by Jeff Dominguez
Chapter 5:22-33 – God’s Instructions for Husbands & Wives
In verse 21, Paul said, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” When he said this, he was referring to every Christian. Instead of being proud, Paul wants Christians to be humble and submissive to one another. In continuation, Paul will now focus on a specific set of audiences. First, he will address the most basic unit of the church: the Christian home.
In verses 22 to 33, Paul focused on and addressed the husband and wives regarding their roles and how they should treat each other (This will be followed by his instruction to the children in chapter 6). But why give emphasis on this?
Let us remember that God instituted marriage right after creating Adam and Eve (Gen 2:24). This makes marriage sacred and the most ancient Christian ordinance. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Bible gave so many lessons and commands in preserving the sanctity of marriage. Now, Paul continues that campaign and provided instructions for husbands and wives.
Let’s begin with the wives.
I. God’s Instruction for Wives (vv22-24)
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
If there’s only one word that would summarize God’s instruction for the wives, it’s this:
According to Paul, wives should submit to their husbands because God appointed them as the head of the wife (and family). He compared the headship of the husband to how Christ is the head of the church. But why is the husband the head? aren’t men and women supposed to be equal?
To answer this, let us remember that leadership is a common teaching in Christianity. Whether in the church (Acts 14:23) or in the government (Rom. 13:1-2), God always appoints leaders. And it’s a blessing actually. Try to imagine working for these companies. The first one doesn’t have any leaders at all. And in the second one, there are two presidents. Worst, they even give contradicting instructions. As you can probably tell, neither of these companies is good. For an organization to be effective, it must have a leader. Therefore, the same is true for the home. Someone has to lead the family in order for it to run properly. And by God’s wisdom, He has chosen the husbands to be the leaders of their families. And consequently, He instructed the wives and children to submit and obey Him. This is God’s design for the family. And as the Bible states, everything that God does is good and for our good (Ps. 145:17-21). So if the wife won’t submit and oppose the leadership of his husband, she is technically opposing and disobeying God. As Paul said in verse 24, her submission to her husband is a reflection of the church’s submission to Christ.
We understand that this is a case-to-case basis and there are many circumstances where submitting to the husband is difficult (like when a husband asks her wife to do something sinful or unbiblical). But in everything else, wives should make it firm to their hearts that they should submit to their husbands because when they do so, they are not just submitting to their husbands, but also to God.
II. God’s Instruction for the Husband (vv25-32)
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church because we are members of His body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
If submission is the keyword for wives, then for the husbands, it’s this:
We mentioned earlier that husbands are the leaders of the home. But Paul did not fail to describe what kind of leadership this is. And according to him, their leadership must be characterized and driven by love. Even when they are appointed leaders, it doesn’t mean that they can be bossy and abusive towards their families. Again, their leadership must be driven and characterized by love. And this is not just any kind of love, Paul presented the love of Christ for the church as the model.
In this passage, it is very noticeable that Paul repeatedly compared the love of the husband to how Christ loved the church. That is because the love of Christ for the church is the model that husbands should follow. It is the kind of love that is pure (v27) and willing to serve (v26). This kind of love is selfless and seeks nothing but the good of others.
III. Summary (v33)
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
In the last verse, Paul summarized God’s instructions for the husband and wife. Again, husbands should love their wives, and wives must submit to and respect their husbands. If one of them fails to do his or her part, then the entire family will suffer. This setup also requires hard work and cooperation. Lastly, for this setup to succeed, the husband and wife should always include Christ in it. Notice that in both cases, Paul always used Christ as an example. Married life is not easy. But with Christ at the center, marriage would be a joy and a blessing.
God Bless!! 🙂