Ephesians 5:22–33comment (0)
November 11, 2010
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Ephesians 5:22–33
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Some people live in a marriage relationship on the selfish basis of what they can get out of it. These adults see marriage as a way to meet certain needs, such as love and companionship, or fulfill certain desires, such as having a family. Others live in a marriage relationship on the basis of what they can do for their spouse. These people may see marriage as a way to provide something their spouse would not otherwise have, such as financial security. Or these people may be so afraid of losing their spouse that they see marriage and preserving it as their sole responsibility. From a Christian perspective, however, the best way to live in a marriage relationship is on the basis of one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Then both spouses will have their needs met.
Wives: Submit As Service (22–24)
The key word found in this instruction to wives is “submit.” Much debate has obscured the apostle Paul’s teaching and intent in this passage. Several considerations may assist in recovering his intent. (1) The immediately preceding verse (Eph. 5:21) calls for mutual submission among believers. That thought is continued in verse 22. A proper personal relationship in a Christian family includes submission that is mutual and rooted in reverence for God. (2) These instructions are given to marriages in which both spouses are believers. This is not instruction for society in general. (3) Although the wife is the first to be instructed to be submissive, the husband is to show his submission to the Lord by his care and concern for his wife. (4) Submission has to do with the order of authority, not the exercise of authority. (5) Paul did not give the husband the right to force his wife to submit; she is to do that as a voluntary act, her service rendered to the Lord. (6) Submission does not mean inferiority. It means the wife recognizes her husband’s role and responds to him accordingly, without grasping his authority for herself. The reason for this marriage arrangement is that the husband’s role in the marriage reflects Christ’s role with the Church. Paul called for the wife to submit to her own husband (not men in general) on the basis of her relationship with Christ.
Husbands: Love As Christ Does (25–30)
Husbands are instructed to love their wives; this is their supreme responsibility. This means seeking the highest good for the person loved. For the husband, this means that he is to love his wife with the same unreserved and selfless love seen in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, when He gave Himself up for us. For the husband, sacrificial love provides a nonthreatening basis for his wife’s voluntary submission. Christ’s love for the Church is the model for a husband’s love. Christ’s love for the Church was designed to make it holy so that it may be presented to Him as a gloriously beautiful bride. Whereas human brides prepare themselves for their grooms, Jesus prepares His bride for Himself. A Christian husband should care for his wife with the same devotion he naturally displays in his care for himself. This includes spiritual nurture and emotional cherishing, as well as physical well-being. The husband who loves his wife in these ways of tender affection brings great joy and blessing to himself from her and the Lord. The husband’s life is so intimately united with his wife that they are one (Gen. 2:24).
Both: Express a Complete Unity (31–33)
Paul quoted Genesis 2:24 to stress the significance of the bond between husband and wife. The divine plan for marriage, which God established at creation, is a unity that goes far beyond sexual union to involve every area of a couple’s life and relationship. It is a permanent union that is intimate and unbreakable. Marriage is a great mystery as is the magnificent bond between Christ and the Church. Marriage is a holy reflection of the beautiful union of Christ and the Church.Consequently the husband is urged to love his wife as he loves himself and the wife is urged to respect her husband. Each is personally responsible to Christ for fulfilling his or her responsibilities.