Ephesians 5:22-6:9 The Christian Home
Now we are going to turn to an extremely important passage in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 5:22 to chapter 6:9. I have entitled this study, "The Christian Home." Dear Reader, if there is ever a time when we need to take Paul's counsel to the Christian home seriously it is today for we are living in a time in North America where the Christian home is disintegrating. Not only are the homes in the nation disintegrating but Christian homes are also disintegrating. And when the unity of the home is destroyed, it will not be long, it is only a question of time, when the nation will also disintegrate. That is why, as Christians, we need to take the counsel of Paul regarding husbands and wives, wives and husbands and children extremely seriously because it is our only hope to recover from what is happening in our country.
With this introduction, I would like you to look at the passage for today. In chapter 5 of Ephesians, beginning in verse 22 and up to verse 24, Paul deals with the wife's relationship to the husband. And there in verse 25 right up to the end of chapter 5 which is verse 33, Paul discusses the husband's relationship to the wife. Then in chapter 6 of Ephesians, verses 1 to 4, he is dealing with the children's relationship to their parents. And finally in verses 5 to 9, he is dealing with the relationship of the servant to master since, of course, Paul did live in what we call the slave society.
Now, you will notice that in all these counsels that Paul gives, were they to the wives or the husbands or to the children, Paul uses the relationship of Christ to the church as a model of the relationship of the Christian home, that is, the relationship of husband to wife and vice versa. What is the relationship of Christ to the church? First of all, Christ loves the church unconditionally, irrespective of whether the church is succeeding or failing. Second, He redeemed the church at infinite cost to Him but as a free gift to us. Thirdly, the New Testament makes it clear that Christ is the Head or the Lord of the church.
What about the church's relationship to Christ because remember, we are using Christ and His relationship to the church and vice versa as a model? The church's relationship to Christ is one of submission. Christ is her Lord and Master. Number 2. The church and Christ are to be one. Jesus made it clear, "Abide in Me and I in you." And finally, the church is to reflect the unconditional, the self-emptying love of God. Remember what Jesus said in John 13:34-35 to His disciples. He said, "Please, love one another. I command you to love one another just as I have loved you." Then He adds in verse 35, "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples (when you reflect) when you have this love one for another."
Now, the key statement in the passage we are studying is actually verse 21 of chapter 5. The statement is this, "Submitting to one another in the fear of God." Now remember, as we covered our previous study of this verse the fear of God is not this fear that we know in English. But it is hatred for sin and it is a love for righteousness. Paul has told us already in chapter 5, verses 1 to 21 that we should walk in love as Christians. We should walk in the light that is Christ because He is the light of the world. And finally, we should walk in wisdom or in this special knowledge that we have received through the gospel. Now he is taking the statement, "Submitting to one another in the fear of God," or in other words out of love, he is now counseling wives and husbands.
What is his counsel to the wife? Well, wives, please listen to the counsel that Paul gives to you. Verse 22 of Ephesians, chapter 5, "Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord." Now the key phrase here is "as to the Lord." What does Paul mean here? Well, we do not submit to God slavishly or out of fear in the sense that He is going to punish us. You see, wives, you are not to submit to your husband as if he is your slavemaster. That is not what Paul is saying, but in love. Just as we submit to Christ in love. Now he goes on in verse 23 and reminds the wife, "For the husband is head of the wife as Christ also is Head of the church and He is the Savior of the body." Now this verse and several others that say the same thing in the Old and the New Testament, have caused problems. You see, this is the result of the Fall. When God created Adam and Eve, and He created Eve out of the rib of Adam, the two were supposed to be one flesh. They were supposed to walk side by side. But because of the Fall and man's nature became corrupt and sinful, there was a need for one to rule, to be the head of the family. But having said this, it is important for us to understand how the New Testament and especially how our Lord Jesus Christ defined leadership because, you see the leadership in the Christian church is in complete contradiction to the leadership of the world.
Let me give you a couple of examples to show you what I mean. If you have your Bibles, please turn to Matthew 20 where Jesus deals with this problem in verses 25 to 28. This is Jesus talking to His disciples who had a problem of leadership because they had not fully understood the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus told them, Matthew 20:25: "But Jesus called them (that is, the disciples) to himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and those who are great exercise authority over them." This is what the world is like under Satan. The one that is in command wants to lord it, wants to use his authority, over the ones that are under him. But now look at verse 26: "Yet (this is Jesus talking) it shall not be so among you." In other words, Christians do not practice this work system or method. "But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave. Just as the Son of man (that is, Christ) did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many." Can you see it, friends? Husbands, please do not misinterpret the statements about the husband being the head of the house and give it a carnal interpretation. To be head of the house means that you are the chief servant of the house. You know, Jesus brought this out very clearly also when He instituted the Lord's Supper. After washing the feet of the disciples, He said, "I am your Teacher; I am your Master and you all admit it and you are right. But what Have I done? I have just washed your feet, a menial task that is normally done by a servant. But I, your Teacher, your Master have just washed your feet and this is how I want you to treat each other." You will find this in Luke 22:24-27.
