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Ephesians 5:21-5:33 (web)

Proper Role Relationships

Behaving Properly in Marriage

5:21 subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.
5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife,
and Christ also is the head of the assembly,
being himself the savior of the body.
5:24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ,
so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.

5:25 Husbands, love your wives,

even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it;
5:26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word,
5:27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously,
not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.
5:28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his own wife loves himself.
5:29 For no man ever hated his own flesh;
but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly;
5:30 because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones.
5:31 "For this cause a man will leave his father and mother,
and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh."
5:32 This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly.
5:33 Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself;
and let the wife see that she respects her husband.





Categorical Submission

Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

One way in which we can express our reverence for Christ is by submitting to the authorities under which he has placed us. "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted" Rom 13:1-2a One way to measure one's reverence for Christ is by one's attitude towards and the degree to which one properly submits to the human authorities God has established in one's life.

To submit to one another of course does not mean that every individual submits to every other individual (which is a sort of egalitarian interpretation). For in that case there would be no recognized authority to begin with, rendering the concept of "authority" null. Rather this verse means for the one under authority to submit to the one who is in authority over them. In Ephesians 5 and 6 Paul categorizes who are those in authority and their subordinates and speaks about the role relationships between the two.

Wife submit to your husband

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

In this modern age of feminism this is perhaps one of the most contemptible verses in the Bible to the modern feminist, and as such it is one of the ways in which Christian women can be outstanding in the practice of their faith. As it is Western feminist society doesn't even recognize the role of husband as one having  a legitimate God given role of authority over his wife. In fact much of modern society can be characterized as God had spoken in Isaiah, "Their children are rebellious and women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." Isaiah 3:12 But as for Christians, "do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will." Rom 12:2

The manner in which wives submit to their husbands is a reflection of the manner in which they submit to the Lord. Being submissive to the Lordship of Christ will be reflected in your marriage. Indeed women who have embraced their role of service and subordination to the Lord will find taking on the role of submission and subordination to their husband to be natural, and indeed even a way in which to influence others for Christ, even if their husband is an unbeliever. A women's submission to her husband is a beautiful thing.

"Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,  when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands" 1Peter 3:1-5

Husband head of the wife

Eph 5:23,24  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Concerning male headship Paul says, "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." 1Cor 11:3 And the husband is head of his wife in a similar manner in which Christ is head of the church. So in considering what constitutes submission in a marriage relationship we can draw upon what the Bible says of the subordinate role of the church to Christ. Would the relationship between the church and Christ be characterized as egalitarian? Certainly not. Likewise concerning the husband's relationship with his wife.

Now while with this authority comes responsibility, there also comes power and control. Just as with regards to Christ and his church, so also with regards to a husband and his wife. For if the husband is only reckoned to have reponsibility, but no power or control over his wife, then that is like reckoning Christ with the responsibility of running his church, but having no power or control over it. It's absurd. Treating the authority of husbands with contempt is to likewise treat the authority of Christ with contempt, which is not something Christians should do.

How does the church submit to Christ? It first of all takes on an attitude of subordination and embraces the intention to do what he said. And as such it seeks to find out what the Lord has commanded explicitly and implicitly and what are his intentions concerning the purpose and role of the church so as to derive applications in accordance with his will. And secondly is the church's practice of  verbally acknowledging the lordship of Christ. From this analogy wives can derive applications as to how they may treat their husbands appropriately.

"in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord" 1Peter 3:5,6

In Everything

"In everything" refers to everything which is within their husband's legitimate realm of authority, which is extensive, incorporating domestic matters as in raising kids, scheduling, what church to go to, matters of teaching and ministry, hospitality, generosity and all financial matters, to name a few.  But excludes sin and such regulations established by other authority figures, such as civil authorities which don't impinge upon the husband's authority.

The role of husband is a legitimate God authorized role of authority regardless of the husband's view of the matter. And as such the husband will be subject to judgement if he neglects to exercise his role. Likewise the role of wife is a legitimate God authorized role of subordination regardless of her viewpoint. And she likewise will be subject to judgement if she neglects to play the role.

Husbands love your wives

Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Notice that while wives were instructed to obey their husbands, the husband is instructed to love his wife. This is the language of love in any vertical relationship. The one under authority expresses love for the authority through obedience and consequently respect. Those in authority express love by being gracious to their subordinates.

Consider the humiliation it may take to be such a husband. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" Php 2:5-8

A husband's role is reflect in that of Christ.

Some Aspects of the role of Husband:

To Provide
2Peter 1:3  "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness"

To Instruct
1Cor 14:35a "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home"

To Discipline
Rev 3:19 "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent."

To Reconcile
Jer 3:12-14 "’Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’" declares the LORD. "Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband."
Col 1:22  "But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—"

To Encourage
2Th 2:16,17 "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."

And with regards to the exercise of authority, consider the kinds and purpose of the Lord's commands to his church. He has commands concerning their own sanctification, the preparation of then next generation, and concerning influencing those in the world to be reconciled to God.

Sanctify your Wife

Eph 5:26,27  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Jesus' priority with regards to the church is to make her holy and blameless. What is the implications Paul wants us to infer concerning the husband's role? The implication appears to be to nurture the wife in such a way as to make her attractive to oneself. Now as the values of a Christian husband are aligned with Christ, it would appear the process and goals would be similar. That is, a woman is only so attractive as she is godly. Teach her through the Word of God, deal with issues of sin with her edification in mind. And as Peter wrote, to develop in her "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." 1Peter 3:4 And of course, just as with Christ and his church, cooperation is required.

Of course husbands are to be considerate in this process, as is Christ. Peter mentions, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1Peter 3:7

Your Wife Your Body

Eph 5:28-32  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.  "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Paul mentions, "The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife." 1Cor 7:4 Thus in contrast to pro-abortion feminists who say, "It's my body and can do what I damn well please with it", Christian women are to recognize that their body is not solely their property. Likewise concerning Christ and the church it is written, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1Cor 12:27 and "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."2Cor 5:15

What is the mystery of marriage? Marriage was designed to be an analogy of the relationship between Christ and the church. The Christian's objective in marriage is to try to conform to that design. Thus by understanding the intended relationship between Christ and the church we can learn more about God's intentions concerning the marriage relationship. And conversely, by understanding and experiencing marriage, we can further our understanding of the relationship intended between Christ and the church.

Huband Loves, Wife Respects

Eph 5:33  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

A marriage cannot be considered "working" unless these elements are present. In fact as one cannot practice authority if one has no subordinates, the husband cannot play his role without the cooperation of his wife. Nor can the wife practice subordination if the husband doesn't cooperate by commanding her and exercising authority over her. In particular with power comes the opportunity to practice grace. For without power of some sort, be it one of authority or resources, one cannot practice grace. But given the role, the husband is to exercise authority with grace. Thus Paul also writes, "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." Col 3:18,19

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1Peter 3:7

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Sep 03,2020