Ephesians 5:21-33

In the midst of the so-called sex revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, our culture received unintended consequences.  We also got a domestic revolution; which has caused the world and the Church to look more alike all the time. The great dilemma was that it was the first time in the history of the Church that there was a revival of ingathering of souls and a deepening of  moral pollution of the culture at the same time. It tells you something about the Church: People are getting saved, but they are not changing their conduct. People are getting saved, but that isn’t affecting their marriages or their commitment to the basic principles of the Word of God. It should not be this way in life. When we properly submit to each other, create compatibility, respect, and then love one another, we establish proper boundaries for the correct governance of our marriages and relationships.  Today, I want us to look at principles of governance that help us to properly administrate a biblical marriage, from a male and female perspective.

giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Compatibility: the ability to live together in harmony; Submission: To conform to a standard as a means of demonstrating purpose; Respect: considerationhigh or special regardesteem: the quality or state of being esteemed; Governing: to control, direct, or strongly influence actions and conduct


WIVES AND HUSBANDS Ephesians 5:21–33

From 5:21 to 6:9 Paul addresses the subject of relationships in the Christian home: wives and husbands (5:22–33), children and parents (6:1–4), slaves and masters (6:5–9).  In each of the three pairs, the writer first looks the duties and responsibilities of the subordinate (wife, child, slave) and then the one with authority (husband, father, master). The material reflects the attitudes of the time secularly and religiously, but they are considerably influenced and modified by the Christian viewpoint.

Ephesians 5:21

In Greek this verse is a participial clause, verses 19 and 20 both begin with participles also speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (verse 19 “speaking to one another” and singing and making); verse 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ “(giving thanks always”), and this participle “submitting (to one another),” like the other two, is syntactically dependent on the main verb in verse 18, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit “be filled with the Spirit.” All editions of the Greek New Testament connect this verse to the preceding section (as do NAB, TNT, and others), but most modern translations (MFT, RSV, TEV, and others) join it to what follows. In Greek, the participle is normally used in the New Testament in an imperatival sense, pointing forward, not backward; and because the following verse does not have a verb, it must be supplied from verse 21.

For the verb “to submit” And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the churchTherefore, just as the church is subject (submitted) to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything (1:22; 5:24), each Christian is to make his or her interests subordinate to those of his or her fellow Christian. In a number of languages the closest equivalent of submit yourselves to one another is “be willing to obey one another.” You could also employ expressions like “be willing to accept orders from one another” or “willingly accept what others say you should do.”  This is in context to the relationships where submission is being viewed, and ultimately the church to Christ (the mystery).

“In the fear of God/Christ” is the basic attitude that makes obedience to this command possible, Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (compare Mark 10:43–45).

The phrase in the fear of God may be turned into a clause, for example, “because of the way in which you revere Christ.” Or else the translation may be “in order to honor Christ” or “as proof of your reverence for Christ.”

  2. A) The covering of relationship as submission

1) We often have funny thoughts about submission: sometimes we view it as tyrannical rulership: “my way or the highway, mentality.” Others view submission as an antiquated concept that has no contemporary relevance or value.

2) Both of these extremes are equally wrong in my opinion. Submission as a practical tool is an invaluable asset in the area of relationships that is supremely illustrated in the life of Christ and the Father, with a healthy dose thrown in for good measure. All were/are equal, yet Christ submitted Himself voluntarily to the others.

3) When we properly understand submission, we begin to see it as the establishment of right order, each one voluntarily accepting his/her place in the order of ordained marriage. It is a matter of mutuality: both exclusive and endearing (5:21).

  1. B) The covering of relationship as reverence

1) Submission as a practice begins as we: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The Word instructs us that we are to practice mutual submission. As we respect the Word, we voluntarily obey out of reverence.

2) Proper submission leads us to allow each other to submit, not because we are forced, but because we want to as an act of obedience and love.

3) Note: submission on the part of a woman is only to her husband according to this passage in Ephesians, and not to men in general. A husband is the head of his wife (home) like Christ is the head of the church. There always has to be a CEO, a final appeal of authority.

  1. C) The covering of relationship as sacrifice

1) Sacrifice creates a state of mind and a lifestyle that is biblically directed: loving your spouse as Jesus loves the church. This means that there will demonstrations of personal sacrifice, a laying down your life, in order to rule well.

2) Note to husbands: ruling your home with authority doesn’t mean legalism/authoritarianism. That isn’t sacrifice. Rulership allows consulting as opposed to contesting. Mutual submission makes room for your wife’s opinion (5:21).

  1. II) GOVERNING TO COVER IN LOVE (Ephesians 5:33) Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her
  2. A) The covering of admiration “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25)

1) Husbands, your calling must include be willing to die for your wife, even as Christ died to purchase His bride, the church. Marriage is a commitment of the husband to protect his wife unto death, like a soldier makes a commitment unto death to protect the motherland. When we sacrifice, we build the opportunity for admiration.

2) Once a husband has committed to this stage, the smaller commitments are easy. A husband should communicate by his attitude and actions that he takes seriously his responsibility of protecting. Wives need to perceive this as love, as you are freed to offer her approval.

3) We identify love like this as: Admiration is the fruit of sacrifice, which is the main way this communicated. Trust is the natural by product.

