Archive for January 11th, 2021

Colossians 3:19

In Colossians 3:19 Paul continues to teach us about God’s design for the family. He began with some words for wives, and now shifts to some direct teaching for husbands. “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” Paul’s words to husbands safeguards his words to wives. Though wives are to submit to their husbands, it never excuses husbands allowing them to act as tyrants over their wives. Instead, a husband must love his wife, and the ancient Greek word translated love her is agape. Paul squarely puts the obligation on the husband. In his day, there were no powers or privileges on the part of wives, children or slaves.

But Paul tells husbands to love – agape style love. Vaughan explains “Agapao does not denote affection or romantic attachment; it rather denotes caring love, a deliberate attitude of mind that concerns itself with the well-being of the one loved.” It is sacrificial, giving love and has little to do with emotion all to do with self-denial for the sake of another. Guzik shares some qualities of the love God charges husbands to have for their wives:

  • “It is a love that loves without changing.
  • It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment.
  • It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing.
  • It is love that loves even when it is rejected.
  • Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.”

He goes on to write “we can read this passage and think that Paul means, “Husband, be kind to your wife.” Or “Husband, be nice to your wife.” There is no doubt that for many marriages, this would be a huge improvement. But that isn’t what Paul writes about. What he really means is, “Husband, continually practice self-denial for the sake of your wife.” If you are still wondering what kind of love Paul is asking husbands to express toward their wives, it is simple. Look at the Cross. Jesus loved us with agape love – a love so deep he was willing to take our punishment and stand in our place to receive the penalty for our sin. That’s how a husband is to love his wife!

There may be an implication here that wives sometimes give husbands a reason to be harsh with them. Paul’s answer – it doesn’t matter what your wife does. Here is the truth of the matter. A husband may feel perfectly justified in his harsh or unloving attitude and actions towards his wife, but he is not justified – no matter how his wife has acted towards the him. Agape love is given even when things are obviously bad and full of deficiencies. Agape love happens even when the person on the receiving end may be unworthy. Agape love happens no matter what. Sometimes wives think they get the short end of the teaching on marriage – having to submit. But in God’s plan, submission is extreme protection because the burden is on the husband to love the way Christ loved and that is worth submitting to!

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