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LOVE OF HUSBAND AND WIFE: Counsel to Wives and Husbands
Ephesians 5:22-33 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
Counsel to Husbands and Wives
22 Wives to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the congregation, he himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the congregation is subject to Christ, so also the wives should be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the congregation and gave himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the congregation to himself in splendor, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she might be holy and blameless. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself; 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the congregation, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the congregation. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she fears her husband.
 Mystery; Secret: (Gr. mystērion) A sacred divine mystery or secret doctrine that lies with God alone, which is withheld from both the angelic body and humans, until the time he determines that it is to be revealed, and to those to whom he chooses to make it known.
 Gr ekklesia (“assembly”)
 This fear is to have such awe or respect for a person as to involve a measure of fear, to fear, to show great reverence for, to show great respect for.
The Apostle has been urging us to be filled with the Spirit, and now proceeds to show how Spirit-filled people should act in their homes. He has been exhorting to praise and joyfulness, and now urges that our lives, as well as our lips, should be attuned to music.
What a lofty ideal of wedded love is here! Chrysostom says: “Would you that your wife obey you as the Church does Christ? Have care for her, then, as Christ for the Church.” Our earthly relationships are similitudes and emblems of sacred realities, and the more we can import into the time sphere the inspiration and virtue of the eternal, the more transcendental and beautiful will they become. The Lord has taught us the utter renunciation of love. Men of the world reckon how much love they can get; the children of eternity how much they can give; but such giving always means getting back with compound interest. Notice those phrases about nourishing and cherishing. O wounded member of Christ’s body, He suffers in thee, nourishes, cherishes, and will heal!
The Daily Devotional is over, but below we cover one of the most misunderstood and abused husband-wife Bible verse.
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.” 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.” 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 Eph. 5:23 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.
22 Within the marriage relationship wives are addressed first, and they are urged to be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. Although the verse does not contain any verb, ‘submit’ carries over from Eph. 5:21, with the imperative being understood instead of the participle. The notion of submission in the preceding verse is now unpacked without repeating the verb. 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.
The idea of subordination to authority in general, as well as in the family, is out of favor 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). 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’. 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 honor and glory.
The motivation for the wife to be subject to her husband is spelled out in the final phrase, as to the Lord. The general admonition of Eph. 5:21 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). – 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.
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, 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)
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 (Eph. 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’, rather than ‘source’, or one who is ‘prominent, preeminent’. At Eph. 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 Eph. 4:15, and this headship is expressed in his care and nourishment, as well as in his leadership of them in the fulfillment of the divine purposes. Here the headship of the husband, in the light of the usage at Eph. 5:22, the general context of the authority structure of the Graeco-Roman household, and the submission of the wife to her husband within marriage in Eph. 5:22–24, refers to his having authority over his wife; thus he is her leader or ruler.
The mere presence of the terms ‘head’ and ‘submission’ in this context does not of itself ‘establish stereotypes of masculine and feminine behaviour’. 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 also 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’. Christ’s headship over the church is expressed by his loving it and giving his life for it, as Eph. 5:25–27 so clearly show. This will have profound implications for the husband’s behavior as head of his wife (v. 28).
The additional words, ‘he himself is the Savior 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 Savior of the body, so also the husband is in some sense the savior of his wife. While the term ‘savior’ 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 paralleled 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. Further, the term ‘savior’, which turns up twenty-four times in the New Testament, always refers to Jesus or God, but never to human beings. To interpret the words, then, of Christ 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 Savior of the body. His saving activity, especially his sacrificial death (Eph. 2:14–18; cf. Eph. 5:2), was for the deliverance of men and women in dire spiritual peril (Eph. 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 (Eph. 5:25–27). – 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.
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 be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God, and those that exist have been placed 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.
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 take that courses. 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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