Question: Revelation:21:9-10 clearly says, “I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he...showed me...the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” The testimony here is positive that the New Jerusalem is the bride. It would be absurd to talk of the church as lying foursquare...having a great wall...12 gates, etc. If the church is the bride [of Christ]...and “the Spirit and the bride say, Come” (Revelation:22:17), to whom is it that they are saying, come? Please answer me. Is not the New Jerusalem, the Bride, with all of its magnificence, saying to us the church to come enjoy the glorious place Christ has prepared for us?
Response: John sees a huge city coming down from heaven. Obviously an empty city is not Christ’s bride, but its inhabitants must be, having first been married to Christ in heaven (Rv 19:7-8). There is no promise to rapture Israel to heaven, but that promise was given to the church (Jn 14, 1 Cor 15, 1 Thes 4). The bride (after her marriage to Christ) returns as the armies of heaven with Christ to rescue Israel at Armageddon (Ezk 38, 39; Rv 19:11-21; Zec 12, 13, 14, etc.). The bride can only be comprised of those who have been taken to heaven by Christ as He promised—i.e., the raptured church.
To whom do “the Spirit and the bride say come”? Twice in that chapter, both before and after this statement (vv 12,20), Christ says, “Behold I come quickly.” Surely the Spirit and the bride are responding to this promise on the part of Christ with this affirmation, indicating that, just as He desires to come, so it is the desire of His bride that He do so, and quickly. That these words are addressed to Christ should be clear from the response in verse 20 to Christ’s promise: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”