Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9, The life of the new self and his home and work, part 2.

Class Outline:

Thursday January 27, 2022


“What is the theme which has run right through chapter 4 and spilled over into chapter 5? These chapters are a stirring summons to the unity and purity of the church; but they are more than that. Their theme is the integration of Christian experience (what we are), Christian theology (what we believe), and Christian ethics (how we behave). They emphasize that being, thought, and action belong together.” [John Stott]


The Christian life (holiness) is not a river we drift in. It is a garden that we cultivate with daily attention.


That includes our individual lives, the life of the church, and the life of the home in marriage and family.


If you are married, the subject of our last class and today’s is about God’s will in marriage and in parenting the family. We are all on the hook for this, and it will do damage to our spiritual lives if we don’t know it, or don’t have faith in it, or neglect our responsibility to be diligent in fulfilling it. And don’t read these words or hear me and conclude that you do it well enough. None of us have reached the pinnacle of perfect submission, which is demanded of all of us in the body of Christ. Do not settle for the status quo, in yourself, in your church, in your marriage, or in your family, but rather keep pressing on towards the upward call in Christ Jesus.


Paul moves from instruction on the way of the church to the way of the home in 5:22. Last time we summarized God’s role for the wife in marriage.


EPH 5:22-5:24 Wives, be subject [hupotasso: rank under - not here but in vv. 21 and 24] 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 church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.


The members of the body of Christ are to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (EPH 5:21). This is one of the consequences of the Holy Spirit’s fulness. Paul leaves out the verb in the next sentence which means he’s using the same verb “be subject” in vs. 21 with “wives to your own husbands as to the Lord.” Certainly, the relationship of the wife to her husband is not the same as her relationship to others in the church, but her acceptance of her lower rank is of the same kind.


I will explain. We are all subject to Christ. We are to, as Paul writes, have this attitude in ourselves which was also in Christ Jesus and regard one another as more important than ourselves (PHI 2:3-5). Our submission and fidelity to Christ binds us to submission of one another in love and service. The wife submits to her husband in everything for the same reason, though she is in a different type of relationship.


“The very notion of submission to authority is out of fashion today.” [Stott, 1979] Rejection of authority has grown to such proportions that society in general accepts a person’s decision to choose their own gender. All that are under authority in this coming section; wives, children, and laborers have all in the last century or so experienced liberation movements. Some of these are welcome, for the weaker have been exploited by the stronger. Women, children, and workers should be treated with dignity, and if believers, as fellow heirs of life, but God has created roles for us all, just as He perfectly fit us in our place in the body of Christ, and some roles have authority over others. The ones who are called to submit will excel when they do so voluntarily. In this letter, in all three cases; wives, children, and workers submit as unto the Lord. We must remain vigilant on God’s principles of authority and be wise to what they are and how they can be distorted.


We must be careful not to allow authority become something like tyranny in our minds.


Authority is not tyranny: we don’t read of Paul telling the husband, the parent, or the employer to use their power. On the contrary, he warns them of improper use.


The husbands are to love their wives and care for them, parents are not to provoke their children but to bring them up sensitively, and masters are not to threaten their workers, but to treat them with justice.


That the wife is subject to the husband, Paul explains in 1CO 11:3-12 and 1TI 2:11-13 that from the beginning (Gen 2) woman was made after man, out of man, and for man. He adds that man is also born from woman and that they are not independent from each other but both originate from God. The order is not of an older culture, but of God’s design for all time. Jesus used Gen 2 when He taught on marriage (MAT 19:4-6).


Though both sexes were made in the image of God and both are equal in Christ, men and women are profoundly different psychologically as well as physiologically and God has made them to compliment one another.


So much effort has been expended by Satan to destroy patriarchy and the two parent family unit in every society.


The wife never forgets that Christ alone is her Savior. She is a member of the church and therefore subject to Christ, and because of her relationship with Christ, and that only, she is to voluntarily and sympathetically subject herself to her husband.


