Ephesians 5:31-33

In Ephesians 5:31-33 Paul wraps up his teaching to the Ephesian church (and us) on the topic of marriage. Paul quotes what God wrote way back in the Garden at the creation of marriage in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Relevant to marriage today, it shows that just as the first man and the first woman were one – she was taken from him, and then brought back to him – so it could be said of every married man today that he is joined to his wife. God does the joining. Husbands can resent it, they can resist it, they can ignore it, but it doesn’t change the fact. In marriage we become ONE.

Guzik explains Paul’s teaching to wives as he did to husbands. “Paul gave three reasons for a Christian wife’s submission to her husband. In addressing the Christian husbands, Paul also gave three reasons to love their wife:

i. First, they should love their wife this way because this is what love is. Paul indicates this in Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives.

ii. Second, they should love their wife this way because the relationship between husband and wife has a pattern: the relationship of Jesus and His church. Paul indicates this in Ephesians 5:25-29: Just as Christ also loved the church… So husbands ought to love their own wives… just as the Lord does the church.

iii. The third reason is found in Ephesians 5:28-32. The Christian husband must love his wife this way because you are one with her, just as Jesus is one with the church.”

There is a fundamental principle for promoting oneness in marriage: there must be a leaving (of former associations) and a cleaving (joining together as one). Often we think of the leaving as being from our parents, but it can be much more than that. We must get rid of anything that will prevent us from becoming one with our wife. Anything, and everything, that might get in the way. And while we often wrongly think that this passage in Genesis is about only a husband and wife, it also speaks about the relationship between Christ and the church. “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Paul really taught on two things at once. He teaches about marriage, but he also teaches about God’s pattern for marriage – the relationship between Jesus and His people. We need to get rid of things that prevent us from truly being one with Jesus!

Paul continues anre reminds us of the basics of marriage. “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Everyone is included in Paul’s teaching around marriage. There are no passes or excuses. If Paul’s message in this great passage could be boiled down to two principles which must govern our thinking and our actions as married people, those two are:

  • Husbands: Understand that you and your wife are one, are a unity which means love
  • Wives: Understand that your unity has a head – your husband which means submission

Guzik points out that we often focus on the wrong things related to God’s plan for marriage:

  • “Wives are quick to embrace and understand the husband’s principle (love your wife), and they want that to be the governing principle of the marriage.
  • Husbands are quick to embrace and understand the wife’s principle (submit to your husband), and they want that to be the governing principle of the marriage.
  • But we must let our principle govern us. When you have a husband thinking, “I’m one with my wife, and I must think and act that way,” and a wife thinking, “My husband is the head of our oneness, and I need to respect and defer to him as the head,” then you will have a healthy, Biblical marriage.”

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