The Biblical Value of Women: The Church as the Bride

Right now in our culture, perhaps unlike anytime in the history of civilization, women are under attack.
You are under attack in the realm of sports. You are under attack in your restrooms and locker rooms. You are under attack in the very definition of what it means to be a woman.
Satan is a master manipulator. He has caused this evil world’s system to reject God’s standard of righteousness and instead come up with their own standards of right and wrong. And because of the corruption of our sinful natures this world has done significant damage to our understanding and respect for biblical womanhood.
Now, more than ever before we must embrace the teaching of God’s Word to discover the definitions and roles of gender, of male and female. And these clear and precise teachings must be understood, submitted to, and celebrated.
We are given such a foundation in the earliest chapters of the Bible.
Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Take not of the word “man” here. It is the Hebrew word Adam. This word has the meaning of mankind or humankind in general, and not specifically maleness as opposed to femaleness.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God created both male and female in his image. God created all humankind or mankind in his own image. Both male and female are equals in God’s eyes. We are equal in terms of our essence. We are both humankind, we are both created in the very image and likeness of God.
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18 NET
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.”
Fit for him, corresponds to him, complements him. God knew that maleness was not enough. Males needed females to correspond or complete them. They are two pieces to the same puzzle. But they are different pieces. They are equal in terms of their essence, but different in terms of their function. And God designed it that way! Those differences are not something to be eliminated! That is what the world is trying to accomplish. They are trying to blur and destroy and functional difference between men and women.
Instead we must understand, embrace, and submit to the functional differences between men and women.
This is complicated even for believers because of the curse of sin.
Genesis 3:16 ESV
16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Because of the curse of sin, wives it is now difficult for you to embrace the functional differences God created you for. Husbands we too struggle in fulfilling our functional roles as men because of the curse of sin!
Friends, how do we submit to and celebrate the God intended similarities and differences between men and women? Especially ladies. How do you submit to God’s teaching on gender roles?
One of the most important places to start to is dwell richly on just how much God values women. Yes, you as a woman have a different function than a man. But, God does not value you any less. God gives to women great honor and value. And we must understand and see that truth the way God does.
In what way does the Bible teach the value of women?

The biblical value of women is shown in the way Christ loves His bride

Ephesians 5:22–33 ESV
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
How did Christ love the church? What about the love of Christ for the church are husbands to imitate and replicate in the marriage relationship? How does the love of Christ for His bride show the value and honor of the beloved in the eyes of the lover?
Several unique qualities of the love of Christ for His bride that are paramount for us to imitate and replicate in the marriage relationship.
Christ’s love is:

1. UNSTINTINGLY selfless and self-sacrificial

Agape love
Spiritual affection
Follows the direction of our will
thought-out and reasoned love
Exercise of the will irregardless of the loveliness of the object
No sentiment but sacrifice
Love is continually maintained and continued in service
Christ loved the church to make it perfectly lovable
Inscrutable, knowledge-surpassing love
UNSTINTINGLY giving, even unto death
Absolutely voluntary- free act of the will that is uncoerced and unforced
Ultimate desire- by voluntarily and selflessly and sacrificially giving ourselves for our wives we are really giving ourselves to God
Illustration: dishing out ice cream for dessert and there is only one scoop left. I will not give my wife 1/8th of a scoop so that I can have the rest. I give her the whole scoop and do it gladly! Unstintingly!

2. UNCONCERNED about the returned benefit

There is an infinite distance between Christ (the lover) and the church (the beloved).
We the church (the beloved), the object of Christ’s love, are so much below the Him.
That means we are so far from being capable of benefiting him in any way. He loves us without thought for the benefit He might receive in return.
Jesus Christ is above want.
He set his love upon us who are so filthy and deformed by sin.
Christ knew perfectly what was within us
Hebrews 4:13 ESV
13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And that there was a natural enmity within each one of us
Romans 3:10–11 ESV
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
And knowing all of this perfectly, knowing this from eternity past, Christ still chose and was pleased to set His love upon us.
Refutation: This does not mean that women are infinitely distant in value from men! Christ is infinitely distant from us, the church, which includes both men and women. Don’t press the imagery too far. The point is for husbands to love like Christ loved. That means men we love our wives without thought for the benefit we might receive in return. It means that even if we receive little or no benefit in return we still choose to love. It means even if there is enmity and contempt being shown to us we still choose to love. We love our wives as Christ loved the church.
Illustration: buying her a birthday present or mother’s day present thinking, “if I get her a good gift, just think what I’ll get for father’s day!” Real love gives that gift for her sake alone with no expectation of return benefit.

