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Understanding the Dog Pack Hierarchy

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 160 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

There are three positions in any dog (or wolf) pack. The alpha is the leader, or “top dog,” beta is subordinate to the alphas, and the omegas are at the bottom of the pack, subordinate to the beta and alpha. This follows true for the Christian family as well. There are three positions in the Christian family. The alpha is the leader, or “top dog” (father/husband), beta (mother/wife) is subordinate to the alpha, and the omegas (children) are at the bottom of the pack, subordinate to both the beta and alpha. Before delving into the different roles in the family, let’s look at three of my personal experience stories and a great video.


I had two rottweilers (Tug and Raider), and they were huge and powerful. But as puppies, I was very physical with them. In the snow outside, I would grab one and pin his head to the snow, so he was looking at me in the eyes, and I would talk very loud and aggressively to him. He would cower and try to look away or look down. I did these kinds of things over and over for the first year. When they grew to the size they could kill me, they still viewed me as the alpha.


When I was somewhat younger, I owned a lawn service. I mowed a lot of rich people’s houses. One person wanted me to cut his yard that had a fenced-in backyard while he was on vacation. I get there and am halfway done, and he forgot to lock up his bull mastiff, a very huge muscular dog with great power. The dog ran across the yard like it had lost its mind straight at me. I was trapped behind this fence alone. I immediately release the mower’s handle, and it shut off. I then looked down at the ground. I presented a weak posture and stared at the ground. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see him clawing the ground and hear him growling. He did this for a couple of minutes and then walked back to the back porch and watched me start back to work. Every ten minutes or so, we repeated the same behavior.


When I was 18, I worked as a door-to-door salesman traveling America selling magazine subscriptions. A horrible decision but another time on that. One day I am in front of the most enormous mansion I have ever seen. I was told it was either the person who owned Anheuser Busch or a high-up in the company. I claimed the fence and walked up the driveway when two German shepherds came flying around the corner of the house on a dead run at me. At the last minute, the door to the house came open, and the person whistled. The dogs stopped and sat down. The person told me not to move. When the person got to me, she said that I would be dead if she had not heard the dogs and was at the front door.

THERE IS A REBEL IN THE HOUSE thirteen-reasons-to-keep-living_021 Waging War - Heather Freeman


Believe it or not, humans are this way too to a degree. There is an alpha (father/husband) in the family that needs to earn the primary power, authority, and respect, and there is the beta (mother/wife). If this is not the case, the children or the wife will assume the alpha role, or the children will assume the beta role and rule the house. If you have ever heard a child trying to reason with the parent and the parent is actually reasoning back, this is the child testing the bounds of the alpha or beta. This will only lead to a disaster as the child will get the sense that they have power over the adult. When they are young this will only be a matter of stress as they talk back to the parent. But when the teenage years arrive, it will bring new problems. If the child (omega) is allowed to continue in this behavior, he or she will take over the alpha or beta role. If the parent does not establish their role (alpha or beta) when the child (omega) is young, it will be extremely difficult when the child becomes too big to handle.

Let’s go back to my two rottweilers (Tug and Raider) and say I waited until they were too big, I would have been killed getting to their cage and then trying to establish my alpha role. I could have simply viewed the two rottweiler puppies as cute and adorable, and not have dominated them at times to establish my role as the alpha. Then, I would have lost my position as the alpha. When the children are young, some parents shirk their responsibility as parents by trying to be friends only with their children, seeing them as cute and adorable. This is an egregious mistake. While being friends is fine, there needs to be a line that the children are clearly aware of and they must fear the idea of even crossing it.

Now, unlike the wild animal kingdom, the family does not acquire their positions of power and authority through verbal abuse or violence but rather through earned respect. See more information below the video.

Some Basic Family Bible Verses

1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 3:1; Ephesians 5:25, 28-29; Colossians 3:12-14, 19, 21; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Timothy 5:8); Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:4; Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 1:8; Proverbs 31:10, 15, 26-27; Titus 2:4-5; Ephesians 5:22-23, 33; Ephesians 6:1-3; Deuteronomy 11:18-19; Proverbs 22:6, 15; 1 Corinthians 7:12-13; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:6-9; Romans 7:2-3; Malachi 2:14-16

Below is an excellent video.