EPH 5:25-30 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.


The model for the husband is obviously Christ.


The new humanity husband: loves his wife as Christ does the church and therefore sacrifices his time and energy in her service for her betterment.


The husband does not give up his authority, and neither does Christ. Christ served us so that He would make us holy, blameless, and His beautiful bride. The husband follows this example for his wife. He cannot save her but he can “give himself up” for her benefit, and by benefit we obviously mean being benefited in good and pure things and not her selfish desires. The husband with the heart of his Lord will discern well what he is go give to wife for her good, and in the long run, for his own, for “he who loves his own wife loves himself.” It seems that Paul is appealing to the husband’s selfishness, but we know that he would never do that. It is likely referring to that practical golden rule that Jesus stated as a truth coming from the Law and the prophets, how you want others to treat you, so treat them. Paul reverses this as motivation in his realism - all men cherish and nourish their bodies and loving your wife is good for your own body and soul. Don’t forget, as Paul will quote, the two become one flesh. Hurt the other you hurt yourself. Do you cherish and nourish your body? Then love your wife.


In the husband lies the danger of selfishness.


A scenario that can be an easy trap for the man to fall into: the man is busy, full of cares and attractions that lie outside the domestic circle. He too readily forms habits of self-absorption and learns to make his wife and his home a convenience, from which he takes as his right the comfort they have to give while he imparts little of his devotion in return. It is a lack of love for those closest and it denies the higher rights of marriage and makes the wife’s submission a joyless constraint.


One commentator rightly states, “There are many who out of doors are civil and kind to all; when at home, toward their wives and children, whom they have no need to fear, they freely practice secret bitterness.” [Bengel]


Paul’s instruction in Colossians is more succinct but adds to our passage: for the wife subjection is fitting and the husband can be bitter against his wife.


COL 3:18-19 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.


The man’s home is his castle, and sometimes he has within his castle another castle, the man-cave. I doubt that God has anything against man-caves, but He does demand that the husband understands that it is his duty to love his wife as Christ loves the church. She is much more than a convenience. In his home he serves his wife as Christ does the church and with the same desire in mind - to bless her.


The husband’s love must be spiritual passion, the love of soul to soul that Jesus Himself enjoys.


The gracious covenant that God made with Israel in the OT was several times referred to as a marriage covenant (ISA 54:5-8; JER 2:1-3). Jesus took this over and called Himself the bridegroom. Paul enlarged on here and when he wrote in 2Co 11 that he betrothed them to one husband, to Christ. The culmination of the Son of God as the anticipated Bridegroom reveals His continuous covenant-love for His bride. This is what the husbands are to imitate.


EPH 5:32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking [ego with the verb emphasizing Paul’s authority as apostle] with reference to Christ and the church


Agape love is self-devotion, not self-satisfaction (eros love). The Bible never uses the word eros. The husband in agape desires the highest and best for his wife. The maturity of her character and joy are his most treasured possessions. The husband has influence over his wife’s soul. It should not be near the magnitude of Christ’s influence, but it should be of the same kind. Christ is for us and not against us. The husband applies the same principle as we are all to towards one another. He thinks of her as more important than himself. He is to influence her properly as her head and so he does not delegate his influence to another.


The husband is not to be a stranger to her spiritual trials and experiences in her heart. Christ cares for us so that we can cast our cares upon Him. The model for the husband is obviously Christ.


We usually think of the damage to children that inevitably occurs when they don’t have a father at home. In light of this passage and the principles it teaches, there is damage to the mother as well. In 2019 40% of children were born to unwed mothers. 1 in 6 under the age of 18 grow up without a father involved. Such high numbers were unheard of just decades ago. All involved are damaged by this. It is a tragedy that hurts the world of mankind greatly, and perhaps more than anything, for human existence started with wedlock.


The bond that links husband and wife, lying at the basis of collective human existence through Adam and Eve, has actually as its ground the relation of Christ to humanity.