3rd Sphere: Walking Worthy in our Natural Relationships
Ephesians 5:22 - 6:9

This section takes up practical exhortations that have to do with a creator-God. Paul speaks of the most intimate of relationships first:
  • Wives and husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • Children and parents (Ephesians 6:1-4)
  • Servants and masters (Ephesians 6:5-9).
Each of these are relationships where love and submission are required. The submissive role is always addressed first (v.21).

Obedience or submission? You never find the wife enjoined to obey her husband, but to submit…. because Obedience can have the thought of distance (treating her as a child). Also, you will never find the exhortation for a wife to love her husband (Titus 2:4 should read “be attached to”) because that will be the automatic response of her heart to his love for her.

A higher authority. there is a higher authority for the wife than the husband, and that is God. the principle is found in Acts 5:29. Ephesians is not looking at failure, and so it says “in everything”. There may come rare cases where a husband asks a wife to do something immoral (e.g. rob a bank, or endanger the welfare of a child) in which case she is to obey God rather than men. This is why col. 3:18 adds, “as is fit in the Lord.” But these cases where she would leave God’s order in creation are exceedingly rare. we need to be very discerning is it is faithfulness to God or self-will at work in these situations.

Love in marriage. the kind of love that we need in marriage is 'Agapao' (love of a settled disposition), not merely 'storge' (romantic love). Agapao love doesn’t need to see any merit in the object… it is based on commitment. when married couples do not have this love, then when circumstances change and the flesh becomes active, the marriage falls apart. romantic feelings are very important in marriage, because marriage is a natural relationship. This type of natural joy may be included (along with the joy of raising children, etc.) in peter’s expression, “heirs together of the grace of life” (I Peter 3:7). This is why emotional and physical compatibility is so important… because romantic feelings are part of God’s design for a healthy marriage. Natural compatibility is not something that we can perfectly discern by human means; instead we want to seek the Lord’s will about who to marry, and trust Him for the details.

“The principle of submission and of obedience is the healing principle of humanity.” - Edward Dennett

Wives and Husbands (5:22-33)

The Church’s Subjection to the Head, a Pattern for Wives (vv.22-24)

¶ 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord, v.22 wives. The woman is liable to break down in submission in the marriage relationship. She is told to “submit” to her husband “as unto the Lord”… not matter how difficult her husband may be. if she does it “as unto the Lord” it will not be mere duty, but confidence in the Lord as above everyt circumstance.

23a for a husband is head of the wife, as also the Christ is head of the assembly. v.23a this headship is something that God set up in creation, and was in place long before Christianity. Since the church has been formed, it becomes a picture of that. headship – supplying nourishment, leadership, and direction.

v.23b *He* is Saviour of the body. v.23b how does headship work? he (christ) is the savior (the preserver of) the (human) body (I tim. 4:10), the one WHO “shall transform our body.” (Php. 3:21). not only does he take the position of headship, but practically cares for us.

24 But even as the assembly is subjected to the Christ, so also wives to their own husbands in everything. v.24 while we cannot say that the church has been submissive to Christ (history of self will), we must recognize that the church “is subjected to” christ or has been put in the subject place. In that same way the wives are to consciously take that place with regard to their own (not another) husband. “in everything” – in ever aspect and circumstance of life.

The Love of Christ for His Church, a Pattern for Husbands (vv.25-27)

25a Husbands, love your own wives, even as the Christ also loved the assembly, v.25a husbands. the husband is liable to break down in affection in the marriage relationship. he is told to love (agapao) his wife… it is a love that can go the distance as it is a love of decision, not based on merit in the object. The example set before him is Christ in his love for the church.

