Are there any Catholic teaching that differentiates between the “Body of Christ” (Church) and the “Bride of Christ”?

Eve was taken from the Body of the First Adam, will the Bride of Christ be taken from the body (Church) of the Second Adam (Jesus Christ)?


2 Answers 2


In a word, No: there is no Catholic teaching which differentiates the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church holds that the Church is the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ.

Adam prefigures Jesus, the "second Adam". Just as Adam was perfect and became sinful, so Christ took on sin and conquered the death which Adam brought upon humanity. Just as woman was taken out of man, so the Bride of Christ is united to him in one Body which is the Church. This is the doctrine expounded by St Augustine and quoted in the Catechism:

CCC 788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.218 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: "By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation."219

CCC 789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.

CCC 796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.234 The Lord referred to himself as the "bridegroom."235 The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride "betrothed" to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.236 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.237 "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her."238 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:239

This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? "The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church."240 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."241 They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself "bride."242

218 Cf. Jn 14:18; 20:22; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:33.
219 Lumen Gentium 7.
234 Jn 3:29.
235 Mk 2:19.
236 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
237 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4; 5:27.
238 Eph 5:25-26.
239 Cf. Eph 5:29.
240 Eph 5:31-32.
241 Mt 19:6.
242 St. Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 74:4:PL 36,948-949.


On one hand, they refer to the same entity, the church. On the other hand, when the Bible uses these terms, it refers to different aspects of the church. In brief, the Body and the Bride both refer to the church. However, the Body emphasizes how the church fully expresses Christ as the church, and the Bride emphasizes how the church is Christ's intimate, loving match and counterpart.

To understand these differences in a larger context, it helps to see the seven distinct designations of the church in the book of Ephesians. The entire book is needed to understand these points in context, but I will cite only a few key verses that highlight them most strongly. In response to your question, please particularly note the points on Body and Wife:

  1. Church: Eph 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

    "Church" translates the Greek ekklesia, meaning called out. This word refers to the assembly of those whom God has called out of the world to accomplish His own purpose, as detailed in Ephesians 1.

  2. Body: Eph 1:22-23 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

    Christ is Head whom God has established over all His creation. The church is the Body of this head, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Just as our physical bodies are the full expression of the personality, will and actions of our physical heads, the Body of Christ, when functioning properly, is the full expression of the personality, the will, the desire, and the actions of Christ the Head.

  3. Citizens: Eph 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

    We are citizens of God's kingdom, with the rights, protections and responsibilities there pertaining. We have the rights and enjoyment and blessings of the kingdom of God, and the obligation to be faithful to our King.

  4. Family members: Eph 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

    We are God's own children, born of His life and sharing His divine nature. We are the members of His family, brothers and sisters to each other, equal without distinction.

  5. Building of God: Eph 2:21-22 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

    We are God's house, His building, His real temple, His dwelling place in S/spirit. We are being built up together as one, not divided and scattered, to become God's home where He can rest for His satisfaction.

  6. Wife of Christ: Eph 5:31-32 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

    As Eph 5:21-33 expound, we are the bride of Christ, His wife. Just as Eve was created out of Adam in his sleep, from his flesh and bone, we are created out of the death of Christ with His indestructible resurrection life (bone) in His resurrected human nature (flesh). We are His love, His counterpart, His match, His completion. Without us, He is only an incomplete half. Only in perfect intimate union with us can God say, "My new creation is very good."

  7. Warrior: Eph 6:10-11 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    We fight the spiritual warfare against God's enemy, not by weapons of flesh and not individually, but corporately as one Body fighting through prayers in the S/spirit.

Concerning the second part of the question:

Eve was taken from the Body of the First Adam, will the Bride of Christ be taken from the body (Church) of the Second Adam (Jesus Christ)?

Concerning "Second Adam", I am not aware of such an exact expression in the Bible. The closest I can find is 1Co 15:45-49 where Paul calls Christ the "last Adam" and the "second man"; these expressions are related, but they refer to distinct aspects to Christ. In brief, Christ as the last Adam is the one who terminates the old creation; Christ as the second man is the one who begins a new race of men, the resurrected men in the new creation. Let me quote from the footnotes of the Recovery Version of the Bible, 1Co 15:47 note 2:

Christ is not only the last Adam (v. 45) but also the second man. The first Adam (v. 45) is the beginning of mankind; the last Adam is the ending. As the first man, Adam is the head of the old creation, representing it in creation. As the second man, Christ is the Head of the new creation, representing it in resurrection. In the entire universe there are only two men: the first man, Adam, including all his descendants, and the second man, Christ, comprising all His believers. We believers were included in the first man by birth and became a part of the second man by regeneration. Our believing has transferred us out of the first man into the second. In regard to our being part of the first man, our origin is the earth and our nature is earthy. In regard to our being part of the second man, our origin is God and our nature is heavenly.

I believe that the correct way to interpret the Bible is to use the Bible to interpret the Bible (hence my Biblical references from Ephesians for the points above). Neither in this passage on 1Co 15:45-49, nor in the larger context of 1Co 15, do I see any reference to Eve or to the church being a match or counterpart or wife of Christ. Paul's focus in 1Co 15 is that Christ, the second man, is the prototype of human nature in resurrection (that is, the new creation). His emphasis is that individual believers in Christ (as distinct from the church, Body or Bride as a corporate entity) will physically become the same as the resurrected man Jesus, having bodies that are physical yet spiritual, not soulish as with our present nature from the first man Adam. Coming back to your question:

Eve was taken from the Body of the First Adam, will the Bride of Christ be taken from the body (Church) of the Second Adam (Jesus Christ)?

It seems that you are asking if one can separate the Bride of Christ from the Body of Christ. I don't see any biblical basis for such a separation. When the Bible talks about the Body of Christ (e.g. Eph 1, Rom 12, 1Co 12), it does not simultaneously talk about the Bride. When the Bible talks about the Bride or Wife of Christ (e.g. Eph 5, Rev 19, Rev 21, Rev 22), it does not simultaneously talk about the Body of Christ. These are different aspects of the same church, so while they are both valid, true and real, they are not separate such that the Bride can be taken out of the Body as a separate entity.

  • 3
    This is a superb answer, let alone a first one :) Welcome to C.SE - normally, I tell people to check out our tour page, but it looks like you already have! Jul 31, 2013 at 19:53
  • Agreed with Affable - this is fantastic. I hope you stick around! :) Jul 31, 2013 at 22:20
  • @Ochado Any comments on "Eve was taken from the Body of the First Adam, will the Bride of Christ be taken from the body (Church) of the Second Adam (Jesus Christ)?"
    – Rick
    Aug 1, 2013 at 12:23
  • Sorry, I forgot to explicitly address the second part of the question. I've edited my answer to address it explicitly.
    – Ochado
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .