All Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
The Bride of Christ – A Picture of Corporate Election
The fact that we, as the Church, are identified as the “Bride” of Christ, shows that God chose us corporately. The Father chose a Bride for His Son, not Brides. I regard this as one of the strongest arguments for Corporate Election. Along with Romans 11:11-24, I think it’s the most perfect picture that we have of Corporate Election in the Bible. Calvinist individualistic election is completely out of harmony with this picture. If election were individual, we would necessarily see the term “Brides,” not “Bride.” Individually, we would be Brides of Christ. But then, that would be a picture of polygamy, not of a pure and unique Bride set apart for God’s Son. God chose the Bride, which is the Church. We are elect as individuals only as we are in the Elect Church — the Elect Bride.
Furthermore, as in any other marital relationship, there needs to be two willing parties, two willing hearts. I’m not talking about a one-sided arrangement here, where one is willing and the other is “irresistibly” willed, as we see in Calvinism. The Calvinist version is not an accurate picture of a true marital union. The Arminian understanding of the Christ-Bride relationship is in perfect harmony with a true marriage of two like-hearted, like-minded people.
The husband/wife relationship between God and His people can be seen in the Old Testament:
Isaiah 62:5 – For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Isaiah 49:18 – Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith Jehovah, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all as with an ornament, and gird thyself with them, like a bride.
Isaiah 61:10-11 – 10 I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth bringeth forth its bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord Jehovah will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
Jeremiah 2:32 – Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Isaiah 54:5-6 – 5 For thy Maker is thy husband; Jehovah of hosts is his name: and the Holy One of Israel is thy Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall he be called. 6 For Jehovah hath called thee as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off, saith thy God.
Jeremiah 3:1,20 – 1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, will he return unto her again? will not that land be greatly polluted? But thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith Jehovah.…..Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith Jehovah.
Jeremiah 31:31–33 – 31 Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ezekiel 16:30-32 30 How weak is thy heart, saith the Lord Jehovah, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an impudent harlot; 31 in that thou buildest thy vaulted place at the head of every way, and makest thy lofty place in every street, and hast not been as a harlot, in that thou scornest hire. 32 A wife that committeth adultery! that taketh strangers instead of her husband!
New Testament References:
Mark 2:18-20 – 18 And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting: and they come and say unto him, Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? 19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the sons of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then will they fast in that day.
John 3:28-29 – 28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is made full.
2 Corinthians 11:2 – For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Ephesians 5:22-32 – 22 Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church; 30 because we are members of his body. 31 3For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great: but I speak in regard of Christ and of the church.
Revelation 19:27-8 – 7 Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Revelation 21:2 – And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Revelation 21:9 – And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
Corporate Election has its roots in the Old Testament. This is seen in the nation of Israel, as the chosen people of God, and in the New Testament as the chosen people of God in Christ. The OT always had Christ and the Church in view. The nation of Israel became a spiritual nation in Christ.
The nation of Israel was a type and shadow of the spiritual nation they were to become in Christ and the Church. Likewise, the husband-wife relationship (as depicted) between God and Israel was a type and shadow of the relationship God would have with His people in Christ — as the Elect Bride. The types and shadows of the corporate people of God of the Old Testament, must cast the same shadow in the New Testament in Christ. The corporate nation and the corporate husband-wife relationship of the OT clearly carries over into the NT. Indeed, it must in order to be consistent.
To insert individual election into the discussion, is out of harmony with the shadow that is cast by the Old Testament. It throws everything completely off. We have to be honest with the pictures that are presented, and not allow one’s position on the doctrine of election to hinder us from seeing the actual shadows that those types cast.
Therefore, is it reasonable to view the elect nation of Israel as a type of Christ and the Church, but still view election as individualistic? Most certainly not. Is it reasonable to view the elect husband/wife relationship of the OT as a type of relationship He would have with His people in the NT in Christ, but still view election as individualistic? Certainly not. It makes no sense. To view election as individualistic under the New Covenant, is to cling to a biased position against the pictures that are presented to us.
In this study, I’ve focused on the types and shadows that are presented by the Old Testament, and if one interprets the OT according to the NT — as we should — one can see that the OT plainly teaches the corporate election of God’s people, which has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and the Church. For further study, click on the links below:
Original Article: The Arminian Files