4. The practical application of oneness, 4:1-6:9

vi] Marriage


Paul continues to develop the exhortation that his readers "live a life worthy of the calling you received", 4:1, a life worthy of a person who has "put on the new man". This behavior reflects the renewal of the Holy Spirit which progresses in a believer's life by grace through faith. In 5:21-33, Paul deals with mutual submission in marriage, 5:21, 33, for the wife, v22-24, and for the husband, v25-32.


i] Context: See 4:1-16. The exhortation to "live a life worthy of the calling you have received", 4:1, is argued out in 4:1-5:14, and summarized in 5:15-21. The final characteristic resulting from a person's filling by the Spirit, namely "submitting", is now examined in detail as it relates to marriage, family and business obligations, 5:22-6:9.


Most modern translations begin this new section with v21, rather than v22, but of course the participle, "submitting" in 5:21 serves as the fifth adverbial participle, consecutive, expressing result, modifying the verb "filled by the Holy Spirit", v18, cf. AV, RV, Barclay.... Where v21 is treated as an introduction to the instructions concerning the relationship between a husband and wife, the participle is often translated as imperatival, "be subject." This translation is possible when the participle is taken to be attendant on the imperative plhrousqe, "be filled", v18, but result is far more likely.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2.


iii] Structure: Submitting in marriage:

The principle - mutual submission, v21.

Submission in marriage, v22-33:

The responsibility of wives, v22-24;

Exhortation, v22;

Reasoning, v23;

Application, v24.

The responsibility of husbands, v25-32;

Exhortation, v25a,;

Illustration, v25b-27;

Application, v28-32.

Conclusion: responsibilities reviewed, v33.


iv] Interpretation:

The more modern commentators tend to reject the idea that Paul is promoting subordination in marriage, arguing instead for mutual submission. Interestingly, O'Brien argues for submission against subordination, but holds that it is not mutual / reciprocal. It seems likely that Paul is arguing within the context of societal authority structures which should be recognized and submitted to. The issue for us, of course, is to what degree these instructions are cultural. The Christian faith sits within its cultural environ and neither Jesus nor the apostles sought to disrupt the established order (eg., slavery), and this because "my kingdom is not of this world" - for gospel impact when in Rome do what the Romans do. That's not to say that it is improper to shape society in line with kingdom principles when the opportunity presents itself.

The overriding theological principle governing a Christian community is the fact that "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus", Gal.3:28. Yet, a Christian community exists within its cultural environ, and as Paul said of his ministry, "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some", 1.Cor.9:22. Paul, and his Gentile congregations, live as Roman citizens and so his House Rules reflect this reality. Yet to the reality of male hegemony Paul brings to bear the principle of brotherly love.

The problem we face today is that kingdom principles of brotherly love / compassion, equity, mercy, ... have long humanized Western democratic societies, but some parts of the church have continued to cling to orders of authority that appear to reflect 1st. century culture more than the teachings of Jesus. Some elements of domestic violence appear to be linked with an improper application of male headship, so this issue is not one to be lightly dismissed.

Paul's argument for mutual submission involves "showing more concern for the needs and rights of others than for ourselves", Caird. The model is Christ himself, "who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross", Phil.2:6-8. By this act of love, Jesus gathered a people bound in love to himself and to one another, which union is reflected in marriage (the two become one), and is best applied in marriage through mutual submission. "Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" is all about self-giving love. In the institution of marriage, male hegemony is humanized by mutual submission where a wife respects her husband, and the husband loves his wife.


Gender roles in marriage: With the principle of equality now overriding the principle of freedom (eg., freedom of speech) in Western societies (ie., they are treated as linear truths, rather than lateral where both are held in tension), the Christian premise that marriage is the union of a man and woman under God, a union with suggested / defined gender roles, is increasingly coming under attack by secularists. In fact, few Western societies now legally accept the view that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.

