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Being Church Part 9, Ephesians 5:21-33

By APsit190, in Discipleship, Christian Life, Doctrine, Theology 09 December 2013 · 2,723 views

Pauls Letters Theology Expository Topics Biblical Studies
We are now at the end of Ephesian Chapter 5, and one in which I had a great deal of difficulty with simply because it dealt with, what I like to call, the dicky issue of submission. However, I got through it mainly because I avoided the old age saying "women have to submit to men," or "women have to submit to their husbands.

The way I decided to deal with this dicky (controversial) issue, was by looking at it from the perspective of "how to be church," and correlating that with the issue of submission. I did it this way because Its my firm belief this is the way that had written this letter, and so I decided to stick with that program.

When it comes to marriage itself, well, I'm about the least qualified person to tell wives to submit to their husbands as such, simply because I'm not married, never have been married, and don't want to get married. However, I believe that I am qualified when it comes to talking about this issue of submission from the perspective of being a body part (a member) of the body of Christ. And when I look at it from that perspective, and see how marriage correlates to being church, then that does qualify me, and any single person to talk about it. So, with that, here it is, The S Factor has arrived. Posted Image


Studies in Chapter 5:21-33

The "S" Factor

... submitting to one another in the fear of God. 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. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph_5:21-33 NKJV)

In our last study we ended on Eph_5:21, of which I said, "I have deliberately mentioned the fear of the Lord because that is the context of which Paul had based our submission to be on. This makes our submission toward one another as being directly correlational and reciprocal toward God. This means that as we are submissive toward one another, we show that we are in submission to Christ, and to God, and conversely, our submission to God is demonstrated by our submission toward one another."

So, when looking at submission in this light, we see that everything we have thus far learned about being church, about being a body hinges on it; that without being submitted to God and to one another, we are nothing at all, and that we have nothing at all. Jesus made a poignant statement when he said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (Joh_15:5 NKJV). To be able to abide in him takes submission. To be able to bear the kind of fruit that he speaks about, it takes submission. And the stark reality is that by not being in submission, that abiding and that ability to bear fruit just doesn't happen. This makes that person about as useful as a hip-pocket on a T-shirt.

In our study of Eph_4:11-16 we looked at the analogy of the All Blacks in regards to being a singular entity, as in being one, and being in unity. We've seen what went into making a team; of the training, teaching, and etc., that went into it. Having seen all of that, the one fundamental factor which comes to the fore, is that without submission all this could not happen. For to be able to work together as a team, is to be submitted to one another, and to the leadership of the team in all aspects of what is required of that member. Its by having this kind of attitude of submission where every team member is doing his part in conjunction with rest of the other members, the team always wins the game. This same principle also applies to us as a church.

Let's take this one step further. Paul often used the analogy of the human body to demonstrate the points he made. We see this in Rom_12:6-8 and 1Co_12:12-27, in regards to the gifts, and in Rom_12:4-5 and Eph_4:11-16, in regards to being a singular entity, a church. Of what Paul had shared in these verses of Scripture, is perhaps what could be regarded as the most profound truth, which is that we are totally dependent on each other in order to be able to function.

Using the analogy of the human body, the most crucial observation anyone can make its this: there is not one part of the human body that can work independently from the rest of the body. Each part of the body is totally dependent on every other part in order to be able to do what it has to do. For example, your little finger, on its own, cannot detach itself from the body, walk over to a table and pick up an object. However, when working in conjunction with the other fingers and thumb and in co-operation with the palm of the hand, and then in turn, the arm, and etc., it is able to do incredible things. This is also the case with us. As a body completely joined and connected by the Holy Spirit with each other through being submitted to one another, we are able to accomplish far greater things than just being on one's own.

In 1Co_12:15-17, we can see a similar example, where Paul shows just how important each member's role is in the body. And what this also shows that any member who tries to act independently, causes the whole body to suffer as a result of it. So, therefore the importance of submission can be clearly seen, and by that submission to one another, the whole body is able to function in the way that God intended it too.

