Build Strong Marriages

Sunday School Lesson for May 12, 2002

Ephesians 5:22-33

In this section, Paul continues to present the picture of the radical transformation of the sinner by the grace of God. Here the focus is upon the implications of Christianity for the home, the basic and essential unit of society. As we will discover, Christís Lordship is to be expressed in specific and unique ways within the home.

The Responsibility of the Wife (5:22-24)

According to Paul, wives have the specific God-given responsibility of being in submission to their own "husbands." The word translated "submit" means literally to rank oneself under another person. It indicates an attitude of humility and a willingness to follow the leadership of others that manifests itself in outward actions. This word, in its particular form here, strongly suggests that the wifeís submission "is not something forced upon her by a demanding husband; it is the deference that a loving wife, conscious that home must have a head, gladly shows to a worthy and devoted husband" (Vaughn, 116). Therefore, in this passage it essentially indicates that the wife is to joyfully and obediently follow the leadership of her husband whose God-given role is that of headship over the family (cf. 1 Cor. 11:3-12; 1 Tim. 2:11-13).

The qualifying phrase "as to the Lord" (v. 22) tells us that she is to willingly subject herself to her husband in the same way that she would subject herself to Christ. F. F. Bruce comments that this means the "Christian wivesí submission to their husbands is one aspect of their obedience to the Lord" (384). This would include:

Furthermore, Paul indicates that she should recognize and respect her husbandís divinely mandated role as leader of the family (v. 23). In this verse Paul states that the husband is the "head of the wife" in the same way that Christ is the "head of the church." This presents several points of major significance:

It is important to note what this passage does not teach:

Take careful note of what is set forth in this passage:

The role of the woman, then, is to manifest the type of submission to her husband that "will resemble the churchís" (Stott, 226). As John Stott helpfully adds, there is "nothing demeaning about this, for her submission is not to be unthinking obedience to his rule but rather a grateful acceptance of his care [italics added]" (226).



The Responsibility of the Husband (5: 25-29)

The husbandís responsibility is centered on the word "love" (v. 25). This word is the verb form of agape that indicates love in its highest form. Note the features of this love:

This radical and even mysterious love of the husband for his wife, in terms of its magnitude, duration, and intensity, is to be patterned after Christís love for the church. Note the phrase "as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." This indicates:

Husbands, then, are called to the solemn task of providing the family with a living example of authentic love. It should be apparent that the wifeís submission is made much easier in an environment of this type of Christ-like love. With Stott, we agree that at those times when the husbandís "headship mirrors the headship of Christ, then the wifeís submission to the protection and provision of his love, far from detracting from her womanhood, will positively enrich it" (226).