Chapter 063 – The Return of the Lord – Part 3: The marriage of the Lamb.



The marriage of the Lamb.

The bride in the Old Covenant.

The wedding guests.

The bride in the New Covenant.

Table: Sequence and Duration of events in the Last Days

The Return of the Lord and the Rapture. /    Chapter 06, Part 1

The Rapture. /    Chapter 062, Part 2

Of that day and hour no one knows, but the Father alone.. /    Chapter 064, Part 4

The kingdom of God and its heirs. / Discourse 94



Postscript:

This old interpretation, going back to the year 1995, is still based on the conventional understanding, advocated by almost all biblical commentators up to the present, that the seventieth week of seven years is a temporally unified event and that there is only one Antichrist. These assumptions are fundamentally based on the one hand on the prophecy in Dan 9,27, according to which the one who makes desolate will come in the middle of the seventieth week of seven years, and on the other on the statement of Paul in 1Cor 15,52, according to which the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture will occur at the time of the last trumpet, which is then referred to the last and seventh trumpet of the plagues of the trumpets (Rev 10,7).

More recent studies however have resulted in the realization that there is a parallel course of events between Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7. This necessitates a transposition of the Second Coming and the Rapture to after Rev 6,12–17 (6th seal) and so interrupts the seventieth week of seven years at that point.

(See also Discourse 05: “The parallel course of events of Mt 24 and Rev 6 and 7”)


In this connection we also come to realize, on the basis of 2The 2,1–4 and Rev 13,1–11, that there cannot be just one Antichrist who will dominate in the Last Days, but two: a human dictator (the rider on the white horse, Rev 6,1–2) in the Great Tribulation (Rev 6,1–8; Mt 24,1–25) and a demonic spiritual being (the beast from the sea, Rev 13) on the Day of the Wrath of God.

(See also Discourse 86: “The first and second Antichrist.”)


In view of the fact, however, that this new point of view in principle only results in transpositions in the temporal sequence of events, while the content – apart from a few exceptions – essentially remains the same, the documents based on the old interpretation (taking these indications into account) remain fully valid and so have been retained here. A summary of the changes may be found in Discourse 48.

(See also Discourse 48: “An alternative view on the sequence of events in the Last Days.”)



The marriage of the Lamb.

After the raising out of the dead in Christ, the Rapture together with the still living and remaining faithful and the judgment of reward in heaven, we find as next event of this time the marriage of the Lamb.

Those saints among the raised faithful who represent the "bride of the Lamb", prepare for the marriage. It was given to them to clothe themselves in fine linen, bright and clean.

The marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.

Rev 19,6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 19,7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 19,8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 19,9 Then he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." Rev 19, 6– 9;


It need not be further explained that this "marriage" is a metaphor. Nevertheless, we should give some thoughts to the fact why there is talk about a "marriage" here. Metaphors are used in the Scriptures in most cases when the happenings in the heavenly dimension would make excessive demands on the human faculty of imagination and when therefore a comparative simile which is familiar to men shall help to open up the actual background.

Just as the mutual love of the bride and bridegroom at a marriage among men forms the basis of the conjugation, it is also in this metaphor God's and the Lamb's love to men and these men's love to their God and their Lord, which strives for this conjugation. But, of course, it is another kind of love, which is meant here. This is also shown in the identity of the "bride": God's love does not concentrate on an individual person, as we, men, usually do, but it is a certain group of people to whom God extends this particular love. But just as a bridegroom on earth loves and marries his bride on account of her quite special qualities and patterns of behavior, also the "bride of the Lamb" possesses certain qualities which are the basis of and the cause for the Lord's love to her and, of course, also her love to her God.

And in a similar way as we know from our human experience that among the female friends of the bride there are often prettier, cleverer, and more capable women, and the bridegroom nevertheless would not exchange his bride for none of them, we also have to realize in this metaphor that not "all faithful" can be meant who are supposed to be represented by this bride. And just as we should not try to dissuade a bridegroom from marrying his bride here on earth, we should not question God's and the Lamb's love to the "bride" either. Here, no envy and no ambition must arise. On the contrary, if we love our God, we will also love those people who he chose as his "bride".

With that we come to the separate interpretation of this passage from the Scriptures. All exegetes will agree that the bridegroom at this marriage is the Lord Jesus. But things look different when it comes to the interpretation of the bride and the wedding guests. The overwhelming majority of interpreters take the view that by the bride the entire "universal" congregation of Christ has to be understood and therefore does not take any effort at all to analyze the identity of the "wedding guests" in more detail. This gives the impression as if one is only interested in "marrying off" the congregation and not to understand and explain the whole text.

We want, however, to take a closer look at the text and, if possible, to strive for a comprehensive interpretation. So, the question is: Who is the bride and who are the wedding guests?

The bride in the Old Covenant.

First to the bride: Although in the original text it does not say here "bride", but "woman", we can leave this text as it is in the German text by Luther, for on the one hand the marriage is concerned here and on the other hand also in Rev 21,9, where there is talk about the holy Jerusalem, both expressions, namely "the bride, the wife of the Lamb" are mentioned together.

We come across this "wife of the Lamb" or "the dear wife of the Lord" already in the Old Testament, where the Lord prophesied in Isa 62,5 already at that time, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you."

And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.

Isa 62,1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning. 62,2 The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate. 62,3 You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 62,4 It will no longer be said to you, "Forsaken," Nor to your land will it any longer be said, "Desolate"; But you will be called, "My delight is in her," And your land, "Married"; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married. 62,5 For as a young man marries a virgin, So your sons will marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you. 62,6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; 62,7 And give Him no rest until He establishes And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isa 62, 1– 7;


As we read in verse Isa 62,6–7, there is talk about Jerusalem here. And in order to come to the point right away: This Jerusalem is not a metaphor for the congregation! In the subsequent verses we see very clearly: there is talk about Zion here, the city of Jerusalem in Israel, but above all: There is talk about the people of this city. In Isa 62,12 it says about them, "And they will call them 'The holy people', 'the redeemed of the LORD', And Jerusalem will be called 'Sought out' and 'A city not forsaken'".

