Ephesians 5:22-33: The Mystery of Marriage
June 11, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
This is one of those passages that has often been misinterpreted, and perhaps more often completely ignored. What is it that Paul is saying?
The key is to understand, first, the wider parameter and picture that Paul has in mind throughout. So he says, “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (5:32). In other words, the way that a husband and wife are meant to relate is a “mystery.” That is, the technical use of the word “mystery,” that God has hardwired into nature from the beginning a way that men and women are meant to relate in marriage that is a mystery—that which was hidden—which has now been revealed in Christ’s love for the church. When a husband sacrificially loves his wife, he is meant to be revealing something of the sacrificial love of Christ for the church when he died on the cross. And when a wife respects and submits to her husband, she is meant to be revealing something of the trusting submission of the church to Christ.
In some ways, the word “submit” (5:22, 24) has almost lost all ability to communicate in contemporary culture. To some people’s ears it almost means “be abused by.” That is obviously not what Paul is talking about, nor is it what it means to trustingly follow Christ as our Lord. What Paul is talking about is the openhearted reception by trust of Christ’s loving leadership. In a godly Christian marriage, that “mystery” of Christ’s love for the church is meant to be revealed.
So if you are married, you have the opportunity for your marriage not just to be a private matter of affection between the two of you, but for your marriage to be a public proclamation, a dramatic role play, of what it means for Christ to love the church. Your marriage is not simply a personal private matter. It is a pulpit, an evangelism, a mystery that is being revealed in Christ’s love for the church.
If you are not married, or not yet married, then when you come across marriages that behave and act in the ways that Paul describes, you’ll note when you sense something of the loving sacrifice of Christ at the cross, and the trusting reception of the church, in that marriage. And it will be something beautiful and glorious as the couple relates together with love and respect. For as they do, they speak of Christ’s love for the church.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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