Ephesians 5:22-24 instructs wives to submit to their husbands. Frequently these verses are taken out of context, & even worse, used to manipulate women into tolerating abuse from their husband. This is not the intended message of the Scriptures!
Ephesians 5:22 in the Amplified Bible states, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as [a service] to the Lord”. The original Greek word used for “subject” is “hupotasso”, which means to willingly place oneself under another’s authority. This is not forced submission, but a voluntary act of respect & love.
Verse 23 goes on to say, “For the husband is head of the wife, as Christ is head of the church, Himself being the Savior of the body” “Head” refers to a position of responsibility & leadership, not dominance or superiority. Just as Christ is the head of the church & serves it, the husband is called to be the head of the household & serve it. This means that he is to love, protect, guide, & care for the needs of his wife & family
Verse 24 then goes on to say, “But as the church to Christ, so also wives should be subject to their husbands in everything [respecting both their position as protector & their responsibility to God as head of the house]” This comparison is significant because it emphasizes the importance of submission in Christian faith. Just as the church submits to God out of love & reverence, wives are called to submit to their husbands out of love & respect. However, this submission is not blind or unconditional. Just as the church has the right to question God, wives have the right to question & challenge their husbands’ decisions if they believe they are unjust or harmful.
Many who stress the importance of wives being submissive stop at this point, but the Bible doesn’t. Verse 25 addresses husbands. It says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church & gave Himself up for her,” This means husbands should prioritize their wives’ needs & well-being. This love is not based or control, but on service & humility.
Verses 26-27 go on to say, “so that He might sanctify the church, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [of God], 27 so that [in turn] He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy [set apart for God] and blameless.” This shows His love is not just a feeling, but a transformative force that changes & purifies. In the same way, husbands’ love for their wives should be transformative & purifying, helping them to grow & flourish.
Ephesians 5:30 then draws another parallel between the husband-wife relationship & the relationship between Christ & the church. It says, “because we are members (parts) of His body.” This emphasizes the intimate & inseparable nature of the relationship between Christ & the church. In the same way, the husband & wife are called to be intimately connected & inseparable, as one flesh.
Interestingly, Ephesians 5:21 is also frequently neglected when people discuss the submission of wives. It states, “being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This statement reminds us that submission is not a one-sided obligation but a mutual relationship where both parties serve each other & God. Husbands are called to submit to their wives by loving them sacrificially, & wives are called to their husbands by respecting & supporting them.
Lastly, Ephesians 5:11 reminds us that we shouldn’t have any part in evil deeds. No wife should submit to an ungodly or abusive husband.
By exploring Scripture, we can see that submission is not a one-sided obligation but a mutual relationship where both parties serve each other & God. Submission does not mean blind obedience or tolerating ungodly behavior. Our ultimate obligation is to God, & we are called to seek Him first.
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