Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
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(23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.—It is instructive to compare this with the partly similar passage in 1Corinthians 11:3. There “the head of the woman is the man,” as here; but “the head of every man (individually) is Christ,” considered in His human nature; and finally, “the Head of Christ,” as the Son of Man, “is God.” There, accordingly, “headship” is simple lordship; the woman is subject to the man, the man is subject to Christ alone; Christ as the Son is subject to the Father. Here, on the other hand, we note, first, that in accordance with the general idea of the Epistle, the headship of Christ over the Church at large takes the place of His headship over the individual; next, that from the idea of His headship so conceived is derived the further idea of a spiritual unity, involving self-sacrifice in the head, as well as obedience to the head; and, lastly, that since the very idea of unity in Christ is unity with God, there is nothing to correspond to the third clause in the former Epistle.

(23, 24) And he is the saviour of the body. Therefore . . .—The words “and” and “is” are wrongly inserted, and the word “therefore” is absolutely an error, evading the difficulty of the passage. It should be, He Himself being the Saviour of the Body. But . . . This clause, in which the words “He Himself” are emphatic, notes (as if in order to guard against too literal acceptation of the comparison) that “Christ” (and He alone) is not only Head, but “Saviour of the Body,” i.e., “of His body the Church,” not only teaching and ruling it, but by His unity infusing into it the new life of justification and sanctification. Here no husband can be like Him, and therefore none can claim the absolute dependence of faith which is His of right. Accordingly St. Paul adds the word “But.” Though “this is so,” yet “still let the wives,” &c.

As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.—The subjection of the Church of Christ is a free subjection, arising out of faith in His absolute wisdom and goodness, and of love for His unspeakable love. Hence we gather (1) that the subordination of the wife is not that of the slave, by. compulsion and fear, but one which arises from and preserves freedom; next (2), that it can exist, or at any rate can endure, only on condition of superior wisdom and goodness and love in the husband; thirdly (3), that while it is like the higher subordination in kind, it cannot be equally perfect in degree—while it is real “in everything,” it can be absolute in nothing. The antitype is, as usual, greater than the type.

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.For the husband is the head of the wife - see the notes on 1 Corinthians 11:3.

As Christ is the head of the church - As Christ rules over the church, and has a right to direct and control it.

And he is the Saviour of the body - That is, of the church, represented as "his body;" see notes, Ephesians 1:23. The idea here seems to be, that as Christ gave himself to save his body, the church; as he practiced self-denial and made it an object of intense solicitude to preserve that church, so ought the husband to manifest a similar solicitude to make his wife happy, and to save her from want, affliction, and pain. He ought to regard himself as her natural protector; as bound to anticipate and provide for her needs; as under obligation to comfort her in trial, even as Christ does the church. What a beautiful illustration of the spirit which a husband should manifest is the care which Christ has shown for his "bride," the church! See the notes on Ephesians 5:25-29.

23. (1Co 11:3.)

even as—Greek, "as also."

and he is—The oldest manuscripts read, "Himself (being) Saviour," omitting "and," and "is." In Christ's case, the Headship is united with, nay gained by, His having SAVED the body in the process of redemption; so that (Paul implies) I am not alleging Christ's Headship as one entirely identical with that other, for He has a claim to it, and office in it, peculiar to Himself [Alford]. The husband is not saviour of the wife, in which particular Christ excels; hence, "But" (Eph 5:24) follows [Bengel].

For the husband is the head of the wife; superior to her by God’s ordination in authority and dignity, as the head in the natural body, being the seat of reason, and the fountain of sense and motion, is more excellent than the rest of the body.

Even as Christ is the head of the church: see Ephesians 1:22 Colossians 1:18. The particle as notes not equality, but likeness, Christ being the Head of the church in a more excellent way than the husband is of the wife.

