Wives and Husbands
21Honor Christ and put others first. 22 A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord. 23A husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head and the Savior of the church, which is his own body. 24Wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first.
25 A husband should love his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water. 27Christ did this, so he would have a glorious and holy church, without faults or spots or wrinkles or any other flaws.
28In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows he loves himself. 29None of us hate our own bodies. We provide for them and take good care of them, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are each part of his body. 31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother to get married, and he becomes like one person with his wife.” 32This is a great mystery, but I understand it to mean Christ and his church. 33So each husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself, and each wife should respect her husband.
As Paul’s letter unfolds, we’ve seen him agonize over the believers, especially the witness they were bearing. Now he turns his attention towards their households.
But first, he gives an instruction to “honour Christ and put others first” (v.21). This is challenging enough in relationships outside the family home, but Paul understands that relationships within the family have special significance.
He sees that Christian marriage mirrors the relationship between Christ and His Church – the husband, laying down his life for his wife as Christ did for the Church, and his wife, putting him first as the Church puts Christ first.
But it is even more than this. Each Christian marriage foreshadows the Divine Marriage, when, at the end of time, God will invite the cosmos to witness the marriage of the Church to His beloved Son, the Lamb!
The believers knew that this was not the first Divine Marriage; for generations earlier, God had rescued Israel from Egypt to take her as His bride. The marriage took place at Sinai, when He and Israel covenanted themselves to each other, just as couples do today in Christian marriage ceremonies.
But during the celebration of this wondrous event Yahweh’s bride was unfaithful to Him, and the marriage was seriously damaged. He sent prophets to the nation to repeatedly plead with her to return to her first love as His faithful bride, but she would not, and He exiled her to Babylon. The marriage was over.
But Yahweh determined to take another bride. He came in the person of Jesus and gave His life in order to bring His new bride into being – a bride drawn from all nations! It is the fulfillment of this promised Divine Marriage that all believers anticipate. Hallelujah!
Dear Father, How can we thank the Lord Jesus enough? He has set His love upon us when we deserved nothing, and, because of His death, we have been taken into your family where you lavish us with your love and give us a hope that is glorious. Help us to live each day in the light of this. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Tom Holland was born in Liverpool during the Blitz. Converted at 15, he studied Theology and was ordained as a Baptist Pastor. Tom received a PhD from the University of Wales and became a lecturer at what is now Union School of Theology, Oxford, England where he taught undergraduates, postgraduates and supervised PhD’s for 25 years. He is now retired and serves as Senior Research Fellow and is involved in writing and itinerant teaching/preaching ministry. He is married to Barbara; a teacher and they have three daughters and six grandchildren. Publications: Contours of Pauline Theology, Fearn, Ross-shire, Christian Focus Publications, 2004; Romans, Hope for the Nations, Apiary Publishing, London, 2018 , Tom Wright and the Search for Truth, Apiary Publishing, London, 2019, Missing Lense, Apiary Publishing, London, 2019, Romans the Divine Marriage, Apiary Publishing, London, 2020.