Submission of the Christian Husband
The Submission of the Christian Husband
21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 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 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. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave 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 let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.
Ours is a truly intriguing text. The topic is introduced in Ephesians 5:21 and extends to chapter 6, verse 9. One would hardly expect a text on submission to address husbands. Much less would one expect this text to spend much more time instructing husbands than wives. And yet but 3 1/2 verses are addressed to Christian wives, while 8 1/2 verses are written to Christian husbands.
It is not just that this passage on submission spends much time speaking to husbands. The wonder of this text is what Christian husbands are instructed to do. We are not at all surprised by what Paul has to say to wives. They are called upon to symbolically display the submission of the church to its Head, Jesus Christ by their submission to their own husbands. If wives are to reflect the submission of the church to Christ, what would you expect Paul to command the husbands to do?
I would have expected Paul to reason in this way: Husbands are to manifest the headship of Jesus Christ over His church, and thus they are to be the spiritual leaders of their wives. If the wives are commanded to submit, then the husbands surely must be instructed to lead. But they are not. Instead of commanding husbands to leadtheir wives, Paul instructs them to love their wives.
For Paul, loving takes priority over leading. Why? What is the relationship between leading and loving? Why does Paul command husbands to love, but not to lead? What is it that Christian husbands are responsible to demonstrate in their relationship with their wives? These are the questions which we will seek to answer in our third and final study of Ephesians 5:21-33.
It is only as we come to understand this relationship between loving and leading that we will grasp the vast difference between the servant leadership of Christianity and secular leadership of the world in which we live. Let us look to Him who is both the author and the interpreter of these words, so that we will not only understand, but obey them, to the glory of God.
The Command: “Husbands, Love Your Wives”
If Paul’s command to Christian wives is summed up by the term, “submit,” his command to Christian husbands is summed up by the term, “love.” Husbands are to love their wives according to two models, each of which is introduced by the word “as” (see verses 25 and 28). They are first instructed to love their wives “as Christ also loved the church” (verses 25-27). They are further instructed to love their wives “as their own bodies” (verses 28-32). And so we find in these two models the final keys to the structure of our text, which we can sum up in this way:
A general call to submission (verse 21)
The submission of wives to their husbands (verses 22-24)
The husband’s love for his wife as Christ loved the church (verses 25-27)
The husband’s love for his wife as his own body (verses 28-33a)
The wife’s submission expressed as respect for her husband (verse 33b)
In this study, we will seek to identify the form which the submission of the husband takes in relation to his wife. At the outset we must grant that all appearances indicate that the husband’s submission is expressed in terms of his love. The love of the husband is compared to (a) the love of Christ for His church, and (b) the love a man has for his own body. We will begin by considering the love of Christ for His church. We will then turn to the love of a man for his own body. After this, we will seek to crystallize the relationship between leadership and love, and pursue some of the practical implications of this relationship.
The Love of Christ for His Church
25 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.
The love of the Father was demonstrated through the sacrificial death of the Son:
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).
As Paul wrote in Romans,
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
There may be a sense in which we may say that God loves the whole world (see John 3:16), but the love which the husband is to have for his wife is not all-encompassing; it is a selective love. The love of Christ which we husbands are to imitate is a love for the church. Christ, our Model, “loved the church” and “gave Himself up for her.” His love in Christ was a selective love, or, to put the matter in theological terms, it is an elective love. Christ died to save those whom the Father had chosen in eternity past (see Ephesians 1:3-14).
When a man sets his heart upon a woman whom he desires to be his wife, he sets her apart from all other women. He seeks companionship with her, with the goal of making her his wife. While he can love his neighbor, and even his enemy, his love for his wife is unique. It sets her apart from all other women. In the Bible, this special love is contrasted with hate (see Psalm 97:10; Amos 5:15; Matthew 6:24; Romans 9:13). When we love our wife with the kind of love which Christ has for His church, we love her and “hate” all others.
There are those who bristle at the doctrine of election. This is the doctrine that God chooses only some to be saved. The Scriptures are quite clear that God chooses whom He will save, and that only those whom He has chosen and drawn will be saved (see John 6:37, 44, 65; 15:16; 17:2, 24; Acts 13:48; 16:14).
Those who reject the doctrine of election cannot conceive of a “loving God” who will not save all. They define “love” differently from the Scriptures, for in the Bible loving someone sets them apart from others. You cannot “love” someone or something without also “hating” something else.
Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED” (Romans 9:13). Election is the expression of love, for love sets the object of love apart.
Paul continues to spell out the way in which a husband’s love for his wife is to be Christ-like. As the love of Christ for His bride, the church, was selective, it was also sacrificial. Christ “gave Himself up” for the church. Christ died on the cross of Calvary, suffering in the sinner’s place, bearing our punishment for sin and satisfying His Father’s holy wrath toward the sinner.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Old Testament prophets spoke of the coming Messiah in sacrificial terms (see Isaiah 52:13–53:12), and so it was at the outset of His public ministry that Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The writer to the Hebrews has much to say about the sacrificial aspects of our Lord’s earthly ministry (see chapter 9). In our text, Paul sums up the sacrificial nature of our Lord’s work on behalf of His church by telling us that He “gave Himself up for her” (verse 25). The kind of love which God requires of husbands involves sacrifice. We cannot love our wives as Christ loved the church without sacrifice.
Submission of the Christian Husband Reviewed by JOEL KANNURI on 02:45:00 Rating: