Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bride and the Nations

In Revelation 22, it seems like "the nations" (v.2) is distinct from "the bride" (v.17). Who is "the nations" and who is "the bride"?

First, here is verse 17:

Rev 22:17 a. The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let him who hears say, "Come." b. And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.

Now, I always thought that the "Come" of the Spirit and the Bride, and the "Come" of he who hears was directed towards Jesus. Just as in the end of the chapter, where we see Jesus promise that He will come and St. John give voice to the cry of the Church ("Come, Lord Jesus!" cf. vs. 20), so in vs. 12 Jesus promises that he will come and in vs. 17a, the Church (the "Bride"), inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, "Come."

In 17.b., the "come" is directed to all those who are not a member of the Church. The Bride is inviting them to come and join her bridal party, come and join the wedding banquet, where he who is thirsty can come and drink.

As for "the nations," I think that Rev 22:1-5 is very reminiscent of Zech 14:1-11. In both passages there is continuous light, flowing water, the prophecy that "there shall no more be anything accursed." Both passages also reference "the nations." Assuming that Zechariah 14 is the key to understanding Rev 22:1-5, then the nations are the enemies of Jerusalem:

Zech 14:2-3 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

According to my Navarre Commentary, the prophecy in Zech 14:11 that nothing shall be accursed is a reference to the Jewish practice of having to slay entire nations and peoples in a land that God gave them to inhabit so that the Jews would not have to mingle with pagans and idolatrous practices.

If that is the case, then when Rev. 22:2-3 says that there will be healing to the nations and no more will there be anything accursed, I think that means that there will finally be peace on earth, and no longer a need for the battles they had to take up in order to remain pure. Perhaps this peace between Jerusalem (an image of the Church) and the surrounding nations comes by way of the conversion of these pagan people. Verses 2-3 seem to say that once there is healing for the nations there will only be the Lamb and his servants. They are healed b/c they eat of the fruit from the tree of life and vs. 14 says that those who eat of the tree are those who have "washed their robes," which is an image of salvation (being washed in the blood of the Lamb).

So, short answer: the Bride is the Church, and the nations are those non-Christian peoples who will enter into the Church by the grace of God.

What do you think? Holla back.

Pax Christi,

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