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In the statement of John the Baptist in John 3.29 who are the bride and the bridegroom?

This is quite a remarkable verse and is one of the many sayings and testimonies of truth from the lips of the Baptist. John had a number of revelations granted to him from God concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever is represented by the bride stands closer in relation to the bridegroom than John who regards himself as the friend. The imagery used is that of a wedding feast. John, I take it, was the last in the great line of prophets, and as the friend also he represents the last of the Old Testament saints. I think the bride is the Church and the bridegroom is Christ. If so, it shows the Church is unique and something new. The Church will ever be precious to Christ and the object of His love. We must see that the Church is distinct from Israel and the old economy. Perhaps the guests at the marriage supper in Revelation 19 are the Old Testament saints invited to celebrate the marriage of the Lamb.

It has to be said that when he refers to the bride and bridegroom John is speaking figuratively by way of illustration. What he says really anticipates further truth revealed in the New Testament in such passages as Ephesians 5.25-33 and Revelation 19.7-9. When John spoke these words the truth as to the Church as the bride and the bridegroom picturing Christ had not been made known, but no doubt he was inspired to express himself in terms which exactly suit that truth when later revealed. The Holy Spirit applies freely these figures of the bride and bridegroom to the Church and Christ, to the new relationship mentioned in the epistles and the Revelation. The Baptist rejoiced that the bride was not his but Christ’s. He had no link with the bride. Let believers rejoice that they are part of the bride of Christ.

John J Stubbs

Does 1 Timothy 3 teach that even if a brother is "blameless" etc. in himself his wife could disqualify him from oversight or deaconship by her behaviour in any way, e.g. by evident lack of subjection?

As to overseers, the questioner directs attention to the verses in 1 Timothy 3, but it should be noted that there is a parallel passage in Titus 1. In the Epistle to Timothy, the qualities or features that should mark an overseer are presented for the benefit of one who is aspiring to take up the work: "If a man desire the office of a bishop (i.e. overseership)…" (3.1). However, in the letter to Titus the features set forth are to be a guide to those in the assembly for the recognition of elders.

An overseer should be marked out as "One that ruleth well his own house" (1 Tim 3.4). The word translated "ruleth" means "to stand before", thus "to lead"; autocratic authority is not in view as is clear from the use of the adverb "well". The idea is that he presides over his household in an excellent manner. Circumstantially, it is a man’s family that will test his fitness for responsibility in God’s assembly.

Although this verse directs attention to his children, "having his children in subjection with all gravity", a brother’s fitness for leadership among the people of God will be seriously weakened if his wife is not demonstrating subjection to him, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord" (Eph 5.22), and acknowledging the headship of the man, "the head of the woman is the man" (1 Cor 11.3), by having her head covered in the gatherings of the Lord’s people.

As to the subject of deacons, dealt with in vv.8-13 of 1 Timothy 3, in the context these are men who are gifted for teaching the Word of God in the assembly, albeit some have suggested that "their wives" (v.11) are women who serve in some capacity among God’s people. However, it is clear that deacons, as with overseers, are to be "the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well" (v.12).

David E West


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