Genesis, chapters 1-3, establishes the basic family pattern. In simple terms "it is not good for man to be alone." Marriage, rather than the single life, is God's plan for humanity. Family entails the formation of a union between a man and a woman. It may take varying forms, but the relationship of husband and wife (mom, dad and the kids) takes precedence over all other human relationships. "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh." Their relationship will be formed by separating from parental control, being physically joined in a permanent sexual union, and being bound together in an intimate psychological bond of love.

As for the separate male and female roles, these are not detailed until after the fall. One line of thinking is that these roles were a product of the fall and therefore can be abandoned in these more enlightened times, especially in the Christian community. Yet, it is probably better to see them as revised creation ordinances given as a guide to sinful humanity. The separate male and female roles revealed in scripture are not necessarily binding, but they are good advice from a loving God, set down in the manual for life (the Bible), to serve as a guide to life in a world falling apart.

The functions that differentiate males and females are described in the first chapters of Genesis:

For the woman - "with pain you will give birth to children" and " your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you." The curse is not children, since prior to the fall they were told to "be fruitful and increase in number." Nor is it male authority, as if such is a product of the fall. The curse has to do with the "pain" of childbirth (the frustration associated with raising children) and the way overall authority is exercised.

For men - "cursed is the ground because of you." "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground." The curse is not work, as prior to the fall "the Lord God took man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and take care of it." ("Subdue", 1:28, is the responsibility of both male and female). The curse is not the business of feeding the family, rather it is the frustration produced in trying to do this in an imperfect world.

With this fundamental understanding of marriage in mind, Paul identifies the crucial ingredients for practical success.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 5:21

The principle of reciprocal / mutual submission, v21. See 5:21 for the syntax. When filled with the fullness of Christ by the Spirit, we cannot be self-assertive, demanding our own way, insisting on our own rights, without reference to Christ's other-person-centered nature. Christ "emptied himself", placing the needs of others before his own, and in so doing, he sets before us the road we must travel, cf., Phil.2:3-8.


The practice of reciprocal submission, 5:22-6:9: i] Husbands and wives, v22-33; a) The responsibilities of wives, v22-24. First, Paul looks at the role of wives and encourages a loving respect for their husbands. This is a highly contentious issue, clouded by a lingering cultural disrespect of women which can often lead to sexual harassment. The issue of "submission" is further clouded by the absorption of Marxian ideology in Western thought, also by the long held view that a woman is subordinate to her husband in marriage, and by the difficulty of determining the degree to which Paul's words are cultural, rather than theological. Paul's words are set within the culture of the age, a culture of subjection. Following Jesus' lead, Paul does not seek to overturn societal norms, but he certainly humanizes them. A wife's submission to her husband is in like manner to the way the fellowship of believers submits to Jesus, their saviour. For Paul, it's all about respect, v33.

aiJ gunaikeV (h aikoV) "Wives" - [being submissive to one another in the fear of christ.] wives. Nominative used for a vocative, indicating a step in the argument / new paragraph. The presence of "one's own man / husband" indicates "wives" rather than "women".

"submit" - The verb must be supplied and is usually taken from the participle uJpotassomenoi, "submitting", v21, the fourth characteristic resulting from the Spirit's filling. Many translations use v21 to start a new paragraph and relate it to Paul's instructions to a wife. This may make sense, but it does not do justice to the Gk. In Paul's mind, "submitting" is tightly linked to his instruction "be filled by the Spirit", v18. In v24, and in the parallel passage in Colossians 3:18, Paul uses the verb "to submit", indicating that this is the likely assumed verb here. The middle form upotassesqe, used in Colossians, indicates a voluntary submitting / submission. If we give weight to the context of verse 21, the participle describes mutual submission as a consequence of being "filled by the Spirit", v18. The word clearly carries the sense of submitting to the proper authority, those over us, eg., in the military. The same word is used of submitting to governmental authority in Paul's letter to the Romans. Of course, it is possible that Paul is simply raising an issue of form, rather than substance, such that "submitting" evidences good citizenship, and thus is ultimately relative. On the other hand, Paul could just as easily be promoting mutual submission; "mutual consideration", Allen. However we understand Paul's instruction, it must be "as to the Lord" = "out of reverence to Christ", v21. Softening the sense may help, but is at best, condescending; "you wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands", Phillips (before lynching JB, remember his translation was published in 1960).

