Christ and the Church: Ephesians 5:22-33
Weddings are beautiful events. Healthy marriages are worked at. Choosing a ring, bridal gown, location, photographer, and who to invite may seem like huge decisions. The big decision was entering into a covenant relationship. The biggest decision is the living, day by day and moment by moment, in that covenant.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV
We see the beauty of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church, in this famous section of scripture. Paul also makes it clear that wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives.
English is a bit limited in the word “love.” At a conference about purity I remember a speaker suggested guys and girls being cautious when someone says, “I love you.” Her suggested answer when someone quickly makes such a statement: “Would that be pizza love?” English easily uses the same word for food pleasure as it does for a serious proclamation. The speaker rightly warned of the seemingly serious declarations.
The New Testament was written in Greek, which has beautifully diverse words for love.
“Three other words might have been used in Greek for the love of husband for wife, and classical writers would more naturally have used them. There was the word eraō that expressed the deep sexual passion of man for woman, and the words phileō and storgeō were used for affection within the family. None of these is used here; instead Paul chooses the typically Christian word agapaō, love that is totally unselfish, that seeks not its own satisfaction, nor even affection answering affection, but that strives for the highest good of the one loved. This love has as its standard and model the love of Christ for his church.”(Foulkes, p.162-163)
This section on the relationship of husband and wife is the first of three relationships Paul addresses in this part of Ephesians (though the chapter break comes right after this). The other two relationships he brings up are that of a parent and child and a master and a servant. Paul is clear before and during this section on relationships that believers submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
As we saw last week, a person’s value exists apart from his or her role (Richards, 930). In all of Ephesians we have heard emphatically that believers are one in Christ. All people are equal, and equally in need of a Savior. Now we see that beautiful, holy relationship of Christ and His bride.
Thank You for your sacrificial love. Thank You for teaching us what true love looks like.
In Your Holy Name, Amen.
Questions to Ponder
How does Christ’s sacrificial, selfless love affect your daily life?
How will you share the truth of Who He is with others?
Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, pp. 162–163). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.