Submission to one another, Wives and husbands (Ephesians 5:21–33)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 29, 2017
Today we enter the household codes section of Ephesians. This is not an easy passage. Sure, it is easy to interpret. It is not easy to stand up here and preach. So, I am sure either men, or women, or both may be upset with me by the end of the message. This is why there are no rocks under your chairs, but even so, if you are unruly I am still a fast runner and there is a door to my left at the front of the sanctuary. Even so, I will preach exactly what the Bible teaches.
Let me say that this is not a politically correct sermon. BUT this is a Biblically correct sermon. I can make mistakes, I understand that, but before being upset with me please look at the Bible and see what it says.
I was listening to Pastor and author Chip Ingram on Moody Radio and he shared about the Christian family as a witness. He shared how one day he went outside and he was in the front yard playing games with his kids. His neighbor across the street was moving. She came across the street to say goodbye to him. She was going through a messy divorce. She came over and talked with him. She said, “I am done with men. But if I were to consider a man again he would have to be like you.” Chip was not saying this arrogantly, it was only because of the grace of God and his commitment to family. She was not impressed with him except that he was spending time with his kids. Chip concluded by saying, a Christian family is a powerful witness. So, let’s talk about a Christian family. The Christian family begins with husband and wife.
My theme today is: Men, love your wives as Christ loved the church and woman submit to and respect your husbands.
The passages: Ephesians 5:22-33:
Wives, be subject 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.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church 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 to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would 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. 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 church.33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
- Notice the passage begins by stating “Be subject.” (vs 22-24)
- This is one of several “house-rule” lists in the New Testament (cf. Eph. 5:22—6:9; 1 Tim. 2:8-15; 6:1-2; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Pet. 2:18—3:7). The writings of some Apostolic Fathers also contain such lists. Luther referred to these sections as haustafel, and some scholars still use this technical term when referring to these lists.
- This part is all about husbands and wives: Constable: In each of the three pairings, the first partner is responsible to be submissive or obedient (5:22; 6:1, 5). However, the second partner is also to show a submissive spirit. All are to relate to one another “as unto the Lord
- Let me read verses 22-24: Wives, be subjectto 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.
- But go back and look at verse 21.
- Notice verse 21 says to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
- That is a nice way to start out this passage. Paul is talking about submitting based off of the authority they are to have. As Christians we should submit to police and government authorities (Romans 13), our employers, parents, etc.
- So, Paul is getting into this.
- The passage is basic. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
- The husband is the head of the wife.
- Christ is the head of the church.
- The church must submit to Christ.
- Wives must submit to their husbands.
- Maybe some of you are here thinking this is not necessary. Let me state what is the conditions of marriage in the United States? What is the condition of the family in the United States? What is going on with our culture? I submit to you that the further we get from God’s ways the more things crumble.
- John Stott: “Too much so-called ‘holiness teaching’ emphasizes a personal relationship to Jesus Christ without any attempt to indicate its consequences in terms of relationships with the people we live and work with. In contrast to such holiness-in-a-vacuum, which magnifies experiences and minimizes ethics, the apostles spelled out Christian duty in the concrete situations of everyday life and work.”
- Also, Paul did change things up. The Greco-Roman treated women poorly.
- One writes: “After centuries of Christian teaching, we scarcely appreciate the revolutionary nature of Paul’s views on family life set forth in this passage. Among the Jews of his day, as also among the Romans and the Greeks, women were seen as secondary citizens with few or no rights. The pious male Jew daily said a prayer in which he thanked God for not making him a woman. And he could divorce his wife by simply writing ‘a bill of divorcement’ (which must include the provision that she was then free to marry whomever she wanted). The wife had no such right.”
- So, what Paul is saying is first that the wife is to submit to her husband.
- If we want to say that wives no longer must respect or submit to their husbands than we could also say that the church no longer must submit to Christ. The Scripture says in verse 24: But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
- But men, don’t think you have it easy. Most of this passage is about your duty. Leadership means responsibility.
- By the way, wives are not to submit to their husbands when the husband calls them to disobey God, or harm themselves.
- Wives, never settle for abuse. You are not called to allow yourself to be abused.
