FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM
In ancient times, a man of the bridegroom’s close acquaintances acted as a legal representative of the bridegroom and took the primary responsibility in making arrangements for the marriage. He would sometimes arrange the espousal with the parents of the bride, delivering the bride price to the father and gifts to the bride. He was viewed as bringing together the bride and groom. The bridal procession would arrive at the house of the bridegroom’s father or the bridegroom’s house, where the marriage feast was celebrated. There the bridegroom and bride would come together, and the marriage was consummated. At the feast, on hearing the bridegroom speak to the bride, the friend of the bridegroom was happy, feeling that his duty was successfully concluded.
John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Messiah, introduced the first members of the “bride” to Jesus Christ, to whom she was espoused. (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-27; Rev. 21:2, 9) John could therefore say: “You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but, I have been sent forth in advance of that one. He that has the bride is the bridegroom. However, the friend of the bridegroom, when he stands and hears him, has a great deal of joy on account of the voice of the bridegroom. Therefore this joy of mine has been made full.” Just as the friend of the bridegroom had accomplished his objective at this point and was no longer a principal figure, so John said of himself in relation to Jesus Christ: “That one must go on increasing, but I must go on decreasing.”—John 3:27-30.
“Friends of the bridegroom” are mentioned at Matthew 9:15. Here reference is made to other friends who joined in the marriage procession and who were invited to the marriage feast.