You will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride.

Isa 49,14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me." 49,15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 49,16 "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. 49,17 "Your builders hurry; Your destroyers and devastators Will depart from you. 49,18 "Lift up your eyes and look around; All of them gather together, they come to you. As I live," declares the LORD, "You will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride. Isa 49,14–18;

I will betroth you to Me forever.

Hos 2,16 "It will come about in that day," declares the LORD, "That you will call Me ‘Ishi’ – My husband – and will no longer call Me Baali. 2,17 "For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. 2,18 "In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. 2,19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In loving kindness and in compassion, 2,20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. 2,21 "It will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the LORD. "I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, 2,22 And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, And they will respond to Jezreel. 2,23 "I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’" Hos 2,16–23;

Say to the daughter of Zion, Lo, your salvation comes.

Isa 62,8 The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm, "I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; Nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have labored." 62,9 But those who garner it will eat it and praise the LORD; And those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary. 62,10 Go through, go through the gates, Clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway, Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples. 62,11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." 62,12 And they will call them, "The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD"; And you will be called, "Sought out, a city not forsaken." Isa 62, 8–12;


Each of the above passages from the Scriptures of the Old Testament documents on the one hand that the covenant of God with his "wife" Zion and his bride Jerusalem is valid in all eternity and therefore cannot be dissolved by anything or anyone. On the other hand we see that this betrothal is an event in the future still today. All promises in the context, those which refer to the blessings of the country as well as those – and in particular – those which refer to Jerusalem, namely that they will be called "holy people" and "the redeemed of the Lord" on earth, cannot be at all called fulfilled today. Today Jerusalem – and with that Israel – is not in the promise of Hos 2,16–25, but unfortunately now as before far before that, namely in the one of Hos 2,4–15!

And as we can gather from the following text from Isa 54, 4– 6, it is not either conceivable that here Jerusalem stands "symbolically for the congregation", as some people think, but what is meant here is the Jerusalem, which repudiated and crucified the Lord, its Messiah. This is also "the shame of your youth" and the subsequent impenitence of the people of Israel is "the reproach of your widowhood".

For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

Isa 54,4 "Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. 54,5 "For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. 54,6 "For the LORD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected," Says your God. Isa 54, 4– 6;


In verse Isa 54,6 the Lord calls Jerusalem "the wife of youth" and corroborates, "Even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected!". So it is the "first love of God" so to speak, for which this promise is meant. And although, of course, all faithful can count on the love of God, this first love of his is reserved to the "wife of His youth".

Finally we have to ask ourselves why the Lord pays tribute to the city of Jerusalem with his great love. Of course it is not the buildings and towers of the city. They are gone and also the buildings of today will vanish and the Lord will have Jerusalem built anew in the Millennium, with new buildings and new streets.

No, it is the people who will live in this city, God's love is meant for. They will be "new" men all right, in the sense of later generations, but the old spirit will be within them. The spirit of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will seize the children of Jerusalem once again and they will all be disciples of the Lord, as we learn below, in Isa 54,13.

All your sons will be taught of the LORD.

Isa 54,13 "All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well–being of your sons will be great. 54,14 "In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you.

54,15 "If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you.

54,16 "Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. 54,17 "No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me," declares the LORD. Isa 54,13–17;


So, this is the bride, "the dear wife of the Lord" and these promises are the share of the inheritance of the servants of the Lord. They are the "wife of youth", for their sake the Lord never ceased to love Jerusalem and Israel, although Israel had left and forgotten its God for a long time. And it is the memory of the love and loyalty of these servants of the Lord, which has finally moved God to gather this people again.

And I will take you one from a city and two from a family.

Jer 3,12"Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not be angry forever. 3,13 ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the LORD. 3,14 ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD; ‘For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’ 3,15 "Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. Jer 3,12–15;


If we now summarize our analysis in short, we get the following picture:

–  From the perspective of the Old Testament the "dear wife of the Lord" is Jerusalem.

–  On the one hand the "wife of youth", the old Jerusalem, when Israel was still attached to its God;

–  but above all the new Jerusalem in the Millennium (and also later on the one in the New Creation).

–  But it is not the city of Jerusalem as such that is meant, but it is the inhabitants, the people.

–  They will be gathered by the Lord, "one from a city and two from a family".


These are in broad outlines the statements of the Old Testament concerning the "dear wife of the Lord".

The wedding guests.

Let us now turn to those texts which are handed down to us in the New Testament as a hint to the marriage of the Lamb. Here we find in the first place the parable of the Lord of the king, who organizes the wedding for his son.

Tell those who have been invited: everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.

Mt 22,1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 22,2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 22,3 "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 22,4 "Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."‘

22,5 "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 22,6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 22,7 "But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Mt 22, 1– 7;


Of course, these first guests, who were invited to the wedding and did not want to come, are supposed to be the people of Israel. They were "invited" to accept their Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ and did not want to. The servants who delivered the invitation, are the prophets of the Old Testament, who left a great number of prophecies of the Messiah and the Son of God to the people of Israel. But they did not listen to them. They did not want to listen to them.

The armies, which the king sent out in order to kill these murderers and to set the city on fire, are the Roman soldiers of Titus, who destroyed Jerusalem completely in 70, who burnt down the temple, and who drove the Israelites out of their land. Frankly speaking, it is amazing that the Mosaic Jews have not realized up to today that this expulsion into the Diaspora which has been lasting now for nearly two thousand years was the punishment of their God for the rejection of his son and their Messiah.

