The Bride and the Bridegroom
“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.”
These words are intended to illuminate John the Baptist’s important role in the great drama of salvation. He is the shoshben who, according to Jewish custom, arranged the marriage ceremonies and conducted the bride to her husband. Even more importantly, however, they also teach us about Jesus Christ in the role of the bridegroom and about what believers in Christ have become because of their engagement to him.
In the annals of the Persian kings there is a story about the wife of one of the generals of Cyrus, the king mentioned in Isaiah who ruled several hundred years before the birth of Christ. The wife, the story says, was charged with treason and after a trial was condemned to die. At first her husband did not realize what had taken place, but he was told about it and at once went bursting into the throne room. He threw himself on the floor before the king and cried, “Oh, Lord, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place.” Cyrus, who by all historical accounts was a humane and fairly sensitive man, was touched by this offer. He said, “Love like that must not be spoiled by death.” Then he gave the husband and wife back to each other and let the wife go free. As they walked away happily the husband said to his wife, “Did you notice how kindly the king looked upon us when he gave you the pardon?” The wife replied, “I had no eyes for the king. I saw only the man who was willing to die in my place.”
I believe that if we can enter into the spirit of that story, we can also understand what the Bible means when it shows us that Jesus Christ is the great lover, bridegroom, husband, and provider of his church. He is the One who not only offered himself in our place but who actually died for us in order that he might present us to himself “radiant … without stain or blemish” (Eph. 5:27). As his bride our eyes, hearts, minds, and souls should be fixed upon him.
Jesus Is God
Before we begin to apply this theme to ourselves, however, we need to see what it teaches about Jesus Christ. This is important, for John was teaching that Jesus is God. This is seen in the fact that when John the Baptist applied the image of the bridegroom to Jesus he was certainly not just making the comparison up. John was applying an Old Testament image to Christ, and the point is that in the Old Testament Jehovah, the God of Israel, is the bridegroom.
The earliest suggestion of the image in the Old Testament, so far as I can tell, is in the Book of Exodus. Here, in the context of the giving of the law, God tells Israel, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same. Do not make cast idols” (Exod. 34:14–17). In these verses the fact that Jehovah is the bridegroom or husband of Israel is not spelled out explicitly, but it is implied in the argument that for Israel to worship other gods is harlotry. These verses are the seed of the later imagery.
By the time we get to the Book of Deuteronomy, the warning against committing spiritual adultery, which is found in Exodus, is changed to a prophecy that this is precisely what will happen. Thus we find God saying to Moses, “You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them” (Deut. 31:16).
In the prophetic books we find that Israel has already done this, departing from the Lord. Here the language becomes explicit. Isaiah writes, “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name” (Isa. 54:5). Several chapters later Isaiah again says, “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isa. 62:5). From this point on the comparison occurs more frequently, several times in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, for instance. Finally, the entire personal story of Hosea and the opening chapters of his prophecy are based on this theme. In all of these books God is the faithful lover and husband. Israel is the unfaithful wife and bride.
When we put this imagery into the context of John the Baptist’s preaching, we find that John was identifying the Lord Jesus Christ with God. John preached on the basis of Old Testament themes. He knew that Israel was the bride and Jehovah was the bridegroom. Now Jesus appears, and John immediately casts him in God’s role. In mathematics, whenever you have two equations like “A equals B” and “B equals C,” it is always possible to make a third equation which says that “A equals C.” The rule is that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. In the same way, if Jehovah is the bridegroom and Jesus Christ is the bridegroom, it follows that Jesus is Jehovah.
Is he your God? Is he your bridegroom?
The second major teaching of the bride and bridegroom imagery is of the high calling of the church. She is the one for whom Christ died. She is married to him. Consequently, she is called to be faithful.
This is the sense in which the imagery is developed several times in Paul’s writing. For instance, in the eleventh chapter of 2 Corinthians Paul writes of his concern lest the church he had established in Corinth prove unfaithful to the Lord Jesus. “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (vv. 2–3). In the following verse he shows that unfaithfulness occurs whenever the church, which is called by his name, adopts “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” or “another gospel” as its message.
