Summary: 53rd message from Ephesians dealing with the role and responsibility of the wife.
The Role and Responsibility of the Wife
I. Our Wealth and Worth In Christ 1-3
II. Our Worthy Walk in Christ 4-6
A. Live in Unity 4:1-16
B. Live in Newness of life 4:17-24
C. Live in Love 4:17-24
D. Live in Purity 5:3-14
E. Live in Wisdom 5:15-6:9
1. Seize every opportune moment 15-16
2. Seek to understand the will of the Lord 17
3. Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit 18-20
a. Speaking and singing truth to one another and praise to God
b. Giving thanks for all things
c. Submitting to one another in the fear of Christ
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
All would agree that this fruit characterizes those living under the Spirit’s influence. The motivation behind submission is also undisputed: “out of reverence for Christ.” The admonition to submission rests on God-designed roles in society. Because He designed them, we observe them out of a respect for Christ and a desire to please Him. Some see this as an admonition to mutual submission between husband and wife. I would agree that mutual submission is a Biblical concept. God calls us to serve one another. He calls us to consider other more important than ourselves. He instructs us to love one another. It is clear that we are to live in humility and look to the needs of others over our own.
I do not believe however that Paul intended mutual submission in this particular passage. Paul affirmed the fact that those submitting to the Holy Spirit and living under His influence will also submit to God’s established earthly authorities. He follows the general concept with the specifics.
Wives submitting to their husbands who are instructed to love them.
Children submitting to their parents who are instructed to nurture them.
Slaves submitting to their masters who are instructed to treat them kindly.
The instruction for wives is so connected to the general fruit of submitting that Paul does not even repeat the verb. It literally reads, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to their own husbands (implied verb submitting) as to the Lord.”
The term for submit is made up of two Greek words.
“Arrange, place, order, rank”
The resulting concept is to place under, rank under, military command. It is in the middle voice which means “submit yourselves” Submission was used in the sense of a voluntary placing of one’s rights and needs below the rights and needs of another. The word indicates a particular response to authority.
The Bible calls for a voluntary ordering under His established authority.
The Bible declares there will be a universal imposed submission at Christ’s return.
I. The Role and responsibility of wives
A. Role: Willing Support
Last week we focused on the Biblically prescribed role of wives and then we will look at the required response. The role of “helper” or willing support is not a role which implies inferiority or weakness. It is a support role which implies capable strength, creative skills and committed love. This willing support came from “one corresponding to him”. Someone with whom he could relate on an equal level, a companion. The role of the wife is never demonstrated in Scripture as an inferior, weak, slave-girl kind of role. The role of the wife is exalted as an honorable, powerful, role of significant influence. That influence can go either direction positive or negative. As a result of sin against God, both man and woman deviated from their God given functions. What was intended to bring pleasure and fulfillment and fruitfulness would now yield pain and frustration. What came naturally by design would take intentional effort to fulfill. Desirable selflessness would give way to destructive selfishness.
The role of Women is willing support; support from a committed capable companion.
Just as the role of loving leader comes with some suggested responses to those he leads, the role of willing support comes with suggested response to those she supports.
1. Submit to husbands
There are three key passages that deal with the required response of wives toward husbands.
Our current passage reads.
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. Ephesians 5:22-24
Colossians is very similar in pattern to this passage yet very brief.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18
Peter expended a bit more ink in his treatment of the subject.
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:1-6