toiV idioiV dat. "to your own" - to one's own [husbands]. Dative of direct object after the assumed uJpotassesqe, "submit". The adjective usually takes a reflective, or possessive sense, here possessive "their husbands."

wJV "as you do" - as, like. Either: a) Comparative, "submit to your husband with the same devotion as you submit to the Lord" / "as required by the Lord" / "as if you were doing it for the Lord"; b) Causal; "because it is right before the Lord"; c) Purpose, "in order to honor Christ." We are probably on safer ground if we opt for a causal sense providing the motivation for service; "for that is their (your) Christian duty", Barclay.

tw/ kuriw/ "to the Lord" - to the lord. Dative of direct object. "Lord" here may refer to "lord", in the sense of her husband, but this is very unlikely. Most likely Jesus is intended.


Paul explains the nature of "submission". It seems best to take the headship of Christ over the church as the model for a husband's headship over his wife and not visa-versa. Mitton suggests both interpret each other, but this seems unlikely.

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why a wife should relate to her husband is if relating to the Lord.

kefalh (h) "head" - [a husband is] head. This is a much debated term. In the end, our choice of meaning seems to depend on our own view of the male / female roles in marriage. Some argue that it refers to authority, therefore "master", or "lord", while others argue that it refers to origin, "source". The word "head", when used figuratively, usually means preeminence, or superiority, but positional authority seems more likely. In Roman society a woman's father maintains his authority over his daughter, even when married. Paul follows Biblical principles arguing that in marriage a man and a woman form a new family structure with its own prior responsibilities. Whatever Paul may mean by "head", the headship of the husband is "as to the Lord", "as Christ is the head of his people", head as savior.

thV gunaikoV (h aikoV) gen. "of the wife" - The genitive is adjectival, of submission, limiting "head"; "head over the wife."

wJV kai "as" - as also. The adjunctive kai, "also", strengthens the comparative wJV, "as, like". Although the idea is disputed, the grammar establishes a comparison between the headship of a husband over his wife with the headship of Christ over the church. It seems likely that the comparison is to Christ's exercise of authority over us (in self-giving), with a husband's authority over his wife. Some commentators argue that the comparison is that of submission, ie. how we submit to Christ compares with how a wife should submit to her husband. This is very unlikely. "As also."

thV ekklhsiaV (a) gen. "of the church" - [christ head] of the assembly, church. The genitive is adjectival, of subordination; "head over the church." "The assembly of believers."

autoV "his" - himself [savior]. Emphatic and clearly referring to Christ, so standing in apposition to "Christ".

tou swmatoV (a atoV) gen. "body, of which" - of the body. The genitive is usually taken to be objective, although it does, in a sense, function adjectivally by limiting / specifying "savior". Clearly referring to the church, which is Christ's "body". "Savior of the Body", Moffatt.

swthr "the Savior" - savior. It is best to translate "Savior" here with a small "s". It is not so much a title as a function. Self-giving headship cares for and protects the "body". This is the type of headship exercised by Christ and is therefore the type of headship that should be exercised by a husband. "Christ is the head of the church and savior of his body", Phillips.