And now the king invites new guests to the wedding feast of his son.

Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.

Mt 22,8 "Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 22,9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 22,10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 22,11 "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 22,12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 22,13 "Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 22,14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." Mt 22, 8–14;


Now no selection is made any more. Whoever is in the street, is invited. Whoever wants to come, is allowed to come. However, there is one condition: The wedding guest had to wear wedding clothes. That means he had to prepare himself for this wedding feast. And this is the New Covenant. From now on all Gentiles were invited to accept the offer of God with respect to the belief in his son. And all who did so – and still do – will get the authority to be children of God.

And here many exegetes come now and think this would be the proof of the fact that the congregation entered into the succession of Israel and into the succession of the "bride". And one also derives the right from that to reinterpret all those passages from the Scriptures, which contain promises for Israel and Jerusalem, automatically as being meant for the congregation.

However, if one analyzes the above text in more detail, one realizes that there are no statements about the bride herself in this parable – by the way just as in the parable of the bridegroom and the ten virgins in Mt 25,1–13. But from that follows the logical consequence that the wedding guests were obviously replaced, but not the bride. It is still the same bride who the bridegroom intended to marry already before.

But this means, in turn, that the spiritual roots of those people who personify the "bride", must have existed already at that time. So, the bride must have her origin in the people of Israel and therefore cannot be the congregation as some people think.

We can recognize the offer of God to the Gentiles all over the world to take part in the wedding of his son also in the "great multitude" from the Revelation.

A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues.

Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." 7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 7,16 "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7.17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes." Rev 7, 9–17;


It is a great multitude of people, an uncountable crowd, from all peoples and nations, who are standing here before the throne and are praising God. They are all clothed in white robes and this is the righteousness of the saints as we read above, in Rev 19,8. So, all of them were judged to be righteous; however, we learn from verse Rev 7,14 that it was not their own righteousness, which effected this judgment. They have washed their robes – their sins – and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. It is the sacrifice of being crucified of our Lord for our sins, which they have accepted and owing to which they were awarded here the white linen of righteousness.

These are now unmistakably faithful from the New Covenant. They have "made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb". However, we are also here wrong in supposing that the congregation of all times could be meant here. In the same verse, Rev 7,14, it says of them, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation". And however one wants to see the "Great Tribulation", it is a part of the last days as has been proved. These dead, who came out of this Great Tribulation, can consequently come only from the congregation of the last days and can under no circumstances represent the "congregation of all times", as some people think.

And as we can gather from the statement in verse Rev 7,16, in heaven this great multitude of people now will "hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat". But we can draw the conclusion from that that these people had to suffer all these torments during their lifetimes – in the Great Tribulation – and finally died of them. This would be a proof of the fact that these people are faithful, who died in the catastrophes of the Great Tribulation, but not martyrs, who were killed because of their faith under the antichristian reign.

This is then also the reason for the fact that these faithful do not appear in Rev 20,4–6 and thus neither will reign on earth, in the Millennium. It is true that they are raised out of the dead and thus they are souls – and priests – in heaven, but they will not resurrect, that is to say “come from heaven to earth again”, they will not "come to life" again. They remain in heaven as souls. As also above, verse Rev 7,15 says, "For this reason they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple". And Rev 14,17 confirms that this temple is not on earth, but in heaven, just as the throne: "And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle" just as Rev 16,17: "And the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, 'It is done'".

As we will see below, at the identification of the bride even more clearly, the "great multitude" from Rev 7,9–17 are the "wedding guests" and by no means the bride.

Let us have a look at another parable, which also deals with the change from Israel to the Gentiles in God's plan of salvation.

But afterward he sent his son to them.

Mt 21,33 "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine–growers and went on a journey. 21,34 "When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine–growers to receive his produce. 21,35 "The vine–growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. 21,36 "Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.

21,37 "But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 21,38 "But when the vine–growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 21,39 "They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 21,40 "Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine–growers?" 21,41 They said to Him, "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine–growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons."

21,42 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone, this came about from the LORD, and it is marvelous in our eyes? 21,43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 21,44 "And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust." Mt 21,33–44;


Here God is the owner of the vineyard and the slaves are also here the prophets of the Old Covenant in Israel. The vine–growers, who rented the vineyard from the owner, are the people of Israel. The son of the owner of the vineyard, whom he sent as last one, is the Lord Jesus.

In principle, this parable tells the same story as the one above, about the marriage, with another nuance: The vine–growers recognize the son of the landowner and kill him in order to be able to share his inheritance among them. And it prophetically shows the attitude of the High Priest and the Sanhedrins, when they surrendered Jesus of Nazareth to the Romans. They consequently recognized him and therefore also knew that if they acknowledged him, their own power in Israel would come to an end. And so they construed a charge against him in order to get rid of him.

The knowledge that this parable provides us with even for us as the congregation today, is, however, also very serious. Just as the vine–growers put themselves into the position of the son in order to deprive him of his inheritance, also we are running the risk to put ourselves into the position of the people of Israel in order to be able to call upon his promises for us. We could fare here just as the vine–growers fared!

Although the Israelites of today are for the most part Gentiles and hardly differ from the other peoples in their way of thinking and acting, in the last time, before the Millennium, a remaining part of this people will convert to its God again and adhere to him. It is these faithful men and women our love and affection should be meant for – even if it may last still some centuries until they are born.

So Israel can be compared to a vine which for a long, long time has produced only sour and rotten grapes. And yet the Year of the Lord is approaching, in which this vine will bring forth sweet and glorious fruit, and Israel will once more be well pleasing to its God. And that is the reason – the only reason – why this vine may not be rooted out and why this people may not be abandoned to final destruction.

