Summary: The wife is God’s ’picture’ of the church (#9 in The Christian Victor series)
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church. He himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
There are a couple of things I want to make crystal clear before proceeding into this portion of Paul’s letter. This is an area of scripture that has been misused, avoided, watered down, and debated. It touches people right where they live; and quite frankly, our society has come to a place where the spiritual principles taught here run diametrically opposed to the conclusions that the modern day world thinks marriage, and the man/woman relationship should be.
So I’m going to say first of all, that to the very best of the ability God has given me, and backed by more thought and study than I’ve done for any part of this letter so far, and prayerfully, I am going to endeavor to bring to you what the Spirit of Christ has said through His Apostle. I don’t know how much of it you will like. But how you receive and apply it will be between you and God.
Secondly, I want to observe that there will be people hearing this and later reading it who are not presently married, and have either never been married, or have been in a relationship that died and they are now alone, and some who have had spouses who have passed away, and they do not intend ever to marry again.
Having made that observation, I want to say to you that the things you have an opportunity to learn here apply, nonetheless. They apply very simply because they teach much about the relationship between Christ and His church, and therefore between Christ and the individual. And in addition to that, they teach things that you may one day be able to refer to in helping someone you know who is married, or about to be married, and may be in need of some sound Christian counsel concerning what the marriage union is all about.
Let me interject here, that where teachers get off track I think, is when they take this passage and turn it into a symposium on marriage. Certainly there are some things to teach about the marriage relationship, but not to use as a spring board to tout some kind of ‘women are from Venus and men are from Mars’ philosophy about getting along in the home.
Teaching about the marriage relationship from these verses is only valid as long as Paul’s original intent is adhered to, which is, clarifying and magnifying the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. Paul is applying the type of marriage, which it was intended to be, to expound these truths; not as a cure-all for marital squabbles and disharmony.
“You’re supposed to submit to me as to the LORD!” “Oh, yeah? Well you’re supposed to love me enough to DIE! SO DO IT!” We’re not going to get into that here.
True, if we understand these things and model our marriage after the relationship between Christ and the church we will enjoy great benefits. But that is secondary to the intended message.
Finally, I want to say something specifically to the wives. I want to ask you to pay careful attention to what you will hear today, not worrying about the man you live with and his problems. This is for all of us, but it is especially for you.
Please just be comforted by this; Paul addresses his exhortation to you, all in 3 verses. When he turns to the husbands, he needs 5.
To place or rank under. To obey. New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.
Now wives, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?
Good news: This word ‘subject’ is not in the Greek manuscripts in verse 22.
Bad news: The verse is a continuance of the thought of verse 21.
So Paul says, “…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” speaking to the fellowship of Christians generally, then gets more specific and says, “Wives, to your own husbands; as to the Lord.”
Husbands, I am not going to talk to you much today. But I want to pause right here for just a moment and call something to your attention. I hope you will get a sense of the burden of responsibility that this exhortation to the wives places on your shoulders.
If the Holy Spirit of God instructs wives to be obedient to you and under your authority, what does that say about the kind of husband you should be?