College & Career Class Lesson Summary, April 28, 2019
Yesterday, we finished chapter 5 in Ephesians by looking at what Christ did for the church and then how that would reflect into what the husband is to do for the wife. Although the husband should not be considered “Christ” (having complete and perfect righteousness, whose judgment is always according to truth), it is to be understood that the husband bears the “Christ responsibility” to his wife as Christ bears to His church. The wife then views her husband, again, not as Christ, but views him from the responsibility he is fulfilling. (This is essentially how the chapter ends in verse 33).
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 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.
Christ loved His church by providing essential things to it – a sanctifying (holy); a cleansing (without blemish). For Christ, there was no other church for Him – the Church is His wife. He sanctified the Church by setting it apart. It is uniquely special in the eyes of Christ – it is holy. There are many different congregations/assemblies that exist, but the congregation (church) of His is set apart from all of those. It stands out to Him. A husband, therefore, should sanctify his wife in the same manner. As there are plenty of other women out there, yet the wife HE CHOSE is who stands out to him. The wife is uniquely special in the eyes of her husband, not because of her merits (though they be many), but because of His purposeful choice (love).
Within this sanctifying we also see the cleansing of Christ. Christ cleansed the church by a washing of the water of the word. There is some debate as to what this “water by the word” refers to and I’m not suggesting that my answer is superior to any others, but, it does seem that there is some aspect of our eternal cleansing that is likened to being washed in water that emanates from the word. It may be that the word is the faithful promise of Christ to His church and Paul is describing our cleansing to be a product of being under His faithful provision. We were baptized INTO CHRIST by faith (Galatians 3:27) and therefore have put on Christ. We have “clean garments” on therefore. I’m not convinced that this is some off-the-wall reference to a water baptism ritual, however. The only time that this phrase shows up again in Paul’s writing is in Titus 3:5 where we see washing language used to describe our regeneration in Christ. In other words, the washing wasn’t a ceremonial cleansing, but an metaphor to describe what regeneration does. Regeneration cleanses us, not from dirty flesh, but by resurrecting us to life, in Him. (Peter mentions something similar in 1Peter 3:20-21)
Likewise, Christ cleansed the church through His effectual washing, by His own word – His own faithfulness to justify all those who come to Him by faith. The husband, therefore, cleanses his wife (again, not in some ceremonial ritual), but declares her ‘clean’ by the faithfulness of his own word. There is imagery here that draws back to the tabernacle where the priests had to set themselves apart by washing themselves before performing the priestly duties – the washing sanctified them. The wife is sanctified in the eyes of the husband because she stands cleansed and in so being, the husband views the wife as glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but as holy and without blemish.
We noted that this doesn’t mean that the church doesn’t live in accordance with the reality God has made them to be, but it is a statement of purpose. Nothing changes the garments we wear in the eyes of God – we are clothed in His righteousness and His righteousness is without spot or blemish. Yet, through our choices, we can choose to live contrary to that identity. A wife is all these things in the eyes of her husband but it doesn’t mean that the wife is perfect. Again, that isn’t the point. The wife’s success or failure doesn’t dictate how the husband loves her, but because the husband loves her, she stands without blemish in his sight.
Ephesians 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
Paul demonstrates why the love of the husband is so necessary. As the husband and wife have become one flesh – fully intertwined with one another – what the husband does is very important. If the husband starves himself, his body suffers. If the husband abuses himself, the body suffers. Christ provides for the church because He cannot nourish Himself (to whom we are joined) and not, by extension, nourish us. Likewise, the husband nourishes himself by nourishing his wife. This is only true if they are one flesh. This is why a husband and wife can be nourished through the husband’s provision. This is why we can nourish one another in Christ – not that we are married one to another, but we are indeed members of His body, and members one with another.
Because of this one-flesh-reality, Paul is going to describe that this was actually a mystery. Meaning, there was something God was keeping secret as it related to the union of marriage. This mystery was that it pictures the believer’s union with Christ, becoming one body with Him. All throughout time, folks were marrying but had no concept of what it pictured. This was something that God was waiting to reveal until His appointed time. When God created man, He said that it is not good that man be left alone so He created woman for the man. If the man pictures Christ in this regard, then that might give some insight into God – it wasn’t good that He be alone and therefore created mankind for Himself. This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a heavenly host that existed with God, but perhaps there was a void that God desired to fill and mankind was the answer. That’s just some thinking out loud, admittedly, but interesting to think about nonetheless.
This then should give the husband a greater understanding of why his responsibility to love his wife is so great. The reason for this responsibility isn’t “just because”, but rather is due to what it foreshadowed. The responsibility to love was given to the husband and he holds in his hands that which God revealed is true of Christ and the believer.
Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself: and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Finally! The wife gets something to do! All kidding aside, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is a reason the husband bears the responsibility he does (as Christ bears the brunt of it in relation to the church). Yet, as the wife lives in this realm of love and grace that her husband provides, she then reverences him. The word reverence comes from the word we get phobia from, but we noted that a wife is not to live in terror of her husband, but in the shadow of reverence. When we consider who we are compared to God, we know that there is a respect and a reverence we have for who He is and what He can do. Yet, as a believer, being justified by faith, we have PEACE with God (Romans 5:1). Even though, however, we are at peace with God, that doesn’t negate the fear of God. Now, we do not fear God with respect to God reneging on the peace we have (and He dealing with us as if we were enemies), but we live in fear which is simply the honest and healthy respect for Him. It is the temperance of our hearts and minds when considering all that He is. A wife, again, doesn’t view her husband as God, but yet recognizes all that her husband does for her and tempers her heart and mind to reverence that provision and her provider. It is also important to point out that as she is called to submit to her own husband (Verse 22), she likewise reverences her own husband, not the husband of another. Not every husband will provide the same life for their wife as the next. This doesn’t mean the husband is failing or is demonstrating some level of insufficiency. People are different – talents and abilities vary – it is for the wife to recognize the provision of her husband and instead of comparing it to the provision of another husband, she enjoys the faithfulness of her own husband to her. The outcome of the provision is always secondary to the faithfulness to provide. God gives the increase of any seed we plant or water and it is within His control to determine the level of increase He brings. The yield isn’t uniform, however, what is uniform is God’s faithfulness to provide increase. That is what the wife should relish – not the ‘stuff’ or the ‘material’ results of her husband’s provision, but that she has a husband who is faithful to provide.
This spills over into Chapter 6 as it relates to families and we’ll look at that in due time. Hopefully by the end of chapter 5, you see that our worthy walk, as children of light, isn’t a walk that is categorized by the fruit of darkness (that pagans walk in), but is categorized by the light of God that shines in us. This walk isn’t just with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but even impacts and infiltrates the relationship of a husband and wife.
Understanding we are children of light allows us to see that there could be inroads made by those of darkness against us. Are we left as sitting ducks? The powers of darkness are real and are on the constant offensive – is there anything that would ready us for their attack?
Our story continues…