Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her … Ephesians 5:25
Beginning in Ephesians 5:22 through 6:9, we are introduced to the Christian “household table” – a series of commands concerning authority and submission. The majority of this section of Scripture is devoted to instructions to wives and husbands. We have already discussed how the roles of the husband and wife in marriage are not arbitrarily assigned, and not reversible without muddying God’s purpose for marriage. The roles of the husband and the wife are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and His church. In other words marriage is a metaphor whereby God is saying something about His Son and His church by the way husbands and wives are to relate to each other. Verse 24 speaks to the wife about her half of the metaphor and verse 25 speaks to the husband about his half of the metaphor. Wives, you are to find your distinctive role as a wife by imaging the way the church relates to Christ. “As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.” Husbands, you are to find your distinctive role as a husband by imaging the way Christ relates to the church. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
In our exposition of Ephesians, after first dealing with the specific instructions to wives, we went back to discover the origin of biblical headship in Genesis chapters 1-3. We saw Adam and Eve’s roles established upon creation and before their fall into sin. We saw how when sin entered the world it introduced contention in marriage. The harmonious joyful submission of Eve to the loving leadership of Adam became warped. Man’s humble, loving headship was distorted into hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others. And a woman’s joyful, willing submission was twisted into manipulative flattery in some women and insubordination in others. Sin didn’t create the man’s headship and the woman’s submission, it ruined and distorted them and made them vile and destructive.
In Christ’s redemption, we find, not the dismantling of the original, created order of loving headship and willing submission, but a recovery of it from the ruin of sin. So what we find in Ephesians 5:21-33 – the household table for husbands and wives is: Wives, let your fallen submission be redeemed by modeling it after God’s intention for the church! Husbands, let your fallen headship be redeemed by modeling it after God’s intention for Christ! Headship therefore, is not a right to command and control, but a responsibility to love like Christ, even to the laying down of your life for your wife. Husband, your authority and responsibility to lead is given, not to puff yourself up, but to edify your family. These instructions to husbands then, guard against the abuses of a ruined headship, by telling husbands to love like Jesus. The call in verse 25 for husbands to “love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her,” revolutionizes the way he leads.
Read Luke 22:26 and consider different ways that Christ leads the church by serving her. Likewise husbands, lead by discovering ways, that like Christ, you may serve your family. In particular consider Christ’s role as priest and sanctifier of His people. How can you minister to your family so as to present them holy and without blemish in the sight of God.
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