Ephesians 5:21-33

To follow John Stott’s outline, ‘Ephesians’ is about ‘New life’, ‘new society’, ‘new standards’, and finally ‘new relationships’ God gives people new life, forms them into a new community, and in it they hold to new standards and have new relationships.

In conducting all our relationships the main issue is Jesus (21). How can we please Jesus? What behaviour on our part will honour Jesus? How would Jesus want me to be with this person? It’s about seeing Jesus in people and serving Jesus in people.

The first part of this section on relationships relates to marriage (22-33), and Paul has particular things to say to both husbands and wives.

First of all he says that the relationship of a wife to a husband should be like that of the church to Christ (22-24). It should be one of complete submission. I attended the wedding of a friend some years ago, and in the ceremony she made a commitment to her husband ‘to love, honour and follow your spiritual leadership.’ I think that gets pretty close to what the apostle is calling for here. (Don’t forget that verse 21 precedes these verses. I know that sounds like stating the obvious, but it is important. Paul has called for mutual submission across the church. Husbands need to listen to their wives humbly and courteously, and there will be times when they need to adjust their thinking and behaviour accordingly.)

Secondly he says that the relationship of a husband to his wife should be like that of Christ to the church (25-33). It is hard to conceive that any woman would not want to follow a man who loves her like Jesus. A Christian husband should love his wife:

  • Sacrificially (25): He will lay down his own life for her sake;
  • Beneficially (26, 27): She should be a better person; more holy and godly, more radiantly Christ-like, because she is united to this man in the mystery of marriage;
  • Thoughtfully (28-33): He must treat her like he would treat himself; he is to love her as he loves himself. In a sense she is his body, for they are ‘’one flesh’’ (31), just as the church is Christ’s ‘body’ and one with Him (29, 30).

Mention of the creation order for marriage (31) forcibly presses home the point that God’s original intent was for a man and woman to come together and unite. The Bible knows no other starting point for marriage. There’s nothing else on the drawing board other than one man leaving one father and one mother to be married to one woman.

‘’It’s all about you Jesus.’’ Properly understood, marriage is all about Jesus. We are called to be like Jesus. We are called to behave like Jesus we are called to do all that we do as husbands and wives for the honour of Jesus. What a calling! Without the fullness of the Spirit (18) we can’t be the people we are intended to be. But with His freely available help we can rise to great heights of loving service.

Prayer: Let me see you in everyone I meet today Lord Jesus, and serve you in them.