10.1.3 The bridal congregation

The commission of the Apostles is to prepare the church of Christ for the reunion with Jesus Christ at His return, in accordance with the words of Apostle Paul: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11: 2). The "chaste virgin" is a reference to the "bride", an image for the eschatological community of the saints (Revelation 19: 7).

Those who are numbered to the bride of the Lord will only be revealed at the return of Christ. One of the identifying characteristics of those who will belong to the bride is that they wait daily for the return of Christ and consistently cry out: "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22: 17, 20).

Representing this community of the saints, we also find the images of the "hundred forty-four thousand" (Revelation 14: 1-5) and the "male child" (Revelation 12: 5). These images also indicate important characteristics and conditions.

We read as follows concerning the hundred forty-four thousand: "Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. ... These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God." The number 144,000 is of symbolic character. It is derived from the twelve tribes of Israel, and represents divine perfection.

The identifying mark bearing the name of the Lamb and of the Father signifies that the hundred forty-four thousand are the property of God. By following Christ they lead a life in accordance with the gospel in both word and deed ("in their mouth was found no deceit", "without fault"). They are also described as firstlings (in the Greek text: "firstfruits"), a reference to the Old Testament's laws of offering. The "firstfruits" are all those whom the Lord takes unto Himself at His return, in figurative terms, those whom He "harvests" (Revelation 14: 15).

Revelation 12 speaks of a woman clothed with the sun–an image for the church of Christ (see 6.4.5)–who is about to give birth to a male child. The latter is menaced by a dragon, but he is caught up to God (Revelation 12: 5). The male child symbolises the host of those who will be caught up to God at the return of Christ. The dragon is an image for Satan (Genesis 3: 1; Revelation 12: 9). He can prevent neither the perfection nor the rapture of the bridal congregation.

SUMMARY

The doctrine of future things (eschatology) has its basis in Holy Scripture. (10)

The return of Jesus Christ is a core statement of the gospel. To be accepted by Him on this occasion is the goal of faith of New Apostolic Christians. (10.1)

Jesus Christ promised his return to the Apostles. This was reinforced by angels. No human being or angel–but only God alone–knows when Jesus Christ will return. Every believer is called upon to conduct his life in view of the return of Christ. (10.1.1)

At the return of Christ, the dead who have died in Him will be the first to resurrect. The living who have allowed themselves to be prepared for His coming will receive a body that is like the glorious body of Christ. Together, all of these souls will be caught up and led into eternal fellowship with God. (10.1.2)

The Apostles have the commission to prepare the bridal congregation for the return of Jesus Christ. (10.1.3)

Those who are numbered to the bride of the Lord–the group of those who will be caught up to God–will only be revealed at Jesus' return. They are also known as "firstlings". Another image for the bridal congregation is the "male child", and a numerical symbol for them is the "hundred forty-four thousand." (10.1.3)

See also