Do you see what this means? It means that the church of Jesus Christ can be faithful, but she can also be unfaithful. She can commit spiritual adultery. She commits adultery whenever she departs from the Jesus of the Bible, the spirit of Jesus that witnesses to him through Scripture, or the gospel of salvation by faith in Christ alone.
Has the church done this? This is a question that must be asked afresh in each age. Have we another Jesus, another spirit, or another gospel in our churches? I am not speaking of faithful churches when I say this, of course, but I believe that (with the exception of such churches) honesty forces us to admit that this has indeed happened in our age. The quest of another Jesus is called often laudably “The Quest of the Historical Jesus.” The trend to another spirit occurs whenever people follow private leadings or visions rather than the clear statements of Scripture. Another gospel emerges whenever works are mixed with faith in salvation. This has occurred, but it is all apostasy. We must counter such trends with the insistence that membership in the church of Jesus Christ involves great ethical and doctrinal responsibility as well as high privileges.
Sex and Marriage
In an appendix on the theme of the bride and the bridegroom in The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, Francis A. Schaeffer also notes that the bride and bridegroom theme speaks to the issue of sexual morality and the standards for Christian marriage. This is important also, particularly in our day when the old sexual norms are threatened and when faithfulness in marriage seems to be losing its appeal for many persons.
Why is it that promiscuous sexual relations and unfaithfulness in marriage are wrong? There are three major reasons, Schaeffer notes. First, these things are wrong simply because God says so. That which is right is right and that which is wrong is wrong, not because men judge it to be right or wrong, but because good is related to God’s character. His character is the morality of the universe. Hence, if he tells us that something is wrong, it is wrong, however we may feel about it personally.
The second reason why promiscuity or unfaithfulness is wrong is that these things are not good for us as God made us. It is true that right is right and wrong is wrong because God says so, but it is equally true that morality is related to the way in which we are made. Thus, we find ourselves entering into a fuller realization of the happiness we are made for as we obey God’s laws. And conversely, we find ourselves upon an increasingly destructive path when we flout them.
The final, and best, reason why promiscuous sexual relations and marital unfaithfulness are wrong is that these things break the picture of what God intends marriage to be. Schaeffer states, “Marriage is set forth to be the illustration of the relationship of God and his people, and of Christ and his church.… The relationship of God with his people rests upon his character, and sexual relationship outside of marriage breaks this parallel which the Bible draws between marriage and the relationship of God with his people.” Women are to love as the church loves Christ. Men are to love as Christ loves. “If we break God’s illustration by such a relationship, it is a serious thing.”
How do we apply this personally? It depends upon who we are and where we are on the graded spectrum of love, marriage, and sex. Some are not yet married but will be thinking about it. If you are in this category, you must determine to hold up the highest possible standards of marriage and then evaluate the one you are thinking of marrying in terms of them. Young woman, you must look at your young man and ask, “Can he be as Jesus Christ to me?” If he cannot be, look elsewhere. Young man, you should ask, “Do I love this young woman enough to give myself for her? Am I willing to cover up her faults and be patient with her, as God instructs me to do? Am I willing to die for her?” If you are not willing to do these things, it is not right for you to marry her.
Others will be beyond thinking about marriage. They are already married, and there are difficulties. If you are in this category, you must not give up because of the difficulties. To do so would be to suggest that God gives up on us, and this is untrue. Instead you must love with a love that overcomes difficulties—first, by changing yourself and then by winning over the other person. If you will yield to Christ and his standards, he will begin by making of you a new creation and then end by making all things new.
The Lord’s Return
Finally, there is this great lesson in the image. Not only does the theme of the bride and the bridegroom teach us of the deity of Jesus Christ, not only does it set the highest standards for the conduct of the church and for individual conduct in the areas of sex and marriage—it also teaches us about the return of Jesus Christ. We see this when we apply the image in time, for in a temporal sense we are presently only engaged to Jesus Christ awaiting that final consummation of the engagement at the future marriage supper of the Lamb.
Does an engaged woman look forward to her wedding day? Of course she does! So should we also look forward to our Lord’s return and act accordingly.
