Ephesians 5:22
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
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[5.Practical Exhortation continued (Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9).


(a)Between husbands and wives—a relation which is a type of the unity between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

(b) Between parents and children—a relation hallowed as existing “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

(c)Between masters and servants—a relation softened and deepened by common service to the one Master (Ephesians 6:5-9).]

(4 a.) In Ephesians 5:22-33. St. Paul passes from warning against special sins to consider the three great relations of life, first considered as “subjections,” and so illustrating the general precept of submission in Ephesians 5:21, but ultimately viewed in their reciprocity of mutual obligations and rights. First, accordingly, he dwells on the relation of marriage, declaring it to be hallowed as a type of the unity of Christ with His Church, and hence drawing the inference of the duty of free obedience in the wife, and of self-sacrificing love in the husband. This passage may be held to contain the complete and normal doctrine of the New Testament on this great question, written at a time when Christianity had already begun to exalt and purify the nuptial tie; and it is instructive to compare it with 1 Corinthians 7, written for “the present distress,” glancing not obscurely at marriage with unbelievers, and adapted to the condition of a proverbially profligate society, as yet scarcely raised above the low heathen ideas of marriage.

(22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.—The same exhortation is found in Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1Peter 3:1-6; and besides these formal exhortations there is distinct and emphatic declaration of the “subjection of women” in 1Corinthians 11:3; 1Corinthians 11:7-9; 1Corinthians 14:34-35; 1Timothy 2:11-12. Probably the sense of that fundamental equality in Christ, in which (see Galatians 3:28) “there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female,” while it was rightly accepted as showing that there is no spiritual inferiority in woman—such as Oriental theory asserted, and even Greek and corrupt Roman practice implied—was perverted to the denial of the greater natural weakness of woman, from which subordination comes, and to the foolish and reckless disregard of all social conventions. St. Paul, as usual, brings out the simple truth of principle, sanctioning whatever is fundamental and natural in woman’s subordination, and leaving the artificial enactments of law or custom to grow by degrees into accordance with it. The principle of subordination is permanent; the special regulations of it in the world or in the Church must vary as circumstances change.

As unto the Lord.—These words are explained by the next verse. In Colossians 3:18 we have the less emphatic phrase, “as it is fitting in the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22-24. In the following directions concerning relative duties, the inferiors are all along placed before the superiors, because the general proposition is concerning submission: and inferiors ought to do their duty, whatever their superiors do. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands — Unless where God forbids. Otherwise, in all indifferent things, the will of the husband is a law to the wife: as unto the Lord — As owning Christ’s authority in your husbands, whose image they bear, 1 Corinthians 11:7. The obedience a wife pays to her husband, is at the same time paid to Christ himself. For the husband is the head of the wife — Under Christ; is her governor, guide, and guardian; as Christ is the head of the church — As if he had said, God will have some resemblance of Christ’s authority over the church exhibited in the husband’s authority over his wife. See on Ephesians 1:22. And he is the Saviour of the body — Of the church, his mystical body, from all sin and misery. As if he had said, As Christ’s authority is exercised over his church to defend it from evil, and supply it with all good, so should the husband’s power over his wife be employed to protect her from injuries, and provide comfortably for her according to his ability. Therefore as the church — That is, that part of the church which is truly regenerate; is subject unto Christ — And with cheerful willingness submits to his authority; so let the wives be to their own husbands — To whom they have promised obedience; in every thing — Which is lawful, which is not contrary to any command of God.

5:22-33 The duty of wives is, submission to their husbands in the Lord, which includes honouring and obeying them, from a principle of love to them. The duty of husbands is to love their wives. The love of Christ to the church is an example, which is sincere, pure, and constant, notwithstanding her failures. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it in this world, and glorify it in the next, that he might bestow on all his members a principle of holiness, and deliver them from the guilt, the pollution, and the dominion of sin, by those influences of the Holy Spirit, of which baptismal water was the outward sign. The church and believers will not be without spot or wrinkle till they come to glory. But those only who are sanctified now, shall be glorified hereafter. The words of Adam, mentioned by the apostle, are spoken literally of marriage; but they have also a hidden sense in them, relating to the union between Christ and his church. It was a kind of type, as having resemblance. There will be failures and defects on both sides, in the present state of human nature, yet this does not alter the relation. All the duties of marriage are included in unity and love. And while we adore and rejoice in the condescending love of Christ, let husbands and wives learn hence their duties to each other. Thus the worst evils would be prevented, and many painful effects would be avoided.Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands - On this passage, compare notes on 1 Corinthians 11:3-9. The duty of the submission of the wife to her husband is everywhere enjoined in the Scriptures; see 1 Peter 3:1; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5. While Christianity designed to elevate the character of the wife, and to make her a fit companion of an intelligent and pious husband, it did not intend to destroy all subordination and authority. Man, by the fact that he was first created; that the woman was taken from him; that he is better qualified for ruling than she is, is evidently designed to be at the head of the little community that constitutes a family. In many other things, woman may be his equal; in loveliness, and grace, and beauty, and tenderness, and gentleness, she is far his superior; but these are not the qualities adapted for government. Their place is in another sphere; and "there," man should be as cautious about invading her prerogative, or abridging her liberty, as "she" should be about invading the prerogative that belongs to him. In every family there should be a head - someone who is to be looked up to as the counselor and the ruler; someone to whom all should be subordinate. God has given that prerogative to man; and no family prospers where that arrangement is violated. Within proper metes and limits, therefore, it is the duty of the wife to obey, or to submit herself to her husband. Those limits are such as the following:

1. In domestic arrangements, the husband is to be regarded as the head of the family; and he has a right to direct as to the style of living, the expenses of the family, the clothing, etc.

2. In regard to the laws which are to regulate the family, he is the head. It is his to say what is to be done; in what way the children are to employ themselves, and to give directions in regard to their education, etc.

3. In business matters, the wife is to submit to the husband. She may counsel with him, if he chooses; but the affairs of business and property are under his control, and must be left at his disposal.

4. In everything, except that which relates to "conscience and religion," he has authority. But there his authority ceases. He has no right to require her to commit an act of dishonesty, to connive at wrong-doing, to visit a place of amusement which her conscience tells her is wrong, nor has he a right to interfere with the proper discharge of her religious duties. He has no right to forbid her to go to church at the proper and usual time, or to make a profession of religion when she pleases. He has no right to forbid her endeavoring to exercise a religious influence over her children, or to endeavor to lead them to God. She is bound to obey God, rather than any man (see the notes on Acts 4:19); and when even a husband interferes in such cases, and attempts to control her, he steps beyond his proper bounds, and invades the prerogative of God, and his authority ceases to be binding. It ought to be said, however, that in order to justify her acting independently in such a case, the following things are proper:

(1) It should be really a case of conscience - a case where the Lord has plainly required her to do what she proposes to do - and not a mere matter of whim, fancy, or caprice.

(2) when a husband makes opposition to the course which a wife wishes to pursue in religious duties, it should lead her to re-examine the matter, to pray much over it, and to see whether she cannot, with a good conscience, comply with his wishes.

(3) if she is convinced that she is right, she should still endeavor to see whether it is not "possible" to win him to her views, and to persuade him to accord with her; see 1 Peter 3:1. It is "possible" that, if she does right, he may be "persuaded" to do right also.

(4) if she is constrained, however, to differ from him, it should be with mildness and gentleness. There should be no reproach, and no contention. She should simply state her reasons, and leave the event to God.

(5) she should, "after" this, be a better wife, and put forth more and more effort to make her husband and family happy. She should show that the effect of her religion has been to make her love her husband and children more; to make her more and more attentive to her domestic duties, and more and more kind in affliction. By a "life" of pure religion, she should aim to secure what she could not by her entreaties - his consent that she should live as she thinks she ought to, and and walk to heaven in the path in which she believes that her Lord calls her. While, however, it is to be conceded that the husband has "authority" over the wife, and a "right" to command in all cases that do not pertain to the conscience, it should be remarked:

(1) That his command should be reasonable and proper.

(2) he has no right to require anything wrong, or contrary to the will of God.

(3) Where commands begin "in this relation," happiness usually ends; and the moment a husband "requires" a wife to do anything, it is usually a signal of departing or departed affection and peace. When there are proper feelings in both parties in this relation there will be no occasion either to command or to obey. There should be such mutual love and confidence, that the known "wish" of the husband should be a law to the wife: and that the known desires of the wife should be the rule which he would approve. A perfect government is that where the known wish of the lawgiver is a sufficient rule to the subject. Such is the government of heaven; and a family on earth should approximate as nearly as possible to that.

As unto the Lord - As you would to the Lord, because the Lord requires it, and has given to the husband this authority.

22. (Eph 6:9.) The Church's relation to Christ in His everlasting purpose, is the foundation and archetype of the three greatest of earthly relations, that of husband and wife (Eph 5:22-33), parent and child (Eph 6:1-4), master and servant (Eph 6:4-9). The oldest manuscripts omit "submit yourselves"; supplying it from Eph 5:21, "Ye wives (submitting yourselves) unto your own husbands." "Your own" is an argument for submissiveness on the part of the wives; it is not a stranger, but your own husbands whom you are called on to submit unto (compare Ge 3:16; 1Co 7:2; 14:34; Col 3:18; Tit 2:5; 1Pe 3:1-7). Those subject ought to submit themselves, of whatever kind their superiors are. "Submit" is the term used of wives: "obey," of children (Eph 6:1), as there is a greater equality between wives and husbands, than between children and parents.

as unto the Lord—Submissiveness is rendered by the wife to the husband under the eye of Christ, and so is rendered to Christ Himself. The husband stands to the wife in the relation that the Lord does to the Church, and this is to be the ground of her submission: though that submission is inferior in kind and degree to that which she owes Christ (Eph 5:24).