And he is the saviour of the body; i.e. Christ is the Saviour of his church, implying that so likewise the husband is given to the wife to be a saviour to her, in maintaining, protecting, and defending her; and therefore the wife, if she regard her own good, should not grudge to be subject to him.

For the husband is the head of the wife,.... See Gill on 1 Corinthians 11:3.

Even as Christ is the head of the church; all the elect; See Gill on Ephesians 1:22. And he is the Saviour of the body; not "of our body", as the Ethiopic version reads, of that part of man, which is called the body; though that indeed is redeemed and saved by Christ, as well as the soul; but "of his body", as the Vulgate Latin version reads; that is, of the church, which is his body; see Ephesians 1:23; of which he is the Saviour; he provides everything for it, preserves and protects it, and has wrought out salvation for it, which every member of it partakes of.

{9} For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: {10} and he is the saviour of the body.

(9) A declaration of the former saying: because God has made the man head of the woman in marriage, as Christ is the head of the Church.

(10) Another argument: because the good estate of the wife depends on the man, so that this submission is not only just, but also very profitable: as also the salvation of the Church depends on Christ, although to a far greater degree.

Ephesians 5:23-24. Ὅτι ἀνὴρἐκκλησίας] Reason assigned for the ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ just demanded. For the husband is in the marriage relation the same as Christ is in relation to the church; the former, like the latter, is the head.

ἀνήρ] a husband is head of his wife; hence ἀνήρ is without, and γυναικός with the article.

ὡς καί] as also with Christ the relation of being Head exists, namely, in regard to the church.

