Ephesians 5 v 23
The Puritan Henry Smith said that in the scriptures there are three Marriages of Christ: The first was when Christ and our nature met together. The Almighty God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ joined His divine nature with our human nature and became a man. The Second is when Christ and our soul join together. In the glorious experience of becoming a Christian, Christ's divine nature enters our souls by His Holy Spirit so that we become a new creature. The Third is the union of Christ and His Church. This union is called a Mystery in verse 32 of
Ephesians 5 - 32 this is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
This mystery is the focus of our study this morning as we come to the second study that deals with
Ephesians 5 v 22 taught us last time that a wife must submit herself to her own husband for three reasons.
1. Because God created her to be a suitable helper for her husband.
2. Because God commanded husbands to rule their wives.
3. Because her submission to him reflects her submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
These 3 reasons were the teaching of verse 22
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
The Apostle Paul in this passage has given us the church a detailed description of the proper roles of wives and husbands. We have seen that these crucial verses have their basis in the Bible verses dealing with creation and its teaching in Genesis chapter 2. They are the Christian concept of marriage. And there is more for us to learn this morning from Ephesians 5 v 23
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
The verse divides neatly again into three sections continuing to answer the question "Why must a wife submit herself to her own husband?" Because
1. The Husband is the head of the wife. 2. Christ is the head of the Church. 3. Christ is the saviour of the body (the Church).
We will think about them one by one.
1. The Husband is the head of the wife.
Last week we noticed the hierarchy of authority in God's plan for human beings in relationship with Himself - God - Christ - man - woman. Headship makes man, the husband, the ruling partner in the marriage relationship, an arrangement established by God at creation. But it is further expanded in 1 Corinthians 11 v 3
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Order is the unifying factor in all of God's creation. For the basis of man's headship and woman's submission, the Apostle Paul appeals to the analogy of God the Father's headship over the Lord Jesus Christ His incarnate Son. There is a chain of subordination. Let us be really clear. The Lord Jesus Christ is not a second-class person or deity because His Father is His head. It is not a threat to the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ nor detrimental to Christ's person as the God-man - the incarnate deity - to be subject to His Father. He is of the same essence as the Father - He is co-equal - but He humbled Himself, and made Himself of no reputation, and came to do the work of saving His people from their sins, by occupying their flesh, and dying for them in that flesh. In this sense the Lord Jesus Christ submitted to His Father - and in this sense only. So next we can draw this principle - that just as Jesus is not second-class in relation to His father - neither is the wife second class or in any way inferior a person, because her husband is her head. Can we see this very important point? How this smashes right across those dominant, bullies of men who suppose that wifely submission is something that authorises them to trample over their wives! They ought to study this doctrine and relationship between Christ and His Father - and know that He must not dare to feel or act in anyway that is derogatory towards His wife or any woman for that matter. Headship in the Biblical sense is never, ever derogatory to a person's being or essence. The undisputed relationship between God the Father and God the Son is an analogy for the sometimes disputed relationship between the husband and the wife. Yet Paul sandwiches this human relationship between the relationships of the persons of the Godhead in this verse.
