Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians5:21-6:9
There is often controversy over the next section of Ephesians (5:21-6:9 (full text pasted in at the end)). It is the section about submission and most people who get stuck on it, get stuck on isolated parts of it like "Wives submit to your Husbands."
Those who get stuck on this section accuse Paul of being sexist and promoting patriarchy and other evils. But v21 puts the whole thing in perspective. We _all_ submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. In other words, we follow the example of Jesus and treat people the way He would.
Paul explores key roles in key relationships: Wife, Husband, Child, Father, Slave and Master. Submission in each of these relationships takes different forms.
- Wives need to respect and submit to their husbands.
- Husbands should love their wives and lay down their lives for them.
- Children should obey and honour their parents.
- Fathers (Parents) should not exasperate their children.
- Slaves should give of their best as though serving God.
- Masters should be fair and responsible.
It is interesting to me that the submission or respect demanded from wives, children and slaves has to be earned:
- The husband earns his wife's respect by laying down his life for her
- The parent earns the child's respect by providing good leadership
- The master earns the slave's loyalty by being just and fair.
As controversial as "wives submit to your husbands" may seem, it comes into focus when we realise that the husband is called to be Christlike toward his wife. (To earn her respect)
Also, it is interesting to me that Paul calls each group out on their greatest temptation:
- Wives: to become independent
- Husbands: to take for granted and become unloving and unprotective
- Children: to be disrespectful and rebellious
- Parents: to become draconian
- Slaves: to do the bare minimum
- Masters: to be harsh and rule by fear
In 5:21 Paul calls us ALL (not only the wives) to submit.
Even Christ submitted to the will of the Father.
Submission isn't weakness, it's about knowing that it is not always about me!
EPH 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honour your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise-- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.