αὐτὸς ὁ σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος] is usually taken as apposition to ὁ Χριστός,[271] according to which ΑὐΤΌς would take up the subject again with special emphasis (Schaefer, Melet. p. 84; Bernhardy, p. 283): “He, the Saviour of the body,” He who makes His body, i.e. the church, of which He is the Head, partaker of the Messianic σωτηρία (“merito et efficacia,” Calovius). But while there is not here apparent from the connection any purpose, bearing on the matter in hand, for such an emphatic description,[272] there may be urged against it the following ἀλλά, which, if it is not placed in combination with ΑὐΤῸς Ὁ ΣΩΤ. Τ. ΣΏΜ., admits of no logical explanation. Usually, it is true, this ἀλλά is taken syllogistically (so Beza, Grotius, and others, including Matthies, Olshausen, de Wette). But the syllogistic ἀλλά, and that in the Greek writers combined with ΜΉΝ, is employed for the introduction of the propositio minor (Apollon. Alex. in Beck, Anecd. II. p. 518, 839; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 384; Fritzsche, ad Rom. v. 14; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 63); whereas here we should have the conclusio, and we should thus have to take ἀλλά, in accordance with its usage as breaking off (“argumentorum enarrationem aut aliam cogitationem abrumpit et ad rem ipsam, quae sit agenda, vocat,” Klotz, l.c. p. 5; comp. Hermann, ad Viger. p. 812; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 78), for ὥστε, against which, however, militates the fact that the sentence assigning a reason, ὍΤΙ ἈΝΉΡ Κ.Τ.Λ., has already fulfilled its destined object (Ephesians 5:22), so that it could not occur to any reader to seek in the adversative ἈΛΛΆ an inference from this reason-assigning clause. If Paul had wished again to infer, from Ephesians 5:23, that which is proved by this verse, he would have written οὖν or the metabatic ΔΈ. Besides this, however, Ephesians 5:24, as an inference from Ephesians 5:23, would contain a very superfluous prolixity of the discourse, inasmuch as the contents of Ephesians 5:24 was already so fully given by the thought of Ephesians 5:23 attached to what precedes by means of ὍΤΙ, that we could not but see here a real logical pleonasm, such as we are not accustomed to meet with in the writings of the concise and sententious Paul. According to Winer, p. 400 [E. T. 565], Ephesians 5:24 is meant to continue and conclude the argument, so that Ephesians 5:23 proves the Ὡς Τῷ ΚΥΡΊῼ from the position of Christ and the husband, while Ephesians 5:24 proves it from the demand implied in this position, and hence ἀλλά amounts ultimately to the sense: “but then, which is the main thing.” But even in this way only a continuing δέ, autem, and not the adversative ἀλλά, at, would be quite in accordance with the thought. When, moreover, it is assumed, with Rückert, Harless, Bleek, that ἀλλά, after the intermediate thought ΑὐΤῸς Ὁ ΣΩΤ. Τ. Σ., is used as breaking off and leading back to the theme (see Hartung, l.c. II. p. 37), it is self-evident that the brief clause αὐτὸς ὁ σωτ. τ. σ.—introduced, moreover, only as apposition—has not at all interrupted the development, and consequently has not given occasion for such a leading back to the theme.[273] Hofmann finally takes ἀλλά as repelling a possible objection, and to this effect: “But even where the husband is not this (namely, one who makes happy, as like Christ he ought to be) to his wife, that subordination nevertheless remains,” etc. But in this way the very thought, upon which everything is held to turn, is purely read into the passage. In view of all that has been said, I (and Schenkel agrees with me in this) cannot take αὐτὸς ὁ σωτ. τ. σ. as apposition, but only as an independent proposition, and I understand ἀλλά in its ordinary adversative sense, namely, thus: “He for His person, He and no other, is the Saviour of the body; but this relation, which belongs exclusively to Himself, does not take away the obligation of obedience on the part of the wives towards their husbands, nay, rather, as the church obeys Christ, so must also the wives obey their husbands in every respect.” The right view was already perceived by Calvin, when on account of the adversative ἀλλά he proposed the explanation:[274] “Habet quidem id peculiare Christus, quod est servator ecclesiae, nihilominus sciant mulieres, sibi maritos praeesse, Christi exemplo, utcunque pari gratia non polleant.” Comp. also Bengel, who aptly remarks: “Vir autem non est servator uxoris; in eo Christus excellit; hinc sed sequitur.” … What Hofmann objects is quite irrelevant; for the thought, that Christ is Saviour of the body, is not superfluous, but has its significant bearing in the contrast which follows; and Paul had not to write ἡμῶν instead of τοῦ σώματος with a view to clearness, since Christ was, in fact, just designated as κεφαλή; consequently nothing was now more natural and clear than the designation of believers by τοῦ σώματος, the correlative of κεφαλή. The objection of Reiche, that αὐτός comes in asyndetically, can have no weight in the case of Paul especially, and of his brief and terse moral precepts (see immediately Ephesians 5:28, and comp. in particular Romans 12:9 ff.).

αἱ γυναῖκες] sc. ὑποτασσέσθωσαν. See Ephesians 5:22.

ἐν παντί] in which case it is presupposed that the commanding on the part of the husbands is in keeping with their position as representing Christ towards the wife. Ὡς εὐσεβέσι νομοθετῶν προστέθεικε τὸ ἐν παντί, Theodoret.

[271] Holzhausen (comp. already Chrysostom) has again referred αὐτός to the husband, who is called σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος in comparison with Christ, inasmuch as the being of the wife is conditioned by the husband. Incorrectly, since no reader could refer αὐτός to any other subject than to the one immediately preceding, ὁ Χριστός, and since it was intelligible to describe the church doubtless, but not the wife, as τὸ σῶμα (without further addition). Nor is σωτήρ ever employed in the N.T. otherwise than of Christ or God.

