A bible study series in Ephesians (Part 7)
- Summary: This lesson #7 in Ephesians looks at the biblical concept of submission, the husband-wife relationship, and the interaction of parents and children and of slaves and masters.
Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
- •• “Submit to one another” — this affects the messages of verses later in this chapter.
- • 1 Peter 5:5b, KJV “Yea, all of you be subject one to another.”
• Gone are any delusions of personal superiority!
5:22-24 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  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.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
- •• Marriage is spoken of as a parallel to the relationship between Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride the Church.
•• On the basis of that parallel, “...as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands...”
•• Galatians 3:26,28 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus....  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- • This submission is a willing, chosen submission among people who are equal “in Christ”.
• “In Christ” there is no differentiation. Before Him the human distinctions of Jew-Greek, male-female, slave-free are not relevant. However, in our relationships to one another these distinctions remain. There are still Jews and Greeks, males and females (said Jesus in Matthew 19:4-5), slaves and free. And in that context — one to another rather than “in Christ” — the husband’s headship is affirmed (vs. 23).
5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
- •• The key for wives (vs. 24) is: “Submit.”
•• The key for husbands (vs. 25) is: “Love [agapao] your wife.”
- • I believe that verse 25 is the key to a happy marriage. In my opinion, a husband truly loving his wife and showing that love to her in their everyday life together is the key to a victorious marriage.
- •• How strong a love? — “As Christ loved the church”
- • And Christ did not just love the Church in theory, but He actually “gave” himself for her.
- •• In the Christ-Bride parallel, note how holy Jesus desires His Church to be — “...holy ... cleansed ... radiant ... without stain ... without wrinkle ... without blemish ... holy and blameless”.
- • Our faith is more than doctrine; it is a relationship with a perfect, holy Bridegroom, Jesus.
5:32-33 This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
- •• Paul reminds them of two vital keys to a victorious marriage: husband, love your wife ... wife, respect your husband.
•• But Paul ultimately reminds them of the higher meaning, the “profound mystery”, of Christ and His Church-Bride, of which Christian marriage is a human parallel.
Four More Relationships Are Discussed Next:
- 1. Children to parents
2. Parents (“fathers”) to children
3. Slaves to masters
4. Masters to slaves
6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”— which is the first commandment with a promise —  “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
- •• Children are to obey and honor their parents.
- (1) “...for this is right.”
(2) It is one of the Ten Commandments.
(3) Such children will be blessed. It will “go well with [them]”, and they will “enjoy long life”.
- •• Note [vs. 1]: It is assumed that the children would be in the main congregation in order to hear this letter from Paul being read.
6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
- •• “Fathers, do not exasperate your children.” The Expositors Bible Commentary says: “...the feelings of the child must be taken into consideration. In a society where the father’s authority ... was absolute, this represented a revolutionary concept.”
•• “...instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
- • Again from the Expositors Bible Commentary: “ ‘Training’ in the Greco-Roman world meant strict discipline.... ‘Instruction’ is correction by word of mouth. Remonstration and reproof are implied, but also advice and encouragement.”
6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
- •• As in the earlier marriage teaching, Paul points the slaves to Christ — “Obey your earthly masters ... just as you would obey Christ.”
- • A modern application would be employees obeying their employers.
•  With “respect ... fear ... [and] sincerity”
•  “Serv[ing] wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord”
6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
- •• Apply this to the employer-to-employee relationship.
- • Show your employees respect and sincerity.
• Relate to them “as to the Lord”.
• Not threatening them; Jesus wouldn’t!
This bible study is continued in Highlights from Ephesians #8.
The beginning lesson in this series is Highlights from Ephesians #1.
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©2001, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.