  1. B) The covering of honorHusbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7)

1) The word honor means “to set a high price on.” Covering here means that the husband sets the highest price and most value on the head of his wife.

2) Gifts, comforts, and thoughtfulness express honor. Just as we honor Christ or any head of state, a husband must never lose his sense of honor for their wife.  Her car, clothing, and environment should all speak to her that her husband is honoring her. Men, give the best you can. Trust me, you will never regret generosity. Your wife will perceive honor as love expressing security.

3) We identify this as: Support through security, which encompasses finances.

  1. C) The covering of affirmation “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,” and “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Eph. 5:26; Prov. 31:29)

1) A woman’s “ear gate” is important. Words from her man are capable of bringing her pleasure. We see this in Scripture as the “voice of her beloved” (Song of Sol. 5:2). Speak words of love and commitment and kindness. The ear-gate principle is why words are so vital in keeping romance alive.

2) Face-to-face, intimate communication and affirmation is what a woman craves. A distracted, disinterested, and uncommunicative husband drives his wife to fantasy, rejection, and lack of affection. When a husband listens to his wife’s problems without abruptly trying to “fix it,” she will perceive this as love communicated.

3) We identify this as: Conversation coupled with intimacy.

D) The covering of security “’Who are you?’ he asked. ‘I am your servant Ruth,’ she said. ‘Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.’” (Ruth 3:9)

1) Ruth asked Boaz to take her under his wing. She wanted him to take his coat and spread it over her. A woman’s deepest need is for “covering,” a sense of security and protection. Home and vehicle maintenance, dealing with emotional intruders, providing financially, and communicating plans all make a woman feel secure in the family’s direction.

2) A man must discern his wife’s insecurities: new places, new faces, new challenges, finances, directions, etc. God made men to feel less stressed about challenges, and when a husband provides security for his wife, she perceives this as love expressed through protection.

3) We identify this as: Domestic Support

  1. E) The covering of excitement I am my beloved and he is mine; he browses among the lilies… You are beautiful, my darling, as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, majestic as troops with banners. Turn your eyes from me; they overwhelm me… Who is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession? (Song of Songs 6:3,4, 10)

1) Men, spontaneity, excitement, and motivation are important to your wife. Use the element of surprise.

2) Deliver your wife from the laundry, the kids, the kitchen, and the cleaning. Women look forward to something exciting, relaxing, and intimate. You must plan these things to make them happen, and when they do, it will make your wife perceive love in intimacy. “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

 3) Marriage needs intimacy, and the needs for intimacy are recognized in Scripture. This is why Paul tells husbands to: “fulfill your marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to the husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone, but to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.”  (I Corinthians 7:3-4)

4) We identify this as: Intimacy coupled with excitement.

III) GOVERNING TO COVER THROUGH RESPECT (Eph. 5:33) Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband

A) The covering of the shepherd “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

1) The husband is the shepherd of the family (the original English word was husbandman). The shepherd’s primary job was to guard the door to the sheep so they could rest. His voice, direction, and protection became their safety and livelihood.

2) A husband must be willing to lay down his life. He has committed himself to provide for, protect, and come into relationship with his family.

3) Paul taught that the husband is the head of the home (Eph. 5:23, ­24). When a wife follows her husband as the shepherd of his home, he perceives that as respect.

4) We identify this as: the benefit of Family Commitment

  1. B) The covering of companionship “… the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth… she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.(Mal. 2:14)

1) “She is your partner/companion,” the verse says. Companion refers to a “compatriot in battle,” “a closest associate.” In essence, she is at your side in battle, since the word is used of men who go to war together.

2) Wives, must seek to be at your husband’s side in the things he does. When he sees you side by side with him, he sees this as respect for his need for friendship.

3) We identify this as: Recreational Companionship

  1. C) The covering of silence “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” (1 Pet. 3:1)

1) “Without words” refers to a wife’s ability to hold her tongue when she feels disrespect or anger rising inside, when your words would become counter-productive to Jesus being seen through you.

2) We can disagree without becoming disagreeable and we can appeal without losing respect. When a wife operates in this spirit (even if the husband is not saved), he perceives her attitude as respect for his opinion.

3) We identify this as: Domestic Support

  1. D) The covering of beauty “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Pet. 3:3-4)

1) The outward woman, as well as the inward woman, should communicate respect for her spouse. A wife should be modest and respectful in dress, seeking to attract no one but her husband. Her outward beauty should be obvious to him as she seeks to attract him for life.

2) The wife should minister to her husband’s ego needs. He is visually stimulated, and when a husband sees his wife wanting to fulfill his physical needs, he perceives that as personal respect.

3) We identify this as: Physical Attractiveness

  1. E) The covering of mercy Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10)

 1) This woman had been married five times and was now living with a man. Satan hates for a woman to be the crowning glory of a husband, so he seeks to bring conflict and confusion. A woman of mercy and purity can reverse this cycle of conflict.

2) Christ represents all that is good in men: compassion, forgiveness, sensitivity. Perhaps your perfectionism has driven your husband away. Your comments may have made him withdraw, the opposite of what you crave. Turn the tide today by intentionally communicating to him, “I respect you! I look up to you and trust you!”

 3) We identify this as: Admiration

 Conclusion: Respect, Love, Submission: three essential components to compatibility. Three components that help us look like Christ.




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