Two tough topics inevitably arise when discussing roles, equality, etc. These topics are Women In The Home and Women In The Church. And at first glance, the scriptures seem very rigid and limited. The first scripture we will work through is Ephesians 5 & 6, and in Women In The Church, we will work through 1 Peter 2 & 3.
Ephesians 5 & 6
Paul begins by addressing evil and darkness. He tells Christians to watch out and expose evil and darkness when they see it. Paul also reminds the church to watch out for greedy idolaters who have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:5). He then reminds us that our actions will be exposed, and we should live in the light with Christ. So don’t get drunk and don’t be foolish (Ephesians 5:17-18), but be filled with the Spirit!
Now, while we are filled with the Spirit, sing, give thanks, and subject ourselves to one another. Did you catch that? Subject ourselves to each other? That is a hot topic right there. What does that mean?
Subject = Hupotassó: to place or rank under, to subject. To obey.
Luke 2:51 tells us that Jesus was subject to his parents. Luke 10:17 tells us that demons are subject to Jesus. And in Ephesians 5:24, wives are subject to their husbands. Let’s read the passage in full and then break it down.
Ephesians 5: 20-28
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
What Is The Continued Focus?
Paul continues through chapters 5 & 6, instructing children to obey their fathers (Ephesians 6:1) and slaves to obey and their masters. He reminds us that if we become slaves to Christ, we will receive back from the Lord and should find our strength in Him (Ephesians 6:10). And Paul eventually finishes reminding us that we are not fighting each other but spiritual forces of wickedness. And, of course, keep praying (Ephesians 6:18)!
What an excellent section of Bible truth. Why do we polarize Ephesians 5:22 so sharply as a golden command? Perhaps a few more studies need to be done on Ephesians 5:26. How exactly does a husband wash his wife with the word of God? A topic for another day.
The Purpose Of Marriage
Although this was already discussed in Lesson: What Does Jesus Say About Marriage, I’ll briefly touch on it before unpacking “submit.” Let’s take a moment and read the entire chapter.
It becomes clear in this section that Paul is explaining the purpose of marriage and how it reflects and shows us an example of what a proper relationship of Christians bonded to Christ would look like. Since Christ came and died, subject to His father’s will for the church, how do husbands model that same behavior (Ephesians 5:25)?
Yes, wives submit to their husbands. Anyone who argues contrary to that is a false teacher, and we should all be on guard (1 Timothy 6:3-5). But husbands, you also submit to your wives – as a matter of fact, we should all be submitting to each other! It should also probably not surprise us that Paul didn’t use the word “submit” when talking about the role of children to their parents or slaves to their masters. Instead, he used the word “obey.”
Paul could have told wives to obey their husbands like slaves to masters, but he didn’t. He told wives to submit to their husbands and for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church. Just like Christ gave himself up for the church, husbands, go and do that. Husbands and wives become one with one another. Blend your beings and give up your selfishness, independence, and desires. Practice on each other and hone your skill of saying no to your flesh.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Does Submit Mean Obey?
Obey = Hupakouo: to listen, attend to.
Matthew 8:27: the winds and seas obey Jesus. 2 Thessalonians 1:8: Punishment will come to those who do not obey the gospel. We are all to submit to each other Ephesians 5:21. This is not bad but good. Romans 12:3 encourages us not to think of ourselves as higher than we ought. Wives, submit to your husbands. Husbands love your wives. Now all go and serve each other and become last, not to become a slave, but to become free (Galatians 5:1).