The submission of the church to Christ serves as the example for a wife's submission to her husband. As Bruce notes, the illustration places the duties of a wife on "a lofty plane." Bruce speaks of "submission" in the terms of "deference", but such a term for high theology is rather condescending.

alla "now" - but. Given that most commentators don't like the idea of a husband being the "savior" of his wife, the tendency has been to translate this conjunction as an adversative, "but", so most modern translations. It is possibly resumptive, "and", eg. NJB. The NIV forms a new resumptive sentence with "now". As noted above, "savior" is being used as a descriptive function, not a title; a description of self-giving. So, there is much to be said for it being consecutive, "so therefore"; "therefore", AV. In the end, a strong contrastive sense seems best; "nevertheless, as the church .....", Hoehner.

wJV "as" - as [the church]. With ou{twV, forming a coordinate comparative construction. The construction compares the way a wife is to submit to her husband with the way the church submits to the Lord.

uJpatassetai (uJpatassw) pres. mid./pas. "submits" - is submissive. The present tense indicating ongoing action. Although the verb expresses the idea of being subject to another's authority, a wife's submission to her husband is compared with the church's submission to Christ, and it is this comparison which shapes the idea of submission. Our submission to Christ involves submission, not to law and slavish obedience, but to grace and freedom. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." For the sake of meaning we could paraphrase; "as believers accept Christ, in the same way wives should accept their husbands."

tw/ Cristw/ (oV) dat. "to Christ" - Dative of direct object after the verb "submits".

ou{twV "so" - as, like .... thus, so, in this way [and = also]. Establishing a comparison of manner. "Given that the authority of a husband over his wife is exercised in self-giving sacrificial love, therefore, in just the same way as believers accept Christ's self-giving, so in like manner should a wife accept her husband's self-giving."

en + dat. "in [everything]" - [the wives to the husbands] in [all things]. Here the preposition is adverbial, expressing reference / respect, "with reference to everything", or space /sphere, "in every area of life", O'Brien.


b) The responsibilities of husbands, v25-33. Paul now turns to the responsibility of husbands - they should engage in self-sacrificial loving-service to their wives, v25a. Again, Paul's words reflect the cultural norms of the first century. He does't seek to overturn authoritarianism in gender roles, but he certainly humanizes male hegemony. Paul again draws an analogy from Christ, this time his love, to explain the nature of the loving service he asks of husbands, and does so in a more detailed way than with his instructions to wives - the measure of his words indicates the measure of their importance and should serve to check those husbands who focus on their authority rather than their love, v25a-27. "Fulfilling this responsibility will not only enrich their wives, but will also bring harmony to the the marriages, and thus to the believing community", Hoehner.

oiJ andreV (hr roV) "Husbands" - Again, the nominative is used for the vocative, indicating a step in the argument.

agapate (agapaw) pres. imp. "love" - love [the = your wife]. The present tense indicates ongoing action. That which the wife is to "submit" to is now laid on the husband; not his rule, but his love. "Husbands, practice self-giving sacrificial compassion toward your wives."

kaqwV kai "just as" - as, just as also. Establishing a strengthened comparison, expressing the manner of a husband's loving. Possibly expressing cause here, "because Christ loved the church ...."

hgaphsen aor. "loved" - [christ] loved [the church]. The aorist indicating punctiliar action, namely Christ's act of self-giving compassion on the cross.

kai "and" - Possibly epexegetic, "explaining how, why, and to what extent Christ loved the church", Merkle.

uJper + gen. "up for [her]" - [gave up himself] on behalf of [her]. Expressing representation, or advantage / benefaction, or both.


The purpose (goal / end-view) of Christ's act of sacrificial love for the church (assembly of believers / God's holy people) is indicated in two hina clauses: the sanctification of the church, v26; and the glorification of the church, v27. In v27b we have a third hina clause, possibly result, but better as purpose subordinate to v27a, as NIV

iJna + subj. "to" - that. Introducing a purpose clause, "in order to make her holy."

aJgiash/ (aJgiazw) aor. subj. "holy" - he might make holy, sanctify [her]. Possibly in the sense of "sanctify", referring to the process of making Christ-like / holy, the progressive realization of what we are in Christ, but more likely in the sense of "set apart for God."

