Lesson 24: Wives and Husbands - Page 4 of 4 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

“THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY”―New Testament marriage is an intimate unbreakable union. When a man and woman are joined together in marriage by the Lord, they become one flesh… they are no longer two. “THEREFORE SHALL A MAN LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE UNTO HIS WIFE” (GENESIS 2:24). In the same way, the Son of God has a Bride. He left the Father’s house, came into the world, died on the cross, and his side was opened—and through His shed blood we who believe become members of His body, His Bride, and one day we will be presented to Him without spot or wrinkle. “THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY: BUT I SPEAK CONCERNING CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.” The word “MYSTERY,” as elsewhere in the Ephesians letter, denotes a truth once hidden but now revealed. The mystery is “great” because it is both profoundly important and exceedingly wonderful.

But I speak concerning Christ and the church―Verse 32 may be translated: “I for my part the pronoun is emphatic to distinguish Paul from the writer of Genesis 2:24 am speaking with reference to Christ and with reference to the church.” Thus, it is not marriage but the union between Christ and His church that Paul calls a mystery. It is the likeness of the marital union to this higher spiritual relationship that gives to marriage its deepest significance.

33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Only somebody with an exaggerated view of the equality of the sexes could take exception to this!

Chapter five closes with the clear, understandable statement, “NEVERTHELESS LET EVERY ONE OF YOU IN PARTICULAR SO LOVE HIS WIFE EVEN AS HIMSELF; AND THE WIFE SEE THAT SHE REVERENCE HER HUSBAND.” Certainly when the husband loves the wife as he loves himself, and when the wife has reverence for such a loving husband, all hell could not separate them nor tear them apart. That is exactly as the Lord Jesus would have it.

Behind Paul’s teaching here lies an important strand of biblical teaching that runs from creation through the fall into salvation:
I. Creation. Man was created first, and then woman. Man was created as an image and glory of God; woman as the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7-9), yet made to be one flesh with him (Genesis 2:23; Ephesians 5:29). There is equality of being, even a union between two people. But this is set within two different roles.
II. Fall. In the original creation it would have been ‘natural’ for Eve to fulfill her unique role as helper to Adam. It was this that the serpent overturned. He tried to confuse her about what God had actually said (Genesis 3:1). That was tantamount to denying what Adam her husband had told her. Eve listened to the voice of the serpent rather than the voice of her husband (and thus rather than to the voice of God). Adam appears to have been present but remained silent. He listened to the voice of his wife (Genesis 3:17) and thus also sinned by not listening to the voice of God.
III. Salvation. In Christ the fall is reversed. He obeyed where Adam failed; he took the divine judgment Adam deserved to remake what was fractured and twisted at the fall. This is what is being worked out and exhibited in the relationship of a wife to her husband.

It is marvelous that the Lord has so constituted marriage that a Christian wife can illustrate the life of faith by her response to her husband. Such a wife expresses the evangelistic power of married love.

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