Christ is the Bridegroom; therefore, Jesus is Yahweh

Lamb JesusA Profound Mystery

In Ephesians 5:25-33, Paul the apostle teaches that the union between Adam and Eve, and men and their wives in general, analogically mirrors the union of Christ and his church. The implications of Paul’s paralleling of the marital union and the Christian’s union with Christ are indeed profound, for the Hebrew word for “holding fast” (i.e. union) that is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 is repeated in several places in the Old Testament when describing the unique relationship of love and service Israel was to have to Yahweh alone. A few verses using the same Hebrew word (דָּבַק, dä·vak’) are demonstrative of this phenomenon.

You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.[1]

…if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you.[2]

You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.[3]

…choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.[4]

…be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of theLord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.[5]

By paralleling the marital union of a man and a woman to the church’s union with Christ, Paul is tying together the marriage union, the union of Israel and Yahweh, and Christ and the Church. He is, in other words, identifying Christ as bridegroom of the Church, even as Yahweh identified himself as the bridegroom of Israel,[6] thereby identifying Jesus Christ as the unique object of service, devotion, love, worship, and obedience of all of the elect constituting the church universal.

Hence, Paul speaks of the profound mystery involved in saying that Adam and Eve prefigure Christ and the church. Mystics have often misused this text in Ephesians to legitimize their heretical notions of ontological union with God (i.e. divinization). Their misreading of the text becomes plain to see when the relationship between Adam and Eve – which is one of cleaving or clinging orholding fast to one another only – is shown to have echoes in the Old Testament in God’s dealing with his people Israel. It is also made clear by the word mystery as it stands in direct relation to the two becoming one flesh. Yahweh commanded his people to cling to him alone, even as Eve was tocling to Adam alone. However, God and Israel would not become one flesh. Rather, God becameone flesh with his people when he “became flesh.”[7] As the Holy Spirit teaches in Hebrews 2:14-15:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Paul identifies this as the great mystery (μέγας, μυστήριον) of God being manifest “in the flesh” in 1st Timothy 3:16, using the same Greek terms in 1st Timothy as he uses in Ephesians 5:32.[8]

The profound mystery of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 5, then, is the incarnation of Yahweh, to whom his people are to cling, and who not only shares in our flesh but will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”[9] As John states in his first epistle:

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.[10]

Adam and Eve’s clinging to one another is an analogy of how Israel was to cling to Yahweh, and their becoming one flesh is a foreshadowing of the incarnation of our Lord, as well as the redemption and transformation of our bodies.

Christ is God

Thus, the Bridegroom metaphor that Christ uses of himself is a direct self-identification as Yahweh the Bridegroom of Israel. The Church’s monogamous relationship to Christ, as it were, only further serves to solidify this interpretation, as the relationship is one of clinging/absolute fidelity of worship, adoration, allegiance, praise, and so forth. Paul’s identification of Christ as the Last Adam, the Great Bridegroom to whom the Church will be presented at the eschaton, additionally, is an explicit identification of Christ Jesus as Yahweh having partaken of human flesh and, as the firstfruits of the resurrection, calling his elect to believe, be redeemed, and be raised to life eternal with an incorruptible body of flesh and bones that shares in his resurrected human body’s attributes.

Soli. Deo. Gloria.


[1] Deut 10:20.

[2] Deut 11:22-23.

[3] Deut 13:4.

[4] Deut 30:19b-20.

[5] Jos 22:5.

[6] This is done implicitly in the verses mentioned above which command Israel to cling to Yahweh. However, it is also stated explicitly throughout the Old Testament (e.g. Jeremiah 3:1-18; Ezekiel 16; Hosea 2; 3:1-5).

[7] See John 1:14.

[8] viz., μέγα and μυστήριον.

[9] Phil 3:21.

[10] 1st John 3:2.


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