September 2011

Biblical Masculinity-pt.2

If you were asked to write a book, only one book, that you believe would summarize who God is in every way, what would be the topic of that book? Some might say, “holiness.” That is true, God is holy, immensely holy. Some might say, “Grace.” That is true, God is a God of grace. However, after considering a bit I believe that I would write it on the “Love of God.” Why the love of God? Because it is the love of God that bridges the distance from a sinner to a holy God. It is the love of God that motivated grace to be extended to me, a sinner. It is the love of God that defines the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and has done so for eternity. God is love. Further, it is the love of God that summarizes the magnificent work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross. Paul writes,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

When a person considers all that occurred in the death of Jesus Christ, and to know that it was all motivated out of love, love for God and love for His neighbor, it must bring you to your knees. Why? Because that one act is so much unlike us. We do not love in that way. We should. We are made in the image and likeness of that God who is love. But we don’t. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us.

There are a myriad of ways the love of God can be understood and observed. However, one of the best displays of that love, outside of the cross itself, is found in that little-known prophet of the Old Testament, Hosea.

Hosea ministered during the reigns of four kings of Judah and one king of Israel (Hosea1:1), a number of years before Israel’s exile into Assyria, and Judah’s into Babylon at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. He is prophesying as a prophet of God toward both Israel and Judah. What God commands Hosea to do is very unusual and even irrational. However, Hosea obeys and thus speaks volumes about his character as a man of God, and God’s character as one who loves.

In chapter 1, verses 1-3, Hosea is told to go and take a harlot as a wife. Further, he is to have children by her also. This would signify Israel who is like that harlot and has gone after other gods and thus has offspring by those other gods/men. This would be highly illustrative of Israel’s waywardness, often spoken of in terms of adultery. So, Hosea went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, as his wife. This was extremely unusual because a priest was forbidden to take a harlot for a wife (Leviticus 21:7, 13-14). This level of consecration would, I assume, also extend to God’s prophets as well. He would not be expected to marry a known prostitute, yet God commands him to. Why? To demonstrate that love triumphs over law. Love establishes the law, fulfills the law, supersedes the law. Hosea would then demonstrate God’s love to an unfit woman.

At some point, the woman returns to her wickedness, and leaves Hosea behind with the two children she bore to him. We know this because in chapter 3, Hosea is once again told to go find a woman who is loved by her husband and yet is an adulteress (v.1). That is the same woman, Gomer. He does find her…on the slave block. She would have been naked, chained, and being sold for slavery in order to repay her debts. It is a pitiful sight from a woman who had a godly man for a husband. Hosea gathers all that he had, some silver and barley to pay for her. He apparently used all the money he had, because he resorted to paying by barley, a valuable commodity. He pays everything he has to buy her back. Sold. She is his now. He makes a covenant with her, since he paid her price-you will remain faithful to me, and I to you (v. 3).

What a display of love. This woman deserved to be on that block. She was in flagrant sin, rejected her responsibilities at home, despised her husband and children, and rejected the Law of God. However, Hosea loved her. He loved her! He went to her in her worst, and paid the price for her freedom and purchased her from the slave market so that he could take her home and care for her. She would never again go after other men. She would never again be in debt. She would never again have to resort to wickedness for her needs. She would be cared for, protected. In short, she would be loved by a faithful husband.

This is the love of God. You obviously see the similarities between Hosea’s love for Gomer, and Christ’s love for the church (not to mention God’s love for Israel, which will culminate to her restoration in the future-2 Kings 13:23;14:27). To love a woman who is defiled, unlovely, and unfaithful is not the normal husband’s ideal bride. Normally, a man wants the most beautiful, the most lovely, the most respectful and faithful woman he can find. But, what about the woman who is none of those things? Would we love her? God did.

Men, if we are to be like God toward our wives, then this is the love that we are to exhibit. God’s love seeks to cleanse, restore, and sanctify. This kind of love understands the state of the other person. She may be defiled, disrespectful and dirty. But God’s love seeks to make her beautiful and holy.

