Adult 1 Sunday School Class Ephesians 5:21-33 August 25, 2019
Theme: In an ever-changing and increasingly complex society, the focus on self-indulgence has endangered a healthy concept of family. How do we make commitment to God and family central to our well-being? Paul says a committed relationship must be sought in which husbands, wives, and children love, honor, and respect both God and one another.
The interpretation of the verses is in bold print which follows the original verse in regular print.
Ephesians 5:21, 22, 23, and 24; “Submitting ourselves 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 everything.”
Paul tries to illustrate the relationship of a ‘Christian wife” to her “Christian husband” and makes it analogous to the Church’s relationship to Christ. Christ is the head of the Church, also known as the “Body of Christ” and to which the “body” is to submit to Christ. Christ is the saviour of the “body”, for He gave up His earthly life to save us from our sins and reconciled us back to God. He did this because He loved us, cared for us, and protected us. When He left this earthly realm, He left the Holy Spirit to watch over us and to comfort us. Now with that understanding, Paul states that wives (in this context throughout will mean Christian wives) are to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ. “Submit” can be misinterpreted, it does not mean a dominance of one over the other, nor a master / slave relationship, but boundaries of love and respect that glorifies God.
* v.25, 26, 27, and 28, “ Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26. That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.”
Now Paul discusses the responsibility of the husband (denotes Christian husband for this lesson). The analogy continues. Like Christ, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church with agape (unconditional) love. He, as well as his wife, love unconditionally and subordinate his or her own desires, actions, and personality for the benefit of others in the relationship. This is based on virtues that encourage people to act by saving, building, and restoring others in love. Sanctify and cleanse by the word means to apply the Gospel to marriage and live the life that God would have us to live. Husbands should follow the examples of Christ who unconditionally and sacrificially served the spiritual, physical, psychological, emotional, economic, and material needs of His “Bride”, the church. Men could therefore do the same for their brides, their wives. This should not be overstated in a marriage relationship that the wives should over depend on their husbands for everything. They must act as a team in accordance to the Word. God has given the church spiritual and moral responsibilities with free will. These must be carried out with maturity and decorum. Paul says that by loving your wife as your own body, denotes that any rational person would not harm his own body, thus he says to treat your wife as you would your own body.
* vs 29 and 30, “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”
Verse 29 reiterates the previous verse in stating that husbands are responsible for his wife’s wellbeing, as Christ plays a significant part in the “Body”, the church in its wellbeing. Adam said about Eve, “that she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”
* vs 31 and 32, “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. 32. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Verse 31 reiterates Genesis 2:24 that says, “That a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be as one flesh.” This is God’s initial statement in the Scriptures regarding marriage. The marriage commitment takes precedence over every other human relationship. One flesh means closely joined. This is the covenantal heterosexual, marital relations and which excludes polygamy and adultery. True love is evidenced when husbands and wives have this spiritual, emotional, and physical oneness. Love is more than family affection or sexual passion. It is a deliberate attitude leading to actions that concerns itself with another’s wellbeing. The mystery to many is that Paul calls a divine ordinance graciously and lovingly is designed for mutual satisfaction and delight.
* v.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.”
It summarizes all the preceding verses. Husband love your wives, and wives reverence their husbands as God has ordained. The greater perspective is that if we all could live a loving and respectful life, and that template is used by humankind, then this would be a better world in which to live.