Study Guide: The New Jerusalem Bride

Sunday March 30, 2014 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Revelation provides us with a beautiful vision of the future as well as a way to live in the here and now. In this sermon, Greg shows us how the symbolism of Jerusalem and the Bride shows God’s heart for creation and our holiness.

Extended Summary:

The last three chapters of Revelation provide us with a beautiful vision of the future and also a vision of how we are to live now. There is a rich symbolism in the vision of a city that is a bride: the New Jerusalem Bride.

This symbolism begins with the Holy City coming down from Heaven to the Earth. This is important symbolism for Christians. In ancient times, there were a lot of thinkers that saw this world and the matter it was made from as inferior, if not evil. They thought of the soul as being trapped in a body, waiting to be released upon death and never to return again. This thinking also crept into the early church, unfortunately.

But, in the Bible, there is no such view. The world was created by God, sustained by God and loved by God. Our bodies and creation have been corrupted by the Fall, but that doesn’t make them inherently evil. This is why the vision of the City returning to the Earth is so important. It shows Christians that this creation is important to God and will not be abandoned.

The second symbolism we see is that the city is adorned like a bride. This is where God shows his dwelling place, the city, as a bride, which represented his people. Throughout the New Testament, we see the people of God being described as Jesus’ bride and Jesus as the bridegroom. And in the Old Testament, we see Israel being described as God’s bride.

In Judaism culture, after a couple was engaged, there was a time called the betrothal period. During this betrothal period, the husband and wife would spend time apart to prepare for their wedding and marriage. The husband would find employment and housing. The wife would be coached by others on how to be a good wife. And this vision brings us to the understanding that we need to be preparing ourselves as the bride of Christ.

To prepare ourselves, we need to be in community with other Christians. The brand of American Christianity with individualism and podcasts is not as fulfilling as solid communities where others help us grow. And, the reason we do this is because we want to be as holy as God has made us. This Holy City that came down from Heaven is not just God turning an ignorant eye towards it. Rather, God has made it holy through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

God’s goal all along was to dwell with his creation. From the Garden to Revelation, we see God constantly pursuing his creation as it walks away from him. This symbolism of the Holy Bride City coming down to Earth is a confirmation that God’s goal will happen. We will one day dwell fully with God as his Holy people and we can start acting like it now.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What additional questions and comments did you have about the sermon and supporting texts?
  2. How have you seen the recreation of the Earth before this sermon?
  3. Why is it important to live a holy life as Christ’s bride?
  4. We are in the betrothal period of the cosmic wedding, and it is the bride’s job to learn how to be a good wife during this time. In what ways do you see yourself needing to live more like the blemish free bride?
  5. How does God loving us as a community change how we think about being married to Christ?