All of this is in the powerful verse in Ephesians 5:25. This one verse sums up the motivation of the behavior of a godly husband. He loves his wife in the same manner as Christ loved the church-He gave Himself up for her. Jesus Christ “threw away”, so to speak, His life for the benefit of a people who were dirty, defiled, destined for destruction and unfaithful. However, He did not consider His high and lofty privileges in heaven something to hold onto, but rather left those behind out of obedience to the Father and benefit to the church, in order to purchase a bride off of the slave block, naked, destitute and unclean. Thus, making for Himself a cleansed bride who would be presented to Himself something glorious. In short, like Hosea, “He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that [we] through His poverty, might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

Husbands, do you love your wives? According to what standard? Do you love her when she does good to you? Do you love her when she respects you and agrees with your decisions? Do you have a harder time loving her when she is disagreeable, and defiant? Do you have a harder time loving her when she rejects you and maybe even slanders you? The world’s love would never hold up under such disrespect. But God’s will. If you doubt that, look at Christ. The love of God and man met at the cross. Jesus loved God with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength and obeyed Him to the point of death. Jesus loved sinners as Himself and died so that they might be with Him forever and share in His glory and joy. This love endures. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

So, men, the next time you think that you just can’t love a woman like that, remember the cross of Jesus Christ. What if Jesus used that excuse to the Father? “I can’t love a sinner like that. He despises Me, he disrespects Me, he will not do what I say, and he refuses to listen.” Remember, men, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for the ungodly, not the godly. He came to call the unrighteous to repentance, not the righteous. Men, you love your wives, because they are sinners; seek to cleanse them, in wisdom and love, and you will enter into the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, thus bearing His image and likeness.

Biblical Masculinity-pt.1

What is expected of a man? This topic of masculinity seems to be an increasingly hot issue these days. Many people are identifying the reality that seems to be before us that men are not acting like men. Many from Christianity Today to Wall Street Journal to City Journal, are identifying the same thing-men are not acting like men. However, what they would expect from men is far different than what God expects of men. Those periodicals may want a man to conform to the expectations of women, but God’s expectation of men is infinitely more important. It has become apparent to me that men are confused. But that is not simply because of social repression, feminist agenda, educational disadvantages, or skin color. The reason men are confused, I am convinced, is because they do not understand the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ restores a man to his responsibilities in God’s kingdom. The gospel of Jesus Christ reconciles a man to the God and Father he is created to emulate and represent. The gospel of Jesus Christ instructs a man to be a son, in the truest sense of the word. And I would guess that these truths have not entered the minds of most of the people reading this.

The Gospel Creates Disciples:

Consider what God does when a person repents and believes in Jesus Christ.

  • The glory of God is restored

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–6, NASB95)

  • A hard heart is made soft –

““Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:25–27, NASB95)

  • Sins are forgiven

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight” (Ephesians 1:7–8, NASB95)

  • The Holy Spirit actually indwells the believer

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Romans 8:9, NASB95)

  • God the Father personally teaches us

““They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:34, NASB95)

With all that happens in a person who follows Jesus Christ, why aren’t more families strong and glorifying to God? Why are more women than ever leaving their children and going to work? Why are more men refusing to lead, in the family and in the church? Why are children in the church seemingly disconnected and more a reflection of their favorite rock group instead of God? Is the problem the work of God? Is God to blame for all this? Certainly not! Further, I would not want to blame it on too little teaching on how to maintain a marriage, or how to parent successfully. There seems to be no end in programs and books asserting the fact that they have the answers that others seem to have missed. If there is anything that Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5-6 concerning the family, it is that the fruit, or lack of it, in the family is directly related to how you understand the gospel, which is intrinsically tied to God Himself.

To begin with, consider the typical gospel presentation. There is usually the comment that you are a sinner and that God punishes sin. That is true. However, at this point, the gospel presentation is skewed into a kind of “admission ticket” approach. “If you would (pray a prayer, sign this card, come to church, get baptized), then God will let you into His heaven.” Many times we equate belief with one, or more, of these events. We often attach faith in the event treating their act as commensurate with true faith. However, what eventually happens, is that person is immersed into a church or organization that continues this approach, calling upon that person to remember that event whenever difficulty or doubt arises. Consequently, the lives of professing believers is not at all what would indicate a kind of faith that is given by God and bears fruit (John 15:8). So, when a young man “trusts Jesus”, then grows up and gets married, he is ill-equipped to handle the responsibilities of leading a home toward godliness. So, the problem then becomes the gospel that we are calling people to believe.

Compare that scenario to what Jesus said:

  • Matthew 10:34-39

““Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

  • Luke 9:23-26

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles taught the same thing, calling men and women to be disciples:

  • Ephesians 4:1

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” 

  • Ephesians 4:20-24

“But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” 

  • Colossians 1:9-10

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” 

  • Philippians 1:27

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”  

Thus, a true believer is better called a disciple. He is a follower, not a one-time-eventer, of Jesus Christ. His days are marked by learning and obeying the teaching from the Lord via His Word.