But even though the people of Israel from the Old Covenant is depraved, this certainly does not hold true for the servants and prophets of the Lord from Israel. We can find an example of this, namely how apt we are to forget this to understand once more the congregation as the sole recipient of salvation with W. J. Ouweneel, who tries in his book "The book of Revelation" (page 453) to differentiate the "wedding guests" from the "bride", where he comes to the view that the congregation represents the bride. He describes:

"In this connection we find another hint in the words of John the Baptist in Joh 3,29, where he calls himself 'friend of the bridegroom'. John lived and died before Pentecost, when the congregation developed. In this respect John belonged to the old housekeeping. The Lord Jesus says in Mt 11,11 that John is the greatest among those 'born of women'. That means that he was in the old housekeeping the greatest of all, but as far as the new housekeeping is concerned, which he does not have a share in, he is inferior than the one who is least in the kingdom of God. This is a proof of the fact that the congregation has a much higher position than the faithful of the Old Testament. The one who is least of the new housekeeping is greater than the greatest of the old housekeeping.'


The interpretation of the author that John belongs to the "old housekeeping" may be correct. However, this is not the criterion for the fact that the Lord calls him "the greatest". It says expressly in Mt 11,11 "among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist". So, the basis of the comparison is not any kind of "housekeeping" but the entirety of those who were born by women.

And since all of us were born by women, this can hardly be a proof for the fact that "the congregation has a much higher position" than John. Quite to the contrary. It says unmistakably that on earth – from Cain up to the last man born by a woman – there will be no greater one than John the Baptist!

And here it seems appropriate to dedicate some considerations to the fact what qualities we can offer as the congregation, which, for instance, John the Baptist could not have shown to his credit.

–  We believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. John did it, too! Even more than that, he saw him coming and baptized him. (Jn 1,34).

–  We bespeak our Lord. He did it, too, and proclaimed to the world, 'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' (Jn 1,29).

–  We preach the Gospel. He did it, too, and confessed, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mt 3,2).

–  We convert men to God. He did it, too. Even before his birth it was prophesied of him, "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God." (Lk 1,16).

–  In the course of the centuries we as the congregation had to suffer much hardship and bitterness because of our faith. He, too! He spent his life in the desert and only had locusts to eat.

–  We had some prophets in the congregation. He, too, was a prophet when he announced, "but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mt 3,11).

–  In the course of almost two thousand years we had in our congregation many people who had to give their lives because of their faith. He did it, too, and was beheaded by Herod.

–  And finally we can also adduce that the congregation is anointed with the Holy Spirit since Pentecost. But it even says of John the Baptist, "he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb" (Lk 1,15).


So, what shall we say? That we are better, greater, holier than he? Hardly so. And this also finds its expression in the assessment of the Lord when he says "Among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist". And since all of us are born of women, it is certain: John the Baptist is greater than all of us.

And now it goes on saying, "Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he". So, as John is inferior to the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven, how much inferior than this "one who is least" we have to be, since we are even inferior to John?

The claim to be greater than John the Baptist is obviously based on the opinion that we as the congregation would have a "subscription seat" in the kingdom of heaven. But can this assumption also be upheld with a good conscience? Who is the "one who is least" who is greater in the kingdom of heaven than John, the greatest among those born of women?

Is it a believer? Also John was a believer. Is it a brave confessor? John was undoubtedly the braver confessor. Is it a martyr? John, too, was a martyr.

Let us have a closer look at the respective passage of the text.

Among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.

Mt 11,7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 11,8 "But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 11,9 "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 11,10 "This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11,11 "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

11,12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 11,13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 11,14 "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. Mt 11, 7–14;


Let us come back once more to the first part of Mt 11,11: "Among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist". As already mentioned, there is no human being and there probably will not be any in future either who would not be born by a woman. And so, all people are ruled out in comparison to John. But although also our Lord Jesus Christ was begot by the Holy Spirit, he nevertheless was also born by a woman – his mother. And quite obviously he did not make an exception of himself here, otherwise he would not have spoken of those born of women, but rather of those begot by men and would not have been concerned that way.

And now one can make allowances to John for everything possible – but he was certainly not the Son of God. This was Jesus Christ and therefore it cannot be that John should be "greater" than the Lord himself. For that reason also the above statement of the Lord, in Mt 11,11 would be wrong! But also this is not possible. The Lord would never have made a wrong statement.

The solution to this dilemma is shown to us – as it is always the case in the Scriptures – by the text itself. In the second half of the sentence of Mt 11,11 there is talk about the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom of heaven is interpreted by some exegetes as the Millennium. If we, however, examine the use of this term with Matthew, we find a different meaning.

Let us have a look right at the first text of that kind in Mt 5,1–4:

Mt 5,1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 5,2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 5,3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 5,4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5,5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Mt 5, 1– 4;


If in Mt 5,3 the Kingdom of Peace of the Lord Jesus on earth that will last for a thousand years were meant by the "kingdom of heaven", why is it then called "the earth" in Mt 5,5 and what is then this "earth"? If, however, eternity is meant by the "kingdom of heaven", "the earth" is the Millennium and the statements fit together.

Mt 5,10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 5,11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 5,12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Mt 5,10–12;


The promises in Mt 5,10–12 are to be seen in the context. Verse Mt 5,10 talks about those people who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. They are promised the kingdom of heaven. The verses Mt 5,11–12 allude to those who are abused and persecuted because of the Lord Jesus. And they are told by the Lord that their reward in heaven will be great.

This last promise with the hint at "heaven" can by no means refer to the Millennium. And the second sentence in the verse Mt 5,12, which compares these persecuted people to the prophets of the Old Testament – who, of course, could not be persecuted because of Jesus – confirms that here there is talk about those who are persecuted because of their faith in general and that therefore also the "kingdom of heaven" in verse Mt 5,10 is not to be seen as the Millennium, but as "heaven", that is to say the second, the New Creation, as eternity.