The key factor in all of this is, there is not one person who is more important than the other person. And so, just like the human body, there is not one part that is more important than any other part (member), but rather every part is important to the whole of the body. And so with that, are we all important to one another because, as Rom_12:5 tells us, "... each member belongs to all the others" (NIV) as a body, as church. To show this point, David Stern, in his Jewish New Testament Commentary in regards to Rom_12:5, said, "... biblically, membership is organic, comparable with the relationship which members (parts) of the natural body have with each other, each with its own function but needing for its well-being the services of parts having other functions, and all contributing to the good of the entire body, whose life-energy is supplied by God. Compare 1Co_7:4; 1Co_12:12; Eph_4:11-16."

Therefore, taking all of this into consideration where all of us are important to one another's wellbeing as a body, means that by being submitted to one another, we do not, and we cannot assert ourselves over/above any one else, but rather walking in humility, recognizing the importance of one another in his/her role and function as a part (member) of the body, and also recognizing the importance of the relationship we have in Christ as being part of one another in the body (cf Eph_4:1-3; Eph_4:25). With all of this, in what we have thus far learned, and of what we are about to learn – that's church! That's how to be church!

Now we come to Eph_5:22, which could be regarded as perhaps the most least understood verse of Scripture. So, in order to begin to get a proper understanding of what Paul was talking about in this verse, is to begin to put it in context with everything else that he talked about in his letter to the Ephesian Church. It must be remembered that this letter is wholly about church:
  • Of God's plan and purposes for us as church
  • Of how God desires us to be church.
Eph 1-3 deals with the plans and purposes of God for us as church, and Eph 4-6 deals with how to be church. And if we remember this, then we will have a basic understanding of the context Eph_5:22 and onward.

So, Lets begin to get the context of what Paul was talking about to the Ephesian Church. He begins with saying, "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" (Eph_5:22-23 NKJV). The first thing we notice, there is a reciprocation of the wife's submission to her husband. She reciprocates her submission to Christ toward her husband, and in doing so, she epitomizes the church's submission to Christ (cf Eph_5:24). But there is more to it, for Paul gives the reason of the wife's submission to her husband, and of why she is epitomizing the church's submission to Christ. Both are all rolled into one. Notice what Paul says next, "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body" (Eph_5:23 NKJV). The reason Paul gives is the correlation which exists between the husband's role as head of the wife and that of Christ as the head of the church. And its from that correlation the husband epitomizes Christ's headship of the church to the church. To what the husband is epitomizing, it would be quite correct to translate, "... as also Christ is head of the church ..." as "... in the manner (way) that Christ is the head of the church." Therefore, the wife, by her submission to her husband as her head, she she epitomizes to us, as church, our submission to Christ as our head.

But the correlation doesn't stop there, as its not just about the wife; for the husband also has a role to play in all of this. And the role he has to play defines what real headship is, and what it actually involves.

After showing what the wife's submission is about and of what she epitomizes, Paul turn's his attention to the husband and begins to show them just what they both correlate and epitomize to the body. Paul begins by telling them what they are to do in regards to their wives, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Eph_5:25 NKJV).

The command that Paul gave husbands was to love their wives just as Christ loved the church. Again we see this Greek word, kathós (καθώς [G2531) used here. At first we've seen it in Eph_4:32 in regards to forgiving one another. The way it is used here, in regards to the way the husband is to love his wife, the implications and the denotation we've seen the way this word used in Eph_4:32 is exactly the same as here. This places the husband in a position of responsibility for his wife in the same way that Jesus is in a position of responsibility to the church, the body.

The love that husbands are to love their wives with is the same love that Jesus loves the church (us) with. The Greek word uses the verb, agapaó (ἀγαπάω [G25]), of which the it is used in the sense of, "... seeking the highest good for another person" (Zuck). However, this "seeking the highest good" for the other does not go without any cost, because of this word, "kathós" (καθώς [G2531]) used here. The love that Jesus had for us as church was of a sacrificial nature, to the point where he completely gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us as church. This, then, denotes that the husband is to give himself completely to his wife to the point of being willing to lay down his life for her. Interestingly, what is being seen here, reminds us of what the Apostle John said, "By this we know love, because He laid His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1Jn_3:16 NKJV), and this shows to us that we do not belong to ourselves, but to God, and moreover, that because we are parts of a body, we very much belong to one another.

