June 14, 2011
Husbands Love and Wives Respect
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Jesus loves the church and calls her His bride. He describes His relationship with the church as a marriage. He also likens the church to His own body, where He is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). Today we will conclude our study of husbands and wives, and focus some upon each of them.
FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
Joined to His Wife. Paul cites the institution of marriage in Genesis 2:24. The plan of God included the male being inseparably joined to the female for a lifetime. Thereby, God instituted marriage for all couples seeking to live in faithfulness to Him forever. God created marriage between one male and one female. In Ephesians 5:30, Jesus now applies this same metaphor to His relationship to the church, His body. Jesus tells us that just like marriage, He considers Himself inseparably joined to the church. In a very real sense, He has become one flesh with the church. Jesus means that the deepest spiritual union between men and women He now applies to His relationship to the church. We not only learn here how Jesus feels about the church, but we also learn about husbands. Remember that Jesus has stressed the essential unity of the church as members of His body, and now Jesus continues that metaphor to liken it to marriage. In other words, Jesus considers the church to be His wife for eternity. As His wife, Jesus has become one flesh with her. As members of the church, and also as members of the body of Christ, we have a complete spiritual union with Christ, so that we have become one spiritual flesh with Christ. How cool! When you think about how close you are with Jesus, Jesus tells that we are as close as a married couple living in full harmony with God. Because you have become one flesh, you and Jesus have become inseparable. If you find this hard to fathom, then you have begun to plumb the depths of Christ and His relationship to the church.
This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
The Mystery of Christ and the Church. We have seen already that the term “mystery” in the New Testament has a very specific meaning. In Ephesians 3:1-6, Paul explains that a mystery means something that was not made known to the sons of men in previous generations, but now has been revealed to the apostles and prophets. So, applying that definition here, we learn that the mystery of Christ and His church was not made known before Christ came in the flesh, but now has been revealed by the apostles and prophets. I find it quite wonderful that Christ used this passage about husbands and wives to disclose the relationship He enjoys with His church, the Body of Christ. As a group of believers, we live in a marriage with Christ Jesus. He loves us and nourishes us, and teaches us that He has been joined with us for eternity. While the Old Testament saints did not know about the church, including its Gentile composition mixed with a relatively few Jewish believers, the apostles and prophets of the New Testament have received this revelation and now proclaim it.
Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Love His Own Wife. The word translated “Nevertheless” gives the impression to me that verse 33 stands in contrast to the previous verses. I find it more attractive to translate the terms in the sense of “and so” (see Philippians 1:18). Paul applies the mystery of the church to the husband and wife relationship. He does not contrast the two images, but declares their similarity and uses the metaphor as a heuristic device, that is, Paul uses the marriage metaphor as the perfect description of how marriage relates us to Christ and Christ to the church so that we may learn from it. He then applies those principles to the marriage itself, and explains our organic, spiritual unity in Christ. Paul first applies that principle to each husband and commands each husband to love his own wife. As we have seen before, this love comes only from God, and only people born again into Christ possess this love, for everyone who loves has been born of God (1 John 4:7). Therefore, each husband has this special obligation to love his wife.
Respect Her Husband. The wives also have their duty in Christ. These principles form the absolute bedrock of marriage. Without the husband loving his own wife, and the wife focusing upon her duty to respect (“φοβῆται“) her own husband, the marriage will not be like Christ and His church, and will not grow in Christ with His love and blessing. Therefore, the wife should “fear” her husband, just as we have seen this word applied to the behavior of the wife towards the disobedient husband (1 Peter 3:2 –“ἐν φόβῳ” fear includes respect there; compare 1 Peter 3:6–“μὴ φοβούμεναι“, no possible fear). The same root word describes our fear of God (Luke 1:50). The idea centers around a holy reverence for God, and a sense of fear that amounts to deep respect and a desire not to cross God in any way.
So we learn more about spiritual husbands today and their role in daily devotions.
● Being a husband in Christ means that you love your wife, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for the church.
● Being a wife in Christ means that you fear your husband, and treat him with reverential respect.
● Being in Christ means that the church of Christ forms the Body of Christ, and He has permanently joined Himself to the church. As a member of the church, you have been united forever to Christ. Therefore, we must submit to Christ and His gracious plans for our marriages.
Application for Today
Jesus has been joined to the church forever. As a member of the Body of Christ, I will love my wife today and encourage her to respect me. But even if she does not, I will still love her like Christ loved the church. I met a friend of mine today at the beach. He had his two-year old son with him. His wife was working. I suggested to him that he begin family devotions with his wife today. I suggested he read Psalm 1 with her and pray with her, and have the children present. We read Deuteronomy 6:6. I really enjoyed seeing my friend today and encouraging him as a father in Christ. Part of loving your wife and family means that you assume the role of husband as spiritual head of the home, in submission to Christ. Why not read and pray with your entire family today?