College & Career Class Lesson Summary, April 21, 2019
Last week, we established a few points of vocabulary in order to dive into the latter part of Ephesians 5 and gain, perhaps, a fuller understanding of what was going on. We looked at the concepts of love, headship and submission as it relates to a marriage relationship. Our ultimate goal was to understand how Christ relates to these concepts, where His church is concerned, as this is the fashion in which a husband is to relate to his wife.
As we explored love, we noted that there are indeed aspects of love that are emotional, but that the love that Christ has for the church isn’t a wad of emotional mush, but was the deepest aspect of love – the choice to provide for another without any thought as to whether or not they can provide in return. Christ loved us by taking no thought of His own life in order to give us life and life more abundantly. Christ’s love wasn’t a cause/effect choice. Christ wasn’t interested in what we could provide for Him but was desperately interested in what He could provide for us.
Headship, we saw, was nothing more than the authority one possesses within a dominion. It is what makes someone chief over their domain. However, we do not see Christ exert His headship over the church through force or coercion. Christ simply demonstrates the extent of His gracious headship, in the domain of righteousness He rules, and invites us into it to eternally enjoy. He is indeed chief of our lives, but not in a tyrannical or dictatorial fashion. His ‘legal system’, if you will, is a domain of grace. His headship is not like the unrighteous rulers of this world or of the evil spiritual realm.
Headship will invariably integrate the idea of submission. Submission is not the reluctant response of the church to a repressive Christ, however, it is the willful, confident (faithful) response of the church to a loving and ever-faithful Christ. Submission is the decision of the church that their husband (Christ) is indeed all they need and they willfully follow and yield to His wisdom and direction.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Apparently in the culture of the day, there may have been some confusion about the purpose of submission, especially when the collective was involved. Paul reminds that the submission of the wife is to her OWN husband just as she would unto the Lord. The Lord is the husband of the church and the church doesn’t submit to Him and to other gods. The wife likewise is to keep her submission towards the one that is providing for her in the vow of marriage. It can be enticing for some women to perhaps submit to another husband based on a financial comparison, or a spiritual comparison, or whatever the reason. Yet, Paul is clear that the wife’s submission is not something to be doled out, but is reserved for her OWN husband. The reason Paul gives here is that the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. Again, the headship of the husband (as proxy for Christ (1Corinthians 11:1-3)) is the righteous domain that he provides for his wife and as chief of his domain, he orders the blessings of grace to be showered upon his wife. Just as Christ, as the exalted above all, showers us with His grace, the husband engages in the same and his wife FINDS REASON to submit to his headship.
Paul also mentions that not only is Christ the head of the church, but he is the savior of the body. The husband’s headship comes with great responsibility and that being the savior of his body. Recall that a husband and wife are considered one flesh through the union of marriage. Just as Christ became the savior of the church (His body), so too does the husband bear the duty of saving his wife. This should explain further the aspect of righteous headship and righteous love – providing for the other without thought to their ability to provide in return. As head of his dominion, the husband is obligated to provide safety and security to the sole citizen of his domain – his wife. Headship, then, is an expression of sacrifice. This is really upside down from how the world would view headship, yet, it is through Christ’s example that we see the Chief becomes the servant of all; so too the husband serves the wife, as her savior.
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 20:26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
The wife becomes the soul focus of the husband – and, that’s not a typo. The wife stands in a place of prominence over the husband’s friends. The wife comes before other believers. The wife takes precedence over the husband’s family. The wife comes before the children. This is very true even if the child is unborn. If there is no possible way for the wife to be saved in childbirth because the pregnancy has taken a turn, it is the husband’s job to be the savior of the wife. I didn’t say this was an easy decision. But, if there is indeed no possible way to save both lives, the husband must be the savior of his wife. Does this mean God can’t intervene? No, absolutely not. But, if we are to sit back and just let God move us, as pons on a chessboard, then there is no need to teach us how to walk worthy – there is no need to teach us how a husband is to live in respect to his wife. There are reasons this information is given to us and if God chooses to intervene, then give Him all the glory. However, the potential of God’s intervention doesn’t negate the husband’s duty. Recall that Joseph was going to carry forward with what was right once he found out that Marry was pregnant and God intervened and redirected Joseph’s understanding of what was going on. The husband is the savior of the wife, just as Christ is of the church, period.
Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
This savior idea may also include the husband giving himself for the life of his wife – as Christ did for us. Christ loved the church by providing all that the church needed, through His death, burial and resurrection. Philippians 4:19 reminds us that God will supply all our need according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus. This is the provision of God to us. Not only did He provide Himself as the sacrifice we needed to be rescued from Sin and Death, but He likewise provided the unlimited and unbroken access to His grace, wherein we stand (as Paul writes in Romans 5:2). The wife likewise is to have unlimited and unbroken access to her husband as she stands in his grace towards her. The church is subject to Christ by virtue of the headship order God has established and likewise the wife is subject to her husband. Yet, this subjection reveals how the blessings of God flow like a river and impact the villages down stream. As the river flows from God and passes through Christ, it comes through the husband and the husband in turn provides it to his wife. Does this mean that the wife doesn’t have any direct connection to God? No, not at all – don’t take the human, physical marriage union and draw a false conclusion about how a woman interacts with God Himself. A woman is ONE in Christ just as the man is, and in Christ, they are ONE. Yet, the scriptures reveal that the man has a special obligation to his wife within the confines of their physical marriage.
Being that the wife is the husbands soul focus (again, not a typo), how is the husband to view his wife? Is she a burden? Is she an obstacle to his agenda? How did Christ view us?
Ephesians 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
I ask again – how then should a husband view his wife? We’ll continue with this next time…