Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
This study is not just for married folks. If you are a young person, or single - you should pay as much attention as us married folk - in fact, you have the chance to do it right from the beginning, instead of having the Lord bang you over the head with a 2x4 a few times when you blow it.
Premarital counseling with Jay
I was a confident 18 year old as we sat in Pastor Jay Spoonheim's office for our first premarital counseling appointment. Jay asked us to turn to Ephesians chapter 5. I knew just where he'd start - verse 22 - wives submit to your husbands. I was ready - I'd studied, I knew the commanding role of the husband. This was going to be a piece of cake.
Jay didn't start in verse 22, he started in verse 21. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
My stereotypes dashed, there began a process of learning about what its really like to be a husband - a process that continues to this day.
This section of scripture - from here through the end of the chapter is often misunderstood, sometimes misapplied. But at the same time it is vital to our lives - surely there is nothing aside from our relationship with God that is as important as our relationships with our spouse and our children.
Take note, some of these verses contain hard stuff - whether you are a husband or wife, single or divorced. But if you are open to God's work, applying the truths of this section can revitalize your relationships.
1- :22 There is equality in marriage
We play different roles as husband and wife, but one is not higher than the other. Contrary to how our society has treated women since time immemorial, the Lord tells us here that all the stereotypes are to be thrown out before we talk about marriage.
Don't believe me? Look at
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This verse shows that your culture, class, or gender make no difference - we are all one in Jesus Christ.
2- :23 Submission
It is with this context that Paul writes "Wives, submit to your husbands."
Most men stop with that - "wives submit" - end of discussion. But I want you to notice two things about this verse.
- 1) Submit - it is a military term that means "to rank under". It comes from two words: under, and to put in order. It doesn't mean slave, it doesn't mean lower than. It is in a sense like a general and his ranking staff. Someone has to call the shots, but the general is really pretty useless without the expertise of those surrounding him.
- It is also the same word as used in verse :21. We should give preference to one another - rank under each other, rely on each other.
- 2) As to the Lord. The submission is not unqualified. Wives are to rank under as they would to Jesus Christ. Think about the way you would submit to the Lord if He were your husband. And husbands, think about how you would treat your wife if you were Jesus.
3- Verse :23-:24
The husband is the head of the wife - not in an earthly sense, but as Christ is the head of the church. Think about that. How is Christ the head of the church? Of which He is the Savior. The husband is head, not as CEO, but Savior.
As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. You do not have to submit if your husband tells you to do anything contrary to the gospel. And you should not submit if he tries to keep you from living a life of loving God. There is a balance:
1 Pet 3:1
1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,
By the same token, treat your husband as you would the Lord - not in worshipping him, but in respecting and adoring him. Work with him, not against him. We'll get more into that later.
4- Verse :25
Husbands love your wives. Did you notice this? Wives are asked to lovingly submit, husbands are commanded to love. And not just any love, not just a "I'll put up with you" love - but just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
Later on the wife is told only to respect her husband. But for us men, we are to give ourselves up for our wives. This is a tall order - and as you ponder it, it will become more and more incredible and difficult.
5- Verse :26
There is a purpose in this giving up act of the husband. It is a transforming, healing, saving work - having a wife is not having someone to serve you, but someone for you to serve.
There are four elements to the role of the husband with his wife.
- Agapeo - constant, selfless love
- Jesus laid down His life for His love for the church
- It's love that doesn't go away no matter how you feel or how you are treated.
2- Make Holy
Hagiadzo - Used for:
The gold adorning the Temple
The gift laid on the altar
The Father's name
Jesus devoting Himself to the redemption of His people
The effect on the believer of the death of Christ
The acknowledgement of the Lordship of Jesus
The idea is to assist in the transformation of your spouse into God's image. What a mighty task. It is not done by command and harsh treatment - how does Jesus treat us in sanctification - with kindness, gentleness, and patience.
By washing with the Word.
This is how that sanctification takes place
The word is a compound: clean + a bath. The idea of immersion
It brings up an obvious but important point - husbands, how much are you bathing yourself and your spouse in the Word? Those who aren't married - the more you bathe in the Word the more you will naturally bathe your spouse.
To stand beside
Even as Jesus will present us as the bride of Christ - husbands can stand beside their wives, presenting them to the world.
Radiant: held in honor. This should be your goal, that first you, then others will hold your wife in honor.
No spot, wrinkle, or blemish: blemish as it relates to the sacrifices, spot - akin to Jude 'hating even the garment spotted by the flesh', wrinkle - fold, especially of the face. The idea is to reduce stress, remove the flesh, purify. We all have history - past hurts in childhood, in the world, past failures. You can, by washing your spouse, see these spots removed - life restored, your wife shining radiantly beside you.
6- Verse 28-29
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--
We might be tempted to turn that around - loving yourself first so you can love your wife. But it says if you love your wife you love yourself. We as husbands are enjoined to feed and care for our wives as we do for our own bodies.
7- Verse :33
Now we turn back to the wife.
Respect: phobeo (pho-beh'-oh). We get phobia from this word. It means to be alarmed. By analogy it means to reverence and awe.
Wives, do you reverence and awe your husband? Or do you laugh at his faults and treat him as a child? Or do you ignore him altogether?
You want to be loved? You can encourage your husband so much by showing him respect. Appreciate his good qualities, show interest in the things he's interested in, encourage him to grow into spiritual leadership by example.
8- This leads to the final point:
Paul analogizes the relationship of husband and wife to Christ's relationship to the church.
The question is for wives: what does your relationship with Jesus bring you?
Your relationship with your husband can bring you many of the same benefits on an earthly level.
Husbands: what does Jesus relationship with the church bring Him?
- Focus of efforts
- Pride in seeing the transformation
- An object for His love
- A tool to bless others
You can enjoy these benefits on earth by loving and giving yourself to your wife.
9- Final thoughts
o By giving of ourselves we effect others positively in their walk with the Lord
o By respecting others we give them incentive to be more Christlike
o By putting effort into our marriages we create an example that Jesus can use to effect the eternal destiny of others who see you and see the love of Christ for them.