Mt 5,18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

5,19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 5,20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt 5,18–20;

We will have a look at verse Mt 5,19 below. The statement in Mt 5,20 cannot be related to the Millennium if one wants to be objective, but rather fits to the promise for the righteous that they will inherit eternal life.

Mt 7,12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 7,13 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7,14 "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

7,15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 7,16 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 7,17 "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 7,18 "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 7,19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 7,20 "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

7,21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 7,22 "Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 7,23 "And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Mt 7,12–23;


In Mt 7,13–14 there is talk about the narrow gate leading to life and the broad way leading to destruction. These are undoubtedly hints at the Last Judgment and its consequences, namely eternal life or eternal destruction. Afterward the Lord is speaking then in Mt 7,22–23 of the evildoers, who did prophesy in his name, but who obviously did not get this authority from the Lord. He will say to them on that day of the Last Judgment, "depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness". These people are those who did say "Lord, Lord", but who did not do the Father's will. And they are also told that they will not enter the "kingdom of heaven".

Mt 8,11 "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 8,12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 8,13 And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment. Mt 8,11–13;


And the text from Mt 8,11–13 gives us now full certainty that not the Millennium, but eternity is meant by the "kingdom of heaven". While those from "east and west" recline at the table with Abraham and his descendants, the "sons of the kingdom" – namely of the kingdom of heaven – are "cast out into the outer darkness, in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". This is unmistakably a designation for the lake of fire, in which the unrighteous will go to eternal destruction after the Final Judgment. That means, also here the matter at issue is in both cases the Last Judgment, and the one are promised eternal life in the kingdom of heaven, the others, however, eternal destruction with weeping and gnashing of teeth in the darkness. A similar impression is given also with all other mentions of the "kingdom of heaven" with Matthew.

After this argumentation that with Matthew the "kingdom of heaven" does not mean the Millennium, but the kingdom of God in eternity, the New Creation, let us come back to our text about John the Baptist from Mt 11,11. There it says in the second half of the sentence, "Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he". And if we now can interpret this "kingdom of heaven" as eternity, as the New Creation, which is the whereabouts of all righteous after the Universal Resurrection and the Last Judgment, the statement of verse Mt 11,11 gets a completely different meaning.

We then realize that the Lord does not make a comparison here between people – of whatever "housekeeping" they may be –, but that he compares the qualities of the earthly beings with those of heaven. All mortals – and even John, the greatest among them – are inferior to the one who is least of the righteous of heaven in eternity, in the heavenly kingdom of God. The Lord gives us the reason for that in his talk with Nicodemus, in Jn 3,3–8:

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Jn 3,3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 3,4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?" 3,5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 3,6 " That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3,7 "Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 3,8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Jn 3, 3– 8;


All mortal beings, who are born of water and flesh, are flesh. All beings of heaven are born of the spirit and are spirit. Therefore the one who is least in heaven is bound to be greater than the one who is the greatest on earth. And if once the day comes and we are found worthy, we will also meet John in the kingdom of heaven, and he will undoubtedly rank among the great there, too.

But obviously the question about the "orders of magnitude" in the kingdom of heaven also moved already the Disciples and prompted them to ask the Lord the question about the one who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 18,1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 18,2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 18,3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 18,4 "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 18,5 "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; auf. Mt 18, 1– 5;


And the Lord also enlightens us about the qualities of the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven.

Mt 5,18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

5,19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Mt 5,18–19;


Finally the question remains to be answered, why the Lord in the assessment of the one who is the greatest among all born of women, did not except himself. And here we have to give some thought to the question what makes up this "greatness" of John.

If the Lord compares the one who is the greatest on earth with the one who is least in heaven, there must be a common basis for this comparison. And as it can be inferred from the statement that the mortals – with all their greatness – can never succeed in being greater than the least in the kingdom of heaven, it is suggesting itself to assume that this difference is immanent in the system.

As we have seen above, in Jn 3,3–8, it is the different kind of "birth" which distinguishes the one from the other. It is the birth of the spirit and the spiritual body of the one in heaven, the "dwelling from heaven" as Paul calls it in 2Cor 5,2, which makes this one who is least in the kingdom of heaven unreachable for us earthly beings. Whereas we can reach the point that the Holy Spirit dwells in us in varying strength only with very great faith, the beings of heaven already have this stage behind them. They do not only have the abundance of the spirit within them, but are entirely formed out of this Holy Spirit.

So, the basis of the comparison is the inherence of the Holy Spirit. In this respect John the Baptist was the greatest among all men. This was manifested already by the angel in Lk 1,15 when he announced to Zechariah, the father of John, that this child will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in the mother's womb.

So, this is the reason why John the Baptist is the greatest among all born of women. And now we also realize that the Lord did not want to compare the performance of any "housekeepings" – of whatever kind they may be – but wanted to describe the incomparability of the earthly with the heavenly existence.

In order to come back again to our subject – the search for the bride of Christ – , we should pay more attention also to the statements of John the Baptist in this connection, who is according to the words of the Lord "the greatest among those born of women".

The friend of the bridegroom rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.

Jn 3,28 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 3,29 "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. Jn 3, 28–29;


When he now says of himself that he is only "the friend of the bridegroom" and that he therefore does not belong to the "bride", also we as the congregation should not claim to be the "bride".

The bride in the New Covenant.

After we have now identified the wedding guests as faithful among the Gentiles who converted to become Christians, let us now turn to the bride and return to the Revelation of John in order to have a look at the text in this connection at the beginning of this section once more.

