5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Understanding this pericope of Scripture must be done within its proper context. It must be understood with the entirety of Paul’s letter to Ephesus.
It is within its proper context that we understand that this is practical instruction for the walk that is according to the will of God (Ephesians 5:17).
Saying this, we would also see that overall instruction of chapter 5 is addressed to the Body of Christ, the church (Ephesians 5:21). Beginning, in verse 22, Paul addresses marriage within the Body of Christ; firstly, speaking the wives.
Paul instructs the Godly wife to “submit” themselves unto their husbands. Submission does not mean suppression. The Greek word, hypotasso, denotes that someone yields or is subject to another power.
We begin to see a groundwork laid for a complementary relationship between man and woman/husband and wife at the words “to their own husbands”. Husbands are their wives and wives are their husbands.
This covenant is not revered anymore within many cultures; yet, God intended marriage to be this way for a number of reasons.
Submission of the self is a willing submission. The husband is instituted as the head of the woman as Christ is likewise the head of the church (1 Corinthians 11:3).
The question is often raised of why one should submit? The answer is simply that marriage is a joining of two persons. Becoming one person still only requires one head. Otherwise, marriage becomes a 2-headed monster that cannot function unto its own self.
God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and confusion is derived from a lack of order. Confusion is contrary to God’s nature.
Fleshly desires seek to overturn Godly order; however, we can trust Christ and His Word to establish us (2 Corinthians 1:21).
As wives submit “in everything” their identity is practically expressed in oneness with their husband.
5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
At verse 25, Paul begins to address husbands with their task within the bonds of marriage, which is love.
Paul instructs husbands to love their wives fervently like Christ gave the Church. Christ loved the Church and sacrificed Himself (John 19:11) willingly by full obedience to the Father. He did this so that we may be without blemish.
Husbands are to love and be living sacrifices for their wives. Being the head of their wife is not a power trip as often presented within secular culture and liberal “Christianity”. It is a God-given responsibility for man to bear.
To make light of this responsibility, is to make light of God’s will within marriage and His ordinances. In marriage, man and woman have the opportunity to grow in love and be edified in the way of Christ.
5:28-30 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
As denotes likeness. Men are instructed to love their wives as their own bodies and care for them. “Loving well” requires a sacrifice and loving their wives well should exceed the love of self.
Good husbands edify, nourish, and appreciate their wives. Once again, Paul likens this love to the love of God for the Body of Christ.
5:31-33 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
In verse 31, Paul references law when he points back to Genesis 2:24. This is the origins of marriage, where Adam and Eve’s marital bond conjoins them essentially as “one flesh”.
This covenant between man and woman is referenced as a great mystery and the profound experience derived from it is a tool that can be used to preach the great mystery to where humanity can be: Fellow heirs with Christ, within the Body of Christ, as partakers of His eternal promise!
Submit and love are very similar in how they present themselves within marriage.