What Does Subjection in Marriage Mean?

The Christian woman that you marry will have to make many adjustments. The one that might affect her most will touch on her liberty. Before you married her, she was free to make the decisions about her life herself. She need not consult anyone if she did not want to. Now that your wife is married, she is now obligated to consult you and get permission on major decisions that she formerly decided. Why is this so?

Because the Creator of humanity created man first, and then he created woman as the compliment of the man. He assigned the man the role as the head of the wife and the future children. The feminist today “is a philosophy emphasizing the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women, or, more specifically, social dominance of women by men. Radical feminism views patriarchy as dividing rights, privileges, and power primarily by gender, and as a result, oppressing women and privileging men.”[1] This has caused a severe crisis in the God-ordained family arrangement of Christians. “Christian feminism is an aspect of feminist theology, which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Christian perspective. Christian feminists argue that contributions by women in that direction are necessary for a complete understanding of Christianity.”[2] This is one reason for the high divorce rates among Christian families that we see today. In any organized group of people, from a nation to a family, someone has to have the final decision.

Ephesians 5:22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
22 Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

The apostle Paul here and in verse 23 emphasizes subjection and respect. Yes, a wife is in subjection to her husband but this in no way means that she is inferior to her husband. Every living person in heaven and on earth is subject to someone. It is up to the husband to carry out his headship in a proper manner.

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22 Within the marriage relationship wives200 are addressed first, and they are urged to be subordinate to their201 husbands as to the Lord. Although the verse does not contain any verb, ‘submit’ carries over from v. 21, with the imperative being understood instead of the participle.202 The notion of submission in the preceding verse is now unpacked without repeating the verb.203 As we have already seen, the keyword rendered ‘submit’ has to do with the subordination of someone in an ordered array to another who is above the first, that is, in authority over that person. At the heart of this submission is the notion of ‘order’. God has established certain leadership and authority roles within the family, and submission is a humble recognition of that divine ordering. The apostle is not urging every woman to submit to every man, but wives to their husbands. The use of the middle voice of this verb (cf. Col. 3:18) emphasizes the voluntary character of the submission. Paul’s admonition to wives is an appeal to free and responsible persons which can only be heeded voluntarily, never by the elimination or breaking of the human will, much less by means of a servile submissiveness.204

The idea of subordination to authority in general, as well as in the family, is out of favour in a world which prizes permissiveness and freedom. Christians are often affected by these attitudes. Subordination smacks of exploitation and oppression that are deeply resented. But authority is not synonymous with tyranny, and the submission to which the apostle refers does not imply inferiority. Wives and husbands (as well as children and parents, servants and masters) have different God-appointed roles, but all have equal dignity because they have been made in the divine image and in Christ have put on the new person who is created to be like God (4:24).205 Having described the single new humanity which God is creating in his Son, with its focus on the oneness in Christ of all, especially Jew and Gentile (cf. Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28), the apostle ‘does not now [in this household table] destroy his own thesis by erecting new barriers of sex, age and rank in God’s new society in which they have been abolished’.206 That the verb ‘submit, be subordinate’ can be used of Christ’s submission to the authority of the Father (1 Cor. 15:28) shows that it can denote a functional subordination without implying inferiority, or less honour and glory.207

The motivation for the wife to be subject to her husband is spelled out in the final phrase, as to the Lord.208 The general admonition of v. 21 to be submissive in ‘the fear of Christ’ finds concrete expression for the wife in the marriage situation: as she is subordinate to her husband, so in that very action she is submitting to the Lord. Her voluntary response is not called for because of her role in society, nor is it to be understood as separate from her submission to Christ. Rather, it is part and parcel of the way that she serves the Lord Jesus (cf. Col. 3:23 of servants who engage in wholehearted work for their masters and in that very action serve their heavenly Lord).[3]

Ephesians 5:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the congregation,[4] he himself being the Savior of the body.

