Ephesians 5:22-6:9

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

Observation

  • Wives are to submit to their own husbands.
  • Wives are to submit to their husbands as they submit to the Lord.
  • The husband is the head of the wife.
  • Christ is the head of the church.
  • Husbands are the head of the wife in the same manner as Christ is the head of the Church.
  • The church is Christ’s body.
  • Christ is the church’s Savior.
  • The church submits to Christ.
  • Wives are to submit to their husbands as The Church submits to Christ.
  • Wives are to submit in everything to their husbands.
  • Husbands are to love their wives.
  • Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church.
  • Christ gave himself for the church.
  • Christ gave himself for the church so he might sanctify the church.
  • Christ cleansed the church by washing with water and with the word.
  • Christ sanctified the church so that he can present the church to himself in splendor.
  • Christ sanctified the church so that he can present the church spotless.
  • Christ sanctified the church so that he can present the church without wrinkle.
  • Christ sanctified the church so that he can present the church without any flaws whatsoever.
  • The church is to be holy.
  • The church is not to have any blemishes.
  • As Christ works in and on the church to make her without blemish so the husband should love the wife.
  • Husbands are to love the wife as their own body.
  • If a man loves his wife he loves himself.
  • No one ever hated his own flesh.
  • Everyone nourishes their body.
  • Everyone cherishes their body.
  • Christ nourishes the church.
  • Christ cherishes the church.
  • A husband is to nourish his wife.
  • A husband is to cherish his wife.
  • We are members of Christ body.
  • A man is to leave his father and mother.
  • A man is to hold fast to his wife.
  • The husband and wife become one flesh.
  • Two become one flesh is a mystery.
  • The mystery refers to Christ and the church.
  • Men are to love their wives as themselves.
  • The wife is to respect her husband.
  • Children are to obey their parents.
  • Children are to obey their parents in the Lord.
  • It is right for children to obey their parents.
  • The commandment Honor your father and mother come with a promise.
  • Children obey their parents so the children may live long in the land.
  • Fathers are not to provoke their children to anger.
  • Fathers are to raise their children in discipline.
  • Fathers are to raise their children with instruction of the Lord.
  • Bondservants are to obey their earthly masters.
  • Bondservants are to obey their earthly masters with fear and trembling.
  • Bondservants are to obey their earthly masters with a sincere heart.
  • Bondservants are to obey their earthly masters as they would Christ.
  • Bondservants are not simply to give the appearance of obedience to their earthly masters.
  • Bondservants are not server their earthly masters to please their earthly masters but to please Christ.
  • Bondservants are to serve as if they are doing the will of God.
  • Bondservants are to serve from the heart.
  • Bondservants are to serve the earthly masters as if they were serving the Lord.
  • What good anyone does he will receive back from the Lord.
  • Masters are to do to the bondservants and Paul has commanded the bondservants to do to the masters.
  • Masters are not to threaten their bondservants.
  • The Master of the bondservant is also the Master of the earthly masters
  • God judges bondservant and master with the same measure.

Interruption

This has become a hot topic of in our culture. The concept of equal rights and woman’s right has led many pastors and churches to handle this topic with gentleness and fear. But let us go boldly into what the bible says and not worry about political correctness. While we look at the details of this passage, do not get lost in the details and miss the overarching theme. That theme is, we have differing roles and in each role we are to submit to each other and serve each other. That is how we serve Christ.

Paul says wives submit to your husband in the same way that you submit to Christ. This is a not just a difficult command it is a very difficult command. We know and understand that Christ is perfect. His judgment is perfect. So even if we do not like something or understand something, we can rest is the knowledge that Christ is just and pure. My wife cannot rest in the knowledge that I am right and just or pure. I am a sinner. I am self-centered. I make bad decisions. And yet, my wife is to submit to me? Really? Yes! This is an unpopular teaching in today’s western culture. But the scripture is clear here.

Husbands do not think that since your wife is to submit to you. You have the better position. You do not. Notice simply the amount of space Paul give to the wives and then to the husbands. Husbands, are given an impossible task, to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Say what! Christ’s love is perfect. I am anything but perfect. How am I supposed to do that? Paul then goes on and says, the husband and the wife are one. Just as we, as members of the church, are members of Christ body. Paul does not try to explain this but simply calls it for what it is, a mystery.

The idea men have it easier than women based on this passage is simply a case of selective reading. All wives need to do is submit and respect their husbands. Husbands however, are to love perfectly, just as Christ loved perfectly.

Children are to obey their parents. If they do, there is a promise that they will be blessed. But men in the role of father get again whammy. Men are responsible for the discipline of their children and their instruction and education. While women traditionally have had the largest share of the task of raising the children, it is the father’s responsibility. While the father may have delegated many of the tasks, he may not delegate the responsibility.

Servants or slaves are to obey their masters as they would obey and serve Christ. But wait, should not a slave struggle for his freedom? Paul says no. And this flies in the face of everything we believe about personal freedom and liberty in the western culture. Paul says obey your master even as you would obey Christ.

Slave owners and masters are to treat their slaves as they would Christ. Again this appears to be a whack on the side of the head. Are we not servants of Christ? Does Paul actually mean that the master is to serve the slave?

When read as a whole unit. The theme of this section becomes clear. We are to submit to each other. While we may have different roles our responsibility to Christ is to treat his body, i.e. his church, with the respect, love and service.

Application

“Well I just don’t believe that.” “That does not apply today.” The woman’s movement hates this passage. Of course they have no problem with verses 25 – 33a. They believe the idea that God commanded women to submit to their husbands is evil. No one is over another simply as a matter of gender. But that is what the bible says. The objection comes because of a misunderstanding of what it means to be submissive and our natural inclination to rebel against any authority over us. Being in submission to another does not imply that one is less than another. Or that one is greater than another. The Son is in submission to the Father. But the Son is also equal to the Father.

The responsibilities Paul outlines here for men is scary to say the least. The idea that I, as a man, am to love as Christ loved is almost enough for me to throw up my hands in despair. There is no way a mortal man can do that. Only as Christ loves through me and I surrender to him can I hope to love in this manner. I do not love with my love but with Christ’s love.

Here though is the summary of this section. How do we love Christ? We love Christ by loving his body, the church. We submit to each other. We love each other. While we have differing roles each role is to serve the rest of the body of Christ.

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