Our text for this lesson is Eph 55:22-33. The subject is marriage.
The pattern for marriage is the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church. In Eph 5:30, we are members of Christ’s body, of his flesh and his bones. This is the result of being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, 1 Cor 12:13.
Similarly, Eve was a member of Adam’s body, of his flesh and bones, Gen 2:21-23. Thus, in Eph 5:31 we see the reference to Gen 2:24, where a man and his wife become one flesh when they marry. Paul said this was a mystery concerning Christ and the church, Eph 5:32. The mystery is that we are currently in Christ’s body and we will come forth out of his body to be his bride in the same way that Eve came out of Adam’s body to be his bride. That’s why Jesus is called the last Adam in 1 Cor 15:45.
So, in marriage, the wife is like the church and the husband is like Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of the body, Eph 1:22-23. Therefore, as the church is subject unto him, so, the wife is subject to her husband. She is to be submissive. God set her husband up to rule, Gen 3:16.
To fulfill their respective needs in marriage, God assigned responsibilities to husbands and wives. The husband’s need is to rule. So God assigned his wife the responsibility to submit to him to meet his need, Eph 5:22-24. The wife’s need is to be loved. So God assigned her husband the responsibility to love her to meet her need, Eph 5:25-29.
A wife is to be subject unto her own husband, Eph 5:22. She has one head, and that’s her husband, Eph 5:23; 1 Cor 11:3. God leads her through her husband and no one else. Though the context of 1 Cor 14 is tongues, the principle of spiritual leadership is well established in 1 Cor 14:34-35.
A wife is to be subject to her husband as unto the Lord, Eph 5:22. If she is not submitted to the Lord, she is not going to be submitted to her husband. She must have a good relationship with the Lord and must trust God, 1 Pet 3:5. She is trusting God to lead her through her husband. This takes a lot of faith.
A wife is to be subject to her husband in every thing, Eph 5:24. She is in subjection to her own husband, even when he’s not right with the Lord, 1 Pet 3:1-6. Because of her trust in God and her subjection to him, God uses the hidden man of her heart to convince her husband to get back in line with the word of God. This takes time.
A wife is to be subject to her husband for her benefit, Eph 5:23. As Christ is the savior of the church, Eph 5:23, even so, the husband “saves” his wife from spiritual deception, 1 Tim 2:11-15. Even when he is disobedient to the word, she wins him with her chaste conversation and her meek and quiet spirit. Submission is for her benefit. She accomplishes with her submission something that a disobedient wife will never accomplish. A wife who is not in subjection to her husband will never “win” her husband. Instead, she will just take over his responsibility to rule. Then she is out from under her head and she is not safe.
A husband must love his wife as Christ also loved the church, Eph 5:25. Jesus Christ gave himself for the church. And a husband must give himself for his wife. A husband loves his wife not for how much he can get out of their relationship but for how much he can give her in their relationship.
A husband must expend effort for his wife’s benefit, Eph 5:26, 29. Jesus sanctifies and cleanses the church with the washing of water by the word. This is why the Bible is so important in our lives. It cleans and sanctifies us, Jn 17:17. Jesus expends effort for the church’s benefit, to improve her. Likewise, in Eph 5:29, a man expends effort for his body’s benefit by nourishing it and cherishing it; he doesn’t hate it. He feeds and cares for his body. Since he is one flesh with his wife, thus she is his body, then he expends effort to nourish and cherish her in their relationship for her benefit.
A husband receives a benefit for his effort, Eph 5:27, 28. Because Jesus Christ gave himself for the church and because he sanctifies and cleanses us, he presents us to himself a glorious church, without spot and blemish. He receives the benefit for his effort on our behalf. Likewise, the better a man takes care of his body, the better his body is going to be. His care for his body is for his benefit.
The idea in marriage is that the better a husband takes care of his relationship with his wife, the better their marriage is going to be. The more a husband loves his wife, the better wife she is going to be. His care and love for her is for their mutual benefit. A man that loves his wife loves himself. That is, he receives the benefit for his effort.
Conclusion: In marriage then, a husband must love his wife even as he loves himself. And his wife must reverence her husband, Eph 5:33. They have a mutual respect for each other. He honors her, 1 Pet 3:7, and she reverences him.