The Bible Begins and Ends With a Marriage: Wisdom From Keller and Viola

Frank Viola and Tim Keller, although coming from very different background and traditions, are both teacher-authors that I have come to respect tremendously. Both of them have made a similar statement that, the Bible begins and ends with a marraige.

Tim Keller preached a message titled “The First Wedding Day” based on Genesis 2 in 2009. Keller spoke,

“Indeed, you can’t understand the story line of the Bible unless you understand something about marriage, because the Bible begins with this marriage, and at the end, in Revelation, it ends with a marriage, the wedding supper of the Lamb.”

Meanwhile, Frank Viola’s From Eternity to Here writes,

“In Genesis 1 and 2, the Bible opens up with a woman and a man. In Revelation 21 and 22, the Bible closes with a woman and a man. The Bible opens up with a wedding, and it ends with a wedding. It opens with a marriage, and it ends with a marriage. It opens with a boy and a girl, and it ends with a boy and a girl. Your Bible is essentially a love story.”

Both share insightful perspectives. Keller described Christ as the husband who makes us complete,

“First of all, it’s teaching you need to have God in your life, not just as someone you believe in, not just as someone you try to obey; you need God in your life as your spouse. He’s the ultimate helpmeet you need. He’s like you but not you. He’s like you because you’re in his image. You’ll never become the person you’re supposed to be unless he comes into your life, not just as a kind of abstract principle of love or somebody you kind of obey in a general way. He has to be in your life as your lover. He has to be in your life intimately.”

According to Keller, when Adam referred Eve as “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”he was essentially saying, “As I see you, I now know who I am. I have found myself in you. I’m not just coming to another; I’m coming to someone who is helping me see who I am. At last, finally, by discovering you I have found out who I am.”

Keller reassured us that in the end that the ultimate perfect marriage is the one between Christ — the true Adam — and the Church,

 “The Bible begins with a wedding, and this wedding’s original purpose was to fill the world with children of God, and it failed. Why? Because the husband in that marriage failed to step in and help his wife when she needed him. But at the end of time there will be another wedding, the marriage supper of the Lamb, and its purpose is to fill the world with children of God, and it will succeed where the first marriage failed. Do you know why? Because the first husband failed, but the second husband will not. The true Adam, Jesus Christ, will never let his wife down.”

In his book, Viola argues God’s eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:9-13) is to bring forth a bride for Jesus Christ as the dwelling place of God, where His sons and daughters corporately express Him. He discusses how Adam’s passionate love for Eve, calling her “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”, points to the ultimate love Christ has for us. Perhaps some may not be aware, but Ephesians 5:30 is indeed translated in some versions as “we are of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” We are indeed of His body, of His flesh, of His bones.

Drawing writings from perhaps Augustine and Watchman Nee, Viola reminds us that Eve was in Adam’s body. She came out of his side. She was taken from his own anatomy. She was inseparable from him, yet different. Adam was also the source of Eve’s life. Without Adam, she had no existence. Eve was made wholly for Adam, who desired to love and be loved.

I also enjoy the following quotes from the book,

“In the timelessness of eternity past, the Father had someone upon whom to pour out the passion of His being. It was His Son. The Father was the Lover; the Son was the Beloved. The Father was the source; the Son was the recipient and the responder. Consequently, the Father loved the Son, and the Son reciprocated that love to the Father (John 17:24; 14:31). The Son, however, had no creature upon which to pour out the passion of His being. That is, there was no one to whom He could be the source of the torrential passion that flooded His own heart. While the Son certainly poured out His passion upon the Father, the Son was not the source of that passion. To put it another way, the Son Himself had no counterpart… In this highly specific sense, God the Son was alone, just like Adam was alone.” (p. 38)

“The Son’s desire for a counterpart was not rooted in any deficiency within Himself. It was instead rooted in the overflowing excess of divine love.” (p. 40)

“He had waited for ages to have His counterpart, so He guaranteed that once the romance began, it would never end. Therefore, when it comes to your Lord and His much-longed-for bride, He conquered the last enemy so that ‘death shall never do them part.'”(p. 43-44)

How we need to have a broader vision of Christ’s love for the Church?

3 thoughts on “The Bible Begins and Ends With a Marriage: Wisdom From Keller and Viola

  1. The mystery of marriage is undoubtedly deep. Its conception, consummation and all the relationship within it are rooted in God.

    I pray that the eyes of my understanding be enlightened so may know my Lord more and be consumed by His ravishing love.

    Dear Keri, there was quite a lot to take it in from this post. “From Eternity to Here” is one of the books by Frank Viola that I have not read yet and I am just hearing of Tim Keller for the first time.

    May this knowledge be alive and at work in our lives. Amen.

    Lots of Love to you.

    1. Dear brother, Tim Keller is very popular in the U.S. and in the U.K. Many people love his books like “Counterfeit Gods” and “The Reason of God”. But as someone constantly struggles with self-esteem as a musician, I have been helped the most by his little book “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” 🙂

      Regarding Frank’s book, you can read the preface for free here

      1. Thanks a lot Dear Keri. It is a great thing to be blessed by the gifts Christ has given to His Church. I will check out the works of Tim Keller.

        I appreciate the link to a sample chapter of FETH. Very caring of you.

        Lots of Love to you.

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