How do you live as you wait for the Lord’s return? Let me illustrate how you should live by these two contrasting stories from the book God’s Methods for Holy Living by Donald Grey Barnhouse. At the time of the First World War there was a young aristocrat in England who married and then went off to the trenches on the continent. The young bride wrote that she was preoccupied with war work and was nursing in a certain hospital. She apologized for not writing often, saying that she was spending long hours every day tending the war wounded. Some time later, when her husband was coming home on leave, a friend, who knew what was actually going on, said to him, “If I were you, I would not write in advance that I am coming. I would simply slip over quietly.” The husband did so. He went to the hospital where his wife was supposed to be working and found that those working there had never heard of her. She was not at her apartment either. Someone said, “Oh, she will probably be at a tea dance at the Ritz today.” The husband went there and found his wife in the company of another man. In time, he found out a good deal more and was granted a divorce by British authorities.
The other story is this. At the beginning of the same war, in the western part of America, there was a young couple who had made plans to be married. Everything was in readiness. They had a small cottage. They had furnished it. The date was set for the marriage. Suddenly war was declared, and the young man, who was in the reserve, was called up to active duty. He was to be sent to the Mexican border to train before being shipped off to France. On the day before he was to be sent off for training, the young woman said to him, “I know that it is not quite the date for our wedding, but you might be ordered overseas immediately; you might be killed, and I would much rather go through life bearing your name than go through life always explaining that the man I loved had been killed in the war. So let’s be married now.” On the next day they were married; and for their honeymoon the husband went with the troops, and the bride went alone to the little cottage.
She was very lonely, of course, as you can imagine, and she longed for the day when she would again see her lover-husband. Day after day he wrote to her. He sent her gifts—a Navajo rug, some Mexican lace, some Indian pottery. Months passed, and the day came when she was so lonely that she sat down on some pillows in front of the fireplace, spread out the rug, put the other gifts on a piece of furniture, and then began to read through all the accumulated letters while having herself a good cry. Suddenly, as she was reading the letters, there was a step on the porch, the door opened, and there he was! He had sent a telegram, but it was delayed, as telegrams often were in those days. He had arrived before it. When she saw him and realized that he was home, the young bride jumped to her feet, scattered the letters about, and even knocked over the pottery. A few of the letters fell into the fire, but she did not care at all. He had returned to her, and having him she had all.
The one who tells those stories then wrote, “Dear friends, our Lord Jesus is coming back and He is going to find you and … me in one of those two attitudes. Will you be flirting with the world, or will you be occupied with His love letters, His gifts, His work, thinking of Him?” Jesus is coming. The Bible says that “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).
29 John the Baptist now restates the relationship using the metaphor of a Jewish wedding ceremony. Jesus had spoken of himself as a bridegroom (Mk 2:19), and Paul employs the same metaphor (2 Co 11:2; Eph 5:23–32). The “bride” (in this case, a collective reference to those who were coming to Jesus for baptism) belongs to the “bridegroom” (Jesus). John’s role (assigned “from heaven,” v. 27) was to be “the friend who attends the bridegroom.” According to Jewish custom, the groom’s closest friend was chosen as the shoshben (roughly equivalent to “best man”) and would make all the necessary wedding arrangements. (Some differences exist between Galilean and Judean nuptial customs, but here the metaphor is used in a general sense.) The friend waits and listens for the coming of the groom, and when he hears his voice he is filled with joy. Here the shoshben is pictured either as standing guard at the bride’s house waiting for the arrival of those who will escort her to the groom’s house, or as waiting at the groom’s house for the arrival of the bride. Once bride and bridegroom are together, the friend will hear them talking with each other and will rejoice. A more specific interpretation of the “bridegroom’s voice” is that it is “the triumphant shout by which the bridegroom announced to his friends outside that he had been united to a virginal bride” (Schnackenburg, 1:416).
29 So far from being downcast at what is happening, John rejoices. He now employs the illustration of a wedding to bring this out. At a wedding the bridegroom is the important man. His friend may stand by him and rejoice with him. Indeed, in the Jewish scene he could do more. “The friend who attends the bridegroom” was an important person. He was responsible for many of the details of the wedding, and in particular it was he who brought the bride to the bridegroom. But when he had done this, his task was over. He did not expect to take the center of the stage.111 “The bride belongs to the bridegroom.” But a wedding is a happy occasion for others than the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s friend “is full of joy.” The joy of his friend brings joy to him, too. In the same way, says John, his own joy,113 not simply that of Jesus, fills him completely. The news his disciples brought him was what he had been longing to hear. It filled his cup of joy to the full. Elsewhere Jesus used the wedding illustration to explain why his disciples did not fast (Mark 2:19). The present passage shows that the joy of his coming was not confined to his immediate circle. There may be more to the present passage than a happy illustration. The Baptist would have been well aware that in the Old Testament Israel is regarded as the bride of Yahweh (Isa. 54:5; 62:4–5; Jer. 2:2; 3:20; Ezek. 16:8; Hos. 2:19–20). This imagery made its appeal as a way of referring to the Messiah, and we find it applied to Christ, for example in 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:32. “In some real sense the Baptist testified that God Himself was in Christ betrothing His bride to Himself afresh” (Murray). At the time the Evangelist records the saying it would be impossible to miss the overtones that Jesus, not the Baptist, is the Bridegroom. The church is his bride, not that of his forerunner.114
29. Then John takes an illustration from marriage customs. He says, He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The Baptist points out that the bride belongs to the bridegroom, not to the latter’s friend. Now Christ is the Bridegroom, and his people are the Bride. The Bride, then, must be brought to the Bridegroom. That is exactly what John has been doing. He is constantly pointing to the Lamb of God, hoping that many will follow the latter. Now, the bridegroom’s friend who stands and hears him is very happy to hear the bridegroom’s voice. So it is with John. Just as the friend of the bridegroom, who stands at his side, listening, rejoices when the bridegroom voices his joy upon receiving the bride, so also the Baptist is very happy when he reflects on the satisfaction in the heart of the real Bridegroom, Christ, upon welcoming his own. He says, This joy of mine is now full. He means: when, in connection with the report regarding the dispute concerning purifying, I receive further assurance that people are leaving me and are flocking to Jesus, my cup of joy is running over.
3:29 The Lord Jesus Christ was the bridegroom. John the Baptist was merely the friend of the bridegroom, the “best man.” The bride does not belong to the friend of the bridegroom, but rather to the bridegroom himself. Therefore, it was fitting that the people follow Jesus rather than John. The bride was used here to refer in a general way to all who would become disciples of the Lord Jesus. In the OT, Israel was spoken of as the wife of Jehovah. Later on in the NT, those who are members of Christ’s church are described under the figure of a bride. But here in John’s Gospel, the word was used in a general sense to include those who left John the Baptist when the Messiah appeared. It did not mean either Israel or the church. John was not unhappy to lose followers. It was his great joy to listen to the bridegroom’s voice. He was satisfied that Jesus receive all the attention. His joy was fulfilled when Christ was praised and honored by men.
3:29 In explaining why people were flocking to Jesus (v. 26), John the Baptist pointed out that the bridegroom receives the bride. John compared himself to the friend of the bridegroom, who was appointed to arrange the preliminaries of the wedding, to manage the wedding, and to preside at the wedding feast. When the friend of the bridegroom finished his job, he had to get out of the way. His joy came from the success of the bridegroom. John was satisfied with his position in life. He was content to be a “voice” (1:23) and a friend.
3:29 bridegroom … friend of the bridegroom. John conveyed his understanding of his own role through the use of a parable. The “friend of the bridegroom” was the ancient equivalent of the best man who organized the details and presided over the Judean wedding (Galilean weddings were somewhat different). This friend found his greatest joy in watching the ceremony proceed without problems. Most likely, John was also alluding to OT passages where faithful Israel is depicted as the bride of the Lord (Is 62:4, 5; Jer 2:2; Hos 2:16–20).
3:29 The Baptist’s reference to Jesus as the bridegroom (cf. Matt. 9:15 par.) identifies Jesus as Israel’s long-awaited King and Messiah. In the OT, Israel is frequently depicted as God’s “bride” (e.g., Isa. 62:4–5; Jer. 2:2; Hos. 2:16–20). The Baptist’s role is that of the bridegroom’s friend, who selflessly rejoices with the groom (cf. John 1:6–9, 15, 19–36). On Christ as bridegroom, see Eph. 5:25–27; Rev. 19:7–8.
