Husbands and Wives
Colossians 3:18, 19
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Notice the honour given to marriage by Moses (Genesis 2:23, 24), and still more by Christ (Matthew 5:31, 32; Matthew 19:3-9) and his apostles (Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 5:14; Hebrews 13:4, etc.). Christianity a gospel of great joy to the world's suffering women. But blessings rest upon law. The nearer marriage is brought to God the more sacred its duties become. In vers. 18, 19 we have in a condensed form rules more fully set forth elsewhere (1 Corinthians 7.; Ephesians 5.; Titus 2.; 1 Peter 3.). We see exhortations -

I. TO WIVES. Gathering together some of the precepts scattered through the Epistles, we find a fuller summary of the Christian wife's duties at home in Titus 2:4, 5 (make home the happiest place in the world for both husband and children). In 1 Peter 3:1-6 a contrast is drawn between bodily and spiritual attire, between that which may please the eye of frivolous men and women and that which "in the sight of God is of great price;" not the latest Paris fashions, but "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" (a lesson especially to Christian matrons to set a safe example to their juniors). The "manner of life" prescribed in both these passages may be attained by a conscientious observance of the exhortation, "be in subjection." Every family must have one head. Though" love is the fulfilling of the Law," if the words "authority" and "subjection" are never to be heard in the home, it must be through a conscientious regard to mutual duties. This subjection is "fitting." "Doth not even nature itself teach?" The satire poured on an imperious wife, and the sympathy felt for a widow deprived of her stay, supply answers. Scripture teaches the pre-eminence of the husband as illustrated by various relations between the sexes: e.g. the order of creation (1 Timothy 2:13), the derivation of woman (1 Corinthians 11:8), her destiny (Genesis 2:20; 1 Corinthians 11:7, 9), her share in the first transgression (1 Timothy 2:14) and penalty (Genesis 3:16), and their relative position in the kingdom of grace (1 Corinthians 11:3). Thus submission is "fitting in the Lord." And the same words remind us of the only limit to it (Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29). Two motives are suggested.

1. An ungodly husband may thus be won for Christ (1 Peter 3:1; 1 Corinthians 7:16).

2. An obedient wife is a living type of Christ's obedient Church, and is thus a witness to the reality of Christ's authority in both the family and the Church.

II. TO HUSBANDS. "In exhortations the scales should be equally poised" (Chrysostom) as they are here. For what St. Paul has said to wives already suggests to husbands: If our wives are to be such to us, "what manner of persons," etc.? (2 Peter 3:11). Turning to 1 Peter 3:7, we see some of the husband's duties. "Dwell with them" (making home magnetic) "according to knowledge" (the highest wisdom you can gain for governing and guiding), "giving honour," etc. (the honour of esteem, of attention to the latest day of life, of confidence, etc.). These duties are summed up here in "love" (Romans 13:10). St. Paul does not say, as the complement of ver. 18, "Govern them," but "Love them." The loving husband will secure the dutiful wife. Motives are suggested both by reason and revelation.

1. A wife is, by God's appointment, part of our very selves (Ephesians 5:31 and 28). Marriage is a union of souls. "Bitter against them?" - against those we have taken into the very shrine of our lives? Plutarch tells us, "They who did sacrifice at the rites of Juno took out the gall of the victim and threw it away, signifying by the ceremony that it was not fit that bile and bitterness should enter into the married state." W. Jay quotes Ephesians 5:29 thus: "'No man ever yet hated his own flesh,' but many a monster has done so."

2. A wife is the weaker vessel physically, not spiritually. Further motives, addressed to the godly, are:

3. You are "heirs together of the grace of life." Disunion will hinder prayers (Matthew 18:19) and progress in your pilgrimage.

4. A husband's love is to be a copy of Christ's love (Ephesians 5:25-27), self sacrificing, purifying, winning the allegiance of the whole nature. Learn:

1. The grave responsibility of entering the marriage relation. Take no one as a wife for whom you cannot cherish the love of esteem; or as a husband whom you cannot reverence as worthy of being a guide and a stay.

2. The duty of Christians to marry "only in the Lord" (ver. 17; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

3. The preciousness of a spiritual bond which shall survive the dissolution of the marriage tie by death (Luke 20:35, 36). - E. S. P.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

WEB: Wives, be in subjection to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands and Wives
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