Again, this verse is not a license to abuse or dominate the wife. It does mean that the husband has the final say in everything as long as he does not require the wife to break God’s law. However, only the foolish husband would not consider the insights of his wife. When she is correct, humbly accept her direction. A husband may feel that headship permits him to absolute control. However, this is not so. His wife, though in subjection, is not his slave. She is a complement. (Gen. 2:18)

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23 The reason for the wife’s submission to her husband is now expressed through the causal clause: ‘for the husband is head of the wife as Christ also is head of the church’. On two earlier occasions in Ephesians the key term ‘head’ has been used, both with reference to Christ (1:22; 4:15). Now, for the first time, the husband’s headship is stated as a fact, and made the basis of his wife’s submission. The origin of this headship is not elaborated here, although in the fuller treatments of 1 Corinthians 11:3–12 and 1 Timothy 2:11–13 it is grounded in the order of creation, especially the narrative of Genesis 2 (cf. 1 Cor. 11:8, 9).

In each of the earlier instances of this term in Ephesians it signifies ‘head’ as ‘ruler’ or ‘authority’,209 rather than ‘source’,210 or one who is ‘prominent, preeminent’.211 At 1:22 ‘head’ expresses the idea of Christ’s supremacy and authority over the cosmos, especially the evil powers, which he exercises on behalf of the church (cf. Col. 1:18; 2:10). His rule over his people is described at 4:15, and this headship is expressed in his care and nourishment, as well as in his leadership of them in the fulfilment of the divine purposes.212 Here the headship of the husband, in the light of the usage at 1:22, the general context of the authority structure of the Graeco-Roman household,213 and the submission of the wife to her husband within marriage in vv. 22–24,214 refers to his having authority over his wife; thus he is her leader or ruler.215

The mere presence of the terms ‘head’ and ‘submission’ in this context does not of itself ‘establish stereotypes of masculine and feminine behaviour’.216 Different cultures may assign different roles for men and women, husbands and wives. What is important here is that the nature of the husband’s headship in God’s new society is explained in relation to Christ’s headship. The husband is head of the wife as also217 Christ is head of the church. ‘Although [Paul] … grounds the fact of the husband’s headship in creation, he defines it in relation to the headship of Christ the redeemer’.218 Christ’s headship over the church is expressed by his loving it and giving his life for it, as vv. 25–27 so clearly show. This will have profound implications for the husband’s behaviour as head of his wife (v. 28).

The additional words, ‘he himself is the Saviour of the body’, at first sight appear rather surprising and have caused exegetes to question whether they refer to the husband’s role as his wife’s protector or are part of the Christ-church/husband-wife analogy, thereby signifying that as Christ is the Saviour of the body, so also the husband is in some sense the saviour of his wife. While the term ‘saviour’ could possibly be taken in a general sense of protector or provider of the wife’s welfare, so that the analogy of Christ’s relationship to the church can be parallelled in the husband’s ‘saving’ his wife, both syntax and usage are against it.

Instead, the clause is specifically focussed on Christ, not the husband: the personal pronoun ‘he himself’ is emphatic by its presence and position, and clearly refers to Christ. Nowhere in the context is the wife regarded as the husband’s body as the church is Christ’s body.219 Further, the term ‘saviour’, which turns up twenty-four times in the New Testament, always refers to Jesus or God, but never to human beings.220 To interpret the words, then, of Christ221 fits appropriately within the flow of the apostle’s argument. Paul has been urging wives to be submissive to their husbands. The reason for this turns on the headship of the husband, which is parallel to Christ’s headship or rule over the church. Paul then adds that the person who is head of the church is none other than the one who is the Saviour of the body. His saving activity, especially his sacrificial death (2:14–18; cf. 5:2), was for the deliverance of men and women in dire spiritual peril (2:1–10).

Later in the paragraph, the apostle will urge husbands as heads of their wives to serve them in love. Their pattern is the Lord Jesus, whose headship was demonstrated in his loving the church and giving himself up for it, in order to present it faultless to himself (vv. 25–27).[5]


Subjection Is Relative

The husband’s authority over his wife is not complete. We can consider the wife’s subject to the husband as a Christian is subject to the superior governing authorities. The apostle Paul said, “Let every soul[6] be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God, and those that exist have been placed[7] by God.” (Rom. 13:1) Yet, as Christian, while we obey the laws of the land, it is in conjunction with the Word of God. If any governmental authority asked us to do something that breaks God’s law, we obey what Peter and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Ac 5:29) In a similar way, the wife is in subjection to her husband unless he is asking something of her that is against the Word of God.