Discipleship Builds The Home:

In Ephesians 5-6, Paul demonstrates to us this reality. Marriage and home are the areas of life that are created by God to give Him glory specifically by each person taking care of their responsibilities which God has created, by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is given when one repents and believes in Jesus Christ. And the power of the Holy Spirit is given through a proper understanding of biblical truth. God sanctifies an individual by truth and truth alone (John 17:17). It is the Holy Spirit who is given as a promise from the New Covenant and, when given, will “cause” us to walk in God’s commandments and instructions (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27; cf. Luke 22:20). Thus, a man can face God on judgment day with full confidence that, by God’s work in him, he has done all that his master expected of him (Luke 17:7-10; Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

So, men, from the beginning, you need to get the gospel straight. If you have never considered the demands of Jesus Christ upon yourself, and have never subjected your will to His, and have never hated your own life in light of His glory, you, then, have never followed Jesus Christ. Start there. Once that issue is settled, we can move forward in this issue of masculinity.

Over the next few posts, we will be learning from the Apostle Paul what it means for a man to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Exalted Submission-pt.2

Last time, we were considering Ephesians 5:22 only. The summary of that verse is clear-“Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Borrowing the participle from v. 21, it means that wives should exemplify appropriate subjection in their relationship to their own husbands. This assumes: 1) Husbands are to exercise authority over their wives, and, subsequently, their families. 2) Wives are under obligation to have a heart dedicated to subjection to their husbands. 3) The manner of submission to the Lord should also characterize her submission to her husband.

I also attempted to give a fuller picture of this submission. In God’s kingdom, the slave is supreme. In God’s kingdom, the one in subjection to the authority over them with faithfulness and a whole heart is that one who will, one day, be elevated in His presence (Mark 10:41-45). The woman who looks upon submission with disdain, is that woman who does not understand Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He is a High Priest, and yet became the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-10). He was Lord, and yet became a slave (Philippians 2:5-11). He is the source of life, and yet gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Too man women demand their rights to places of seeming honor in the world. They seem to have forgotten the honor of subjection.

In Ephesians 5:23-24, we will see the profound reason why the wife is instructed by God to subject herself to her husband. It is, quite simply, the way God created the marriage relationship. But the purpose behind that marriage relationship is tremendously profound.

“For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:23–24, NASB95)

What Paul is teaching here is the proper outflow from chapters 1-4. In those chapters, the theme is, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14, NASB95)

The thrust of this entire epistle is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is that message by which we are made sons if we believe the claims of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that we, being dead in sins, can be made alive in God. Not alive like we used to be, but alive to God, indwelt with His Holy Spirit (who was the promise of the New Covenant-Ezekiel 36:26-27). That being said, Paul elaborates on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in that He will “cause” us to walk in the commandments of God (Ezekiel 36:27). That affects your marriage! How could it not?

Thus, the commandments of God that the Spirit of God enables us to obey are: wives be subject to your husbands, and husbands love your wives. But, our motivation in the New Covenant era is profound. The example before us is sufficient. The provision of the Spirit to enable us to do these things is enough. Thus, our task is to be filled with Him, i.e. to fill ourselves with the truth of Scripture (not philosophical knowledge, but comprehending and understanding the truths the Scriptures teach and subjecting ourselves to what it demands-Is.66:1-2). Doing that throughout our lives, fills us with the Holy Spirit since it is His Word and His power.

The Husband is the Head

Categorically, the husband is the head of the wife. There is no qualification. He did not say, “The husband should be the head of the wife”, or “The Christian husband is the head of the wife.” Paul teaches, on the basis of Genesis 1-2, that the husband, as far as God is concerned and as He has created, is the head of the wife. The husband, before God and in His eyes, is the head of the wife and the husband will give an account to God for that responsibility, whether squandered or taken seriously and done well.

What does this mean? What did Paul intend when he writes that the husband is the head of the wife? This is not the first time that he had written this instruction. Years before, he had instructed the Corinthian church on the very same issue. Just as it was then, it is now for the Ephesians, it is a matter of the image and likeness of God.

The Triune God

When God created man He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Thus, the desire of God is that the man would be, in some way, the image and likeness of God. In other words, the man would be all that God is, in some representational, yet actual, way. It is out of man that came the woman. It is out of the man and the woman that would come children. Thus, in a very real way, the man is the head of everything in the realm of humanity. You could also say that he is the head of humanity because he, particularly, is made to represent God. Or as Asaph wrote centuries later, “I said, ‘You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.’” (Psalm 82:6; cf. John 10:34-35). The man is the unique person in whom God would display Himself, and as such, is highly accountable to that purpose of God.

