The Woman and the Manchild:
Key to Understanding the Church Age
Who Is the Bride?
An obvious question behind this discussion of the Woman and the Manchild is, how does this picture relate to our understanding of the Bride of Christ?
Much misunderstanding pertaining to the Bride exists. That misunderstanding is based in the assumption that the entire church at large is the Bride of Christ. This perception, though inaccurate, is based in Paul’s word to the Ephesians that encourages men to love their wives as Christ loved the church:
Eph. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
So obviously, if in the natural Paul is talking about wives, then in the spiritual he must be saying the whole church is Christ’s bride. That is certainly what his comparison appears to say. And indeed, if this were the only and complete identification of all the Lord’s people relative to Himself, it would be the right and only conclusion.
However, further examination from other books and the teachings of the Lord Himself show us that Paul’s comparison of Christ’s love for the entire believing church with the love of men for their wives cannot be taken to mean that the entire church constitutes Christ’s Bride. Paul, who admits he is speaking of a mystery that is greater than what he can put into only these few words, is and can only be speaking of Christ’s general love for His people, but not of His most intimate Bridal love.
How do we know this is so? We know that the Bride of Christ ultimately constitutes a limited portion of all the Lord’s people because both the Lord’s own teachings and those of the Book of Revelation inform us that the Lord’s people comprise many different players other than His Bride.
For example, in the parable of the wise virgins (Mt. 25), the foolish virgins are shut out of the wedding, even though as virgins they are believers, thus part of the church. Whoever the foolish virgins are therefore, they cannot be part of the Bride of Christ. A bride is not shut out of her own wedding.
The same thing applies to the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. This parable is about the numerous people who are invited to the wedding feast that the heavenly Father prepares for His Son. These people are all believers who have garments fit for the wedding. But they cannot be the Bride because a Bride does not receive invitation to her own wedding supper. Rather she sends out the invitations.
This is reinforced in Revelation 22 where the Bride and the Spirit issue the invitation to many to come to Her wedding. Whoever she is inviting is obviously not part of who she is. Yet whoever receives this invitation to faith would, as a believer in the Lamb, be part of His church and His body.
In Revelation 21, the Bride of Christ is specifically identified for us as the city New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. So whoever is part of that city must be part of the Bride of Christ. At the same time however, it is made clear that only those described as “overcomers” have inheritance in the city itself (21:7). It is also clear that other believers have right of access to that city, though they may not live there. These are the same believers who are invited by the Bride and the Spirit to come into her city to enjoy the water of life (22:17).
Thus it is that not all believers live in the city nor therefore constitute part of the Bride. Meanwhile, in the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus is very clear that not all in His churches are overcomers. Yet they are part of the church for whom Christ gave himself in Ephesians 5.
By all this we understand that Paul’s comparison of Christ’s love for the whole church is only a generalized statement not meant to explain all the intricacies of the greater mystery, and that, Paul’s comparison notwithstanding, not all in the church are overcomers, not all believers live in the New Jerusalem, and therefore not all the church belongs to the Bride of Christ.
The most satisfying resolution to this apparent inconsistency between Paul’s generalized application of “wifeship” to the entire church and all the other scriptures delimiting the “bride” to a portion of the church is ultimately to be found by prophetically applying the Hebrew perspective of engagement and marriage to the two elements. In the Hebrew perspective, a couple is considered married (“man and wife”) once they are engaged, not when they are wed.
In II Cor. 11:2, Paul identifies the entire church as now being “engaged” to the Lord even though in Ephesians he has described the church as Christ’s “wife.” This is in perfect keeping with the Hebrew perspective though it seems a contradiction for the Western mind. But it is not. Identifying the church as an engaged body only, Paul says he is laboring to eventually present the church as a pure virgin to the Lord. That presentation will occur at the wedding of the bride. But it will be a presentation otherwise for which not all will qualify. Nevertheless, the whole church now is still legally the Lord’s wife.So then, although the whole church is now legally the Lord’s wife by engagement, at the wedding only those of the engagement who have obtained the full necessary purification of spiritual virginity will be able to be presented to Him as his bride. For an excellent thorough teaching on this mystery, please see Brother Earls’ article The Voice of the Bridegroom.
