In our discussion concerning Love and Respect and its immense impact on the marriage, it may have at times seemed somewhat weighted and this was by design. Men and women are wired differently and so the way that you present things to each species is different. So, when you are dealing with both, especially when dealing with marriage, you confront the issues of the woman first. The reason being that once you begin pointing to the weaknesses and fallibilities of the man (husband), that will be all the woman can focus on and she will miss her culpability in the matter.
Today we will, with great emphasis, examine the command of Ephesians 5:33 for the husband to love his wife. One of the first things I want to address is the belief that, in some way, Ephesians relocates the wife to a position of lesser value by asking her to submit. Ephesians chapter 5 is in no way addressing establishing a premise of greater worth of position in the marriage. What this scriptural passage addresses is the natural tendencies of both, the husband and the wife, to act in a way that is counterproductive in their marriage.
Remember, there is no need to give a command to someone to do something they are already doing. So the command is a response to the husband and wife failing to do something they should be doing. Are there any scriptures in the Bible that support my assertion that wives are to be treated as equals by their husbands? Better yet, are there scriptures that instruct the husband to treat and consider the wife as an equal? The answer is yes.
7In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an[c]intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.] (1 Pet. 3:7, AMP)
After Peter instructs the wives to behave respectfully toward their husbands (verses 1-2); he then instructs the husbands to live in an understanding way toward their wives.
Let’s address a couple of things about this passage to insure we have a clear understanding. Here in verse 7, Peter tells the husbands “ in the same way”, or with the same consideration and effort, be considerate of your wife’s needs. He says that the husband must honor the wife in his actions and words. The same way the wife is to be cautious of her behavior; the husband must do so as well. I want to be lucidly clear in what I am about to say here. When this scripture speaks of the woman as the weaker vessel, it is not speaking in the way of spirituality, psychologically, or anything of the sort. It is simply speaking to the fact that in most every case, the husband will be physically stronger than his wife and must honor her by providing her with physical protection.
The key phrase to touch on our point of equality in the marriage is “but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life”. Joint heirs of God’s grace and favor points to equal partners and sharers of this grace. Husbands are warned that when they do not honor their wives in this way it will negatively impact their prayer life.
Being that scripture does not contradict scripture, we can understand that Ephesians 5:22-33 has nothing to do with ascribing more worth or status to either role within the marriage.
Let us move on to the husband’s command to love his wife. Most wives or women in general look at the commands within this passage as an uneven trade off. Part of it is because they are naturally wired to love, so they don’t see the command for the husband to love as a big deal. Until wives come to understand that their husbands are wired completely different than they are they will always run into the brick wall of disappointment. The second reason why the command for the husband to love his wife seems so inconsequential to the wife is that she does not grasp the magnitude of this love and what it entails. When the husband is called to love the wife, he is called to love the wife in the way Christ loves the Church.
“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Eph. 5:25, NIV)
The husbands love toward the wife is to be with the same measure of love that Christ loves the Church. When most people read the part that says Christ gave himself, they miss the word “up”. It says that “Christ gave Himself up” for the Church. Most people automatically assume that this refers to Christ’s sacrificial death, which is implicit in the statement in that everything that Christ did for the Church is required of the husband concerning his wife. However, this statement concerning giving up is dealing with another sacrificial act of the Christ.
The Greek word translated “gave” in English is
From G3844 and G1325; to surrender, that is, yield up, intrust, transmit: – betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up), hazard, put in prison, recommend.
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G3860
So then this is not about Christ’s sacrificial death, although it is in view here; it is pointing to Christ relinquishing his authority and deity and submitting to the authority and power of another in order to bring honor and purity to His bride. Do you hear what I am saying here? In order for Christ to bring salvation, honor and purity to his bride (the Church), he had to surrender his authority and submit to the authority of another. In the same way, the husband has to submit to the authority of another to provide for his wife. Whether it is an employer of a client, the husband submits their desire and commands in order to provide for the security and needs of his wife. When you can understand the pride of a man, you will understand that this is a great sacrifice. He is designed with power and authority and he naturally wants to exercise his authority. He wants to lead and direct not be lead or directed; however, in order to lead in the home, he has to be willing to be lead outside of the home.
“Kerry Ptacek addresses this issue in great detail: The command that Christian husbands “love” their wives, upon reflection, may seem unnecessary. After all, Christians in general are commanded to love one another, and even their enemies. However, as I have explained elsewhere, love means seeking good for another. Loving a fellow Christian, loving an enemy (one who seeks to harm), and loving non-Christians in general require different actions and responses. The love commanded Christian husbands in this case also would be defined by the object of that love, that is, “your wives.”