[272] For the view, that hereby a reminder is given to husbands of the fact, which is often forgotten by them, that they (see ver. 29) ought to make their wives truly happy (Erasm., Beza, Grotius, Estius, and others, including Rückert, Meier, Matthies, Baumgarten-Crusius; comp. also Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 134 f.), is inadmissible, since the instructions for husbands begin only with ver. 25. Harless remarks: “Inasmuch as the apostle finds the obedience of marriage, realized in it by the wife, also in the relation of the church to Christ, he shows immediately the ground of this peculiar relation in the manifestation of the gracious power of the Lord by redemption.” But in this way the question as to the reason determining this addition is not answered, and the gracious power of the Lord is, in fact, not denoted by the simple σωτήρ. Olshausen (so already Piscator) thought that αὐτὸς ὁ σωτὴρ τοῦ σώμ. had merely the design of setting forth Christ more distinctly in the character of κεφαλή, inasmuch as it designates the church as the σῶμα which He rules. But it is not τοῦ σώματος that has the emphasis; and κεφαλὴ τῆς ἐκκλ., spoken of Christ, needed no elucidation, least of all in this Epistle.

[273] And how would Paul have returned to his theme? He would have said again, in another form, in ver. 24, that which he had just said in ver. 23! After so short a clause as αὐτὸς ὁ σωτ. τ. σ., what an un-Pauline diffuseness!

[274] He did not, however, himself give it the preference, but erroneously took ἀλλά as ceterum, and in αὐτὸς ὁ σωτ. τ. σ. found the thought: “ita nihil esse mulieri utilius nee magis salubre, quam ut marito subsit.”

Ephesians 5:23. ὅτι ὁ ἀνήρ ἐστι κεφαλὴ τῆς γυναικός, ὡς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς κεφαλὴ τῆς ἐκκλησίας: because the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the Church. Reason for a wifely subjection of the kind indicated. It is found in the relation of headship. In the marriage union the husband holds the same relation, viz., that of headship, as Christ holds to the Church, and the headship of the one represents the headship of the other. For ἐστι κεφαλὴ, [605], Vulg., etc., give κεφαλὴ ἐστιν, which WH place in the margin. The before ἀνήρ rests on the slenderest authority, and is omitted by LTTrWHRV on the testimony of [606] [607] [608] [609] [610] [611] [612], etc. The anarthrous ἀνήρ means “a husband” in the sense of any man belonging to the class of husbands. The article, again, is appropriate in τῆς γυναικός, as a definite relation is expressed there = “a husband is head of his wife”. The ὡς καί indicates the point common to the two subjects—each is head, though in relation to different objects.—[καί] αὐτός [ἐστι] σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος: and He is Himself the Saviour of the body. The καί and the ἐστι of the TR have considerable authority ([613]3[614]2, 3[615] [616] [617], most cursives, Syr., Arm., etc.); but they are not found in [618] [619] [620] [621] [622] [623], Vulg., etc., and are to be omitted (with LTTrWHRV). The clause then might be construed as in apposition to the previous ὁ Χριστός, = “as Christ is the Head of the Church—He, the Saviour of the body”. But it is best taken as an independent clause, stating in a definite and emphatic way an important point in which Christ, who resembles the husband in respect of headship, at the same time differs from the husband. It is best rendered, therefore, “He, He Himself (i.e., = He alone) is the Saviour of the body”. The RV less happily makes it “being Himself the Saviour of the body”. The αὐτός can only be Christ, and the σῶμα is the Church—the body to which He brings salvation. The husband is head of the wife, and in that he is like Christ; but Christ is also that which the husband is not, viz., Saviour of that whereof He is Head.

[605] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[606] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[607] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[608] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[609] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[610] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[611] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[612] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[613] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[614] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[615] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[616] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[617] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Ephesians 2:13-16.

[618] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[619] Autograph of the original scribe of א.

[620] Autograph of the original scribe of א.

[621] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[622] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[623] Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels. The Latin text, g, is based on the O.L. translation.

23. the head] See 1 Corinthians 11:3. The husband and the wife are “one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31), and the husband, in that sacred union, is the leader. So Christ and the Church are one, and Christ is the Leader.

even as] Not, of course, that the headship of the husband embraces all ideas conveyed by the Lord’s Headship, but it truly answers to it in some essential respects; see last note, and its reference.

