Revelation 19:8

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen
It was granted is εδόθη [edothē] , often translated: it was given. To be arrayed is Ἵνα περιβάληται [Hina peribalētai] , middle voice, subjective mood: so that she might clothe herself.

In one of His parables, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son (Mtt. Mat. 22:2-14). Those who were invited to the feast would not come. So the king sent his servants out to invite whoever would come. At the time of the supper, the king encountered a man who did not have on a wedding garment. Because of his lack of proper clothing, he was cast out into outer darkness.

In this parable, the king is Father God and His Son is Jesus Christ, the Lamb. The wedding feast is the wedding feast of the Lamb. Those who were invited are the nation of Israel. Those from the nations who eventually attend are those who accept the gospel as it went forth to all nations after the rejection of Jesus by Israel. The importance of having the wedding garment is seen in the response of the king to the man. The proper wedding attire is provided by the redemption of Christ. It is the imputed righteousness of God (Rom. Rom. 3:21-26). The man who was cast out of the marriage feast was ignorant of God’s righteousness and sought to establish his own righteousness. He rejected the wedding garment provided by the king and so was ultimately found unfit to participate.

The bride is given the fine linen by her groom:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Eph. Eph. 5:25-27) [emphasis added]

Some suggest that the marriage itself does not take place in heaven—that the statement, “the marriage of the Lamb has come,” is to be understood as a proleptic statement which has the Millennial Kingdom in view.1 This view fails to explain the plain meaning of the text which implies that the bride is being attired prior to Christ’s return. The bride is granted her wedding garments now and found to be wearing them when she rides forth with Christ at the Second Coming (Rev. Rev. 19:14+). This indicates that the wedding itself takes place in heaven prior to the Second Coming:

One further matter of reconciliation requires a separation of the wedding itself (Rev. Rev. 19:7+) from the wedding feast (Rev. Rev. 19:9+). It is necessary to have the marriage initiated in heaven after the Rapture of the saints, because when Christ’s army of saints return with Him to earth, they will have already put on their wedding apparel (Rev. Rev. 19:8+, Rev. 19:14+). So the initiation of the union happens in heaven, but the celebration of that union with a grand wedding feast ensues on earth.2

clean and bright
The twenty-four elders are clothed in white robes (Rev. Rev. 4:4+) as are the angels (Luke Luke 24:4; Acts Acts 1:10; Rev. Rev. 15:6+). Those coming out of the Great Tribulation were also seen in white robes, having washed them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 7:13-14+).

The bride of the Lamb is to be contrasted with the Harlot. Both wear fine linen, but of different colors. The bride’s is clean and bright, denoting her sinlessness before God, having been washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 1:7+). The Harlot wore purple and scarlet indicating her sinful luxurious living (Rev. Rev. 18:12+). The clean and bright linen which the bride wears corresponds to the clothing promised to the overcomers in the church at Sardis (Rev. Rev. 3:4+). Jesus told the Laodicean church that the white garments are to be obtained from Christ (Rev. Rev. 3:18+).

The cleansing of the stain of sin in the lives of the faithful is illustrated in a passage from Zechariah. Joshua stands before the Lord clothed in filthy garments and the accuser of the brethren stands near, no doubt pointing to the filthiness of Joshua. The Lord responds rebuking Satan and removing Joshua’s iniquity after which he is given rich robes to wear:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” (Zec. Zec. 3:1-4)

It is by this same means—by God’s provision of the blood sacrifice of the Lamb—that the bride will obtain her clothing. “We can wear the divine righteousness because He, first of all, wore the blood-stained garment.”3

for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Righteous acts is δικαιώματα [dikaiōmata] : righteous [things]. Her righteous acts are not found on their own. Truly righteous acts are always found in company with and motivated by faith:

But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. (Jas. Jas. 2:20-24) [emphasis added]

Pentecost suggests the plural δικαιώματα [dikaiōmata] does not denote imparted righteousness, but righteousnesses which have survived judgment at the judgment seat of Christ:

It must be observed that the “righteousness of the saints” is plural and can not refer to the imparted righteousness of Christ, which is the believer’s portion, but the righteousnesses which have survived examination and have become the basis for reward [1Cor. 1Cor. 3:9-15].4

It is the bride which wears the fine linen which is identified as the righteous acts of the saints. The characteristics described of the bride: her making herself ready, her requiring clean clothing, and her linen being the righteous acts of the saints, identify those who have been redeemed.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isa. Isa. 61:10) [emphasis added]


Notes

1 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 19:6-7.

2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 19:7.

3 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 358.

4 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 220-221.

Read Revelation 19:8