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands; yielding honour and obedience to them.

As unto the Lord; for the Lord’s sake who hath commanded it, so that ye cannot be subject to him without being subject to them: see 1 Timothy 2:12.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,.... This is an instance, explaining the above general rule; which subjection lies in honour and reverence, Ephesians 5:33, and in obedience; they should think well of their husbands, speak becomingly to them, and respectfully of them; the wife should take care of the family, and family affairs, according to the husband's will; should imitate him in what is good, and bear with that which is not so agreeable; she should not curiously inquire into his business, but leave the management of it to him; she should help and assist in caring and providing for the family; and should abide with him in prosperity and adversity, and do nothing without his will and consent: and this subjection is only to her husband; not to any other man, nor to her children, nor to her servants, or any brought into her house; and this consideration should render the subjection more easy, voluntary, and cheerful: and which is but reasonable that it should be; as may be gathered from the time, matter, and end of the woman's creation, she was made after him, out of him, and for him; and from her fall, and being first in the transgression; and from her being the weaker and inferior sex; and from the profitableness and comeliness of it; and the credit of religion requires it, that so the word of God be not blasphemed: wherefore it follows,

as unto the Lord; that is, either as the Lord has commanded, that so it should be, showing a regard to his precepts; or as in the sight of the Lord, and so yielding it sincerely and heartily; or in things pertaining to the Lord, which are consistent with the law of the Lord, and the Gospel of Christ; and in like manner as the church is subject to Christ, her Lord and husband, as follows.

{7} Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, {8} as unto the Lord.

(7) Now he descends to a family, dividing orderly all the parts of a family. And he says that the duty of wives consists in this, to be obedient to their husbands.

(8) The first argument, for they cannot be disobedient to their husbands except by also resisting God, who is the author of this subjection.

Ephesians 5:22-33. A paragraph which, in dealing with the duties of wives and husbands as seen in the new light of Christian truth, gives the Christian ideal of the marriage-relation. It is the loftiest conception of that relation that has ever come from human pen, and one than which no higher can be imagined.

22–32. Special Exhortations: the Christian Home: Wife and Husband

22. Wives] Cp. Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-6. In Col. the corresponding instructions about domestic duty are drawn expressly from the truth (Colossians 3:1) that the believer lives, in the risen Christ, a resurrection-life.

submit yourselves] It is probable that the Gr. original has no verb here. R.V. accordingly reads in italics be in subjection to. But it is obvious that the thought if not the word is present, carried on from the last verse.

The Gospel on the one hand recognizes and secures woman’s perfect spiritual equality with man, an equality which modifies and ennobles every aspect of possible “subjection”; on the other hand recognizes and secures man’s responsible leadership.

your own] Words of special emphasis, suggesting the holy speciality of the marriage relation.

as unto the Lord] Who is, in a peculiar sense, represented to the wife by the husband. In wifely submission to him she not only acts on the general principle of the acceptance of the Will of God expressed in circumstances: she sees in that attitude a special reflection, as it were, of her relations to the Lord Himself. Her attitude has a special sanction thus from Him.

Ephesians 5:22. Αἱ γυναῖκες, wives) Inferiors are put in the first place, then superiors, Ephesians 5:25; ch. Ephesians 6:1; Ephesians 6:4-5; Ephesians 6:9; 1 Peter 3:1; 1 Peter 3:7, because the proposition regards subjection; and inferiors ought to do their duty, of whatsoever kind their superiors are. Many of those that are inferior become superiors; and he who acts well as an inferior, acts well as a superior.[88] Moreover, all these are addressed in the second person; therefore it is the duty of all to hear and read the Scripture; comp. 1 John 2:13.—ἸΔΊΟΙς, to your own) Wives should obey their own husbands, even although elsewhere they should seem to have superior prudence: ὑποτασσόμενοι is to be supplied from Ephesians 5:21.[89] It is said of children and servants, obey [ὑπακούετε], ch. Ephesians 6:1; Ephesians 6:5. There is a greater equality in the case of husbands and wives;[90] comp., however, Romans 13:1.—Ὡς, as) The subjection which is rendered by the wife to the husband, is at the same time rendered to the Lord Christ Himself. It is not compared with the obedience which the Church renders to Christ, but with that which the wife herself ought to render to Christ. Obedience is rendered to the husband, under the eye of Christ; therefore also to Christ Himself.

[88] “Qui bene subest, bene præest.”

[89] Wherefore in the Germ. Vers., Ephesians 5:22 is only put in a parenthesis.—E. B.

[90] Therefore ὑποτασσομενοι, subordinate, not ὑπακούετε, is said in their case.—ED.

Verse 22.-Ephesians 6:9. - EXHORTATION TO RELATIVE DUTIES. Verse 22. - Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Though ChristianiEphesians 5:22Your own (ἰδίοις)

The peculiar personal relationship is emphasized as the ground of the duty.

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