the head of every man is Christ; (undisputed) and the head of the woman is the man; (often disputed) and the head of Christ is God. (Undisputed)
Can we see the sandwich? The head of the woman is the man - and it is God's arrangement - and I am glad that it is. Because if men themselves put this in place it simply would not stick! But since it is God's order, we are bound to obey it and comply with its implications - men and women. The word for head in both Eph 5 v 23 and 1 Cor 11 v 3 is KEPHALE. Of the 68 times that it appears in the NT 13 of the appearances are metaphorical and indicate AUTHORITY. Our Focus must return for a moment on the Garden of Eden. Remembering God established headship before the fall, when He took Eve from Adam's side, she was to be his helper. God created Eve second, giving Eve a subordinate (and not a subservient) position in relation to man. Adam was made to be ruled from his head; Eve was made to be ruled from her heart. We move on to the terms of the curse, in Genesis 3. Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to change roles. Eve took the lead and the place of headship. Satan cleverly aimed the temptation at Eve's MIND and engaged her in an intellectual discussion on whether or not she should do something that God had expressly forbidden. The result was that she was DECEIVED. When Adam approached, Satan withdrew and allowed Eve to tempt him, thus aiming the temptation at Adam's EMOTIONS. The Bible says that Adam was not deceived - he was disobedient! In the New Creation, God re-establishes the proper order - the original one. Man is to be the HEAD, under Christ; and the woman is to acknowledge the headship of the man. This sounds strange and chauvinistic to today's emancipated and liberated woman, but it is God's order for a stable society, nevertheless. In this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 v 3 Paul emphasises that men are to men and be seen to be men; while women are to be women and be seen to be women. There is nothing worse than to see a woman developing dominant masculine traits, or a man exhibiting marked feminine traits. So let men be men as God has made them; and let women be women as God has made them. Let us be satisfied with God's arrangements for men and women, for as someone has said, (a godly woman that is), "Give me submission any day - my husband's task as head is far harder for him, than my loving submission to him - I would never have his role." Before we move on to the next point let's clear a few misapprehensions about submission. Submission does not remove freedom. Some will know that I have a little interest in railway trains. I ask then "When is the train at its most free?" When it is bumping over the ground OFF the railway lines? - or when it is smoothly running along the track, confined and restricted to the track? The train is freer when it is where it ought to be, doing what it was intended to do. Restricted to the track means freedom. Confined to the track means ability to perform. What really brings freedom? Getting on the right track. Freedom in God's world never comes apart from structure. When you are free to live as God intended, then you are indeed truly free! The path of genuine liberation for a woman is submission - because it allows her to runs ON THE TRACK. The principle of submission runs right through life. It pertains to relationships within the church as well as within the home and family. A woman is never to take authority over men as a teacher or a ruler. Thus these two works of elder are denied to her. The Bible asserts this not on the basis of culture, but on the basis of the order of creation and God's commandments following the fall. Submission does not reduce a woman to the level of a piece of property - a chattel owned by her husband. This may be an Islamic or old Japanese view - but it is not a Biblical view. A man recognises that God has given him a gifted helper and he is going to need all of those gifts in order for him to lead and manage his household well. And brethren, have you read Proverbs 31 recently? Have you ever considered the "woman of many parts" who is described there? Solomon looks at this woman of many parts and sees a many faceted, remarkable, liberated woman! Her husband knows how to bring her abilities to the fore. He is a good manager who has left many decisions to her - because he can safely trust in her. Before any husband even begins to complain that his wife may fall short of these remarkable ideals he should first ask himself, "Have I provided my wife the opportunities and resources to function as a woman of many parts?" How can we expect a wife to be submissive in HER role, guided on HER tracks, if we have not provided the means for her to blossom as the child of God that she is? That is the responsibility of headship - to provide our wives, and other sisters in the Church, with the environment of submission. But this may be jumping the gun a little and anticipating more of the husband's role, than our subject this morning. For the husband is the head of the wife. So next let us pick up the second phrase in verse 23 -
