Today’s blog article features Paul’s rules for relationships between husbands and wives. Tomorrow’s article will cover the same verses and see how Paul applied them to the church.
An Unfortunate Translation
Bible translators have done the church a great service by reliably bringing ancient texts to life in the modern world.
Unfortunately, there are times when the way they handle the Greek text may bring confusion and misunderstanding.
Below is a copy of Ephesians 5.21-24 in the Bible that I use, the Revised Standard Bible Updated Version.
21 being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The Christian Household
22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
Translators don’t have the advantage of a blog article where they can explain all of the nuances of a passage.
In his world-class commentary on Ephesians, Marcus Barth devoted pages to explaining this passage. He explains the passage like this.
(1) The way the text reads in the Greek New Testament is, “Being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to your husbands . . .”
Verse 21 does not end in a period, but a comma. Verse 22 does not begin a new sentence, much less contain a heading about “The Christian Household.”
(2) “Be subject” in verse 22 is supplied by the translators. It is not in the original text.
(3) The Greek word that is translated, “be subject,” was used in the first century to describe how one senator in the Roman government yielded to another.
The senator freely yielded what was rightfully his to another senator.
(4) Verses 21 and 22 calls for the mutual subordination of rights, both husband and wife being willing to yield what is rightfully theirs to the other.
What is the point?
The atmosphere that colors Paul’s teaching about relationships between husbands and wives is the mutual yielding of their individual rights for the betterment of their relationship.
Within a context of mutual love and surrender, the husband is designated as the leader of the family.
Ephesians 5.23 – The husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
As our Savior, Jesus delivers us from the grave danger of sin, self, and judgment.
As the “savior” of the household, the husband does practical things to enhance the security of the family. In my opinion, this includes:
— Providing the family financial security.
— Making sure the wife drives the best car with the best available maintenance.
— Creating an environment where love, warmth, and other emotional values are present.
The Husband’s Role
The mutual yielding of individual rights does not set a limit on the husband’s responsibility to his wife.
Loving his wife in a similar manner to the love of Christ is the standard for the husband.
Ephesians 5.25, 28-29 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hates his own flesh, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it.
A husband’s self-giving love is expressed in three ways.
(1) Listening – A loving husband listens to his wife and does not assume he already knows all about her.
He discovers new aspects of his beloved each day by increasingly listening to her thoughts.
(2) Giving – Self-giving love is by definition giving.
A husband who loves like Jesus expresses his giving in practical and personal ways.
(3) Forgiving – There are times when love is interrupted by arguments and disagreements.
At that time, the husband will absorb the hurt of the problem and forgive. If he is the offender, he will seek forgiveness.
The Spirit’s Help
The behavior of husbands and wives toward each other is not intended to be accomplished by human energy.
Let’s not forget the earlier command in verse 18, “be filled with the Spirit.”
As we take “self” off the throne of our life and ask the Holy Spirit to rule, he will give us this kind of home.
I am alone for today’s YouTube video. I am home with COVID and I’m feeling well, but I need to keep my distance. Next week, Rudy Ross and I will resume the normal presentation of the videos.
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