1 Peter 3:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

3:1. These words are addressed generally to all Christian wives, but with special attention to those women whose husbands are not believers in Jesus Christ. In the same way takes the reader back to something previously introduced. The manner of behavior is described with the words, be submissive to your husbands. Submission appeared first in 2:13 in reference to the believer’s response to authority and again in verse 18 in discussing the slave’s response to the master.

Opinions vary widely as to how these injunctions should be defined. One well-intentioned but misguided commentator says that “the meaning of the wife’s submission to her husband concerns the sexual relationship and should not be taken in a more general and oppressive sense” (Hillyer, 92). Such an interpretation not only violates the meaning of the word but also violates the context of this verse. Submission is best understood as “to voluntarily yield your rights or will to someone else’s wishes or advice, as an expression of love for that person.” Another spin on the term would be to define it as simply considering the needs of your husband and fulfilling them (Marshall, 99).

In all discussions related to submission, if the wishes, desires, or needs of the husband involve a direct violation of the Word of God, then submission does not apply. In such cases, to practice submission would involve violating the higher principle of obedience to God and his Word previously held out as the believer’s goal (see 1:14–15, 22; 2:11).

Submitting oneself to another is the opposite of self-assertion, the opposite of an independent, autocratic spirit. It is the desire to get along with someone else. It involves being satisfied at times with less than what one may deserve or claim as a right. The goal of this type of behavior is to win over to Christ the non-believing husband. This occurs without words. This does not mean that a wife is never to speak, but rather that she is not to resort to constant arguments and nagging discussions. The husband will be more influenced by the behavior of his wife. This links this chapter to chapter 2, where verse 12 indicates that the non-Christian audience can be positively influenced for Christ as they observe the consistent and godly behavior of a believer.

As Christian wives live out the declaration of the praises of God, their husbands will be influenced. For the Christian wife living with a non-Christian husband, Peter’s previous discussion of suffering even while doing what is right may have some application even within the context of her marriage and home. What a Christian wife says often will not change her husband; how she lives out her faith before him will make the difference.

3:2. Living a life of purity and reverence can make a difference. Purity signifies more than just moral or sexual purity, although this is included. The term suggests moral and ethical behavior that maintains a high standard. According to recent surveys, forty percent of the women polled by USA Today indicated that they have had extramarital affairs. Obviously, Peter’s advice is still relevant today. Purity of life will generally not occur, however, unless “reverence” is also a part of it. The “reverence” is for the Lord and indicates a deep desire to keep his commandments. This desire to obey God should be the driving motive, resulting in a high moral standard.[8]


Ephesians 5:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 But as the congregation[9] is subject to Christ, so also the wives should be to their husbands in everything.

24 The church’s submission to Christ is now presented as the model of the wife’s submission to her husband. The exhortation to wives in v. 22 is repeated and reinforced with the addition of the words ‘in everything’. Here, however, the sequence of v. 22 is reversed. The analogy of the church being subject to Christ is mentioned before the admonition that wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Although the NIV’s introductory now does not indicate it, the verse begins with the adversative conjunction ‘but’, which provides a contrast with the preceding clause, ‘he himself is the Saviour of the body’ (v. 23c).222 This is not true of the husband’s relationship to his wife. Although he has responsibility for her welfare, he is not her saviour (see on v. 23). So by means of the adversative ‘but’ (= ‘notwithstanding this difference’)223 Paul makes the distinction between Christ and the husband, before comparing the church’s submission to Christ with the wife’s submission to her husband.224 By using the same verb ‘submit’ (a middle voice in the original) the apostle stresses the willing character of the church’s submission to Christ, and thus underscores what has already been asserted in v. 22 about the free and voluntary nature of the wife’s subordination to her husband.