3. UNFLINCHINGLY beneficial to the beloved

By means of Christ’s death we enjoy benefits that we are presently unable to fathom or comprehend.
We have been rescued from eternal destruction so that we might enjoy Him fully and forever more.
Ephesians 1:3 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 2:7 ESV
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
“For Christ’s love to His elect passes knowledge; its depths are beyond the plumblines of created intelligences, its flame self-fed, self-kindled, aglow with an incandescence that many waters could not quench; a purpose to redeem which nothing could divert from its resolve, nor any obstacle, however tremendous, deter from achieving it once for all.”
“The king of terrors, armed with his fellest sting, had no power to withhold this unblenching Lover from standing proxy for the bride of His choice. What an amazing spectacle this, of Life essential plunging into a dread abyss of dereliction that His bride might partake with Him of everlasting bliss and joy! Is He not the mirror of chivalry no less than of devotion? No human suitor has ever loved, or ever will, on such a scale as that.” E.K. Simpson and F.F. Bruce
If we really loved our brides this way men, it would not be such an odious task for wives to submit to their husbands.
Illustration: Honey, I got you a welder for your birthday! It’s for your benefit! Right? No, rather its more like, Honey, get in the care let’s go to Kohl’s or Home Goods or Target. My treat!
Christ loves the church. And yes, he loved us when we were unlovely. Yes, He rescued us and made us into what we are. And apart from him we are truly wretched. But, in the same thought- Christ really does love the church as his betrothed bride. Christ gives to his bride a high degree of value. Without Christ we are wretched, but as the bride of Christ we have a value that is uncomprehending. In order to express this value Christ likens the church to his bride. Why? Because there is no other earthly relationship that could picture Christ’s love for the church as can the relationship of marriage. Part of the reason for why the marriage is the only relation that can picture Christ’s love for the church is the value of the bride.
Men our wives are of immeasurable value, especially in the eyes of God. The bride is the image that Jesus used for his Church to show his knowledge-surpassing love for the church. Wives you are of incredible value. And by extension I think we can make this statement: Women are of incredible value to God. And women ought to be of incredible value to us as well.

The biblical value of women is shown in the way Christ exalts His bride

Another major teaching of the church as the bride of Christ is that of her exalted position. This teaching is mainly future looking for the church. The things Christ has in store for His bride in the future speak to her exalted position and ultimately her value in the eyes of Christ.
In vv. 26-27 of Ephesians 5 Paul tells us why Christ loved the church- what is the ultimate purpose of His love for the bride?
Ephesians 5:26–27 ESV
26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
It is perhaps best to understand this teaching by comparing it to ancient Oriental marriage customs.
There were three phases of Oriental marriages.

