2. For the LORD has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.

Isaiah 62

  1. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
  2. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you [the land], and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Ezekiel 16 is when God brought the nation out of Egypt and made a covenant with them
But now they are going after other gods

Psalm 45 One of the clearest references in the O.T. to God being more than one person

Song of S 2 A beautiful love song that alternates between female & male speakers

Isaiah 62 Such a beautiful culmination

  • But what is going on here? How can the eternal, omnipotent Jesus want to marry humans.
    • It seems very imbalanced
  • But I think in the end we have to agree that one of the main reasons that humanity was created was to provide a bride for Christ.
  • You probably have the same reaction as me: “Why would Jesus want to join himself for eternity to me?”
  • Yet when we look at the life of Jesus, we see something different:

The Bride in the Life of Jesus

John 3

  1. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
  2. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

John 14

  1. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
  2. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
  3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

John 15

  1. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
  2. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Luke 22

  1. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

Hebrews 12

  1. [Jesus] ...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…

John 15 Friends is a special word in Greek that means people you both love and enjoy their love back to you.
Jesus uses this same word for the love between himself and his father
It is quite amazing that we should be called that!

Luke 22 “passionate desire” – the same word as “lust” but without any negative connotation.

The Future Wedding

2 Corinthians 11

  1. I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
  2. For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
  3. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
  4. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

Revelation 19

  1. Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
  2. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
  3. it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
  4. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Revelation 21

  1. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
  2. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
  3. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
  4. Then came one of the seven angels… came and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
  5. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
  6. having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

2 Corinthians 11 We have had some very sad church failures in recent years
”That is terrible, what shame brought on Christianity, and all those people betrayed and hurt.”
But look at Paul’s response – he is seeing it as Christ’s loss of this beautiful pure bride

3. How we can respond

Be Hungry for More

  • God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Heb 11:6)
  • Be hungry for him, ask for more!
  • Let no-one condemn you—Jesus has made you pure!
  • There is no substitute for spending time with your beloved
  • Lift up your eyes with hope for a glorious eternity
  • Don’t just come to him with prayer lists, but enjoy him, “waste time with Jesus” like you would with a lover
  • He wants you to have more!
  • Yet Satan will attack us at this very point by pointing out our worst sins
    • How can you expect Jesus to want to be with you!
    • He is disgusted by you!
  • No, he sees the new you, who is perfect.
  • Back nearly 200 years ago in Toronto, a little boy called William Featherston came to know Jesus as his saviour. (1848–1875)
    • He was between 12 and 16 and he was so in love with Jesus that he wrote a poem to him
    • mailed it to his aunt in Los Angeles, (and the original still exists )

My Jesus I love Thee

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
for thee all the follies of sin I resign;
my gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me
and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

  • He died at 27 sadly, but in a way not sadly because now he can sing:


I’ll love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
and praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath,
and say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

Philippians 1

  1. My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die.
  2. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.
  3. Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer:
  4. I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far,
  5. but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body.
Last updated on 29 Oct 2023
Published on 29 Oct 2023