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Rev 19,6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.19,7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."19,8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 19,9 Then he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." Rev 19, 6– 9;


Similarly as in Rev 7,9, we also read in verse Rev 19,6, "Then I heard something like the voice (the sound) of a great multitude". So, we find also here the great multitude praising God again and cheering the bride. And we should also bear in mind the further text in this verse: "and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder", for we find it in just the same formulation once again – and only once again – in the Revelation, and it will also help us to identify the bride. So, it seems as if here again the "wedding guests", those faithful who died in the Great Tribulation, are concerned. The more so, as the angel tells John to write, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" and with that refers to the wedding guests straight away.

And we get yet another clue for the differentiation of the bride from the wedding guests in the Revelation. In Rev 21,9 one of the seven angels, who had the seven bowls of the wrath of God, said,

Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

Rev 21,9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

21,10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 21,11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal–clear jasper. Rev 21, 9–11;


He is speaking here about the heavenly Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from God to the new earth. And this heavenly city is called "the bride, the wife of the Lamb" by the angel. And although this is, of course, a symbolic designation here, it is undisputed that with that that group of men is meant which is represented by the bride of the Lamb and which we are looking for here.

In the next verse John describes the wall, which was situated round the city. It had among other things twelve gates and on these gates the twelve names of the tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed. Also this is, of course, a symbolism and also here there is to a large extent agreement among Christian exegetes that the city and the wall represent two different categories and that therefore the "sons of Israel" – that is to say the people of God from Israel – must not be identified with the bride of the Lamb by no means. Just as little as a city forms an integral unit with its wall, also the "city" must not be confused with the "wall" here.

A high wall, with twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.

Rev 21,12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. 21,13 There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. Rev 21,12–13;


There are admittedly biblical commentators who here do not go to the trouble of making the necessary distinctions, and who even take the twelve gates of the tribes of the sons of Israel as applying exclusively to the church – as for instance W. J. Ouweneel, who in his work “The Book of Revelation” writes (p. 512 f.):

“'And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl’ (verse 21). Here we are immediately reminded of Mt 13,46, where the Lord Jesus likens the church to a pearl of great value. Does this not show how much the church means to Him? The twelve pearly gates will forever remind all Christians how precious the church was to Him, for the Lord Jesus gave all that He had in order to obtain it.”


He here cites Rev 21,21, without however mentioning what we are told in Rev 21,12, where it is written: “ (…)and names were written upon them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.”

In the verses Rev 21,14–18 John describes now among other things a further detail of this wall: It had twelve foundation stones and on them there were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And even if in this point some Christian exegetes are of a different opinion, we nevertheless have to adhere to the Scriptures also here and must not interpret these "foundation stones" of the wall with another symbolism than the twelve "gates" above.

The wall had twelve foundation stones with the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Rev 21,14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 21,15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. 21,16 The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. 21,17 And he measured its wall, seventy–two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. 21,18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. Rev 21,14–18;


(See also Discourse 79: “The names of the twelve apostles.”)

If the twelve gates above with the names of the tribes of the sons of Israel are supposed to mean the people of God from Israel, who is therewith quite unambiguously to be differentiated from the "city", the wife and bride of the Lamb, then the twelve foundations stones here with the names of the apostles of the Lord are supposed to mean the worldwide congregation of all times. And consequently also here it must hold true that the "wall" is meant, and not the city.

So, also here in symbolism we see a strict differentiation between the city – the bride of the Lamb – and the wall – the people of God from Israel and the congregation, the people of God from the nations. This is shown not least also in verse Rev 21,18, where John describes the materials out of which both, the city and the wall, were created: The city was made out of pure gold, like clear glass, the material of the wall, however, was jasper.

So, with that we have quite a definite line of argumentation for the wedding guests. We have, however, not succeeded yet in identifying the bride in the text of the Revelation – apart from the fact that she already is in heaven.

For this reason, let us have a look at all those texts of the Revelation, which deal with faithful in heaven. There are altogether twelve statements to this effect, and they shall be represented here briefly.


The martyrs – they come to life again and reign with Christ in the Millennium on earth.

  1. Rev 6,9–11: "the souls underneath the altar" – the martyrs of the Old and of the New Covenant.

  2. Rev 12,10–11: "those who overcame the dragon" – the martyrs of the New Covenant.

  3. Rev 15, 1– 4: "those who had been victorious over the beast" – the martyrs of the antichristian time.

  4. Rev 20, 4– 6: "the souls of those who had been beheaded" – all those martyrs in the First Resurrection.

The armies which are in heaven.

  5. Rev 19,11–14; "the armies which are in heaven" – all saints in heaven, in the Battle of Armageddon.

  6. Rev 17,12–14: "the called and chosen and faithful (loyal)" – the very same.

The great multitude – they are before the throne of God and they serve Him day and night in His temple.

  7. Rev 7, 9–17: "from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" – the faithful from the Great   Tribulation.

  8. Rev 19, 6: "a great multitude" – the very same as wedding guests.

  9. Rev 14, 2: "a voice like the sound of harpists playing on their harps" – these wedding guests as harpists.

The marriage of the Lamb.

10. Rev 19, 7: "and His bride has made herself ready" – the bride of the Lamb.

11. Rev 19, 8–10: "those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" – the above–mentioned   wedding guests.

The firstborns for God and the Lamb. (The elect?)

12. Rev 14,1.3– 5: "144,000 having His name and the name of His father written on their foreheads" – the   sealed.


Let us now – out of these descriptions – try to find out the group, which would be qualified for being the "bride" of the Lamb. For that purpose we must first exclude from these texts those which form joint, closed groups, such as the martyrs (1–4) and the synoptic statements about all faithful in heaven as the "armies of heaven" (5–6).

