Ephesians 5.28-30

Building on his first exhortation for husbands, Paul now takes it one step further:

In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of his body.”

(Ephesians 5.28-30, NET)

In addition to the (somewhat) abstract idea that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church Paul now gets supremely practical and says that husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies

To command a love as Christ loved the church might feel beyond some husbands, might confuse some, or might simply mean nothing to some. Taking all of this potential doubt out of the equation we read that husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. The logic is that, ok guys, you take care of yourself, you do what is best for your own body, so love your wife in the same wayjust as Christ also does the church.

A teaching that hits both the mature believer (vv.25-27) and the newer believer (vv.28-29) cannot fail to communicate its intent and shows us just how important it is. This kind of marriage is not optional for a Christian and is not the realm of a committed few: if we have put hope and faith and trust in Jesus then this is how our marriages should look. Both partners should seek the good, seek the best, of the other and can rest easy that their spouse is doing the same for them. 

Tomorrow Paul will underscore this truth on marriage, but for today let us consider how we are loving our spouses as [our] own bodies

Ephesians 5.25-27

Having spoken to wives yesterday, now Paul turns his attention to husbands:

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.”

(Ephesians 5.25-27, NET)

There is more coming in this passage with regards to husbands (vv.28-33) but the major imperative that we get first is for them to love [their] wives as Christ loved the church. If a husband wants to be someone to whom his wife is happy to submit (v.22) then he must be, without a shadow of a doubt, loving his wife as Christ loved the church

What does this actually mean, then?

He must, as his first priority, seek to help her grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord (v.26) for her good (v.27). A husband must do all he can to help his wife live a life that honours God, pleases God, and is rooted in the Word. This, of course, will look differently in different circumstances or cultures, but will have as evidence the progressive sanctification of the wife (vv.26-27).

When a husband loves a wife like this, there will be no stigma or reservation in the call to submit because the wife knows that she is submitting to someone who wants only what is best for her. There is no male/female bias here: simply the call for a Christian marriage to be a union of mutual dependence, not a struggle for power and dominance.

As the wife has been called to submit and support and the husband called to serve in sacrificial love, this of course works in reverse: husbands need love and wives need support. Having a primary focus in a relationship doesn’t take away all your other needs. Submitting to your own husband is a sign of servant love, and loving your wife as Christ loved the church is certainly a show of submission, from self and to another.

As we continue through this passage on Christian marriage perhaps the overriding truth that comes through is that, in Christ and as new creations, marriage is a union of two becoming one for the glory of God (cf. v.32) and for the good of those involved.

Ephesians 5.22-24

Sadly, many Bible passages are pulled out of context and bent out of shape to make a point that they were never intended to. I think Ephesians 5.22-24 is one of them:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church (he himself being the savior of the body). But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

(Ephesians 5.22-24, NET)

Coming out of a long and detailed section on sexual morality Paul now turns to talk about marriage. This is not an isolated statement to be wielded over our spouse, but an exhortation to show what you believe in your conduct at home. Flowing beautifully from the command of v.21 to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ we now read, specifically, how wives can do so (husbands are up tomorrow). 

Wives are counselled to submit to [their] husbands as to the Lord. This is not – and there is not in Scripture – a blanket call for all women to submit to all men. Within a Christian marriage there is a wonderful exchange of selfless love for submission: both parties hold the other as more important than themselves (vv.23-24) and both go out of their way to show it. For wives specifically, this is shown in a posture of submission.

To submit to someone who you don’t know or has not proven their love for you is a tall task. However, to submit to someone who you know will take care of you, to someone who has proven their love for you in the strongest way possible (v.24) is a much more doable task for most. 

Tomorrow we will see the other side of the coin (Husbands, love your wives…) but for more on Christian marriage, try this:

Marriage – In The Name Of…