Why is Jesus sometimes called a “bridegroom” if he was never married?

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the image of bride and bridegroom was used to symbolize the relationship between God and the people of Israel. God called the Israelite people to faithfulness to his teachings and attested his eternal love for them. The image was later adopted in the New Testament where Jesus was envisioned as the bridegroom sent by God. His task was to win back the people who had fallen away from the teachings, and to metaphorically “woo” others with his message of peace, justice, and unity. Because it built on the earlier scriptural metaphor, the term bridegroom did not need Jesus to be married for it to work symbolically. Moving forward, the Church has continued the imagery by naming Jesus as the bridegroom with the Church as his bride.

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.