kaqarisaV (kaqarizw) aor. part. "cleansing her" - having cleansed her. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "may make holy", or possibly adverbial, expressing "the means (instrumental), so O'Brien, manner (modal), or cause (causal) of the sanctification, cf., Hoehner. Means seems best; "In order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by (through) the word", NRSV.

tw/ loutrw/ (on) dat. "by the washing" - in, by, with the washing. Instrumental dative expressing agent / means. The water imagery may come from the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, cf., Titus 3:5, but more likely the custom of bathing prior to marriage - the removal of something unseemly. Here, the washing away of sin. Baptismal imagery is most unlikely.

tou u{datoV (wr atoV) gen. "with water" - of water. The genitive is adjectival, attributive; "water washing", Larkin. Often seen in terms of water baptism, but the image of washing clean simply illustrates the action of God's Word in the process of sanctification.

en rJhmati (a atoV) "through the word" - in word. This instrumental prepositional phrase probably qualifies "cleansing", but possibly "sanctifies", identifying the means / agent of the action, namely, "through the word of the gospel", O'Brien.


The purpose of Christ's love is to sanctify the church, in order that he may present it to himself holy and blameless.

iJna + subj. "and to" - that [he might present]. Introducing a purpose clause, "in order to present."

eJautw/ dat. ref. pro. "to himself" - Dative of indirect object, expressing the ultimate object of the action.

endoxon adj. "radiant" - a glorious, splendid, wonderful / spotless [assembly, church]. Possibly the parousia is in Paul's mind, although there is a sense where the eternal universal gathering of believers has already been presented to Christ and we are even now seated with him in his heavenly kingdom, 2:6 - time is an earthly constraint of which eternity is in no way dependent. The image possible reflects Ezekiel 16:10-14. "So that he might present the church to himself all glorious", REB.

mh ecousan (ecw) pres. part. "without" - not having [stain or wrinkle]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, "that he might present a church to himself which does not have spot or wrinkle." Describing pure, youthful, skin. "In all its beauty", TEV.

twn toioutwn gen. pro. "[or any other] blemish" - [or any] of such things. The articular pronoun serves as a substantive, with the genitive being adjectival, partitive.

alla "but"- but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ...."; "without stain or wrinkle, but rather ..."

iJna + subj. "-" - that [she may be holy and without blemish]. Introducing a purpose / result clause, subordinate to iJna parasthsh/, "in order to present ...."; "but in order that the church be consecrated and blameless." That believers might be spiritually and morally perfect; "pure and faultless", TEV.


Paul now uses Christ's love of the church to illustrate the depth of love that a husband should show for his wife, v28-30. Just as Christ loved the church, so husbands should love their wives.

ouJtwV adv. "in this same way" - thus, so, in this way. It seems likely that the adverb is backward looking such that a husband's love toward his wife is being compared with Christ's love toward the church, so O'Brien. Yet, Paul has already made this comparison, so it is possible that the adverb is forward looking. If this is the case, then Paul is establishing a comparison between a husbands love for his wife and his love for his own body, so Schnackenburg, Bruce; "men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies", Phillips.

kai "-" - and. Variant, adjunctive; "also".

ofeilousin (ofeilw) pres. "ought" - The sense is to be under an obligation to act in a particular way. "A husband should love his wife", CEV.

agapan (agapaw) pres. inf. "to love" - [the husbands] to love [their own wives]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "ought".

wJV "as [their own bodies]" - as [their own bodies]. Usually taken as a comparative, although the NIV's literal translation fails to convey the comparison in English, so "as much as he loves himself", CEV. A causal sense is possible; "husbands should love their wives since they are their own bodies", Barth.

oJ agapwn (agapaw) pres. part. "he who loves" - the one loving [his own wife]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to love". Introducing a statement serving as a parenthesis.

agapa/ (agapaw) pres. "loves" - loves [himself]. The statement "loves himself" images the creation; she is "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." Humanity is complete in marriage, in the sense of fulfilled, although this does not mean that a single person is less than human. God created man in his image, both "male and female he created them", Gen.1:27. The picture is of the male not resting until he finds his missing rib, Gen.2:23, and so "a man who loves his wife loves himself", TEV.