But what is involved in the church’s submission to Christ, and what light does this throw on the wife’s submission to her husband? The church’s relationship to Christ is the focus of attention in several passages within Ephesians, and these spell out important facets of its submission to its Lord. God has graciously placed everything under Christ’s feet and caused him to be head over all for the benefit of the church. The church gladly submits to his beneficent rule (1:22). Christ is the vital cornerstone on whom God’s building is constructed. As this new community looks to Christ it grows and progresses to its ultimate goal of holiness (2:20, 21). Christ indwells the hearts of his people, establishing them so that they may be able to comprehend the greatness of his love (3:17, 19). The church receives Christ’s gift of grace (4:7), and the ministers he gives for the purpose of enriching the whole body (4:11, 12). The church thus grows towards its head, the ultimate goal of which is the whole measure of Christ’s fulness (v. 13), and it receives from him all that is necessary for this growth (vv. 15, 16). In submitting to its Lord, God’s people had ‘learned Christ’: they welcomed him as a living person and were shaped by his teaching (v. 20). This involved submitting to his rule of righteousness and living by standards and values completely different from what they had known. The church is to imitate Christ’s sacrificial love (5:2). It seeks to please its Lord (5:10) by living in goodness, holiness, and truth and by understanding his will (5:17). His people sing praises to him (5:19), and live in godly fear and awe of him (5:21). Accordingly, the church’s submission to Christ means ‘looking to its head for his beneficial rule, living by his norms, experiencing his presence and love, receiving from him gifts that will enable growth to maturity, and responding to him in gratitude and awe’.225 It is these attitudes that the wife is urged to develop as she submits to her husband.

The additional element which reinforces this exhortation (cf. v. 22) is the concluding phrase, ‘in everything’. In the Colossians household table the similar expression ‘in everything’ is used of the obedience of children to parents (Col. 3:20), and of slaves to masters (Col. 3:22; cf. Tit. 3:9). Although this phrase has raised modern questions about the limitations of a wife’s submission to her husband (arising out of the contemporary desire to control the scope of someone’s authority, specifying what decisions a person in authority can make),226 ‘in everything’ indicates that the wife is to be subordinate to her husband in every area of life. In this sense it is all-encompassing, and is not, as some have suggested, restricted to sexual matters or some other special sphere of their relationship. ‘No part of her life should be outside of her relationship to her husband and outside of subordination to him’.227 Just as the church is to submit to Christ in everything, so in every sphere wives are expected to submit to their husbands. The motivation for doing this is a true and godly reverence for Christ (5:21; cf. v. 33).

Furthermore, the exhortation to be subordinate ‘in everything’ should be read within the flow of the argument in the chapter. By God’s design husband and wife are ‘one flesh’ (v. 31; Gen. 2:24), and the divine intention is that they should ‘function together under one head, not as two autonomous individuals living together’.228 This subordination of wife to husband ‘has a practical aspect in that it creates a greater effectiveness in their working together as one’.229 And it anticipates God’s ultimate intention of bringing back all things into unity in Christ (1:10; see below).

The question, then, as to whether the wife is to submit to her husband regardless of what he commands is not addressed. But the words ‘in everything’, however they are interpreted, are not intended to reverse the instructions and exhortations already laid upon all believers in the paraenesis of Ephesians 4–6. This admonition to wives in the household table cannot be interpreted as a kind of grid through which all the earlier exhortations are filtered in the interests of serving the husband’s authority.230 Further, it goes without saying that wives are not to be subordinate in matters that are sinful or contrary to God’s commands (cf. Acts 5:29).

There is no suggestion that this exhortation to be submissive is intended to stifle the wife’s thinking or acting. She should not act unilaterally, but rather submit willingly to her husband’s leadership. ‘Just as the church should willingly submit to Christ in all things and, if it does so, will not find that stifling, demeaning, or stultifying of growth and freedom, so also wives should willingly submit to their husbands in all things and, if they do so, will not find that stifling, demeaning, or stultifying’.231 As with the other admonitions in the household table, God sets forth these instructions for our good.

Accordingly, the wife’s submission to her husband is not conditional on his loving her after the pattern of Christ’s love or showing his unceasing care for her. Later the apostle will make it clear that husbands are not to rule their wives insensitively (vv. 25–27). Those in authority should not ‘lord it over’ those who are led (2 Cor. 1:24). But the wife’s response of submission, which is not an unthinking obedience to his leadership, is to be rendered gladly, irrespective of whether the husband will heed the injunctions explicitly addressed to him or not. Contrary to much contemporary Western thinking, there is no suggestion that wives are to be submissive to their husbands only if their husbands are loving. We have already seen that the church’s submission to Christ leads to blessing, growth, and unity for God’s people. Similarly, the wife’s submission to her husband, as she seeks to honour the Lord Jesus Christ, will ultimately lead to divine blessing for herself and others.[10]



Ephesians 5:22–33

Sometimes, the emphasis of this passage is entirely misplaced, and it is read as if its essence was the subordination of wife to husband. The single phrase, ‘The husband is the head of the wife’, is quoted in isolation. But the basis of the passage is not control; it is love. Paul says certain things about the love that a husband must have for his wife.