25a and (1) has delivered himself up for it, 26 in order that (2) he might sanctify it, purifying it by the washing of water by the word, 27 that *he* might (3) present the assembly to himself glorious, having no spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things; but that it might be holy and blameless. vv.25b-27 the lengths to which that Love will go:
  1. v.25a, in the past – the measure of christ’s love is complete self-sacrifice shown out at the cross.
  2. v.26, in the present – practical sanctification through the word of god. this is what he does on a daily basis for us as the word of God exposes our state and we are directed to Christ. See notes on John 17:17-19.
    • sanctify – an outward setting apart of our walk
    • purify – an inward, moral cleansing of the heart
  3. v.27, in the future – to be the eternal companion of Christ in the glorified state. this “presentation” will occur at the marriage of the lamb (rev. 19:7-9). Afterward he will present her to the world (II Thess. 1:10). the church is seen in perfection, through the work of the cross. she will be glorious – her primary feature will be the glory of God; no spots or wrinkles, etc. – none of the effects of sin are there; holy – her nature is perfectly aligned with God’s; and blameless – judicially perfect. “holy and blameless”. this will be true of us as individuals (see Eph. 1:4) and also true of us collectively as the church (Eph. 5:27).
washing effect. sometimes Christians say they don’t read the bible because they CAN’T remember what they read. they feel like they are trying to retrieve water from a fountain with a basket! but TEACHING isnt the only reason to read the bible. it also has a washing effect. even if we have a problem retaining what we read, we should still continue to read. Even if our minds are like a basket, which might not stay full for long, at least the basket stays clean. j.n. Darby gave a recommendation on how to keep the basket full. He said to leave the basket in the fountain!

The Church & Eve. while eve was presented to Adam by God, christ presents the church to himself, because he is the builder of the church

Mysterious Union of Christ and the Church, Man and Woman (vv.28-32)

28 So ought men also to love their own wives as their own bodies: he that loves his own wife loves himself. v.28 One flesh. because husband and wife are one flesh, the same care that a man has for his own body (feeding, protecting, etc.) should be shown to the wife. any harm done to the wife should be seen by the husband as harm to himself.

29 For no one has ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as also the Christ the assembly: v.29 Instinctive love. as men we have a natural instinct to protect ourselves (e.g. to block a punch, seek job security, feed ourselves, etc.); that is to nourish. Also, to do extra little things out of affection for ourselves; that is, to cherish. This is the way the man is to treat his wife, and it is perfectly exemplified by Christ’s treatment of the assembly… “he gave gifts”, etc. The KJV has a mistranslation here; it says "even as the Lord the church" which confuses the Lordship of Christ with the Headship of Christ. As Lord He has authority over all things, and authority over believers as individuals. But as Head He nourishes and cherishes the Church. Therefore the word mis-translated "Lord" in the KJV is actually "Christ".

30 for we are members of his body; we are of his flesh, and of his bones. v.30 New creation. just as Eve was a part of Adam, so the Church is of Christ. The Lord took out of Adam's side that which He built into his wife. the church is of the same material as christ, the new creation race – perfectly compatible! see adam’s exultation in Gen. 2:23, hear the joy in his voice. Many think that v.30 is speaking of the incarnation, christ making himself like us. But really, it is our relationship to Christ risen from the dead, and not Christ's relationship to us as a man upon the earth. We have the same life an nature that he does. in our union with him we are perfectly compatible… of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 “Because of this a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be united to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.” [Gen. 2:24] v.31 this is a quotation from Gen. 2:24. For this cause” – that the husband is one with his wife – he needs to leave every other earthly relationship, the closest being his father and mother, to cleave to his wife. this is why a husband is asked: “Do you promise to love her, etc. …and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her, for as long as you both shall live?”

32 This mystery is great, but *I* speak as to Christ, and as to the assembly. v.32 A great mystery. This refers to the mystical union between “Christ and the church”. it is foreshadowed by natural marriage, by a man leaving all other relations, to give himself to one woman, so closely joined together that they become one flesh. Christ, as Man, gave up everything, and left all relations with Israel, etc. in order to secure His church, and be united with her so closely that she is not only his bride, but his body! this “great mystery” is one aspect of “the mystery of God / his will”. See notes on “the mystery” (top).

Summary of the Exhortation (v.33)

33 But *ye* also, every one of you, (1) let each so love his own wife as himself; but (2) as to the wife I speak that she may fear the husband. v.33 Nevertheless, while seeking to enter into these eternal truths of the great mystery of Christ and the church, we need to remember the two fundamental principles by which husbands and wives may walk worthy: regardless of circumstances or feelings, (1) the husband must love his wife, and (2) the wife must respect (reverence) her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just. v.1 “in the Lord” is the attitude or spirit in which children are to obey their parents. they need to obey both parents… and the parents should be united. “this is right” – it is consitent with God’s order in creation. Also, See the Lord’s own example, Luke 2:40, 51.

