Discovering Your Identity in Christ – A Study in Ephesians – Part 17

Walking in Harmony – God’s design for Marriage

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21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[n] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[o] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Ephesians 5:21-33 NIV

Here is where we come to a passage that people like to look at independently of the rest of the book of Ephesians.  It is important to take this part of the text in light of the entire book of Ephesians because otherwise, readers can become resentful of Paul and angry at his instructions.

Before we move into Paul’s instruction on marriage, we must first understand from chapters 1-3 our identity in Christ, and in light of that truth, we can apply chapters 4-6… this passage included.

There are countless books, seminars, conferences, and videos dealing with the subject of growing a healthy marriage, yet marriages still suffer, and might be on the endangered species list today!  In Ephesians, Paul spells out a few instructions on marriage.  It’s not a long discourse or a lengthy seminar.  It gives few instructions, but hard instructions.  It begins with us knowing our identity in Christ, then moving on to a foundational principle in verse 21.  “…submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Now in light of that foundation, let’s see Paul’s instruction to wives and husbands

To wives:

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV

He calls wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.  He calls wives to the submission as the church submits to Christ.

This type of submission from the wife is not the husband’s to command (as Jesus didn’t command submission), but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer.

The wife is to recognize her husband’s role in giving leadership is not only God-ordained, but also reflects Christ’s own authoritative headship of the church.   

As the Lord delivered His church from the dangers of sin, death, and hell, so the husband is called to provide for perfect, preserve, and live his wife, leading her to blessings when she submits.      

To husbands:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[n] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[o] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Ephesians 5:25-33 NIV

Paul has more instructions to give husbands.  It is worth mentioning that since wives are given the command to submit to their husbands, it might be expected that Paul speak to husbands about “ruling the household well.”  He makes no such reference.  He says that husbands are instead called to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  Husbands are called to have the same sacrificial love for their wives as Christ had for the church.  Christ gave Himself fully for the church. He gave everything He had, including His life, for the purpose of purifying the church.  Christ’s love for the church was unreserved, selfless, giving,

The problems come into today’s households when we as the men want the authority of the household, but we move away from taking the responsibility to do it God’s way. Far too often, men claim to be the leader of the house, but move away from the responsibility of knowing God’s word and obeying it. If I claim the authority in my household, but fail to take the responsibility of leading, providing for, and directing my family in the ways of God, I have failed.

In verse 31, Paul reflects back to Genesis 3, where God was addressing Adam and Eve.  It’s important to take notice that if you turn to Genesis 3:9 – when Eve sinned with Adam present, whom did God look for and call?  God looked for the man!  Being the husband comes not only with authority, but also responsibility.    

Holy Spirit empower me to be the spouse for my wife that You created me to be.  In Christ I pray, amen. 

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