(1) It must be a sacrificial love. He must love her as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for the Church. It must never be a selfish love. Christ loved the Church, not that the Church might do things for him, but that he might do things for the Church. The fourth-century Church father John Chrysostom has a wonderful expansion of this passage: ‘Hast thou seen the measure of obedience? Hear also the measure of love. Wouldst thou that thy wife shouldst obey thee as the Church doth Christ? Have care thyself for her as Christ for the Church. And if it be needful that thou shouldst give thy life for her, or be cut to pieces a thousand times, or endure anything whatever, refuse it not … He brought the Church to his feet by his great care, not by threats nor fear nor any such thing; so do thou conduct thyself towards thy wife.’

The husband is head of the wife—true, Paul said that; but he also said that the husband must love the wife as Christ loved the Church, with a love which never exercises a tyranny of control but which is ready to make any sacrifice for her good.

(2) It must be a purifying love. Christ cleansed and consecrated the Church by the washing with water on the day when each member of the Church made a personal confession of faith. It may well be that Paul has in mind a Greek custom. One of the Greek marriage customs was that, before the bride was taken to her marriage, she was bathed in the water of a stream sacred to some god or goddess. In Athens, for instance, the bride was bathed in the waters of the Callirhoe, which was sacred to the goddess Athene. It is of baptism that Paul is thinking. By the washing of baptism and by the confession of faith, Christ sought to make for himself a Church, cleansed and consecrated, until there was neither soiling spot nor disfiguring wrinkle upon it. Any love which drags a person down is false. Any love which coarsens instead of refining the character, which necessitates deceit, which weakens the moral strength, is not love. Real love is the great purifier of life.

(3) It must be a caring love. A man must love his wife as he loves his own body. Real love loves not to extract service, nor to ensure that its own physical comfort is attended to; it cherishes the one it loves. There is something very wrong when a man regards his wife, consciously or unconsciously, as simply the one who cooks his meals and washes his clothes and cleans his house and brings up his children.

(4) It is an unbreakable love. For the sake of this love, a man leaves father and mother and is joined to his wife. They become one flesh. He is as united to her as the members of the body are united to each other, and would no more think of separating from her than of tearing his own body apart. Here indeed was an ideal in an age when men and women changed partners with as little thought as they changed clothes.

(5) The whole relationship is in the Lord. In the Christian home, Jesus is an always-remembered, though an unseen, guest. In Christian marriage, there are not two partners, but three—and the third is Christ.[11]

APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person

The wife should feel and know that the husband is primarily concerned with her best interest, and will always consider her views, evidencing that he values her voice in all matters. He will make sure that he listens to her and if her view is the correct view, he will wisely follow that course. A husband will demonstrate and express his love and respect for his wife when he carries out his Godly assigned position as the head of the family. (John 13:34) The husband might be imperfect and fallible, but if he follows in the example of Jesus Christ, he will have a wife that loves and respects him as well.



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[1] Accessed July 12, 2017

[2] Harrison, Victoria S. “Modern Women, Traditional Abrahamic Religions and Interpreting Sacred Texts.” Feminist Theology: The Journal of the Britain & Ireland School of Feminist Theology 15.2 (2007):145-159.

200 Here the nominative case with the article (αἱ γυναῖκες), rather than the vocative, is used in address (cf. BDF §147[3]). It is ‘wives’ who are in view, not women generally.

201 Although the adjective ἴδιος originally signified what was ‘one’s own’, by New Testament times it differed little from a reflexive or possessive pronoun. In this context it is rendered ‘their husbands’ (so BAGD, 369; Bruce, 384; Schnackenburg, 246; and Best, 532).