Christ is the head] See on Ephesians 1:22, and last note but one here.

the church] The highest reference of the word “Church” (see Hooker, quoted on Ephesians 1:22, where see the whole note) is the reference proper to this passage. The out-called Congregation, truly living by the heavenly Bridegroom, in union with Him, and subject to Him, is in view here.—The sacred truth of the Marriage-union of the Lord and the Church, brought in here incidentally yet prominently, pervades (in different phases) the Scriptures. See not only the Canticles, but e.g. Psalms 45; Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 61:10; Isaiah 62:4-5; Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 31:32; Hosea 2:2-20; Matthew 9:15; Matthew 25:1-10; John 3:29; Galatians 4:21-31; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9; Revelation 22:17.—It is observable that in the Revelation as in this Epistle the metaphors of building and of bridal appear in harmony; the Mystic Bride is the Holy City and the Spiritual Sanctuary. Cp. Psalm 87:3, where a possible rendering is, “With glorious offers art thou bespoken [for marriage], O City of God.”

and he is, &c.] Read, with R.V., [being] himself the Saviour of the Body. The reference to the Lord, not to the earthly husband, is certain. And the emphasis (see on next ver.) is that Christ’s unique position, in this passage of comparison, must be remembered; as if to say, “He, emphatically, is to the Church what no earthly relationship can represent, its Saviour.” Some expositors see in this clause, on the other hand, an indirect precept to the husband to be the “preserver,” the loyal protector, of the wife. But the “but” which opens the next verse decides against this.

saviour] So the Lord is called elsewhere, Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:23; Php 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4; Titus 2:13; Titus 3:6; 2 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 3:2; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 John 4:14. Cp. for the word “save” in connexion with Him (in spiritual reference), Matthew 1:21; Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10; John 3:17; John 5:34; John 10:9; John 12:47; Acts 4:12; Acts 16:31; Romans 5:9-10; Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 7:25. Deliverance and Preservation are both elements in the idea of Salvation. See further, above, on Ephesians 2:5.

the body] See on Ephesians 1:23, Ephesians 4:16. The Body is the Church, viewed as a complex living organism. The Gr. words Sôtêr (Saviour) and sôma (body) have a likeness of sound, and perhaps a community of origin, which makes it possible that we have here an intentional “play upon words.”

Ephesians 5:23. Καὶ αὐτὸς, and He Himself) But the husband is not the saviour of the wife; in that Christ excels. Hence but follows.

Verse 23. - For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the Head of the Church. The woman was made for the man (Genesis 2:18; 1 Timothy 2:13), showing the Divine purpose that the man should be the head and center of the household, and that the position of the wife, as wife, should be one of subordination. Parallel to this arrangement is the relation of Christ to the Church. In words, at least, all admit the headship of Christ, and the subordination of the Church to him. The Christian household, on a much lower level, should exemplify the same relation. Being himself savior of the body. This is not said by way of contrast, but still by way of parallel. The very saviorship of Christ should find an analogy in the Christian husband. The husband should be the ever-vigilant and self-denying protector, guardian, deliverer, of his family, though his saving power can never come near the high level of Christ's A husband reckless of these obligations virtually ceases to have any claim on the subjection of the wife and the family. The very comparison of the husband to the Savior implies that, while there is a certain analogy, there is a still greater contrast. This is implied in the first word of the following verse. Between the lines we read this thought: "Not that the parallel between Christ's saving function and the husband's extends to the highest things." Ephesians 5:23He is the savior of the body

In this particular the comparison between the husband as the head of the wife, and Christ as the head of the Church, does not hold. Hence Rev., properly, renders for and He is, being Himself; Himself separating the clause from what was previously said. The comparison lies in the fact of headship alone. The husband's love and protection cannot be called salvation, in which respect Christ's headship is peculiar to Himself.

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