Ephesians 5:26-33 Embracing A New Purpose under God
26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
How does the husband express his honor and love for his wife and vice-versa? By sanctifying each other through the word in the Spirit and through prayer. Most importantly, they honor and love each other by abandoning former concerns and purposes while they were single and be united with a new purpose under God.
…that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
In this passage, Paul draws a parallel concerning the body of husband and wife to that of Christ’s body and the church: For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Hence, the attitude of the husband in being a leader is to treat his wife’s body as his own body and hence his wife’s future as his future; his wife’s joy as his joy; his wife’s health as his health etc. Therefore, husband must love his wife as he would love himself: He who loves his wife loves himself. In a marriage covenant, no one party is a winner and the other a loser. Either both husband and wife win or both lose; their fate is forever entwined. The married person’s mindset is distinctly different from a single person in that he no longer plans for his own benefit, but sacrifices himself for the good of the family.
How does the husband love his wife? The greatest gift a husband could give to his wife is sanctification: that he might sanctify her…that she might be holy and without blemish. Paul uses Christ as the model husband who suffered and died so that He may present his wife, the church as glorious, holy and perfect. The husband’s desire is to make his wife beautiful and as perfect as possible for himself and for her; his joy is found in her beauty and perfection. Perfection: without spot or wrinkle… holy and without blemish, is defined as the overriding inner beauty of the soul that projects itself through her works of love. External perfection and beauty is transient, whereas the beauty of the inner man is eternal. Hence, the husband’s foremost endeavor is to bring out the inner beauty in his wife through regeneration by the word: by the washing of water with the word. In speaking the truth and giving himself unreservedly for her, husbands could always have before his eyes, the most beautiful creature in all of creation. It is a worthwhile endeavor for every husband that will yield returns a thousand fold.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Therefore, a husband must leave the concerns that he formerly had as a single person, which is usually among his other concerns, the desires of his parents: a man shall leave his father and mother. Given his new status as husband, he embraces a new purpose as head of family, not his purpose nor his wife’s purpose, but a new purpose out of the two: and the two shall become one flesh. Hence, both husband and wife must release their former concerns and seek God for a new purpose and vision for their family unit. Leaving his father and mother is a figure of speech that signifies the abandoning of old mindsets and the forming of a new mindset and purpose.
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The mystery refers to: two shall become one flesh, which models after the wonderful bonding between Christ and the church. The husband/wife relationship closely resembles the relationship between Christ and the church more than any other type of relationships on earth. Christ abandons His immortal attributes in order to unite with mortal man. Through the cross, He becomes one with man’s fateful death and condemnation. Through the resurrection, man becomes one with Christ’s destiny of glory and immortality. Thus, Christ becomes one with man through His death and His resurrection. Similarly, through the marriage covenant, the fate of the husband and wife are entwined. The virtue of honor and love keeps the marriage bond strong and draws the couple closer in unity under God’s purpose.
- The greatest gift a husband can give to his wife is to bring out the Christ in her and vice-versa. Many families are excessively invested in building a physically secure and comfortable environment without considering the spiritual environment as the family progresses. Thus, they talk about happiness in terms of holidays, home upgrading, preparing for retirement, the children’s education etc. All these will pass into oblivion in a few decades. However, what will remain of your wife, children or husband is the glory of Christ’s attributes that you have invested in them throughout your married years. Our achievements shall become a thing of the past, but only what is of Christ shall last. Many people are too focused on what they desire for the present, such that they missed out what they could have gained in their future.
- Husbands and wives need to workout a common vision and life goal. Marriage is a big plus if both are yoked together with the same vision under God. Without God, it is impossible for both spouses to be united in a single vision. In other words, unless both live for the vision of God, no true unity is possible. Without a united vision, married life is like a mutated two-headed snake that is always going in opposite directions. Therefore, Paul advocates that it is better to remain single in order to serve God unhindered. Marriage can pose the biggest hindrance as well as the greatest blessing in fulfilling one’s calling in Christ.
- For those who have non-Christian spouses, you can work towards God’s design in your marriage by focusing on Christ’s values system as opposed to Christ. By focusing on Kingdom’s values as the core values system for the family, we are paving the way towards making Christ the Lord of the family. For example, you can suggest for your family to participate in the social outreach programmes of the church or of any charity organizations. You can reinforce the values of love, trust, forgiveness and respect for laws within the family. You can encourage dependence on God and His promises and experiencing them through prayer.
For those who are married…
- Are there any traits of singlehood in you? Some married people still prefer to keep their freedom and refuse to let their spouse know where they are at any point in time. They did not think they need their spouse’s agreement when they make certain decisions. They did not think it necessary for the spouse to know how much they are earning.
- An effective way to help your family progress in the ways of God is to set up a family altar, which is a time of bible reading and prayer. You could use the devotions on this website to help you compose your own family altar programme.
Dear Lord, help me to appreciate the fact that You have put aside Your immortality and put on my weaknesses and suffered unjustly on my behalf. In the same way, I lay aside my personal rights and freedom to embrace a new purpose in my marriage. Use me and my family to accomplish Your salvation plans in my world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.