Phase 1: Betrothal

In the betrothal phase the couple entered into a legal contract. This contract was sealed with a bridal present, which was the purchase price for the bride.
Alfred Edersheim, in his book The live and Times of Jesus the Messiah, makes this comment:
“At the betrothal, the bridegroom, personally or by deputy, handed to the bride a piece of money or a letter, it being expressly stated in each case that the man thereby espoused the woman.” —Alfred Edersheim
This betrothal of the church to Christ has already taken place and the bridal price already paid.
Acts 20:28 ESV
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Therefore, with the bridal price already paid, by Christ, by means of his own blood, the church has been espoused to Christ as His bride.
2 Corinthians 11:2 ESV
2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Again, Edersheim comments on this betrothal:
“From the moment of the betrothal both parties were regarded, and treated in law (as to inheritance, adultery, need of formal divorce), as if they had been actually married, except as regarded their living together.” —Alfred Edersheim
Unlike our custom where the proposal and engagement merely indicate a promise to marry, the Oriental betrothal was the very initiation of the marriage.
After the man and woman were betrothed there was no set time as to when the next step of the marriage might be initiated. It could be a month, a year, or longer. Common in the East is the espousal of children to each other by their parents.
Nevertheless, the church, the bride, has already been betrothed to Christ, the bridegroom. This is an incredible honor.
Paul speaks of this honor as a mystery.
Ephesians 5:29–30 ESV
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.
We are members of his body- we are one with Christ. Because of our union with Christ at our salvation by means of the Holy Spirit we have become one with Christ- we are part of his body. This has striking parallels to the marriage relationship.
Ephesians 5:31 ESV
31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Here Paul quotes Genesis 2 24. The Lord spoke these words to Adam and Eve as He instituted the marriage relationship. Eve is unique among brides. She is the only bride in history where one could say she was of her husband’s body before she became his bride. For God took one of Adam’s ribs and from that body part formed and fashioned Eve. This remarkable truth is brought out by Adam the first time he laid eyes on Eve.
Genesis 2:22–23 ESV
22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
This is the first human poem, it’s a love poem- She shall be called Woman (Isha) because she was taken out of Man (Ish). Translation: “WOW!”
Then God says as He institutes the marriage relationship:
Genesis 2:24 ESV
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
By making Eve from Adam’s rib God showed the oneness that all future marriages would produce. In the marriage act the two become one flesh. “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” This speaks to the equal status, and even more than that, the oneness that the husband and the wife enjoy.
This oneness parallels with the oneness of Christ and the church.
Jesus Christ, the last Adam, was also put to sleep in a garden and there his side was wounded. And from that wound has come one who is bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. And one day this one shall be presented to Him to be His holy wife. This is a great mystery!
Ephesians 5:32 ESV
32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
This speaks to the exalted position of Christ’s bride. She, who is already espoused to her bridegroom, who is already bone of His bone? Flesh of His flesh?, shall one day become His holy wife? What an honor, what an exalted position.
The church now is the betrothed bride of Christ and she is waiting for the second phase of the Oriental marriage:

Phase 2: Presentation

The second phase of the Oriental marriage is the presentation of the bride to the Bridegroom. This was usually a night processional and it was the main event of the marriage. Scholars describe the processional in this way,
The bridegroom wore elegant clothes with a matrimonial crown.
The bridegroom was accompanied by his family and friends
He would begin the procession with the group of his family and friends and would journey to meet his bride who had her own wedding party of friends and family.
When both wedding parts met they would sing to the young couple.
The bride met the bridegroom with a veil over her face.
The bridegroom would then lead his bride to his house where all the proceedings of the wedding would take place.
All of this parallels with the church as the bride of Christ.
The church, the bride, has the promise of the Bridegroom that He will come again and take His bride to Himself.
John 14:3 ESV
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Paul describes the coming of the Bridegroom for His bride this way:
1 Thessalonians 4:16–17 ESV
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
In Ephesians this is how Paul speaks of the Bridegroom will collect His bride:
Ephesians 5:27 ESV
27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the original Greek there is an emphatic emphasis on the presenting of the bride. The text literally says, “that he might Himself present to Himself the church in splendor!”
What is going on here? In the Oriental marriage the bride and the bridegroom had two groomsmen, or “friends of the bridegroom.” Once for each the bride and the bridegroom. It was the special duty of the groomsmen to the bridegroom to present to him his bride.
But in the case of the church Christ will allow no one else this honor. Jesus reserves the privilege of presenting the bride for Himself. Christ will one day Himself present to Himself the church, His bride, in splendor. This is the exalted position of the bride.
And think about how Christ will present His bride! She will be glorious! Without spot or wrinkle- that is free from any and every defect. She will be holy, that is set apart from all others, and without blemish, that is in a state of absolute perfection.
What does that mean? One day Christ will become an object of admiration to all others. As the bride is resplendent in her white dress on her wedding day, the object of admiration by all the onlookers—so one day the bride of Christ will have such glory that she will excite admiration by all other intelligent beings in the universe. This is the exalted position of the bride!
How glorious will the bride be when Christ Himself presents to Himself His bride?
1 John 3:2 ESV
2 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.
Philippians 3:20–21 ESV
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Our glory will be His glory. The church one day will be presented as a faultless bride, perfect in beauty and splendidly adorned.
The presentation of the bride is not the final phase of the marriage however,