Paul expands on his observation that the man who loves his wife loves his own body. Given the one-flesh union of marriage, loving one's wife is of itself a very natural act. Marriage produces a psychological bond whereby a person experiences the wellbeing of their partner, and vice versa. To love one's wife is to love oneself.

gar "after all" - for. The conjunction here is possibly emphatic, as NIV; "indeed / to be sure." Hoehner takes it as explanatory, so also Best who sees it introducing an explanation of v28a, although Barth opts for 28b.

emishsen (misew) aor. "hated" - [no one ever] hated. The aorist here is usually regarded as gnomic, expressing a timeless truth; "none of us hates our own bodies", CEV.

sarka (sarx sarkoV) "body" - [his own] flesh. Here used interchangeably with "himself", v28, and "body".

alla "but" - Strong adversative; "but rather."

ektreqei (ektreqw) pres. "feeds / the feed" - nourishes, raises [and cherishes it]. An uncommon verb, as is also "cares for." "Nourishes and cherishes it", Barclay.

kaqwV "just as" - as [and = also christ]. Again, establishing a comparison, "just as also."

thn ekklhsian (a) "does the church" - [nourishes and cherishes] the church. Accusative direct object of the assumed verbs "to nourish" and "to cherish." Gk. "as also Christ (var. "the Lord") the church." Note the variant in Textus Receptus which adds "from his flesh and from his bones", cf., Gen.2:23.


The church is the body of Christ, in Christ, part of his being, and for this reason he nourishes it. The same natural motivation should drive a husband to care for his wife.

oJti "for" - that, since. More reason / explanatory than causal; a causal sense here is a little misleading. Christ doesn't love the church because we are members of his body, rather "we" (Paul includes himself) are nourished and cherished because we are in union with Christ, in solidarity with him. Rather than "because", we are best to translate the conjunction "after all", Arnold.

autou gen. pro. "his" - [we are members of the body] of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

tou swmatoV (a atoV) gen. "body" - of the body. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.


Paul now uses scripture to support his contention that it is natural for a man to love his wife. The one flesh union of marriage completes him as a person - together they are one flesh.

anti toutou "for this reason" - because of this, instead of this, in place of this [the man will leave the father and the mother]. Literally "because of this", although the LXX has "for this reason." Barth suggests that the phrase is aetiological (providing a reason, or cause) and so probably it serves to introduce a reason from scripture for Paul's argument as to why a man who loves his wife, loves himself. As such, we may do better if we begin the quotation after this phrase. "To be sure, none of us hates his own body, but nourishes and cherishes it ....... and the scriptures explain why in the statement: 'a man will leave his father and mother .......'" "As the scriptures say ...", CEV, cf. Gen.2:24, 1Cor.6:16.

proskollhqhsetai (proskollaw) fut. pas. "be united to" - [and] will be joined [to the wife]. Physical union is intended, but this may be gently expressed in "a man leaves his father and mother to get married", CEV. The verb, in typical fashion, is followed by the verb's prepositional prefix, proV, "toward", expressing direction.

kai "and" - Expressing result; "and as a result, the two become one flesh."

sarka mian "one flesh" - [the two will be] flesh one. Emotional and psychological union is the product of the "leaving and cleaving." "And he becomes like one person with his wife", CEV.