So, there are only the texts 7–12 left. Above, we have already identified the great multitude (7) as the wedding guests out of the Gentiles who converted to become Christians, and as the "bride" has to come from Israel – as we found out above as well –, this text can be excluded too.

Also text 8 and 9 show these faithful out of the Great Tribulation as wedding guests and harpists.

The tenth text is the one we started out from here. It says that the bride has made herself ready.

Text 11 speaks again of the wedding guests, but does not make any statement about the descent of the bride.

Thus, the twelfth text is left, which deals with the one hundred and forty–four thousand sealed. And here we immediately discover quite a number of qualities which would be excellently – in fact, exclusively – suitable for the bride of the Lamb.

But before we go on with the analysis of the passages from the Scriptures concerned, let us briefly summarize the list above. Excluding for the time being the texts 5 and 6, since they obviously refer to all faithful residing in heaven, we can make out altogether three groups of faithful in heaven:

1. The martyrs in the texts 1–4.

2. The wedding guests in the texts 7–9 and 11.

3. The bride, who is alluded to in the texts 10 and 12.


(See also Table 10: “The souls in heaven.”)

The 144,000 firstborns for God and the Lamb.

Let us now examine the possibility that the 144,000 sealed represent the bride of the Lamb. The one hundred and forty–four thousand, twelve thousand from each tribe of the sons of Israel, are marked with the seal of God on their foreheads.

144,000 sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel, with the seal of the living God.

Rev 7,1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. 7,2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,

7,3 saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond–servants of our God on their foreheads."

7,4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty–four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

7,5 From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 7,6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7,7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 7,8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. Rev 7, 1– 8;


We have here a scrupulously accurate enumeration of the twelve tribes of Israel, out of which these firstborns were taken for God and the Lamb. Nevertheless there are again and again attempts to see also in them "the entire congregation of Christ" – that is to say the Christians of all times.

The fact that these servants of God come from Israel, is reinterpreted in the sense that – reportedly in early Christianity – the congregation of Jews and Gentiles was called "Israel" as a honorary title.

The fact that this text here is only about 144,000 servants of God, whereas one would have to place probably millions with the "entire congregation of Christ", is once again interpreted as a "great number" and as a "unmutilated entirety" with respect to the congregation, so that with that it is "symbolically" expressed that "God does not forget anybody from the congregation".

Without having now the intention of examining the argumentation, why suddenly so many people endeavor to be able to boast a Jewish descent, whereas this was completely the other way round in the Third Reich, we have a completely different, absolutely clear argument, why these firstborns for God and the Lamb cannot represent the universal congregation of all times.

We find this most convincing argument against the above view below, in Rev 9,4 (5th trumpet / 1st woe), where the people on earth are tormented for five months. This is one of the plagues within the plagues of the trumpets and it lasts for five months. And it is precisely here where the "scorpions" are given power "to hurt (…) only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads".

They hurt only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Rev 9,3 Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 9,4 They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Rev 9, 3– 4;


If you look at it the other way round, this means, however, that those 144,000 sealed still have to live on earth at that time, otherwise it would not be necessary to exempt them explicitly.

So, this must be a group of persons who live on earth during this time of the plague of the trumpets and not "deceased faithful from all times". So, if we have such concrete messages from the Scriptures, we should not do violence to the word. Significantly enough, already Jehovah's Witnesses have "reserved" this passage from the Scriptures for their supreme brothers. So, we do not want to emulate them. We should once and for all acknowledge that these chosen servants of God are faithful from the tribes of the Jews, and that we do not have any right to reinterpret this promise in favor of us Gentiles who have become Christians.

It is strikingly quite strange that we always want to interpret only the positive promises for Israel in favor of us. As we know from the Scriptures, still a hard time of misery and persecution is prophesied for Israel and Jerusalem for the last days. But as far as I know, nobody thought of interpreting also here "Israel" as a synonym for the "entire congregation of Christ".

But even today there are still groups of faithful Christians who deny the people of Israel any expectation of salvation anyway. This is justified with the rejection of the Messiah by Israel and his extradition to the Romans for crucification. We find quite similar ideas in the crusades of the Middle Ages.

In this connection people overlook, however, an important detail. The Lord did not only die because the Jews extradited him. He also and in particular gave his life on the cross because there was no other atonement, no other "ransom" for the sin of the world before God.

Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Jn 1,29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 1,30 "This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ Jn 1,29–30;

The Son of Man did come to give His life a ransom for many.

Mk 10,43 "But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;10,44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 10,45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mk 10,43–45;


So, he died for all of us. And in fact, because we all are sinners and need the forgiveness before God and with that the sacrifice of Christ. And if there comes now somebody and thinks that he has to exclude the Jews from God's plan of salvation because they crucified their Messiah, he obviously has not yet understood that it is all of us and with that undoubtedly also he, who have caused the death of the Lord on the cross by our sins. And with that these people condemn themselves in the long run. If they think that those who are guilty of the death of Christ are not entitled to salvation, they, too, and in particular they, are not entitled to this salvation either.

In Rev 14,1–5 we then find these firstborns for God and the Lamb again. Here, they already are in heaven with the Lord, and they sing a song which only they are able to learn.

These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.

Rev 14,1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty–four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 14,2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.

14,3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty–four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 14,4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 14,5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless. Rev 14, 1– 5;


So, this seal of God which these 144,000 bear on their foreheads, is according to Rev 14,1 the name of the Father and the name of the Son. We already know this special distinction from the Epistle to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. There it says,

The name of My God, and My name and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem.

Rev 3,11 ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.3,12 ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. Rev 3,11–12;

(See also Excursus 02: “The seven Letters to the churches.”)

Also Philadelphia is without any doubt a Jewish Christian church. And both the church of Philadelphia and the 144,000 sealed in heaven are irreproachable and have the seal of God and the Lamb on their foreheads. And the Lord promises even a third name to those who are not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good in Philadelphia: He will write on them "the name of new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God".

