The Ephesians 5 Husband and Wife

Bill Brinkworth

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: … 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. … 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Eph. 5:21-33

Ephesian 5 discusses a subject which bristles the hair on the back of many necks. It takes a position that has been hated and rebelled against for generations. Unfortunately, the refusal to follow God’s commandments in this area has resulted in a current divorce rate near 50%. Paul discusses, in Ephesian 5:21-33, submissiveness between a married man and woman.

Submitting, according to Noah Webster, is the yielding or surrendering to an authority. The first surrendering to an authority discussed here is for both husband and wife to surrender to each other (vs. 21), because they have respect for God’s commandments! They are to submit to each other because God tells them to, and they should know God’s way is always best. God ordained the union between man and woman; so He certainly knows how it will work. No other way will be successful!

A wife is also to submit to her husband (vs. 22). When she is humbling herself to do so, she is doing it “unto the Lord”. What a step of faith it takes for a wife to trust the Lord in this way. I am sure most women shudder at this point, thinking all kinds of situations: “What happens if I submit to him, and my husband treats me badly?”; “What happens if I let him be the authority and decision-maker, and he makes wrong decisions?”; “What happens if I don’t get my say?”, and countless other senarios.

Those situations could come to pass, if the husband does not hold up his commitments. That is why it is so important that a marriage be between believers (II Cor. 6:14). However, there are no retractions for bad decisions in marriage partners in God’s Word. No matter the spiritual status, one is still committed to hold up his part of the marriage, as the Lord commands.

There are many marriage failures, because couples did not adhere to God’s way; but rather try to cohabit the way “everyone else is doing it”. When failures in a marriage do occur, it is usually because someone is not holding up his end of God’s commandments for that person.

Submission in a marriage is not just the wife’s responsibility. The husband also has a part to make a marriage work. His part is not just surrendering to his wife, but he is to love his wife as Christ loves His church (vs.25); as much as he loves his own body (vs. 28, 33). One should not want to do wrong to his own body; so also he must only want to do what is right and best for his wife.

Marriage is a picture of Christ’s (vss. 23, 25, 27, 32) submitting His body to die for the sins of man. Jesus submitted to His Father and allowed Himself to be payment for our sins. As we submit ourselves to Christ, we should also submit ourselves to each other. God’s way works! 

“The husband should be the houseband, binding all together like a cornerstone, but not crushing everything like a millstone.” — Spurgeon

This article was featured in The Bible View #659.

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