Applied to the Woman and the Manchild
Naturally, the assumption that all the church is the Bride of Christ is applied to this picture of the Woman and the Manchild to conclude that the Woman is somehow the Bride. We would assume this to be so because the Woman is feminine while the Manchild is obviously masculine.
But that conclusion is met point blank by the difficulty that if all the church is the Bride of Christ, then there can be no differentiation between a Woman and a Manchild in the first place. If one is the Bride, the other can’t be. So the basis for concluding the Woman must be the Bride is undone by its own premise. It is only half-thought-through.
Additional questions arise. If the Woman is the Bride, then why is she the one left in the wilderness while the Manchild is caught up to heaven? Revelation 21 associates the Bridal city with heaven, not with the wilderness. The last we ever hear about the Woman is in the wilderness.
And if the Woman is the Bride, then just who is the Manchild anyway?
A deeper prophetic look into this will help us understand that in reality, it is the Manchild who much better fulfils the role of the Bride, even though that might seem counter-intuitive from a gender perspective. Nevertheless, we are able to know this is so because of what God says regarding the overcomers who actually inherit and therefore comprise the bridal city:
Rev. 21:7 "He who overcomes will inherit these things [ie, the bridal city], and I will be his God and he will be My son.
Here, in describing the Lamb’s wife, God is identifying those who comprise His wife as His sons. And sons of course are masculine, not feminine. Therefore, despite the seeming gender inconsistency, it is quite fitting to see the Manchild, being a “son” of God, as equating to the Bride, the New Jerusalem, which is actually comprised as a “body of sons” according to this verse. The Woman meanwhile remains in the place of earthly wilderness, lining up with the other portrayals of those outside of the Bride who are either foolish virgins, those who live outside the City but have access to it, and/or those who are otherwise invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Resolving the Gender Confusion between Brideship and Sonship
As noted, the idea that the Manchild and those otherwise identified in general as sons can also be the Bride seems naturally confusing and counter-intuitive. But we must remember we are not talking about natural gender, but spiritual gender. When speaking of masculine and feminine spirituality, we are speaking of spiritual attributes as found in God.
God is bringing His spiritual gender attributes toward perfection in all of us. He is fully “X” and fully “Y,” just as is found in the original man. The separating of woman out from man at the beginning became a platform for demonstrating in nature how God brings to spiritual perfection His totality in a people through a process of “marriage” within us and between us over our bearing of one set of attributes or the other out of balance at any given time or context. This was our original thesis in The Mystery of Spiritual Gender.
But as perfection is reached, any and all spiritual gender attributes become so well blended in us as a people so as to be interchangeably identified without really being either. And this is where we realize the ultimate perfection in Christ in whom is “neither male nor female.” The Bride of Christ comes to the same perfection internally, as a corporate “woman” comprised of many “sons.”
As His Bride, we are “many sons brought to glory.” We are perfectly blended individuals within a corporate union. As we have said from the beginning, brideship speaks to corporality, and sonship speaks to individuality. And as a corporate Bride that serves as Christ’s helpmate, we are to be perfectly wed to Him, bringing forth the totality of “one new man,” Head and Body in the fullness of union with the Godhead. Such was the object of Christ’s final prayer in John 17:
21 “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…22 … that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…”
Such blended perfection is the entire point of the picture of the Manchild within the Woman. The Manchild has come to the point of perfection in receiving the Father’s unique word in context of the Spirit’s corporate ministry that He is able to be born into the same glorified heavenly perfection as Christ, therefore fit to become His Bride. The Woman however has either not received or not perfected Her reception of the Father’s unique word so as to qualify as part of that overcoming body of the Manchild fit for bridal union with the Lord.
[For a far more extensive study on the Bride relative to this picture of the Woman and Manchild, please see Brother Earls’ teaching The Spirit and the Bride Say Come. Please see also our study Relating Sonship and Brideship. ]
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created January 21, 2017