3:29 the bridegroom The marriage relationship provides a powerful metaphor for God’s love for His people in Isaiah (Isa 62:5). The image of waiting on the bridegroom is used in Matthew to symbolize waiting on Christ’s return (Matt 25:1). The other Gospels also use it as a symbol of rejoicing (Matt 9:15; Mark 2:19–20; Luke 5:34). In Revelation, Jesus is the bridegroom returning for His bride, the Church (Rev 19:7). This imagery possibly reflects the expectation of a banquet that ushers in the messianic age, an idea found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (see the Rule of the Community; the Elect of God Text) and rabbinic literature (see the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 96–99).
friend of the bridegroom John styles himself in the role of friend of the bridegroom, participating in the ceremony but not the center of attention. Compare Matt 25:1.
29. He who hath the bride. By this comparison, he confirms more fully the statement, that it is Christ alone who is excluded from the ordinary rank of men. For as he who marries a wife does not call and invite his friends to the marriage, in order to prostitute the bride to them, or, by giving up his own rights, to allow them to partake with him of the nuptial bed, but rather that the marriage, being honoured by them, may be rendered more sacred; so Christ does not call his ministers to the office of teaching, in order that, by conquering the Church, they may claim dominion over it, but that he may make use of their faithful labours for associating them with himself. It is a great and lofty distinction, that men are appointed over the Church, to represent the person of the Son of God. They are, therefore, like the friends whom the bridegroom brings with him, that they may accompany him in celebrating the marriage; but we must attend to the distinction, that ministers, being mindful of their rank, may not appropriate to themselves what belongs exclusively to the bridegroom. The whole amounts to this, that all the eminence which teachers may possess among themselves ought not to hinder Christ from ruling alone in his Church, or from governing it alone by his word.
This comparison frequently occurs in Scripture, when the Lord intends to express the sacred bond of adoption, by which he binds us to himself. For as he offers himself to be truly enjoyed by us, that he may be ours, so he justly claims from us that mutual fidelity and love which the wife owes to her husband. This marriage is entirely fulfilled in Christ, whose flesh and bones we are, as Paul informs us, (Eph. 5:30.) The chastity demanded by him consists chiefly in the obedience of the Gospel, that we may not suffer ourselves to be led aside from its pure simplicity, as the same Apostle teaches us, (2 Cor. 11:2, 3.) We must, therefore, be subject to Christ alone, he must be our only Head, we must not turn aside a hair’s-breadth from the simple doctrine of the Gospel, he alone must have the highest glory, that he may retain the right and authority of being a bridegroom to us.
But what are ministers to do? Certainly, the Son of God calls them, that they may perform their duty to him in conducting the sacred marriage; and, therefore, their duty is, to take care, in every way, that the spouse—who is committed to their charge—may be presented by them as a chaste virgin to her husband; which Paul, in the passage already quoted, boasts of having done. But they who draw the Church to themselves rather than to Christ are guilty of basely violating the marriage which they ought to have honoured. And the greater the honour which Christ confers on us, by making us the guardians of his spouse, so much the more heinous is our want of fidelity, if we do not endeavour to maintain and defend his right.
This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He means that he has obtained the fulfilment of all his desires, and that he has nothing further to wish, when he sees Christ reigning, and men listening to him as he deserves. Whoever shall have such affections that, laying aside all regard to himself, he shall extol Christ and be satisfied with seeing Christ honoured, will be faithful and successful in ruling the Church; but, whoever shall swerve from that end in the slightest degree will be a base adulterer, and will do nothing else than corrupt the spouse of Christ.