The union between a man and a woman is one of life's mysteries, but we can understand something of its meaning when we view it in the light of Christ's union with the church. This interpretation, of what is an extremely difficult verse, is not widely accepted. First, musthrion, "mystery", is most often taken in its usual Pauline sense of a secret now revealed in Christ, rather than just a truth that is somewhat hidden and difficult to understand. Second, touto, "this", is taken to refer to either the union of Christ and the church, so Hoehner, Best, Kostenberger, ..., or Christ and the church as a typology of marriage, so O'Brien, Arnold, Barth, Lincoln, Bruce, ...

touto pro. "this" - this [is a great = profound mystery]. The antecedent / referent of "this" is surely the Genesis quote, v31. Given that Paul is speaking about marriage, it is more than likely that the one flesh union of marriage is the great mystery, ie., the reuniting of the missing rib to form a one flesh union is hard to fathom; "The marriage relationship is doubtless a great mystery", Phillips.

mega (megaV) adj. "profound" - great. This adjective is in the predicate position so "this mystery is great", RV; "this mystery is a profound one", RSV rev.

de "but [I am talking about]" - but, and [i speak to christ and to the church]. Possibly here with an adversative adjunctive sense; "but I also say this eiV, "with reference to / concerning", Christ and the church." If we are right to argue that the "mystery" primarily concerns marriage, not the union of Christ and his church, then v32b is probably an aside serving to make the point that the mystery of marriage is illustrated, and thus exegeted, in our union with Christ. Paul has made this comparison a number of times already in our passage for study. "And as I have already shown, the mystery of marriage is well illustrated in the union between Christ and his people."


Paul now sums up his teaching on the proper relationship between a husband and a wife. A husband should love his wife wJV, "in the same manner as / in like manner to", the way he loves himself. Lincoln. O'Brien, makes the point that the exhortation to love "as he loves himself" rests on the fact that Christ loves the church as himself because it is his body. This is somewhat of a stretch, resting on a Christ-centric interpretation of v32 and the dubious notion that Christ is self-focused. The Christ-and-church illustration is not abandoned at this point, but Paul's exhortation at this point rests on the creation ordinance of marriage. As to the summary statement for the wife, it is rather interesting. The construction iJna + subj. is unexpected, probably imperatival / hortatory (see below), although Barth argues that it serves to express a wish. Margaret Gibson in Let the Woman Learn in Silence, Exp.Tim 15, argues that it serves to express purpose / result; "so that the wife might respect her husband." The shift from submission / submission to "fear" is also unexpected. Barth and Best argue that the sense is "respect", although O'Brien opts for "fear", fear in the sense of reverence, so also Lincoln, Hoehner. As with "love", "fear" is often used of a person's relationship with God. The best English equivalent for fobew is "respect", rather than a word expressing the terror of judgment. A loving wife respect her husband, as a child of God in Christ respects and loves God.

plhn "however" - nevertheless, in any case, however. The word may serve as an adversative, "but", although here it likely serves to end the argument with a summation. "Leaving aside how marriage compares with our oneness in Christ, each one of you ....."; "I say no more, except, ....", Barclay.

oiJ kaq eJna "each one of" - the one by one. Individualizing, each husband individually; "every one of you who is a husband", Phillips.

kai uJmeiV "you also" - and = also you. Adjunctive kai with the emphatic pronoun "you"; "nevertheless also you, each one of you", Hoehner.

ou{twV "-" - so, therefore, thus / in this way, as [love each his own wife as himself]. Possibly inferential, "each one of you, therefore, should love his wife", or comparative, "each one of you should so love his wife." Comparative seems best, cf., v28, particularly with wJV; "so love his wife as himself."

de "and [the wife]" - but/and. Here coordinative.

iJna + subj. "must" - [the wife] that. Usually introducing a final / consecutive clause expressing purpose / result clause, but here possibly a rare imperatival construction (forming a command), as NIV. It seems likely that an instruction is intended, and so technically the hina clause is best viewed as forming a noun clause, object of an assumed imperative verb / dependent statement of indirect speech, command, expressing the content of Paul's instruction to the wives; "let the wife see that she respects her husband", ESV.

fobhtai (fobew) subj. "respect" - she respects, fears, reverences [the = her husband]. "See to it that a married woman treats her husband with respect", Weymouth.


Ephesians Introduction



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