A Christian husband should love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church.” But how did Christ love the church? He “gave Himself for her.” Some have thought that Christ’s sacrificial death is in view. However, the Greek verb translated “gave for,” paradidomai, refers to giving someone or something over to the authority or custody of others. Therefore, the part of Christ’s life which is being compared to the role of the husband is when Christ was given over to the authority of others. Christ let Himself be given over by Judas and the Jewish religious leaders to the Gentile authorities. As the Son of God, He was in control of these events, yet as a human, as the Son of Man, He truly gave Himself into their power.
Failure to properly understand the meaning of Christ giving Himself as in this verse leads to a wrong understanding of the first aspect of the husband’s love for his wife: giving himself over to the authority of others, for her sake. The main error in understanding this passage is to think that Christ’s sacrificial death is the example intended for husbands. Under the cover of false heroism too little is actually demanded from the husband. A husband is unlikely to face the prospect of dying for his wife, even if this were the intended sense of our verse. However, all husbands will give themselves over to the authority of others for their wives. They do this especially in going to work, thus being under the power in some sense of either employers or clients during most of their waking hours. Husbands also put aside the tendency of young men not to worry about getting into trouble with the law, so they accept these authorities, for the sake of being there for their wives rather than being in prison or on the run. This may seem like a strange application, but reflect for a moment on the everyday life of young men in those parts of our society in which marriage has broken down.
The love of a Christian husband for his wife begins with giving himself for her. However, even many un-believing husbands love their wives to that extent.
In verse 26 we see the second aspect of love for his wife, which is distinctly Christ-like. The word “that” indicates that what follows is the purpose of Christ giving Himself up for the sake of the church as it applies to the Christian husband.
Here “sanctify” means setting apart someone or something for God’s purposes. God the Father sanctified Christ and sent Him into the world (John 10:3:6). Christ sanctified, set apart, a people for Himself through the gospel. Those given to Him by the Father, the elect, respond to Christ’s words in genuine faith because they are drawn by the Father.
Christ’s word through the Holy Spirit acting on the new heart also cleanses His people from the lives from which they were called. The word “cleanse” refers to the removal of uncleanness which hinders one’s approach to God. For example, the Lord told Peter in a vision that foods previously prohibited under the law had been cleansed and so could be eaten without becoming ceremonially unclean (Acts 10:15; 11:9). Peter when asked to explain his subsequent decision to risk defilement by going to the household of Cornelius the centurion identified the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles assembled there as God “purifying [cleansing] their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).”
You can begin to see the magnitude of what the husband is called to do. As you can see, although the phrase “gave himself up for her” is not directly correlated with the sacrificial death of Christ at Calvary, the statement “as Christ loved the Church” is implicit of it. Women (wives), when your husband says that he will die for you, he means it. Dying for what he believes in is a part of a man’s DNA. This is why when there is some great international incident in which the honor of the US is challenged, young men will come out of the woodwork to offer their lives to defend it. Men relate to honor; even in the streets it is a code of honor. We may not understand it or agree with it, but it exists and it is adhered to with rigid conformity.
28Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.
29For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church,
30Because we are members (parts) of His body.
31For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Eph. 278-31, AMP)
As you can see, the husband’s command does not stop at giving himself up or sacrificing his life. The husband is to love the wife in the same way that he loves himself. Again this points to treating her with equality born from a love that is willing to look beyond self and see her needs. He is to “nourish” Greek,
From G1537 and G5142; to rear up to maturity, that is, (generally) to cherish or train: – bring up, nourish.
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G1625
And “cherish”, Greek,
Probably akin to θάλλω thallō (to warm); to brood, that is, (figuratively) to foster: – cherish.
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G2282
Men, we are called to put it all on the line. We are to give ourselves up for the sake of honoring, purifying, protecting and providing for our wives. We are to look past our needs and desires and see theirs. To give up our lives is natural and instinctive, but to sacrifice of ourselves while living has the greatest impact and it will draw our wives to us.
There is one last thing I want to point to here men, and that is that there is no conditional clause involved in this passage. What this means is that we are to love our wives unconditionally. Regardless to how irrational she is behaving; not matter how disrespectful she is being, we are to love with every ounce of our being. “As Christ loved the Church” says so much. We must understand that Christ made his greatest sacrifices for us while we were most undeserving of them.
6 For while we were still(L)helpless, (M)at the right time(N)Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; [d]though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God(O)demonstrates (P)His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, (Q)Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:6-8, NASB)
So, husbands, your command to love your wife must come from within; an “agape” love that looks through your wife and sees God’s design and plan for you as the head.
May God Bless and keep each of you.
Bishop Rick Wallace
Rick Wallace Ministries