Is the "Bride of Christ" in Revelation a mother goddess?

by Luke Wayne
11/9/2018
Return to World Mission Society Church of God

One of the central assertions of the "World Mission Society Church of God" (WMSCOG) is that, in addition to God the Father, there is also a "God the Mother" who is an eternal "female image of God" and is co-creator with God. Among the chief places they turn to try and substantiate this claim are the passages about the "Bride of Christ" at the end of Revelation, such as:

"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost," (Revelation 22:17).

The WMSCOG are modalists, believing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same person, so to them, the bride of Christ is also, by definition, bride to the Father and the Spirit since they are all just different roles played by the same person. Thus, the Spirit and Bride who together say "come" are our heavenly Father and Mother. The logic is inherently strained. You have to already accept their errant beliefs before you could possibly begin to read the verse that way.  But the problems with this claim go much deeper than that.

Who is the Bride?

Before we look directly at the verses in Revelation, it is important first to establish a little background. The idea and language of God's "bride" is not new to the Book of Revelation. It is present throughout much of the Bible! But the bride is not a goddess or any sort of heavenly being. It is God's covenant people. Throughout the prophets, for example, Old Covenant Israel is repeatedly said to be God's bride and He their husband. For example, Isaiah writes: 

"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," (Isaiah 54:5).

And again:

"as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you," (Isaiah 62:5).

The prophets also rebuke Israel for her idolatry by using this kind of language. For example, in Ezekiel we read things like:

"You adulteress wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband!" (Ezekiel 16:32).

The book of Hosea is also greatly devoted to this picture of God as the husband of Israel, who is an unfaithful bride. God's bride is not a second eternal being. God's "bride" is the community of His people with whom He has made a covenant like the covenant of marriage! And this doesn't go away after the Old Testament either. Paul, for example, speaks of the Church, the people of the New Covenant, as being a betrothed bride to Jesus. He writes to the believers at Corinth:

"For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin," (2 Corinthians 11:2).

Likewise, when instructing the Ephesians on marriage, he explains:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless," (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Earthly marriage is itself only a picture of the greater marriage between Christ and His people! As Paul goes on to say:

"for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church," (Ephesians 5:29-32).

Paul is not ambiguous here. Quoting from Genesis where marriage was first established, Paul teaches that even this was speaking of "Christ and the church." Indeed, members of the church are members of Christ's body exactly because the church is Christ's bride and thus the two are one flesh! So, by the time we get to the Book of Revelation, there is already a clearly established reality that the bride of Christ is the church, the covenant people, not a second divine being.

The Bride in Revelation

So, does the Book of Revelation give us any reason to think that it is speaking of a different bride of Christ than the rest of Scripture? No. On the contrary, it gives us plenty of evidence to confirm that it has the very same idea in mind, that the bride of Christ is the community of the saints. The first direct mention of the "bride" in Revelation comes in chapter 19:

"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. 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," (Revelation 19:7-8).

Already here we see that the bride comes dressed in "the righteous acts of the saints." This seems to affirm that the term "bride" is being used for God's people just as it is elsewhere in Scripture. The topic is picked up again in Chapter 21:

"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,'" (Revelation 21:2-3).

Carefully note what is happening here. As the bride comes adorned for her husband and the groom takes His wife, what are we told? Read the words again: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them." The marriage of the Lamb to His bride is not the joining of a male and female god. It is the joining of God and men! These men will now be God's people and He their God forever. The "bride" is plainly the people of God. Indeed, this makes the best sense out of why this bride not pictured as a woman but rather as an entire city! And as the chapter goes on, the foundation stones of the city are said to bear the names of the twelve Apostles (Revelation 21:14). The Apostles do not lay the foundation of an eternal heavenly mother who already existed before they were created. That doesn't even make sense. The Apostles do, however, lay the foundation of the church. The city is not a female deity. It is the community of God's elect!

Finally, we arrive at the passage cited most often by the WMSCOG, Revelation 22:17. Yet, what is chapter 22 talking about? Who is bidding who to come? The hope of Revelation 22 is the imminent coming of Jesus to rescue His people! Note Jesus' words of encouragement: 

"And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book," (Revelation 22:7).

And He assures again only a few verses later:

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end," (Revelation 22:13-13).

The chapter closes by stating:

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus," (Revelation 22:20).

Jesus promises to come. Our hope is in His coming. The author even bids Him, "come, Lord Jesus." Thus, with this as the surrounding context, we read:

"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost," (Revelation 22:17).

The Spirit and the Bride say "come." To who? To Jesus, who is coming to take His bride to Himself and be their God forever! We, God's people, bid our bridegroom "come!" The Holy Spirit cries out within us, "come!" Let all who hear the words of this prophecy join the chorus of "come!" Who do we want to come? "Come, Lord Jesus," (Revelation 22:20).

As you can see, these passages have absolutely nothing to do with the unbiblical concept of an eternal goddess and co-creator. They have everything to do with the very biblical idea that God has made a covenant with His people and will consummate that covenant in Christ in the age to come and be with His people forever. Thus, the WMSCOG teaching completely misses the point of every one of these passages and, by trying to divert your hope and your worship to a false Christ and a false goddess and away from the true and living God, it seeks, in reality, to deprive you of the very hope to which these passages actually point.