So, when Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that “God is the head of Christ”, this is no small matter. God had made a man to be both a son and a father and thus uniquely would be the image and likeness of a God who is also both Son and Father. Yet, even in that holy, eternal, glorious, and immense reality of God, there is structure, recognition of authority (although neither has less authority than the other), and the willing submission of the Son to the Father out of love. Do we get this? Jesus Christ said in John 5:19, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Further, Jesus said speaking to the apostate Jewish religious leaders, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:42). Jesus here indicates that in the eternal plan of God (Ephesians 3:10-11), the Father had planned to send the Son, the Son did not plan to come on His own. However, that does not mean that He came reluctantly. He came willingly, as an obedient Son. In fact, we can understand the mind of Christ from John 12:49-50 when He said:

“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

Jesus trusted the commandment of the Father. So much so, that He was willing to believe the Father’s purpose and will even to the point of death (see Matthew 26:42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 6:38). He was willing to obey, even to the point of death as a scoundrel (Philippians 2:7-8). This was willing, educated, and purposeful submission on the part of the Son to the will of the Father. And what was the motive? What would allow the glorious and powerful Son of God to obey the Father even through the cross? Love. Love is a willful choice to abide by the authority of another regardless of status or ability. Jesus Christ is God, Creator God. He is the King of the earth. He is the Lord of Lords. Yet, He is a Son to the Father and, as such, although of the same essence, loved the Father. The evidence of love is His willingness to submit to the Father from all eternity, and was exampled for us in His earthly life. The cross was the magnanimous display of such loving obedience-the eternal relationship between the Son and the Father.

So, when Paul writes that women should submit themselves to their husbands, why is it a problem? Jesus submitted to the Father. When Paul writes that husbands are the head of the wife, even as the Father is the head of the Son, why is that confusing? The Father was a loving and purposeful head, even during the crushing blows the Son received from the Father on the cross of for the sins of mankind (Isaiah 53:10).

The Gospel Is The Motivation In Marriage

With that as backdrop, what Paul writes here makes more sense. The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the Head of the church. Jesus Christ only does what He sees the Father doing (John 5:19). Thus, the headship of Jesus Christ is commensurate with the headship of the Father (1 Corinthians 11:3). Jesus is the head over the church (Ephesians 1:22). So also, husbands are head over their wives. Remember, man was made in God’s image. This headship is of the same kind, although not of the same quality, as that of the Father over the Son. Further, this headship is of the same kind as Christ over the church. A loving head giving the Word of the Father to a lovingly submissive church. What a picture of marriage! How comprehensive!

However, the church was not always lovingly submissive. In fact, Christ died while we (the church) were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). We were unfaithful. We were dirty. We were unclean. Jesus Christ responded to His bride, not with disdain and hatred, but with a kind of love that He had already expressed to the Father-a willful love of sacrifice. You see, Jesus Christ did for the church what He also did for God. He sacrificed His life. Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father, even to the point of death, i.e. sacrifice. Jesus Christ loved the church even to the point of death, i.e. sacrifice. To the one was a satisfaction of the plan of the Father. To the other was a satisfaction of a debt of death owed (Genesis 2:17). To the One, He showed His love by dying on the cross. To the other, He showed His love by dying on the cross. Love truly covers. Husbands, that is the love you are to have for your wives! Further, a man with the love of Christ in himself, by the work of the Spirit, affects his entire household. You see this in 1 Corinthians 7:14. The believing spouse (a believer is characterized by sanctification, i.e. love) affects the condition of the entire household, and in fact can bring unbelieving family members to God. They are convicted by their own lack of love and may be won without a word (1 Peter 3:1). Thus the influence and affect of God’s love in the home is sufficient.

So, wives, chose to love God and submit to your husbands. They are head over you. Not by personal ability or wonderful character. They are head over you because God created it that way. Thus, to respond to what God designed with loving, willful, purposeful, submission is to emulate the One who rescued you from sin and hell.

The Exaltation of Submission-pt.1

In Ephesians 5:22-24, the Apostle Paul begins the section of his epistle that is devoted to household instructions. He speaks to wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves, and masters. He follows the same order in Colossians 3:18-25. He begins this section by addressing the wives. This is probably for two reasons. First, in v.21, he has just written that everyone should submit to one another. Since he is talking about submission between everyone in the church, he goes directly to the one whom the instruction most readily applies to-wives. Second, wives have tremendous sway in the household. Very often, the wife actually runs the home because of the laxness of the husband. So, Paul, as a wise pastor (1 Cor. 3:10-11), deals with the wives of the families in Ephesus first.