2 “Honour thy father and thy mother,” [Exodus 20:12] which is the first commandment with a promise, v.2 “Obey” (v.1) applies to children in the home (otherwise it could be a violation of Eph. 5:31), but “honor” (v.2) applies to us as long as we live. “The first commandment with promise” – the command to honor father and mother was the first one that had a promise attached to it, showing its importance to God. If obedience was important to God under the Law, how much more now under grace?

Ten commandments. Nine out of the ten commandments are brought into the New Testament and used in connection with Christian living. Each time a commandment is brought in, it is used for the moral import of the command. That is why the one ceremonial commandment is NOT brought into the New Testament for Christian living, because it does not have a moral application in Christianity. It is interesting that in Colossians 3:20, where the saints were in danger from a misuse of legal ordinances, Paul does not use a commandment.

3 “that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest be long-lived on the earth.” [Deut. 5:16] v.3 A quotation from Deut. 5:16. Long life is not the christian’s goal. Paul is using Argumentum a fortiori to show that if obedience under the law resulted in earthly blessing, how much more obedience under grace.

three reasons for children to obey their parents:
  1. v.1, because it is right
  2. v.2, because it is according to scripture
  3. v.3, because it is accomanied by a promise of blessing
4 And ye fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. v.4 obedience does not come naturally, and so it must be taught by the parents through discipline. If we discipline in a spirit of wrath is will result in provoking our child to anger. then we have the positive exhortation to the father. Why not to the mother? it is because, while the mother’s sphere is the home (Tit. 2:5), the father stands responsible before the lord. He is to bring them up in (1) discipline (daily training) and (2) admonition (correction where needed) in the things “of the Lord” not in the tings of this world.

Servants and Masters (6:5-9)

slavery and the new testament. in the early days of Christianity, the institution of slavery still existed. The new testament was not written to cause a world-wide slave revolt in the roman empire. Instead, it gives instruction for how to be an overcomer in the circumstances of slavery! although much of the world today is free from slavery, there is still an application of these principles to us as many of us have employers.

unions. These verses do not go well with Christians in a union. Unions occupy the employee with his or her rights, not with the will of God.

The Six-fold Character of a Bondman's Obedience to His Master (vv.5-8)

¶ 5 Bondmen, obey masters according to flesh, (1) with fear and trembling, (2) in simplicity of your heart as to the Christ; 6 (3) not with eye-service as men-pleasers; but (4) as bondmen of Christ, doing the will of God from the soul, 7 (5) serving with good will as to the Lord, and not to men; 8 (6) knowing that whatever good each shall do, this he shall receive of the Lord, whether bond or free.
  1. in piety. we sould be afraid that we would dishonor the Lord in any way by our conduct.
  2. in simplicity. we should not seek great things for ourselves, often gotten in the wolrd by clever schemes. rather, be content with an enjoyment of our heavenly portion!
  3. in reality. we should not act one way when we are working alone and a different way when our boss or co-workers are watching.
  4. in fidelity (devotion to Christ). to realize that it is God’s will for you to be where you are, and to have a desire to do his will.
  5. in charity. we are to labor out of love… a desire to see the blessing of their master, af is their master was the Lord. see v.9.
  6. in understanding. we are to understand the government of God and the Judgment seat of Christ. If we honor the Lord, no matter what our circumstance, there will be an eternal reward.

The Four-fold Character of a Master's Treatment of His Servants (v.9)

9 And, masters, (1) do the same things towards them, (2) giving up threatening, (3) knowing that both their and your Master is in heaven, and (4) there is no acceptance of persons with him.
  1. in charity. he is to do the same things… that is, to act in “good will” in all his dealings with his servants, as the servant is to act toward him.
  2. in gentleness. “giving up threatening” the character of the new man.
  3. in humility. to remember that ultimately he shares the same Master as the servant; namely, the lord in heaven. They are on par in that sense.
  4. without partiality toward his servants, knowing that at the judgement seat of Christ no partiality will be shown.