So when Ephesians 5:3 says that the husband is the head of the wife, it does not mean that he is to lord it over the wife as many husbands do but he is to be her servant. He is to love her and cherish her and take care of her just as Christ, who is the Head of the church, is the Savior of the body. Therefore in Ephesians 5:24, Paul goes on to say, "Just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Wives, do not take advantage of your husbands' servitude. Just as we Christians are to be submissive to Christ, our benevolent Lord and Savior, so wives, love your husbands just as you love the Lord and serve him as we serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, that is the counsel to the wife. But now we read the counsel to the husband. Verse 25 to the end of the chapter: "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it." My dear reader, how did Christ love the church? How does He love us? Only when we are good? No, His love for us is unconditional. Let me give you an example that brings this out beautifully. Remember, when Jesus was instituting the Lord's Supper how Peter turns to Jesus after Jesus had made the statement that all of them would forsake Him and says, "Yes Lord, you may be right about these others but not about me. In fact, I will die for you." Jesus said, "Peter, you don't even know yourself. Yes, you may be sincere; you may mean what you say but before the cock crows you will deny Me three times." You know the history; you know what happened. In fact, Peter denied his Savior in front of a woman, not once, not twice, not only three times but the third time he denied his Lord with cursing and swearing. Now, this may not mean too much to us living in our modern age but to the Jew, living in Christ's day, denying God with cursing and swearing meant the unpardonable sin. That is why when Jesus rose from the dead and Mary went into the tomb, do you remember what the angel said to Mary? The angel said to Mary, "Go tell the disciples and (then he added) and Peter." Why did the angel single out Peter? Because you see Peter needed encouragement. He thought he had committed the unpardonable sin. He felt that he could no longer refer to himself as a disciple of Christ. And Jesus was telling him by this statement that, "Peter, you may have failed Me. I knew it all along but I still love you. You are still My child; you are still My disciple and now that you have lost all confidence in yourself, you are now going to be ready to feed the lambs and feed the flocks."
So, Christ loves the church unconditionally. He loves us so much that He emptied Himself and became a slave. He loved us so much that He became obedient even to the cross, that terrible death, that shameful and painful death, because of His love for us. And so husbands, love your wives the same way that Christ loves the church, not because she is good but because your love for her is like Christ's love for the church, unconditional and self-emptying. And that is what Paul says in verse 26, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word (that is Christ and the church) that He might present it to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that it would be holy and without blame. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." This is a great principle of marriage that is Biblical. You see, in marriage the two become one flesh and so the husband must treat his wife the same way that he treats himself. Self love is unconditional and spontaneous and uncaused. We must project this kind of love that we have towards ourselves, husbands, to our wives and vice versa. In other words, the love between husband and wife and wife and husband must be reflecting the love of Jesus Christ to the church. This is Paul's counsel to the husband.
He goes on in verse 28 onwards, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his life, love himself for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as the Lord does the church." You see, Christ identified Himself with us. He became one with us and that is why in Matthew 25 where He talks about those who have accepted Him, the sheep, and those who have rejected Him, the goats, He makes it clear, "Whatsoever you have done to the least of these brethren, you have done it to Me." In the same way, just as we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones, Hebrews 5:30, so also for this reason, Paul says, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This, Paul says, is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Paul says in Ephesians 5:31, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This, Paul adds, is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Now the word "mystery" does not mean "secret" that cannot be known. Yes, it can be known but it cannot be explained. In other words this love between husband and wife must become a supernatural love, love that is outside the context of human experience and human nature. You see, human love is egocentric; it is self-centered and everything we do, all our acts of love generating from our own natural life is polluted with self. Oh yes, sometimes the self is so hidden that even we cannot detect it; it is in our subconscious. But the love that must be reflected in the Christian marriage is the love of Christ that was revealed towards the human race in His life and in His death especially to the church. And that love must become the basis of the marriage relationship in the Christian home.
Now, to help you understand this, let me explain very briefly that Christianity is not the modification of the old life. You see, the life that you and I were born with, the life that does all these different things, is called in the New Testament, "biosis" from which we have the English word "biography." "Biosis" has to do with my personal performance, what I do every day, how I live and so on. Now, Christianity is not a modification of the old "BIOS." In other words, before I did several things that were really against the will of God and now that I have become a Christian, I modify my life so that it is pleasing to God. That is not Christianity. Christianity is accepting the life of Christ in exchange for my life which is surrendered to the cross of Christ. In other words, Christianity is, "I am crucified with Christ. I am still living but it is no longer I, it is Christ who lives in me." And the life He lives in me through the Holy Spirit is a complete different life. In fact, the New Testament uses a completely different word which is "zoe", John 1:4 says He is the life of the world and John 10:10 says He has come to give us life and to give it to us more abundantly.
My dear Christian readers, the life that the world needs to see in our Christian homes, in our marriage relationships, is the life of Christ. This life is one that natural man cannot generate because "BIOSIS" cannot produce this agape love of God. It is "zoe", this new life that we receive through the new birth experience that is able to produce the agape love of God in our lives. That is why in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us that the supreme gift of the Holy Spirit to every believer is this unconditional, self-emptying love of God which was revealed in the holy history of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, I have dealt with the wives and the husbands and now let us turn to Ephesians 6 and see what Paul has to say regarding the relationship of children to their parents and vice versa. Ephesians 6:1 reads: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." Please notice, wives, husbands and children, there is to be a submission to each other. And that is why I said earlier, that Ephesians 5:21 is the key text on which Paul builds this relationship. The key text says submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives submit to your husbands as you would do to Christ. Husbands, submit to your wives as you would do to Christ. And now, children, submit to your parents in the Lord for this is right. And then he quotes the commandment that deals with the relationship of parents and children and vice versa. "That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth." But the submission, the love relationship is not to be one-sided. It has to be both-sided. And so verse 4 turns to the fathers. "And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath." Now the word "provoke" is the opposite of the word encourage. So if I were to put this in the positive sense, "Fathers, encourage your children and do not discourage them so that they turn against you. Bring them up in the training and the admonition of the Lord."
We have a great responsibility as parents to bring up our children to know Jesus Christ. You know, there are many parents who try to bring their children up by do's and don'ts and they give God a very wrong image. Children often project their image of the father unto God and if the father is cruel, if the father is unreasonable, if the father is always coming down on their children for every mistake they make, this is the kind of image they will project unto God. And God will no longer become to them a loving, benevolent Father but the tyrant who they want to run away from. They do so the moment they reach the age where they can leave home.
And so, my dear parents, especially fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath but love them as Christ loves us. This also applies to the mothers because today, both parents must be much involved in the rearing of the children. We are living, as I mentioned in the beginning of this study, in an age where homes are disintegrating. There is no unity in the home; there is no love; there is much fighting; the divorce rate is getting terribly high and there must come a time when the Christian church must step into the homes of our people and do something that will cause a reversal of the trend that is taking place today. And the only way this can happen is by taking the counsel that we have just studied in Ephesians 5:22-33 and Ephesians 6:1-4.
But there is another relationship that Paul brings out here in this passage and that is servants to masters and vice versa. The word "servants" actually means "slaves." Now, please be clear. While the New Testament does not encourage slavery nor attack or condemn it, the thrust of the New Testament, the thrust of the gospel is against slavery. But Christ did not come to change the social status, the system of this world because He knows that the world is coming to an end. Christ, one day, will create a new heaven and a new earth wherein there will dwell righteousness and peace and love. But, His greatest desire is that men and women would accept Jesus as their Savior today and that this acceptance must bring a change of behavior, a change in our relationships. And these relationships also include our relationship with our bosses and so on. So, we can take this counsel that Paul gives to servants and masters and vice versa and apply it to our employers, to the ones we are working under.
What does Paul say? "Servants, or slaves, be obedient to those who are you masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in sincerity of heart as to Christ." In other words, please serve your bosses out of a relationship that is the same as yours to Christ. Yes, the master may be a tyrant and so we may tremble but we must serve him in sincerity because we are Christians.
Look at verse 6: "Not with eye service, not to gain something from our masters, as members of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." Have you got it, dear Christian? We should serve or obey our bosses from the heart, not because they deserve it even though that may be true or may not be true, but because we are Christians and our characters have changed.
Then in verse 7, he goes on to say we must serve our masters with good will, doing service as to the Lord and not to man. So we must treat our bosses as if it was Jesus Christ, even though they may not be Christians or even though their behavior may contradict Christ completely.
Now let us turn to verses 8 and 9. He goes on to say knowing that whatever good anyone does he will receive the same from the Lord whether he be a slave or free. In other words, our relationship to our fellowmen must be grounded on the basis of our submission to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then in verse 9, he turns to the masters. "And you master, do the same thing to them giving up threatening knowing that your own master also is in heaven and there is no partiality with him." So master, bosses, you treat those under you both with love and submission as you did Christ.
Well, what is the conclusion of this study? In Christ we have a new attitude towards our husbands, wives and children. We no longer serve out of fear; we no longer have a relationship that is based on the world or on our culture and we have a relationship in the family, in the home, based on the relationship Christ has towards us and vice versa. And this is my prayer for the home, for the Christian homes in America, that somehow, we will redeem the situation and show the world that the only solution to the breaking up of homes and marriages is the Christian home. And this is my prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.
The Christian Home