Ver. 29.—And now the Baptist bethinks him of another remarkable image, with which, as a student of the Old Testament, and being himself “more than a prophet,” he was familiar. The tenderness of the imagery had not hitherto, however, comported with the ministry of the vox clamantis. Whereas the New Testament represents the loving-kindness and righteousness of the Lord God under the metaphor of a Father’s love to his prodigal but repenting children, the prophets were often disposed to set forth the same idea in the light of a Husband yearning over his bride, even betrothing her a second time unto himself after her faithlessness and folly. Jehovah and Jehovah’s King and Representative are set forth as the Bridegroom of the true Israel (Ps. 45.; Isa. 54:5; Hos. 2:19, 20; the Song of Songs; Ezek. 16.; Mal. 2:11, etc.); and the New Testament writers, especially John himself, who delights in the image (Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17), and Paul, who compares the relation of the Saviour to his Church under this endearing imagery (Eph. 5:32; 2 Cor. 11:2), vindicate the legitimacy of the metaphor. The Baptist might easily think of this language, but it is more than possible that he had been profoundly touched by the news that had reached him concerning the presence of Jesus at a marriage-feast. John had been a Nazarite from his birth. Jesus was revealing himself amid the pleasures and innocent joys of life and love. John’s conception of the kingdom had been that of severance from the world—seclusion, ascetic restraint. Jesus had manifested his glory amid the festival and in the common life and daily ways of men. John may have seen that there was much in this to captivate the heart of the true Israel; and he glances at the bridal of heaven and earth in this new conception of the mission of the Messiah. It may have staggered him, as he had taught Israel to hope for One whose hand would be more heavy upon them and on their sins than his had been. Where was the axe laid at the root of the trees? where the fire that scorches to cleanse and purify? But he accepted to some extent the new revelation, and found his own place in the novel reconstruction of the kingdom. So he says, He that hath the bride is the bridegroom. However, John throws in a novel thought, explanatory of his own position, and not found in the Old Testament imagery: “I am not the Bridegroom,” says he; “but it is also true that I am not the Bride. Such is my position that I am standing outside the company of those who are the prophetic ‘Bride.’ ” The friend of the bridegroom (φίλος τοῦ νυμφίου, παρανύμφιος, answering to the אוֹחֵב and שׁוֹשְׁבֶן of the Aramaic writers) is he who acts the part of intermediary—the confidant of both. He presides at the ceremonies of the betrothal and at the wedding-feast, and especially in the interests of the bridegroom. The image was probably suggested to him by the great discovery made by the friend of the Cana bridegroom touching the “glory” of the mysterious Guest on that typical occasion. “The friend of the bridegroom” differs profoundly from the Bridegroom. The Christ will prove ready to occupy this position, and John has declared that he is not the Christ. Moreover, John differs from the Bride; he does not receive the lavish love, nor the deep intimacies of that affection, nor the dowry of sacrificial devotion with which that love will at length be won. This paranymphios standeth and beareth him. It is not said, “seeth him.” Some have argued that John here calls attention to the fact that all that the Bridegroom has been saying has reached him by means of the information brought to him on the part of those who were both his own disciples and the disciples of Jesus; but the next clause is inconsistent with this. The friend of the bridegroom stands ready to do the will and promote the honour and pleasure of his friend. (The materialistic and sensualistic manner in which some have pressed the force of the imagery is out of place.) “The voice of the bridegroom,” the hilarious joy of the bridegroom, is a proverbial expression (Jer. 7:34; 16:9; 25:10). There is a contrast felt between the formal business-like fellowship that prevailed between the bride and the friend of the bridegroom, and the free outspoken love of the bridegroom himself. The lispings of prophecy are contrasted with the outspoken utterances of the gospel of love. And he rejoiceth with joy (χαρᾷ χαίρει; cf. for this form of expression, which corresponds with the frequent Hebrew juxtaposition of the finite verb with the infinitive absolute, the LXX. of Isa. 30:19; 66:10; Deut. 7:26, etc.; Luke 22:15; Acts 4:17; 5:28; 23:14; Jas. 5:17). It is not an indubitable Hebraism, because similar expressions are found in the classics, as Plato, ‘Sympos.,’ 195, B., φεύγων φυγῆ; ‘Phædr.,’ 265, D.; Soph., ‘Œd. Rex,’ 65; see Winer, ‘Gramm. E. T.,’ p. 585. This is the only place where such a construction occurs in the writings of John) because of the bridegroom’s voice. Intense joy is thus ascribed to one who was the minister of the bliss of another. This my joy—or, this joy, therefore, which is mine—hath been made full. “I have thus completed my task, and reached the climax of my bliss. I have wooed and won,” The bridal of heaven and earth is begun. In subsequent words of Jesus and his disciples other great epochs of complete consummation are referred to. The joy of the Lord will only be entirely realized when, after the resurrection and the second advent, the rapture of fellowship with his Bride will be completed. But the Baptist recognized that his own work was finished when the Messiah had been introduced to those who understood something of his claims, when the kingdom was at hand, when there were many who sought and found their Lord.
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