2. Christ is the head of the Church.
The concept of headship phases some people because they seem to think that, of necessity, headship carries the idea of an inherent inferiority - in someone else. But this is not so. The whole notion of the headship of the man, the husband, in the married relationship, is comparable to that of troops to their general. An army would be chaotic if each soldier had the right to decide what was to be done. Or if we think of a football or cricket team. The first thing to do when a team is formed is to appoint a captain. All 11 men are not captains - if they were they would never win a match. They appoint a captain, who may not necessarily be the best player - but the rest of the team decide that he has the best leadership skills. After appointment the rest of the team submit to him and his decisions. Similarly a committee when it meets chooses a chairman - because it needs some authority. Business cannot be transacted unless there is a chairman. Or to think of the House of Commons - in every new Parliament there is a Speaker of the House elected, who exercises control and give his ruling. He is not the greatest man or woman in the House; the other MP's are by no means inferior to the speaker - yet the MP's have set him aside to this position of authority. In all of these cases the leaders are first amongst equals - that's all. Now a husband is head of his wife as also Christ is head of his church. The Lord Jesus Christ is a real man who has ONE body, ONE head and together head and body make's a unity. The Church, comprising of all the true and elect believers in the Lord, real Christians, is also ONE body with ONE head - it is a unity. Just as two heads would produce a monster - so there can be only ONE head. Only one or the other - the man or his wife can be the head - and God's order is that it should be the man. We have been seeing that the headship of the ruling partner in a marriage is an arrangement established by creation. But it is also established by REDEMPTION. The introduction of this lovely Bible word REDEMPTION brings the Lord Jesus Christ into focus and His position as the head of the Church. This is not a new doctrine to us. It was with us in Ephesians 1 v 22
And God hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
When we studied this verse we noticed this - the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the Church is not merely the highest authority in the Church, head in the church. He is the highest authority, in command of the whole universe. He is the head of Moslems - although they would not admit it - head of atheists, Buddhists, Shintoists, Jehovah's witnesses, Mormons and all others in the universe - men and angels. But now Paul homes in on Christ's headship of the Church. By the Church Paul does not means CHRISTENDOM, the professing peoples who nominally profess that they are Christians. He means the real Church that consists of the elect, true Christians who are those people who are called saints; those who have had their sins forgiven and pardoned and are trusting in the redemption and cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ. They have put their personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. At their conversion they were baptised by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, and now he indwells them. That is the church and its members are found in all parts of Christendom. The true church knows no denominational boundaries. It is not limited by race or creed, or colour of skin, or social class, or time or space. There are more of the church's members in heaven now than there are on earth. The Church's unity is NOT an organisational unity - it is an ORGANIC unity that is different. And the Lord Jesus Christ is head of this glorious group of people, the Church, His church. Are you a true member of this true church? The we saw it again in Chapter 4 v 15
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
We are to be conformed to our Head the Lord Jesus Christ because He is our head. He is God; He is the most important person in the universe. We are also to be conformed to our Head because He is the ultimate authority over us - there is no one else. Thirdly we are to be conformed to Christ our head because of the union between the head and His body - between Christ and the Church. These texts reveal in what sense the Lord Jesus Christ is the Church's head. He is her head as being the One who is vitally interested in her welfare. He cares intensely about His body the church. His rule is directed to her as her redeemer and her protector. Which leads us to the third aspect of this truth in verse 23