202 The verb ‘submit’ does not appear in the best Greek text, so that the verse is dependent for its sense on the participle of v. 21. This is the reading of 𝔓46 B Clement Origen and several Greek mss. according to Jerome. Other textual traditions supply some form of ὑποτάσσειν (‘submit’) before or after τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν (‘their husbands’), such as ὑποτάσσεσθε (‘be subject’) or ὑποτασσέσθωσαν (‘let them be subject’). Most editors argue for the omission of the verb because it is the shorter reading and it is likely that later scribes included the verb for the sake of clarity. For a detailed discussion, see B. M. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 608–9.

203 D. B. Wallace, Greek Grammar, 659.

204 Cf. Barth, 609. M. J. Harris, Colossians and Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 178, comments: ‘It is a case of voluntary submission in recognition of the God-appointed leadership of the husband and the divinely ordained hierarchical order in creation (cf. 1 Cor. 11:3–9)’.

205 ‘Equality of worth is not identity of role’, J. H. Yoder, cited by Stott, 218.

206 Stott, 217. Note his timely discussion of v. 22 in the light of contemporary attitudes (215–20).

207 Against the view of G. Bilezikian, ‘Hermeneutical Bungee-Jumping: Subordination in the Godhead’, JETS 40 (1997), 57–68.

208 ‘Lord’ (κύριος) is not a reference to her husband, as some have claimed. The plural ‘to their lords’ (τοῖς κυρίοις) would have been written to correspond to ‘to their husbands’ (τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν).

[3] Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 411–412.

[4] Gr ekklesia (“assembly”)

209 So W. Grudem, ‘Does kephalē (‘head’) Mean “Source” or “Authority Over” in Greek Literature? A Survey of 2,336 Examples’, TrinJ 6 (1985), 38–59; and ‘The Meaning of Κεφαλή (‘Head’): A Response to Recent Studies’, TrinJ 11 (1990), 3–72. Note the summary of the debate by J. A. Fitzmyer, ‘Kephale in 1 Corinthians 11:3’, Int 47 (1993), 52–59; see also the detailed discussion of G. W. Dawes, The Body, 122–49, who concludes that κεφαλή is used as a metaphor indicating ‘authority over’. Only in this verse in Ephesians, however, does the term have ‘two distinct referents’, namely, Christ and the husband.

210 Advocates of the meaning ‘source’ include S. Bedale, ‘The Meaning of κεφαλή in the Pauline Epistles’, JTS 5 (1954), 211–15; G. D. Fee, 1 Corinthians, 502–5; C. C. Kroeger, ‘Head’, 267–83; and DPL, 375–77.

211 A. Perriman, Speaking of Women, 13–33, who rejects both ‘source, origin’ and ‘leadership, authority over’ as meanings for κεφαλή, argues in favour of the term signifying ‘prominence’ or ‘pre-eminence’. He acknowledges that this may ‘also entail authority and leadership’, but ‘it is a mistake to include this as part of the common denotation of the term’ (31; cf. Hoehner). This interpretation, however, runs into difficulties with the expression ‘Christ is head of the church’ (Paul is saying more than that Christ is pre-eminent in relation to the church, though this is true), while his exegesis of vv. 23–24 (55–57) is not convincing. The ἀλλά (‘but’) in v. 24 does not signify a change of emphasis from headship (v. 23), which only has to do with prominence and preeminence, to subordination with its notions of authority over others. Instead, the adversative ἀλλά (‘but’) provides a contrast with the preceding clause, ‘he himself is the Saviour of the body’ (v. 23c), which is not true of the husband’s relationship to his wife (see on v. 24).

212 C. E. Arnold, ‘Jesus Christ’, 365.

213 For recent discussions of authority structures in the Graeco-Roman family see Lincoln, 357–59; and Hoehner.

214 Cf. Lincoln, 369.

215 Note the discussion of the lexical semantics of this, together with several criticisms of the view that ‘head’ means ‘source’, in P. Cotterell and M. Turner, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation (London: SPCK, 1989), 141–45. They conclude that ‘head’ carries the sense of ‘master’ or ‘lord’.

216 Stott, 225.

217 ὡς καί has comparative force, ‘as also’. Cf. BAGD, 897; and Hoehner.

