February 21st 2019 – Ephesians 5:22-33

"22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ 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 so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a]28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

Ephesians 5:22-33

It is important to see that what Paul is asking for, and enjoining, in these verses, is simply acceptance of, and obedience to, the divinely ordained order and arrangement as between man and woman. The natural and spiritual order is that the husband is the head of the wife, and this is clearly the teaching of Scripture. It will not do to introduce at this point the assertion that men and women are equal in the sight of God and to suppose that this contradicts and negates Paul's teaching here. Of course there is an equality as between man and woman, in this sense, that they are equal in dignity before God. But this is not what Paul has in view here; what is in view is the equally important and valid idea of differentiation of function. It is true that marriage is a partnership, but it is also true that in any partnership of two, decisions will have to be made from time to time, and inevitably there will be those occasions when there is a difference of opinion. Whose opinion then will carry? Scripture indicates that, in the last analysis, it is the man's prerogative. We should remember the context here. Paul is speaking on the theme of submission, and it is significant that this follows the verse about being filled with the Spirit. The implication is that to be filled with the Spirit is to live under His control; and it is when we are under His complete control, that is, in submission to Him, and therefore to the Word (cf Colossians 3:18) that we are most ourselves. This is the point of the contrast that Paul makes between being drunk with wine and being filled with the Spirit: drunkenness leads to loss of control and a measure of disinhibitedness that can often be frightening and indeed disastrous, whereas being Spirit-filled means total self-control and therefore truest humanity. A wife becomes her truest self, and achieves her truest destiny, when she seeks to fulfil this word that Paul speaks here. The more the Holy Spirit is at work in her heart the more truly womanly and feminine she will be, and the more naturally she will, not only be, but also want to be, submissive to her husband.