Ephesians 5:22-33Theme: Love and submission.This week’s lessons teach us the only path to marital bliss. LessonThe second verb Paul used, gave, is also found in verse 25: Christ gave himself up for the church. The full measure of Christ’s love for the church was his dying for her. We are told in one of the Greek histories that the wife of one of the generals of Cyrus, the ruler of Persia, was accused of treachery and was condemned to die. At first, her husband did not know what was taking place. But as soon as he heard about it, he rushed to the palace and burst into the throne room. He threw himself on the floor before the king and cried out, “Oh, my Lord Cyrus, take my life instead of hers. Let me die in her place.”
Cyrus, who by all historical accounts was a noble and extremely sensitive man, was touched by this offer. He said, “Love like that must not be spoiled by death.” Then he gave the husband and wife back to each other and let the wife go free.
As they walked away happily, the husband said to his wife, “Did you notice how kindly the king looked at us when he gave you the pardon?”
The wife replied, “I had no eyes for the king. I saw only the man who was willing to die in my place.”
That is the picture the Holy Spirit paints for us in this great chapter of Ephesians. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved his church, giving himself up for her. But in fairness, let me say this to husbands: Most of us will never have a chance to put love to that ultimate test, but we do have countless lesser ways to show our love daily. One wife rightly told her husband, “Dear, I know that you are willing to die for me; you have told me that many times. But while you are waiting to die, could you just fill in some of the time helping me dry the dishes?”
The third verb used by Paul is found in verse 26: Christ’s goal is to make the church holy. The verb is hagios, and it is translated “sanctify” as well as “make holy.” A holy person (or saint) is one who is set apart wholly for God. This is what Jesus desires of his church: that she might be set apart wholly for himself. So also are husbands to love their wives, winning them for themselves. Moreover, since we must think of this in terms of the wives’ relationships to God also, it is winning them for devotion to Jesus. In other words, a husband is to have his wife’s spiritual development in view.
The fourth verb used by Paul is the verb cleansing. Christ is cleansing his church through the Word. This verb carries out the spiritual meaning of the verb “sanctify” or “make holy,” and it teaches that God holds husbands responsible for the spiritual growth and maturing of their wives, as well as of their children (cf. Ephesians 6:4).
The final verb to point out is found in verse 27: Christ will present the church as a radiant bride without blemish. John Stott calls this the eschatological dimension, that is, the end product, when the church shall appear before God in perfection. “Just so,” he says, “a husband should never use his headship to crush or stifle his wife or frustrate her from being herself. His love for her will lead him to an exactly opposite path. He will give himself up for her, in order that she may develop her full potential under God and so become more completely herself.”2
2. John R, Stott, God’s New Society: The Message of Ephesians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1979), p. 229.
What is the standard of love for husbands?
What role does a husband hold in his wife’s spiritual development?
DefinitionSaint: One who is set apart wholly for God.
Scripture MemoryHusbands, memorize Ephesians 5:25-28.Wives, memorize Ephesians 5:22-24.
ApplicationIf you are a husband, in what little ways can you love your wife today? If you are not a husband, go ahead and apply the principle of sacrificial love to someone in your life today.