And this name of the new Jerusalem is to be found in Rev 21:

The new Jerusalem, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rev 21,1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 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. Rev 21, 1– 2;

The holy city, Jerusalem, the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

Rev 21,9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." 21,10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. Rev 21, 9–10;


So, the name of this city, of this new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, is according to Rev 21,9: "the bride, the wife of the Lamb". And those who bear this name on their foreheads, belong to this bride of the Lamb and personify her.

What is finally also striking is that whenever there is talk about the 144,000 and/or the bride of the Lamb, also the great multitude appears directly or indirectly. So, we have in Rev 7,1–8 first the sealing of the 144,000 and subsequently, in Rev 7,9–17 the great multitude from all nations.

Then we read in Rev 14,1.3–5 again about the 144,000, who are standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. In between, in verse Rev 14,2, John hears a voice from heaven, "like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder". And this voice was like the sound of harpists.

I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder.

Rev 14,1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty–four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. 14,2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. Rev 14, 1– 2;


And also in Rev 19,6 John hears a voice of a great multitude, which likewise sounded "like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder", and in the next verse the marriage of the Lamb is announced then.

I heard the voice like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder.

Rev 19,6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 19,7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." Rev 19, 6– 7;


Therefore, the connection of the statements of Rev 3,12; 14,1 and 21,2.9–10, with the reference to the bride of the Lamb on the one hand, and the high comparability of the texts from Rev 14,2 and 19,6, with the great multitude as wedding guests and the renewed mention of the bride of the Lamb and/or the 144,000 sealed on the other hand, all seem to hint at the same group of persons.

On account of this passage from the Scriptures now the following statements can be made with respect to an interpretation of these 144,000 sealed as the "bride of the Lamb":

Just as every man chooses his bride, also the bride of the Lamb has been chosen.

–  These servants of God come from the the people of Israel. Their number is twelve thousand out of each tribe. They were chosen still during their lifetimes among men and were sealed with the seal of God. (Rev 7,3–8)

–  This seal of the living God on their foreheads is the name of the Lamb and the name of God, the Father. (Rev 3,12; 7,2; 14,1)

–  They are standing as the only ones together with the Lamb (bridegroom) on Mount Zion (Jerusalem). (Rev 14,1)

–  They are the only ones in heaven who can learn and sing the "new song". (Rev 14,3)

–  They have been "purchased from the earth".

–  They have been purchased as firstborns among men for God and the Lamb. (Rev 14,4)

–  They preserved the word of the Lord and did not deny his name – they are irreproachable, and the Lord loves them. (Rev 3,8–10; 14,4–5)

–  They are "chaste" and follow the Lamb wherever He goes. (Rev 14,4)

–  They bear on their foreheads the name of the new Jerusalem: "The bride, the wife of the Lamb". (Rev 3,12; 21,2.9)


Finally, we have still another hint in the Scriptures which indicates that the congregation itself cannot be the bride and that the Rapture takes place at the time of the last trumpet.

Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast.

Lk 12,35 "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 12,36 "Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 12,37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 12,38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

12,39 "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 12,40 "You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect." Lk 12,35–40;


The Lord is speaking here to the Disciples in a parable. He tells them, "you are like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast". And the statement from Lk 12,37, "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes" is then a clear hint at the Return of the Lord for the Rapture of his elect. Also the formulation in verse Lk 12,39, "If the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming …" is unmistakably to be referred to the Rapture – like other similar statements of the Lord.

So, here the Lord is coming for the Rapture of the congregation. But where is he coming from? He is coming from the wedding feast. From the wedding feast with the bride of the Lamb. Therefore the congregation cannot be the bride. Here the Lord is coming to call the members of the congregation as wedding guests to the wedding feast, so that they can take part in the celebration in heaven.

This distinction between marriage and marriage supper can also be seen then in the Revelation of John, in the text we examined at the beginning:

Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Rev 19,7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." 19,8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

19,9 Then he said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." Rev 19, 7– 9;


On account of the fact that the 144,000 are to be found (indirectly) on the earth for the last time at the fifth trumpet, in Rev 9,4 and on account of the statement in the parable above that the bride is already at heaven at the Rapture of the congregation, the Rapture cannot take place before that time – the fifth trumpet. It takes place – also according to the statements of Paul in 1The 4,15–17 and 1Cor 15,50–53 – at the time of the last trumpet.

The following order of the happenings in the last days results from the texts of the Scriptures discussed so far:




–  First apostasy, the Fiend, the Antichrist and with him the Great Tribulation must come.

–  Then the celestial bodies will be darkened and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

–  The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky like lightning that flashes from the east to the west.

–  The Lord will come down from heaven with words of authority in power and glory.

–  All men on earth will see him coming in the clouds of heaven.

–  His angels will announce the plagues of the first six trumpets upon the earth.

–  The marriage of the Lamb, the bride is clothed in white linen.

–  The last one of the seven trumpets will sound.

–  Afterward first the dead in Christ will be raised.

–  The still living elect are gathered together by the angels of the Lord.

–  And finally they are caught up to the Lord together with the raised.

–  In the judgment they get their reward from their judges: praises and honor.

–  Now they are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.



We can do well without an argumentation against the view held by Jehovah's Witnesses that the Lord already came in 1914 and has been reigning since that time "invisibly" on account of the damning evidence of the worldwide visible coming of the Son of Man and the events subsequent to it.



Table: Sequence and Duration of events in the Last Days

The Return of the Lord and the Rapture. /    Chapter 06, Part 1

The Rapture. /    Chapter 062, Part 2

Of that day and hour no one knows, but the Father alone.. /    Chapter 064, Part 4