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…

Ephesians 5.17-21

Straight out of the exhortation to use our time wisely we are confronted with quite possibly the single biggest self-induced excuse for sinning sexually:

For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is. And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

(Ephesians 5.17-21, NET)

Building on the case for sexual morality (v.3) and being distinct from those around who routinely indulge in immorality (vv.5-14), Paul now tackles one leading cause or incitement of sexual sin: do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery

A study in America has shown that around 14% of unwanted pregnancies can be associated, in some way, to alcohol consumption ¹. Simply and generally speaking, being drunk lowers our sexual inhibitions and can lead to us contravening all we have read in Ephesians 5 so far and making regrettable decisions ². There is a clear connection between being drunk and sexual immorality.

The fact that these Scriptural exhortations can be backed up with scientific research shows us the true wisdom of the Word.

Instead of drinking to excess (drunk) we are to fill ourselves with the Spirit. Rather than seeking out immoral and potentially life-changing sexual encounters because we have drunk too much, we ought to seek out friendship and fellowship that is life-affirming and always life-changing: in a positive way (vv.18b-21).

Let’s be clear: Scripture never uniformly forbids the consumption of alcohol (Ecclesiastes 9.7, Psalm 104.14-15, Matthew 26.29, 1 Timothy 5.23, for example), but it does prohibit us from being drunk (v.18, 1 Corinthians 6.12). For today’s Christian, it is a matter of conscience (1 Corinthians 10.23-33).

If that line of drinking / being drunk is crossed, it’s not the unforgivable sin but it does reveal to us people and places, settings and circumstances that you ought to avoid next time around. As the Lord through Paul says here:

“…do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is.”

(Emphasis added)


¹ – https://www.generationnext.com.au/2011/05/binge-drinking-leads-to-unwanted-pregnancies/

² – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3571090/

Ephesians 5.15-16

A lot of times we hear Christians talk of ‘fitting in to reach people’. There is some degree of truth to this (1 Corinthians 9.19-23, although context is important there), but this never includes wilfully choosing to sin in order to win, so speak. We are as much defined by what we reject as we are by what we accept. In Ephesians 5.15-16 Paul takes the truth of sexual morality and conduct one step further for his readers:

Therefore consider carefully how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

(Ephesians 5.15-16, NET)

Ours should be lives lived as wise people: those who have learned about and accepted the truth of Jesus. Truth accepted and truth internalised will bear the fruit of godly behaviour in our lives. This will provide irrefutable evidence to those around us that God is real, Jesus saves, and His Spirit lives in us. Conversely, we will never attract people to the truths of the Gospel by living as the unwise.

We read in v.16 that we are to be taking advantage of every opportunity. Perhaps your Bible says that we should be making the best use of the time. Either way, Paul’s point is that how we choose to behave each and every day is so important:

That one interaction with that one person may be the only time you ever talk to them.

That one choice you make may be the only time they ever see you navigating all that life throws at you.

Simply, because you are a believer, consider carefully how you live. Life is short, time is limited, and we will never attract people to the truths of the Gospel by living as the unwise we have talked about so far in Ephesians 5.


Ephesians 5.7-14

Coming straight out of v.6 Paul now makes a serious yet spectacular point:

Therefore do not be sharers with them, for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live like children of light — for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth — trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention. But all things being exposed by the light are made visible. For everything made visible is light, and for this reason it says:

“Awake, O sleeper!

Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you!”

(Ephesians 5.7-14, NET)

Because of the liberal attitude towards sex that was (and is) present among many, the Lord through Paul calls His people to not be sharers with them. At one time in our lives, if we are honest, we most likely did share the relaxed and very common attitude towards sexual relations: if it’s consensual and not hurting anyone, then it’s all good (v.8). However, having become born again believers in Jesus we are shown a higher standard of sexual morality (vv.9-10). The clear and cogent conclusion, then, is to not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness which lead only to judgement (vv.5-6).

Paul goes even further and says that it is shameful even to mention what goes on behind the closed doors of some people. He knows, however, that one day all will stand before the Lord in judgement (Revelation 20.11-15). A closed door and a secretive sexual encounter may feel thrilling here and now, but it will need to be accounted for.

It is, God says, sin. As such, it will need to be atoned for (read the book of Leviticus for more on this principle). By the grace of God Jesus offers to clear the record of your sin, to make atonement for it on your behalf (v.14). If this offer is refused, you and I will most certainly pay the price for our own sin (Revelation 20.13).

Sin and its consequences are serious, but so is the substitutionary atonement Jesus offers.