Scripture Reading: Ephesians 5:22-33
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
Over my years in ministry, I have seen many who have misused and who have misunderstood this passage. We must remember that we were told in the verse prior to this one that we are to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (v. 21). The gospel enables us to become humble and to think of others more highly than we think of ourselves (Philippians 2:3). We are able to put the interests of others above our own interests. Thus all healthy relationships require mutual submission to one another.
Remember that Paul is using marriage to explain the gospel — “This mystery is profound and I am saying that it (marriage) refers to Christ and the church” (v. 32). Marriage is to be patterned after Christ’s relationship to His church. As the church is subject to Christ, her loving Husband, so wives are to be subject to their husbands as well.
Throughout human history God has established authority structures to govern human institutions. This was necessary because men and women are sinful and rebellious. God appointed elders to lead His church (I Peter 5:1,2). He established civil authorities to govern nations (Romans 13:1). He established an authority structure in the home by appointing the husband to be the loving leader of his family (v. 23). Therefore a wife is to respect her husband’s ordained position (v. 33) and is to submit to his leadership.
Of course, this does not mean being subjected to abuse or a kind of unqualified obedience. The most basic principle is obedience to God — “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). A wife is first to revere Christ and be submissive to Him. Out of her reverence for Christ, she submits to God’s order of authority in her home. As we will see, the husband’s primary responsibility is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (v. 25). The husband is not to be authoritarian in his role as head of his wife; instead he is to be the loving leader who nourishes and cherishes his wife (v. 29).
A wife is to see herself as God’s ordained instrument in her husband’s life. She is the helper God made for him (Genesis 3:18). This is a holy calling, for God is our Helper — “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life” (Psalm 54:4). God has chosen the wife to be His human agent to help her husband be what God intends him to be. This enables a wife to see her role as one who serves her husband by helping him in his leadership role.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your loving leadership. Thank You that You want the best for me and for my family. Enable me to be subject to You and to be subject to those I love most in my life. Let me be sensitive to their needs and live my life in humble reverence and obedience to You.
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