Main point summary
Christ's relationship with his church should be reflected by the deep union of Spirit-empowered couples —as husbands love their wives and wives submit to their husbands.
z Wives, a submit to your own husbands,
b as to the Lord.
For c the husband is the head of the wife
even as d Christ is the head of the church, his body,
and is e himself its Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ,
so also wives should submit f in everything to their husbands.
g Husbands, love your wives,
as Christ loved the church
and h gave himself up for her,
that he might sanctify her,
having cleansed her
by i the washing of water j with the word,
so k that he might present the church to himself in splendor, l without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish. 1
In the same way m husbands should love their wives
as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife
For no one ever hated his own flesh,
but nourishes and cherishes it,
just as Christ does the church,
because n we are members of his body.
o “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother
and hold fast to his wife,
and p the two shall become one flesh.”
This mystery is profound,
and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
However, q let each one of you love his wife as himself,
and let the wife see that she r respects her husband.
What does marriage (Eph 5:22-33) have to do with walking in Spiritual Wisdom, Light and Love (Eph 5:1-21)? To whom should the wife submit? How? In what ways is the command to wives similar to and different from 6:1 and Eph 6:5? What does that hint at? Why does Paul bring Christ's headship and his being saviour together? Where else in Ephesians does the ideas of headship, love and salvation come together? What does this tell us of what husbandry looks like? What is the extent of the wives' submission to their husbands? What is not included in 'everything'? How do these commands to love and submit tie in with our identity in Christ? What is the difference between rights and responsibilities? Which of the two is Paul talking about in this passage?
Considering the use of 'head' through Ephesians, i.e. Eph 1:10, 19-22, 4:15-16
Luke 2:11 John 4:42 Acts 5:31; 13:23 2 Tim. 1:10 Titus 1:4; 2:13 2 Pet. 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18 1 John 4:14 cf. Eph 1:4-7, 2:1-4, 5:1-2
Concessive is used to highlight the disparity between 'Head' and 'Saviour'
Note how Christ's self love is utterly selfless.
Considering the call to submit to headship, what is surprising about Paul's command to husbands? How did Christ love the church? What were his loving purposes and how were they achieved? Since we aren't necessarily in life-death situations, in what ways should husbands reflect Christ's giving of himself? What should his purpose be? What is the relationship between Christ and the church? Is this self-love selfish? In what ways does the husband emulate Christ in loving his body? Why is this idea of one-flesh a profound mystery?
How does 5:21 transition? It seems more like Paul gives a general, comprehensive principle of mutual submission after which he moves to specific roles of people within a God-given calling, so that the specific calling of each sphere are viewed in the light of the general admonition. Paul reminds all Christian men and women are to be submissive to one another before reminding his flock that within the sphere of marriage, the husband is to love his wife and the wife ought to submit to her own husband. The general principle sets the tone of the roles within specific callings, but does not negate the distinction within the specific spheres. Cf. 1 Pet 5:5, where young men are called to submit to their elders after which Peter immediately exhorts 'all of you' (including the elders) to be humble toward one another (read: the young men). The former is the specific calling, the latter is the general principle. In view of the larger context, all this has to do with being filled with the Spirit. Since addressing one another and submitting to one another are participles to being filled with the Spirit, and the missing verb in ver 22 implies a borrowing of the participle, it makes less sense for the participles in v18-21 to be results (why issue a command if what is commanded is a mere result of being filled with the Spirit?) and more likely to be 'attendant circumstances' in the words of Darrell Bock.
‘It is not the duty of the wife to tell him to love her. It is his duty to the Lord to love her.’ The same is true in reverse: it is not the duty of the husband to tell the wife to submit; it is her responsibility before the Lord to do so. It means that as each partner speaks about or to an issue, they both are to pursue one voice before the Lord. That may not always mean agreement, but it will mean harmony about what does get decided. When I listen to my wife I am hearing a part of myself and listening for God perhaps speaking through her. The idea that the couple is a team is expressed in this one-flesh idea. The identity of the whole working together is the most important point here. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 151). IVP. Kindle Edition.
So we have a cleansing that Christ makes possible and that prepares his bride, the church, for its union with him. The cleansing and sanctification occur together. The cleansing probably points to regeneration and the indwelling presence of the Spirit (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:21; Titus 3:5; Heb. 10:22). That cleansing is also tied to the word of God, a reference to the promise and plan of God tied to salvation, looking at the response and embrace of that message and its promises (John 15:3; 17:17; Rom. 10:8, 17; Eph. 1:13–14; 6:17). Although this cleansing starts with faith and is the focus here, it will be completed when salvation is consummated (Rom. 6:19, 22; 1 Thess. 5:23). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 149). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Already-Not-Yet (begun with Jesus’ work: Acts 15:9; Rom. 6:1–11; 1 Pet. 1:22–23; mostly future: Matt. 25:1–13; Rom. 8:18–39; 1 Cor. 15:35–58; Rev. 19:1–10; 21:9). Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 149). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Matt. 19:5–6 Mark 10:7–8 1 Cor. 6:16
Eph. 1:23; 4:12, 16 Rom. 12:4–5 1 Cor. 12:12–27 Col. 1:18, 24
Why is the idea of one-flesh a profound mystery? What implications does it have within marriage? What implications does it have outside of marriage? Which is the shadow and which is reality when it comes to marriage and Christ? Why is this passage critical to the unmarried/never-married?
Walking in Love at Home: Husbands and Wives (5 :22-33 ) 5:22-24 Paul moves from the general to the specific within the next pericope —God's distinct calling within marriage is a means to being Spirit-filled and more than that, the sphere within which Christ is reflected. Paul exhorts wives to submit to their own husbands in everything as to the Lord, just as the church submits to Christ. As Christ is the Saviour-Head of the church, so also the husband is the loving-head of his wife. 5:25-27 Turning to the husbands, Paul exhorts them to love their wives just as Christ loved his church and thus sacrificed himself for her in order to set her apart by cleansing her from sin by washing her with the word that she might be presented as gloriously holy and blameless. The purpose of the husband's love and care ought to be his wife's edification. 5:28-32 Completing the comparison that Paul broke off in doxology, the husband ought to consider the wife to be part of him and take care of her as naturally as he does himself. This too is rooted in Christ's union with his body —us whom he has made his body. The principle of two distinct beings being one is not new, and Paul quotes Gen 2:24, yet it is a profound mystery —pointing to Christ and his church. And as much as one is led to worship this Messiah, our worship ought to be practical: husbands love, wives respect. 1. Considering the purpose of marriage in the light of Ephesians 5:1-21, how do you view your role as wife and husband? Why are you married? 2. What specific ways can you as husband/wife or potential husband/wife love and submit so that you may be filled with the Spirit? 3. Do you enjoy Christ's ever-present nourishing and cherishing? What impact does that have on your daily living? Are you led to worship because of Christ's husbandry toward you? 4. How does being Christ's cherished and nourished body lead you to worship? 5. In what ways does lust undermine this picture of marriage? Considering the context of 5:1-21, what would it's impact be? See 1 Cor 6:15 6. Considering that marriage is a reflection of a greater reality, how can we avoid: a. trivialising marriage b. idolising marriage?