Hi, this is Pastor Ken. Thank you for joining me for the Monday Marriage Message. Today we will be continuing to make our way through Ephesians Chapter 5, verses 21 through 33.
Last week we finished looking at verse 21, the reasons for, and the value of, learning to submit to one another in our marriages. I spoke to the fact that this mutual act of submission only makes sense and therefore, can only be possible long term if we understand who we are actually submitting to. I shared with you the importance of correct motivation. Our ability to continually submit to our spouse, who we know to be fallible, will soon become depleted as we recognize them to be no more deserving of having their needs met than we are. However, if we acknowledge that the command to submit to one another comes from God, then we understand that following His instruction is actually submission to Him. God is absolutely deserving of our obedience even when He is asking us to interact submissively toward our spouse who lacks His perfection. Verse 21 tells us what we are to do. The fact that the command comes from God’s word indicates who we are doing it for. As we continue, we are going to find specific application of how God desires for us to follow His command and submit to, or prefer one another.
Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
As I said in an earlier episode when introducing this passage, this is, in my experience as a marriage counselor, one of the most disagreed with (as wives) and most misunderstood (as husbands) scriptures on the subject of marriage. It is difficult to accept when read through the perspective of selfishness sin has inflicted upon all of us. As I stated in that edition, I believe this is why verse 21 is such an important place to begin when we dissect this passage. If we don’t start with the understanding that the command to submit is mutual, our self-centered thinking can lead to an incorrect thought process that one spouse is more important than the other. The obvious danger in these three verses is that if pulled out of context they might seemly indicate that the husband is superior to the wife. Nothing could be further from the truth or the spirit of this passage. It is true, this is a directive specifically to wives as to how to implement the instruction given in verse 21. This application is to women, but men, it is important to understand that the instructions to you concerning correctly carrying out verse 21 are coming later in verses 25-28 which we will spend future episodes looking into as well.
Before we dive into verses 22-24 allow me to begin by clearing up the gross misconception that women are in any way inferior to men and that is why they are to submit to their husbands. In Genesis 2:18 it says, And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” When we complete a proper exegesis of this verse we discover many truths perhaps lost in the general translation of Hebrew to English. To begin we need to understand what God inferred when He said “It is not good”. After each day of creation recorded for us in Genesis chapter 1, God made a declaration. Each day God surveyed all that He had done and declared that it was good. God was using the word “Good” to declare it to be completed. The actual Hebrew word [towb] pronounced [to-be] in the context of Genesis chapter 1 means excellent, with no room for additional value, in other words…complete. So when God declared in Genesis 2:18 that it is not good that man should be alone, He was stating that the created human solely in male form was not finished or complete for the intended purpose of looking like, and acting as, God does. Allow me to refer to Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. God clearly chose to create mankind for the purpose of reflecting Himself, and did so in completed fashion as He created both male and female.
As we have just determined in Genesis chapter 2 (which by the way is written to give us much more detail about how Genesis 1:26&27 came to be) in verse 18 God declared that man without woman was incomplete. To correctly interpret God’s recorded statement. “It is not good for man to be alone…” we have to look at the meaning of the Hebrew word we translate to the English word, ‘Alone’. The Hebrew word is pronounced [Bad] which means separated or apart from its counterpart. Using an analogy to explain this meaning, it would be as if your pepper shaker was on the dining room table and you noted that the salt shaker was alone on the kitchen counter. It would be absent from its counterpart, and though alone, it would still be a crucial piece of a set intended to be used together. In this scripture, God was intimating that in order to complete the set, He needed to united Adam with his counterpart.
To complete our understanding of this verse we have to look at the final phrase of God’s declaration. “…I will make him a helper comparable to him.” This phrase is translated from the Hebrew words Ezer [ay’zer] and Neged [neh’ghed] When these words are put together they mean an absolute counterpart to a perfect set.
I don’t want to linger too long here but it is important to our understanding of Ephesians 5 that we recognize there is no superior or inferior member of humankind. Eve was created to be the absolute and perfect counterpart to Adam. She was equal in valuation to him in every way. She was not greater or less than Adam. He was not superior to her, she was not inferior to him. They were a perfectly created matched set. Equal in every way, though often differing in function. Together in a “one flesh” condition their stated purpose was to reflect God. We will discover as we continue in Ephesians 5, that Paul wrote concerning the mysterious fact that God still creates of our marriages a “one flesh” condition that enables us to reflect Him just as Adam and Eve were intended to do.
Understanding that husbands and wives are equal parts of a whole, and are created to cooperatively reflect the image and likeness of God, let’s look at Ephesians 5:22-24 again. This time, let’s read it in terms of instruction to wives as to how to best support their husbands in that God given endeavor. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
When considered in light of all that we have discussed, Wives submitting to their husbands takes on a much different meaning. First, women should do this understanding it is required of them by God, and therefore they are actually doing so in obedience to Him. Their submission is directed toward their husband but is determinately done for their Lord. With that correct motivation she becomes enabled to do so regardless of her husband’s actions. While her words and actions may be recognized in relationship to her husband, they are in response to her God. That is why she is instructed in this scripture to submit to her husband as to the Lord. Christ is essentially saying “Ladies, submit to your husbands…but don’t do it because they are good to you, do it because I have been so good to you…don’t do it for them…do it for me!”
Next week we will continue with these verses and look at what it truly means that the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church. I know that this statement often leads to some difficulty when considering that God views both the husband and the wife as equally valuable. I am excited to dig into it further next time.
Questions to answer:
Do you look at yourselves as a perfectly matched set, each having equal value yet differing function within your marriage?
How should a fuller understanding of Genesis 2:18 affect your view of Ephesians 5:22-24?
Wives, what difference does it make in how you think about submission when you realize that your submission to your husband is actually accomplished through submission to your Lord?
How can your submission to your husband aid him in your marriages ability together to reflect God?
Actions to take:
Continue to read through Ephesians 5:21-33 daily asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you greater truths contained there.
Ask God to help you understand as a couple the value of choosing to respond to one another as He asks you to in regards to your marriage. Seek his wisdom and note the answers He gives to you.
So now, walking in the wonderful position that God has given you as husband and wife, and responding toward each other out of your grateful response to Him…Go be awesome!