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Weds 6th September - Ephesians 5:21-33

Meditation on Ephesians 5:21-33 


21 Submit 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. 


Paul has been outlining our new lifestyle, our new patterns of behaviour - he now turns to our new relationships - family and work relationships.  

In our verses this week we think about relationships between husbands and wives. 

The key verse in all our relationships is verse 21‘submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ 

According to a website definition of submission in the Bible, it says – Biblical submission in marriage is a wife making a choice not to overtly resist her husband's will. That is not to say she cannot disagree with him or that she cannot express her opinion. Indeed, a wife who practices submission is by definition a woman with the strength of character.’ 

Thinking on what submission for wives is and is not… 

  • submission is NOT being a doormat 
  • submission is NOT abject /  blind obedience 
  • submission is NOT leaving your brain behind 
  • submission is NOT stopping to try and influence your husband 
  • submission is NOT putting the will of your husband before the will of Christ 
  • submission is NOT to act in fear 
  • submission IS because of your submission to Christ 
  • submission IS an act of service to the Lord 
  • submission IS to accept his authority in the Lord 
  • submission IS a picture of the submission of the church to Christ 

And that, as John Stott once said, is a beautiful picture – ‘It is from Christ as head that the body derives its health and grows into maturity. His headship expresses care rather than control, responsibility rather than rule.’ (John Stott in The Message of Ephesians) 


You would have thought that if Paul wanted to go along the line of submission as being control and rule, then he would give instructions to the husband to do just that.  
But he doesn’t.  

Think on these three sentences: 

  1. ‘husbands, love your wives’ 
  1. ‘husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…’ 
  1. ‘each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself…’ 


And, with a note of ‘tongue in cheek’, Paul says, ‘he who loves his wife, loves himself. After all, no-one ever hated his own body!’ 

No, we feed and care for our body – ‘just as Christ does the church’. 

If the husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, then there wouldn’t be an issue of submission to such love and such love would lead the wife to respect her own husband. 


It’s interesting to note that Paul takes longer to speak about the husband and how he treats his wife than the wife and how she treats her husband. 
And the message to the husbands is one message repeated and qualified with reference to the example of Jesus. 

  • Love … follow the example of Jesus … ‘just as Christ loved the church’ 
  • Love … sacrificial love – ‘just as Christ gave Himself up for the church’. 


We come back to the key verse in all this meditation - ‘submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ 


A prayer: Our Father, we come to you with humble hearts, seeking your blessings for a healthy and thriving relationship between husbands and wives. Grant the strength to prioritise each other’s well-being, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Amen