Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 5:22 - 5:27

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 5:22 - 5:27

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Duties of Husbands and Wives as Shown by the Relation of Christ to the Church. Eph_5:22-33

The exhortation with its basis:

v. 22. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord;

v. 23. for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body.

v. 24. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

v. 25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it,

v. 26. that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

v. 27. 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.

Of this entire section it has been stated that "it gives the Christian ideal of the marriage-relation, It is the loftiest conception of that relation that has ever come from human pen, and one than which no higher can be imagined. " Expanding the thought of the last admonition, the apostle writes: Wives, to your own husbands be subject as to the Lord. To their own husbands, to the men with whom they have entered into the relationship of holy wedlock, Christian wives give subjection. This they do, not unwillingly, as in the obedience of a forced submission, but by virtue of their willing consent at the time of the betrothal; for they are not subject to the husband as their lord and master, but "as to the Lord," that is, as to Christ. Just as Christian women are, by virtue of faith, in a state of submission to Christ. so the obedience which they render to their husbands is one rendered to Christ, the Christian husband being the head of the wife and typifying to her Christ, the Head of the entire Christian Church: For the husband is the head of the wife, just as also Christ is the Head of the Church, Himself being the Savior of the body. In the case of Christ it is a matter both of superiority and of headship, for He is both God and the Savior of the body; His Church, the Christians, having accepted Him by faith, they have individually and collectively become the members of His body, the communion of saints, united in one great organism. In the case of the husband not all points of comparison can be stressed. It may not be a question of superiority, but it is always very distinctly a question of headship. It is God's will that the husband be the head of the wife; the provision made at the time of creation is thus confirmed for the time of the Few Testament.

Just how far this relation will extend in the sense as here given, is stated by the apostle: Nevertheless, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also the wives to the husbands in everything. The apostle makes no concessions to modern over-emancipation, neither does he give to the husband unlimited latitude. The meaning of the apostle is this: The fact that Christ is the Savior of the Church in no way affects the fact that He is also the Head of the Church; now, though the husband is not the savior of the body, the question of obedience for all that is not affected thereby; as the Church is subject to Christ, so, too, are wives subject to their husbands. It is expressly stated that this is to be in all things, the wife thus not being given permission to make arbitrary exceptions. But it is self-evident that the headship of man is confined to the matters of this life only. So far as the sphere of Christianity is concerned, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus, Gal_3:28.

On the part of the women it is a matter of voluntary submission in a relation to their husbands which is compared to that of the Church to Christ. Being coheirs with the men of the hope of salvation, they might be inclined to demand equality in the marital relation and life: in answer to such thoughts the headship of the husbands was emphasized. On the part of the men the danger consisted in assuming an overbearing lordship, in deeming themselves authorized to make use of severity. To them St. Paul saps: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and offered Himself up for it. The apostle wants the husbands to show their love for their wives in their actions at all times; it should be an active, willing love. The apostle does not introduce a reason for this love, since its presence is assumed on the basis of the order of creation, but he offers the highest example and comparison that could be conceived of. The chief proof of the love of Christ for the congregation consisted in this, that He offered up Himself, that He sacrificed His own life for the Church, in the interest of the Church, for the expiation of sins. The redemption was merited for the whole world, but only in the case of the believers is it actually realized; and so the vicarious work of Christ, the supreme proof of His love, is here represented as having taken place in the interest of the Church. And the result of this work, as it actually appears in the life of the believers, is: That He might sanctify it, cleansing it by the washing of the water in the word. It is not only justification that the apostle speaks of here, he is referring not merely to the righteousness and perfection which was imputed to every believer at the time of His conversion, but he is speaking of the sanctification which is going on in the Church, having been begun in the believers in their baptism to be perfected on the last day. Christ consecrated His Church, set it apart for Himself. And this He did by cleansing each member of the Church by the miraculous washing of water, by the sacrament of Holy Baptism. For this water is not simple water only, as Luther very correctly writes, but the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word. The water of Baptism cleanses from the corruption of inherited sin, it has the power to regenerate, to renew heart and mind, the nature of man. See Rom_6:3; Col_2:12; Tit_3:5.

The final object of the sanctifying done by Christ is given in the second dependent clause: That He Himself might present to Himself the Church, glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any of such things, but that it should be holy and unblamable. Christ, as the Bridegroom, having purchased the Bride with His blood and having cleansed all believers, the members of the Church, by the water of Baptism, now presents or sets forth His Bride. The sanctification of this present time will reach its climax in the final glorification, when the Kingdom of Grace will become the Kingdom of Glory, when the Church Militant will become the Church Triumphant. "Christ presents the Church to Himself, He and no other, to Himself. He does it. He gave Himself for it. He sanctifies it. He, before the assembled universe, places by His side the Bride purchased with His blood. He presents it to Himself a glorious Church. That is glorious which excites admiration. The Church is to be an object of admiration to all intelligent beings, because of its freedom from all defects and because of its absolute perfection. It is to be conformed to the glorified humanity of the Son of God, in the presence of which the disciples on the mount became as dead men, and from the clear manifestation of which, when Christ comes the second time, the heavens and the earth are to flee away. God has predestined His people to be conformed to the image of His Son. And when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1Jn_3:2. The figure is preserved in the description here given of the glory of the consummated Church. It is to be as a faultless bride; perfect in beauty and splendidly adorned. She is to be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, i. e. , without anything to mar her beauty, free from every indication of age, faultless and immortal. What is thus expressed figuratively is expressed literally in the last clause of the verse, that it should be holy and without blame. " (Hodge.)