There are a few things that need developed first. As I just mentioned, in Ephesians 5:21, Paul has instructed the church to “submit to one another.” This verbal, which is a participle, is modifying the main verb in v.18, “be filled” with the Holy Spirit. This verb is a passive verb that indicates a command to receive filling by the instrument of the Holy Spirit. The cross-reference is Colossians 3:16 which indicates that Paul, who wrote Colossians and Ephesians back-to-back, means that instead of being permeated with wine in your inner system, be filled up with the Word of God instead. This is just like the Old Testament injunctions to “treasure God’s Word in our hearts” (Psalm 119:11), or “ These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6). The idea is to imbibe the Scripture so that it permeates all of you and thus you are “filled” with the mind of the Spirit, who is the Author of Scripture. The result of such obedience is singing songs, submitting to one another, and righteous, Eden-like, family relationships.

With that in mind, we have to comprehend what Paul is saying here. Borrowing the participle from v.21, he writes v.22. There is no verb in v.22, but rather repeats the verbal from v.21 without writing it in the actual sentence. This is called ellipsis. Some would argue for a mutual submission idea from v.21 to apply to all parties of the household. The idea that a man would submit to his wife and her needs and that children would submit to their parents and parents submit to the needs of the children and so on. Although I understand that rationale and agree with the conclusions, i.e. that I need to provide for my children and care for them selflessly, I cannot make out that a husband submits to his wife the same way that a wife submits to her husband. First, there is a real ranking in one sense by order of creation. When Adam was created, he was given certain responsibilities by God and those responsibilities have never been removed or changed. The woman was not given those responsibilities, but rather was given others, along with her husband. Those distinctions of responsibilities indicates a distinction in authority and a distinction in accountability to God. Therefore, the man, who is called to rule the earth (Genesis 1:26-27) most directly, has the greater responsibility and the greater authority. That being said, however, there is no superiority with the man in anyway. He is not somehow a better creation than the woman. In fact, it can be argued from the narrative in Genesis 2, that the pinnacle of creation is the woman and as such, she is to be given great honor and love. However, that tension from the beginning (the woman recognizing and joyfully submitting to her husband) was in place from creation.

Second, Paul stating that submitting to one another as an effect of being filled with the Spirit seems best to be understood that where there is authority in the body, each person should recognize that and appropriately submit to it. That would make more sense than a blanket submission from one with great authority (i.e. masters), to one with no authority (i.e. slaves). Paul does not seem to be turning the authority structures upside down, but calling those that need to to get in line with those structures and as an example, he begins with the wives of the church. That seems to make more sense to the flow of the passage. Also, it maintains a more normal sense of the verbal “submit” as an act of one person recognizing and submitting to another of greater authority. So, wherever in the church that there needs to be the recognition of authority and appropriate submission to that authority, then they are called to be submissive to one another. By the way, that makes more sense given the pattern of Ephesians 5:22-6:9 of: one who submits, the one who has authority. Wives to husbands (vv.22-33); children to parents (vv.6:1-4); slaves to masters (vv. 6:5-9). Paul writes that those who submit to authority should do so, and those who have authority should not “lord it over” the others, but rather exercise love in their authority. Perfect balance without diminishing proper authority structures, without which the world would fall to pieces.

So, Paul begins this section commanding the wives to recognize the authority that their husbands have and submitting to it. This assumes that the wife is Spirit-filled. Again, that is to say, this assumes the wife understands, believes, and concurs with the true teaching of Scripture on the issue of the authority of men and the resultant submission of wives to their own husbands. Paul has written this elsewhere (see 1 Corinthians 14:34; Colosians 3:18). Peter also has written this same command (1 Peter 3:1). It is in the very fabric of creation (Genesis 2; 3:16). The fact that many women fight against it and that most struggle with it, does not mean that it is not expected of them. It only indicates that they need to be filled with the Spirit in order to obey this command from God (1 Corinthians 14:37).

In the posts to come, we will be examining the lofty position of submission. Oftentimes, because of the sensitive nature of this kind of thing, pastors try to soften the blow by making submission out to be more positive than it sounds to people. That is entirely unnecessary. The position of the wife in the marriage is that of the church to Christ, as we will see. She has the unique and magnificent opportunity to display the bride of Christ to the world in a way that may not be apparent to others, but is clearly apparent to God! After all, she is not submitting merely for the applause of men, is she? And men are not leading and ruling merely for the his own personal gain is he? No. These things should be done because they please the Father.


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