- I was listening to Dr. Michael Rydelnik on Moody radio and a woman called in and she was being physically abused by her husband but she did not think she was right to leave him. He affirmed, as I would, if you are being abused you get out of the abused situation, right away. Talk to me about that if it is going on. Talk with a Christian counselor. If your children are being abused, get out of that situation. Those are not situations where you submit. Submit to God first.
- Husbands love your wives… vs 25-27
- Look at the next section, now this is for the husbands.
- 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church 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 to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
- Constable: Paul summarized the wife’s duty as submission, and the husband’s duty as love. The word he used for “love” (agapate) means much more than sexual passion (eros), or even family affection (philia). It means seeking the highest good for another person (cf. 2:4). Husbands are to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the church. The extent to which He went for her welfare, was giving Himself up in death to provide salvation for her (cf. v. 2; Phil. 2:5-11). He gave up His rights, yet maintained His responsibilities. The biblical concept of authority emphasizes responsibility, not tyranny
- There is an interesting section about Jesus sanctifying the church.
- This is interesting about the husbands call to spiritual leadership.
- Husbands, what did Jesus do for the church? He died for the church. Jesus took care of our spiritual need.
- We must be financial providers, yes, but most of all spiritual leaders.
- Across the church, we are failing miserably here.
- When was the last time we had a spiritual discussion with our family.
- Do you know that studies show that the spouses that pray together stay together.
- I have heard so many say that men need respect and women need loved. Woman need cherished and adored. This is a psychological need. Men need respect. Most men need it. Men may get respect at work and not at home and so they just work, work and work. They feel good at work because they are good at it. If a woman feels loved, cherished, adored she is usually happy.
- Many men have this voice inside saying, “I am not good enough.” They need respected. But woman need adored.
- Husbands love your wife like you love yourself (vs 28-32)
- 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 doesthe church,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 church.
- love your wives as your own body.
- Listen, don’t marry a man who does not take care of himself and respect his body.
- to love your wife is to love yourself
- verse 29: no one hates his own flesh; we take care of our own flesh; Jesus takes care of the church.
- Some commentators have translated “as” to “being,” here and in verse 28. This rendering makes understanding the first part of verse 29 easier. “The husband, the head, therefore, is to love the wife as being his body, even as Christ loved the Church as forming His body.”
- Jesus provided for the church. We provide for ourselves. Make sure you provide for your family.
- Woman need to know that they are secure. They have a desire to know that they are safe and provided for.
- What happens often is that a woman feels insecure because her husband has lost his job. The wife does not mean to, but she innocently questions her husband about the job. She wants to know she is secure. But the husband gets defensive. He thinks she is disrespecting him by questioning his ability to provide. She does not mean to disrespect him, but that is the way he perceives her questions. She wants to know that he is providing, he wants to know that he is respected. The fight begins, so be it innocently.
- Summary in Verse 33
- 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to itthat she respects her husband.
- That is the summary.
I want to conclude with some applications:
If I am to live this out, this is what my personal goal ought to be. These are in the first person pronoun, “I.”
- I must love my wife in a self-sacrificing way.
- I must be willing to die for my wife as Christ died for the church (verse 25).
- I must love my wife as I would love myself (verse 28).
- I would defend my body so I must defend my wife.
- I will take care of my body so I must take care of my wife.
- I nourish my body and so I must nourish my wife.
- I take medications when I am sick; therefore, I must make sure my wife has the right medications.
- I buy food for my body; therefore, I must buy the best food for my wife.
- I am a steward of my body and so I am a steward of my wife. My body is not mine, but God’s and my wife is really God’s woman.
- I purchase things to clothe my body, I must purchase things to clothe my wife.
- I would not disrespect my body; therefore, I must not disrespect my wife.
- I would not harm my body; therefore, I must not harm my wife.
- If my body had feelings I would not hurt them; therefore, I must not hurt my wife’s feelings.
- I would not say things mean to my body; therefore, why would I say mean things to my wife.
- I am to be glued together with my wife (verse 31), I must act like it.
- I will love, cherish and obey my wife.
- I must cherish my wife with:
- With tender touch
- With gifts
- Time spent together.
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)