Now, Paul continues the correlation of the headship of the husband over his wife, and the headship of Christ over the church, of which he reveals the purpose of that headship, "... that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Eph_5:26-27 NKJV). When I first read this verse of Scripture, it made me do some serious thinking as to how this actually applies to the marriage, and from the marriage, of how this is epitomized to us in the Body.

The revelation the Holy Spirit gave Paul was that of the relationship of the head to the body, of Christ to us as church, is to be seen and ought to be seen within the marriage. Therefore, the husband to love his wife in the same way that Jesus loves the church, and that by him (Jesus) loving us as church, he sanctifies and cleanses us; so the husband by the love he has for his wife, cleanses and sanctifies her as his body. This where what Paul had written can only be seen as being all about how we are to be as church. In the marriage, the wife epitomizes us as church of our submission to Christ by her submission to her husband. Conversely the husband correlates the love of Christ for us as church by his love for his wife.

What comes next is, through that love Jesus has for us as church he both cleanses and sanctifies us by the water and the word (Eph_5:26) in order that we are able to be presented to him as church, HIS BODY, without spot and blemish, MADE HOLY FOR HIMSELF (Eph_5:27) of which we are "... literally, 'being set apart for God'" (Stern) as his actual body. The wife, as a result of her husband's love for her, is made holy for him, in a very real spiritual sense, as his body. This is what is being correlated to us as being church.

Now, watch what happens next. Still talking about the love the husband has for his wife and what is being correlated to us of Christ's love for us as church. Paul brings it home to the husband of the way he looks after his own body, and in doing so is to look after his wife. "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church" (Eph_5:28-29 NKJV).

Henry Meyer, in his Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament Handbook, in regards to husbands to love their wives as their own body, says, "... not: like their own bodies, but: as their own bodies. For Christ loved the church not like His body, but as His body, which the church is and He its head." This shows that Jesus love for us as church, is he loves us in a way that we are his physical body; you know, his torso. The husband epitomizes this to us in where he loves his wife as though she were his own body; you know, his torso. And its this, I believe that Paul brought out in these two verses.

What is being shown here is that the language being used is not metaphorical or analogical, or figurative, but that its sense is literal in order to bring out what is spiritual. Of what Paul said here, is to be taken literally in that the husband is to love his wife as though she is his actual physical body. The care he is to give to her, the way he is to nourish her is that of her as though she is his actual physical body demonstrates to us, as church, the way that Jesus cares and nourishes us as though we are his actual physical body. Paul drives this point home where he says, "For we are members (body parts) of His body, of His flesh and of His bones" (Eph_5:30). I believe what makes this to be literal is by what Paul said in Eph_5:32, "This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church" (NIV). And so from this I don't think we can get anymore connected and closer to God than this, in that we are, in a very real spiritual sense, now "... from his flesh and from his bones" (H.A. Meyer). This is the kind of relationship the husband shows that Christ has with us as church. The relationship Jesus has is extremely close and intimate, and this closeness and intimacy that Jesus has with us as his body, we show to one another. Its lived out through each member's (body part's) life, and flows through everyone of us to one another. It comes from our head by the Holy Spirit to every member (part) of the body, and its from this, the body, us as church, grows for the edification of itself in love (Eph_4:16).


Well, there it is. I think I might get shot to pieces over this. But, I think that if we are going to understand God's plans and purposes for what he does, and why he does it, I believe this goes a long way in showing it. I trust that you will be richly blessed by this part of my study series in Ephesians, and that you grow as a result of it. All you who are married, now you know what you do to us who aren't. You guys have the most awesome responsibility to everyone else in the Body of Christ. Wooo, Glory to GodPosted Image


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About Apsit 190's Theological Rants

Theological Rants are mostly about stuff in the Bible I believe. Its also a blog for sharing my thoughts that the Bible talks about, and how I think they can be applied to our lives.

Using the word, "Rants," is not to undermine anything the Bible says, nor is there to undermine or disparage what anyone else believes. That said, it is my soapbox, and with that to express the passion of my heart for my love of the Word of God.

What you can expect to see in this blog are thoughtful studies in the Scriptures and articles that I find interesting. So, with that, I trust you will enjoy my Theological Rants, and rant and rave with it in your comments.

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