Summary: The obligations that Paul says that the husband and wife owe to each other.

Focusing on the Family Series

Sermon # 2

“Mutual Submission”

Ephesians 5: 21-33

As Paul wrote these words family life in the Roman Empire was in a shambles, divorce and adultery were running rampant and marriage was in danger of a complete and utter breakdown. Men didn’t want to be leaders and women didn’t want to be lead.

The Call to Mutual Submission

“Submitting to one another in the fear of God.

A lot of the problems that arise concerning the passage we are going to consider this morning is the tendency to begin at verse 22 instead of verse 21 where Paul says that the husband and wives both are to “submit to one another in the fear of Christ.”

Most of the problems in application of doctrine of submission have to do with the fact that we wrongly interpret this a struggle over power in the marriage relationship –“Who’s in charge, the husband or the wife?” – the answer is, Neither! The correct answer to the question is, that Jesus is to be in charge. He is to be the head! He is to be the head of every marriage just as he is head of the church.

Even abusive behavior by husbands has been justified on he basis of the doctrine of submission. Physical or mental abuse of a spouse is not acceptable in any marriage, much less a Christian marriage.

This submission has natural limits when it considered in the light of the last phrase, “as unto the Lord.” God certainly does not expect a Christian wife to do unscriptural things out of submission to her unsaved husband.

Wives Your Duty Is To Respect Your Husband

(vv. 22-24, 33b)

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to

the Lord. (23) For the husband is head of the wife,

as also Christ is head of the church; and He is

the Savior of the body. (24) Therefore, just as the

church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to

their own husbands in everything.”

Now first of all let me say to the husband’s, what Jesus says to the wives is none of your business. Much of the disfavor that this passage enjoys has to do with husbands, who have little or no right to, quoting this verse to their wives and telling them they have to submit to him. Perhaps no scripture is quoted during arguments more than this one. But men I want you to notice that nowhere does it say, “Husband, tell your wives to submit.” Instead Paul speaks to husbands and wives individually and asks each of them to work on their own attitudes.

Wives learn to submit to their husbands from watching their husbands submit to the Lord. It should go with out saying that any man who does not love and submit himself to the Lord, has no right to expect that his wife will submit herself to him. So ultimately if your wife is not submissive to you it may be your fault, because you are not more submissive to Christ.

What Does Submit Mean?

This passage is really not hard to under-stand. It may be hard to swallow in the light of our times or hard to work out in real life but it is not difficult to understand!

Many people interpret verse twenty-two that says, “wives submit to your husbands” to support the idea, “husbands should make all the important decisions in the relationship.” That is not what this verse means. Husbands if you are making any important decisions without the advice of your wife, you’re asking for trouble. God did not put this woman in your life so that you could ignore her input.

“Mutual submission means … that decisions are made by both partners for unselfish reasons. When disagreement occurs, the husband does not automatically have the deciding vote. In such cases, one partner may grant the other person’s choice or both may agree to reject both options.”

[Llyne Snodgrass. Ephesians. The NIV Application Commentary. (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1996) p. 315]

Leadership in the home is vest in the man.

But before your grin gets the better of you men, understand me, what I am talking about her is not privilege but responsibility. Every problem in the home or in the marriage is the responsibility of the man. Now hear what I said, every problem is the responsibility of the man, not the fault of the man. But too, many times we as men, just want to sit back to wait, and complain that things are not right. The question is as leader, “What are you doing about it.”

Your Husband Needs your Respect (v. 33b)

There is one last word addressed to the wives found in the second part of verse thirty-three, “… and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

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