3. Christ is the saviour of the body (the Church).
Let us just pause for a moment and reflect on the remarkable arrangement that all this is in the description of the marriage bond. Certainly no higher view of marriage can be imagined than the sublime conception that makes two things to be true - Obedience is a matter of devotion - that is the wife's submission, AND Authority is an expression of love - the man's love for his wife, based on Christ's love for His church. The two words OBEDIENCE and AUTHORITY tend to be dirty words in our society's vocabulary. Obedience smacks of someone trying the control me - yet I want to be free to do my own thing because I see it as my right. And Authority tells me that there is someone out there who is itching to tell me what to do and Lord it over me against my will. But in the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour we have such a glorious pattern of how to live and such a perfect example of humanity. He is worth submitting to and obeying and that obedience is part of my devotion to Him as a Christian. "In full and glad surrender I give myself to Thee." And I cannot complain at His Authority to rule me as a believer because His Authority is truly an expression of His tender love for my soul - He is my saviour. Now we transcribe that into the wife /husband relationship and we find a wonderful pattern. The wife deeply in love with her head, her husband, does not find it hard to serve him out of willing obedience and devotion. She lives for it, she has dreamed of it, and is supremely happy in it - when her husband uses all of his manly authority to maintain her, protect her and defend her. Sadly many of today's women in society wish to maintain themselves having an independent income to spend on herself only. Not for her a trust in her husband's loving maintenance and provision for her needs. Now it is true that there are circumstances that drive women to have to supplement the family income or even to be the main breadwinner - a husband's illness or even absence can cause this to occur. The Lord understands these things - but it is the principle that we are thinking of here. Many women today seek to protect themselves with their own career rather than to trust themselves for security from their husbands. And many seek to defend themselves in society through women's interest groups and pressure groups rather than placing themselves under their husband's responsibility to defend them. You will understand that these principles are in the light of Christ's maintenance, protection and defence of the believer as Saviour. Some of the activities mentioned are legitimate in certain circumstances - but NOT if they replace or ignore the husband's primary role in caring for his wife. I wonder if we really realise the great love and care that the Lord Jesus Christ has for us as individuals? As we shall see Christ's love and care is vast and boundless. He has even given us an example of how selfless, patient, and utterly devoted to us He is as one who loves with authority. Do we know the case of the prophet Hosea? Hosea had a wife named Gomer and he displayed unfailing tenderness towards this wife of his. What is so special about that you may ask? We need to know what sort of wife Gomer was. She was unfaithful to him, went after other lovers, conceived children of whoredom and refused to return to him even though he pleaded and pleaded with her to come home. After a while she was in real trouble. Hosea instead of rejecting her, slips away to her haunt of shame and buys her back for money and some barley - and then he mercifully restores her to her former position of honour as his wife. He is an example of the saviour's self-sacrificing selfless love. Hosea's name means Salvation and his experience is an illustration of Jehovah's deep love for the people of Israel who had forsaken Him and compromised herself with idolatry. But Jehovah waited for her and bought her back. The Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour has loved us the same. And the lesson for us is this - let the wife therefore obey her husband who loves her so very, very much. And let her bear in mind that being obedient to her husband she is being obedient to her Lord. What a precious phrase this is at the end of verse 23 -
and he is the saviour of the body.
The pronoun HE in this verse refers not to the husband but to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the saviour of the body. The focus is on the Lord - the saviour who died to provide us with freedom from punishment and pardon for all our sins. He protects us now with his love and mercy and he defends us from attacks by the enemy of souls. Doesn't it seem absolutely incredible to you, that there are those in the world who reject this gracious offer of love and care from the Lord Jesus Christ? There are those who are not Christians, some are even here this morning, who are not prepared to recognise His giving, providing and maintenance of their souls? They really want their independence from God - I'll go it alone they say - I don't want a saviour. There are those too who are not prepared to accept His marvellous protection and love in their lives. These people prefer to be exposed to the effects of sin and rebellion in their own life. Or they are not prepared to accept His redemption and deliverance from hell and punishment - that He has already taken upon himself. And more than this He has risen again - come alive and now cares so deeply for His children. Are you one of those here this morning my friend? If you are then you need to consider your position. There is only one way to get right with God - and that is to come to recognise that you are not right with God - that your sinful lifestyle and selfishness is separating you from His holy self. Then once that realisation is apparent you need to repent of your sin - that means to turn away and forsake it. God calls everyone to do this - and we are obliged to obey. Then you must reach out to God and plead for His mercy and ask for His forgiveness, with the hope that He will hear and forgive through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. You need to come through Him - He is the One who will speak for you at the judgement throne of God - we all need someone to speak for us when we are in trouble with the law - Jesus Christ is ready to save those who will come to Him and ask Him for His help, surrendering themselves to Him. Will you go to the Lord Jesus Christ today my friend? He alone has the words of eternal life - He alone can forgive us everything that we have ever done - and pardon us. He died so that ordinary men and women can be saved - for He alone is the saviour of His people, the Church, the body. May He reveal Himself to some today, that they are indeed members of His body through faith in Him?