218 Stott, 225. Contra Schnackenburg, 246, who acknowledges that Paul argues from creation in 1 Cor. 11, but considers this argument ‘no longer convincing to us’. It loses its status in the light of Christ’s headship, expressed in Eph. 5:23b. But if we assume that the ‘author’ of Ephesians is reflecting a view similar to that expressed in 1 Cor. 11, why should the words ‘as Christ is head of the church’ overthrow the husband’s headship? It is better to speak of the latter being defined or explicated in the light of Christ’s headship. K. H. Fleckenstein, Ordnet euch einander unter in der Furcht Christi: Die Eheperikope in Eph 5, 21–33: Geschichte der Interpretation, Analyse und Aktualisierung des Textes (Würzburg: Echter, 1994), 216, understands the role of the husband as ‘head of the wife’ to be derived from ‘the patriarchal structure of the ancient family’, but does not tie it to creation.

219 The husband and the wife are ‘one flesh’ (5:31), and husbands are to love their wives ‘as their own bodies’, but this is a reference to the husbands’ bodies, not the wives’.

220 Of Jesus: Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Phil. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:10, etc. Of God: Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10, etc.

221 The suggestions that 1 Cor. 7:16 (with its reference to the believing spouse being the instrument of the unbelieving spouse’s salvation) and Tobit 6:18 (where Tobias marries his cousin Sarah to save her) provide significant parallels to the husband being the saviour of his wife have been shown to be unconvincing by Lincoln, 370, and Hoehner. Note the discussion in G. W. Dawes, The Body, 150.

[5] Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 412–415.

[6] Or person

[7] Or established, instituted

[8] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 48–49.

[9] Gr ekklesia (“assembly”)

NIV New International Version

222 So the majority of commentators, including Calvin, Alford, Meyer, Abbott, M. Barth, Sampley, Schnackenburg, Lincoln, and Hoehner. This is better than regarding the ἀλλά as having resumptive (‘consequently’; so Robinson, 124, 205; and Bruce, 385) or consecutive force (S. F. Miletic, “One Flesh”: Eph. 5.22–24, 5.31: Marriage and the New Creation [Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1988], 102–3). The variations in the English versions (‘therefore’: AV; ‘but’: RV, ASV, NASB, NEB; ‘and’: TEV, JB, NJB; ‘now’: NIV; or the conjunction was left untranslated: RSV, NRSV) indicate something of the difficulties translators have had in understanding the force of the conjunction (so Hoehner).

223 Cf. Abbott, 166.

224 The comparative particle ὡς (‘as’) begins the comparison, and this is balanced by the adverbial particle οὕτως (‘so’) and the conjunction καί (‘and’) which introduce the second clause. Wives (αὑ γυναῖκες) are the subject of the admonition, and the present middle imperative ὑποτασσέσθωσαν (‘let them be subordinate’) needs to be supplied (A. T. Robertson, Greek Grammar, 394).

225 Lincoln, 372. Cf. S. F. Miletic, “One Flesh”, 43, who aptly comments that ‘the Christ/church relationship provides direction (“to the Lord”), perception (husband as “head” as Christ is “head”) and example (church as paradigm) for the wife’s act of subordination’.

226 Rightly noted by S. B. Clark, Man and Woman, 83.

227 S. B. Clark, Man and Woman, 83. If ‘in everything’ refers to every sphere of the husband-wife relationship, then it confuses the issue to speak of ‘complete obedience’ or ‘full and complete subordination’ (as Lincoln, 373, does).

228 G. W. Knight, ‘Husbands and Wives as Analogues of Christ and the Church: Ephesians 5:21–33 and Colossians 3:18–19’, in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, ed. J. Piper and W. Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), 170. He adds that the wife’s ‘submission is coextensive with all aspects of their relationship’.

229 S. B. Clark, Man and Woman, 81.

230 Barth, 620–21, points out that ‘in everything’ cannot mean mere blind obedience, especially when it would mean acting contrary to God’s commands. On the other hand, it is inappropriate to ‘compil[e] a short or long list of exemptions to prove that “in everything” actually means “not in everything” ’ (621)!

231 G. W. Knight, ‘Husbands and Wives’, 170.

[10] Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 415–418.

[11] William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 200–201.

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