In Revelation the white wedding garments of believers are mentioned multiple times. Are the wedding garments and rapture timing related?
This is the second article of a two-part series on the wedding supper of the lamb. This article will focus on the wedding garments and the bride.
In the LAST ARTICLE (Click Here), we discussed the Parable of the Wedding Feast and how it supports a pre-wrath rapture. We also discussed how the gospels frequently refer to the “bridegroom” who is Jesus, but only refer to the bride one time. In Revelation, however, the bride is mentioned several times, and it is from Revelation that we get all of our understanding of the “bride.”
|Mentions of the Bride||Citation|
|Voice of the bridegroom and bride no longer heard in Mystery Babylon-Does this indicate the bride has been raptured? Or is this simply a mention of human brides and bridegrooms?||Rev. 18:23|
|The bride has made herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb by wearing her white garments which are the righteous deeds of the saints||Rev. 19:7-8|
|The Bride is the New Jerusalem which comes to earth after the millennial Kingdom||Rev. 21:2,9-10|
|The Bride is part of the four-fold call for Jesus to “come.”||Rev. 22:17|
These are very limited mentions for a theology that is so central to to much of Christian thought. The first point that needs to be re-enforced is that the “bride” is a corporate title and equivalent to the New Jerusalem.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls [f]full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away [g]in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Rev. 21:9-10)
A mistaken notion is that the bride is the “church.” This is not correct. The “bride” includes the church, but it correctly is all of Spiritual Israel. It includes all of the Old Testament saints and the Jewish remnant who come to faith prior to Jesus’s return as well. This explains why the bride descends from heaven after the Millennial Kingdom.
The Old Testament saints and all the Christians from all the ages are transformed into Resurrection Bodies at the Day of the Lord. They are gathered together and raptured into heaven at that time, spend one year and ten days in heaven, then return with Jesus at the physical second coming. They then spend the entire Millennial Kingdom in Resurrection Bodies.
The Jewish remnant, however, enters the Millennial Kingdom in human bodies. They will die during this period and are raised back to life in the Second Resurrection (Rev. 20:5) and judged before the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15). Those whose names are written in the book of life return to the earth within the New Jerusalem as it descends to the earth.
At that moment, the entire bride is present: Christians and Old Testament saints who have been with Jesus on earth for a 1000 years and those judged righteous after the Second Resurrection who descend with the New Jerusalem.
It is only when the entire bride is present, that the great banquet is held on earth pictured in Isa. 25:
The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth. (Isa. 25:6-8)
Notice God wipes away tears and swallows up death at the time of this banquet. In Revelation we find out this happens when the New Jerusalem descends:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death (Rev. 21:4)
All of this happens in the eternal state. That is the timing of the final banquet of the wedding feast when all of the “bride” is present.
Making The Bride Ready
Revelation also speaks of the bride while it is still in heaven.
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. Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” (Rev. 19:7-9)
In this passage we learn that the timing of the wedding of the Lamb “has come” (aorist ingressive use). Which means this point in Revelation is where the wedding is about to occur. It hadn’t occurred yet. The “bride” (the corporate entity of Old Testament saints and Christians throughout all the ages) had made herself ready as well by wearing white garments. This occurred in the past relative to Rev. 19:7-9 as the garments were given (past) to the saints.
Pretribulation enthusiasts struggle with this passage. Since it is clear that the wedding of the Lamb “has come” here closer to the end of Revelation, pre-trib. theory that the “bride” celebrates a seven year wedding feast during their “Tribulation period” is simply disproved by this passage. The wedding occurs at the end or even possibly on the earth after the return of Jesus. It is not completely clear. But it doesn’t occur at the beginning of the 70th Week.
Post-tribulationalists also struggle with this passage because the bride has made herself ready in heaven, and quite a while earlier than the return of Jesus to the earth. According to their theory, the unraptured saints are still on the earth at this point . They would miss the receiving of white garments and the wedding.
Only the prewrath rapture satisfactorily addresses these issues. The prewrath rapture rightly shows the bride putting on her garments after the rapture in Rev. 7:9.
Wedding Garments and Rapture Timing
As we saw in the previous article, the invitation to the wedding is the wedding garment itself given to those invited to the feast. It is also clear that the bride clothes herself with the individual white garments of the individual saints. And those without wedding garments can’t get into the feast as we saw in the previous article. Toward the end of Revelation these garments worn in Rev. 7:9 are defined for us:
Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 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. (Rev. 19:6-8)
First, the great multitude in this passage is the same group as the vast multitude in Rev. 7:9. Although the two passages use different English adjectives, both occurrences use the same Greek adjective polus (meaning many in number) to define them. They’re the same group.
Second, we learn that the white garments are the righteous acts of the saints and the wedding garments of the bride. In Rev. 7:14, the righteousness of the multitude comes when they wash their garments in the blood of the lamb which makes them white. Some might also consider the white garments symbolic of the of the resurrection bodies of the saints while others might consider them symbolic of the eternal presence of the saints before God. I consider them all of these things.
These white garments appear numerous times in Revelation. If we examine them, the timing of the rapture becomes apparent. The following graphic displays the use of white garments by the saints.
|How the white garments are utilized||Reference in Revelation|
|Promised to the saints||Rev. 3:4, Rev. 3:18|
|Given to the saints||Rev. 6:9-11|
|Washed in the blood of the lamb||Rev. 7:14|
|Put on by the saints||Rev. 19:8|
|Worn in heaven by the saints||Rev. 7:9|
|Worn back to earth by the saints||Rev. 19:14|
This graphic presents a complete picture of the use of the white garments by the saints, from the promising of the garments until they wear them. A popular phrase in American culture is “follow the money,” which means that if we follow the trail of money in a scandal, it will help us conclude who was involved in the scandal. In the same way if we follow the white garments in Revelation, we will find the proper timing of the rapture.
Looking at this Figure, most would conclude that the rapture occurs the moment that the Bride of Christ is in heaven and has put on her wedding garments— immediately before the events of Rev. 7:9. As you probably recall from other articles, this is the exact moment we theorized the Rapture occurs, after the sixth seal, after great tribulation, after Jesus manifests himself before the entire world in Rev. 6:16, and yet before the trumpet and bowl judgments. The wearing of white garments in Revelation support a prewrath rapture.