“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy, for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:2).
Espoused: (Gr. Harmozo from Harmos): To join from joint (as in the body); to betroth
In various passages in the writings of the Apostle reference is made to the nature of the relationship between Christ and the Church. It is a relationship of husband and wife, and most particularly Bride and Groom for the espousal is the period of betrothal, the timeframe in which we are now living awaiting the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 19:9).
There was a time in the life of the Virgin Mary when she was espoused to Joseph (see Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27). Mary accepted the offer of marriage from Joseph and the wedding plans were set in motion. Now we all know what happened during that timeframe: “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost“. The period of the grand espousal is important for us to contemplate, for it is the period in which we now live.
The Church is the Bride of Christ being presented to Christ as on a wedding day when the Bride walks down the aisle to her waiting Groom. This presenting of the Bride is expressed in the Apostle’s Epistle to the Ephesians, thusly: “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). This timeframe of being prepared as a Bride for her Husband (cf. Revelation 21:2) is the time of sanctification and cleansing by washing of water by the Word of God, as the Apostle explained in Ephesians 5:26. Therefore, the Grand Espousal is a time of preparation, a time of separation from the world and whatever there may be to defile, so we can be presented to Christ as a pure, chaste virgin, even as the Apostle wrote to the Church at Corinth.
Paul further wrote to the Church at Ephesus regarding the leaving and joining of the Bride and Groom: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
As members of the Bride, we must allow the cleansing work of the Word do its work in our hearts, minds and bodies to prepare us for the Blessed Wedding and Marriage Supper that is coming. The Grand Espousal is the time of preparation and the Lamb’s Wife must make herself ready, even as it is written:
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His Wife has made Herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).
There is an imperative in the Church today for the Pastor/Shepherds and Teachers to minister to the saints as the Apostle did to the disciples at Corinth. He knew and wrote regarding our relationship with Christ that it needs to be a pure and holy union as between a virgin and her husband. Paul’s words resonate with the holiness of pure love and devotion that creates a godly jealousy by the Holy Spirit toward us to exhort and encourage us to be pure, sanctified, cleansed and prepared as the Bride for the Lamb.