Phase 3: Marriage Feast

Once the bridegroom came and met his bride, who with her maidens anxiously expected his arrival:
Matthew 25:6 ESV
6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
The bridegroom would conduct the whole party back to his own or his father’s house with gladness:
Psalm 45:15 ESV
15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
Once at the the house a feast was prepared, to which all the friends and neighbors were invited. The festivities would go on for 7 - 14 days.
Revelation 19:7 ESV
7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
V. 7- the marriage has already taken place- for the marriage of the Lamb has come (aorist tense).
The Bride has made herself ready- probably a reference to the glorification of the church as well as the rewards handed out to her at the bema seat.
Revelation 19:8 ESV
8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
V. 8- Righteous deeds of the saints could be a reference to the righteous awards of the saints. These then would be the rewards she receives at the bema of Christ.
Revelation 19:9 ESV
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
After the marriage and the preparation of the bride in her glorious dress comes the marriage feast. Probably an event that last for the entirety of the Millennial kingdom.
“If it would be enrapturing to hear the mighty throng saying, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever,’—if it would a joy to be a spectator at the marriage supper of the Lamb, what would it be to be one in that church which shall constitute the bride of Christ…leaning upon hi arm as upon the arm of a strong and loving bridegroom and hear him say as to a bride, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love?”—Spilman
It will then be the bride’s exalted position to rule and reign with the King of kings. The church, the bride, will not be a subject of the king, but rather a co-sharer in his reign. What an exalted position!
Revelation 20:6 ESV
6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Finally, after the marriage supper the bridegroom takes his bride to their new home.
John 14:2–3 ESV
2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 17:24 ESV
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Revelation 21:1–3 ESV
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Revelation 22:3–5 ESV
3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
This is the exalted position of the bride, the church.
Husbands this is how you need to think about, love, exalt, and honor your wives.
Ephesians 5:28 ESV
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
She is bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh. You are one and the same. The honor you give to her you give to yourself for you are both one. She is your bride full of splendor given to you by God. You are co-heirs together!
1 Peter 3:7 ESV
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Heirs together of the grace of life- she is not your subject, but a co-sharer in the grace of life.
Christ exalts the church, His bride. In fact the only possible human relationship that could adequately picture the honor Christ gives the church is the picture of the bride. Christ and His bride are one. Christ takes great joy in presenting His bride to Himself. He will allow no other such an honor. Christ delights in present his bride in glory array. Christ delights in co-sharing his reign with His bride. All of this pictures the honor Christ shows His bride. It also teaches us husbands the honor we ought to show our wives. Christ loves and honors wives and by extension Christ honors and loves women. Women are of incredible value to God. And women ought to be of incredible value to us as well.
In what way does the Bible teach the value of women?
In the way Christ loves His bride
In the way Christ exalts His bride
Today, we honor you women as God honors you. In honoring you we honor the One you bear the image of.
Ladies, know that you are of great value to God. You bear His image. You are loved and held in honor by God.
Husbands, how can you love your wife like Christ loves His bride? Do you need to love her more like Christ loved the church? Do you need to exalt her more as Christ has exalted the church?
Friend, maybe today you were able to see the love of Christ for you as never before. Church you are Christ’s beloved. He has betrothed you to Himself. One day you will be presented to Him by Him and for Him. You will rule with Him and spend eternity in His presence. Will you rejoice in that love today? Will you fix your mind on the future, on the ages and eons to come, where Christ will shower you with unexpected grace, everlasting wonder, and adoring love?
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