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Out of the pivotal verse of Ephesians 5:21, Paul launches into practical explanations of the concept of mutual submission out of reverence for Christ in a variety of relational situations. Read Ephesians 5:21-33. This passage speaks of the relationships of a Christian household beginning with a husband and a wife.

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

We want to begin by noting that this is both a much-maligned and much-abused passage of scripture.  Use by some to say that Christianity hates women. Used by others to defend all sorts of un-Christlike behavior on the part of husbands who believe that headship equals dictatorship.  Both extremes miss both the truth and the impact of this passage.

1. What is the essential instruction to wives found in verse 22? How do the words as you do the Lord clarify this instruction?

2. Verse 23 is commonly called the headship doctrine.  What essentially does it say?

3. Why does the church submit to Christ?

4. Verse 24 is the most troubling part of this section for many people. Why?

5. How do you understand this verse being clarified by the first instruction of mutual submission found in verse 21?  Does 24 contradict 21?

In the next post we will go on to instructions to husbands and add some thoughts on these first verses.



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