Ephesians 5:22

In enforcing relative duties the apostle reminds us that religion takes hold of all possible conditions and callings of men. Religion is the great formative grace for men. We are set in a curiously various scheme of relations, in which the two principles of union and subjection are beautifully blended. The three relations in which these principles are seen in operation are peculiar to family life. The wife is first mentioned, then the children, then the servants. Religion rounds out the life of the family in a lovely completeness. Consider -

I. THE DUTIES OF WIVES. They are all summed up in the one word - subjection. It is singular that the apostle does not command the wife to love her husband as the husband is commanded to love his wife. Her love is commanded elsewhere (Titus 2:4), but not here. It has been observed that what is instinctive is not enforced, but only what is necessary to hallow and direct our instincts. The husband is to be the head; yet he is not commanded to govern; but he is commanded to love, as the means of securing subjection or submission on the part of the wife. She, again, loves more naturally and more passionately than man; her love is no subject of command, it is taken for granted; and the apostle commands her to obey and honor her husband as the best expression of this love. Jeremy Taylor says, "He rules her by authority, she rules him by love; she ought by all means to please him, and he must by no means displease her." Her great duty, then, is subjection. Let us see what it involves.

1. It is not servitude. It is not like the obedience of servants to masters, nor even like that of children to parents. It is a submission that recognizes the husband's rule as just, tender, and wise.

2. It is a wise and loving obedience. Wives are "to be obedient to their own husbands" (Titus 2:5). Sarah is quoted by another apostle as an example of this obedience (1 Peter 3:1-6). It was necessary to emphasize this duty at a time when Christianity gave woman a new position of dignity and privilege, and when there might have been a temptation on the part of Christian wives who had unbelieving husbands to assert an authority over them inconsistent with the original institution of marriage. There is to be no dual authority in the family. The gospel made them both "heirs together of the grace of life," as it made "both male and female one in Christ," yet, even in religious or ecclesiastical matters, she was not to usurp authority over the man, but "to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12).

3. It is an obedience within limits, though the wives are enjoined to be subject to their husbands "in everything," that is, in everything within the due sphere of a husband's authority, for they are not to obey him in anything contrary to God and his Law. They are to obey God rather than man.

4. It is an obedience fashioned in its conditions and spirit upon the subjection of the Church to Christ. "As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." This implies that the wife's obedience is not to be forced or feigned, but springing naturally out of her affection to her husband, her dependence upon him, and her recognition of the just grounds of his superiority.

5. It implies fear, or reverence. "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband" (ver. 33), not despising him in her heart, as Michal despised David (2 Samuel 6:16), but, like Sarah, calling her husband "lord" (1 Peter 3:6). The chaste conversation of the wife is to be "coupled with fear" to assert its own power.


1. The husband's recognized headship in the original institution of marriage. "The head of the woman is the man" (1 Corinthians 11:3). Her obedience, therefore, while a religious duty, has its foundation in nature.

(1) The man was first formed. "Adam was first formed, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:13).

(2) The man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man (1 Corinthians 11:9).

(3) The woman was first in transgression. "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (1 Timothy 2:14).

(4) The woman is the "glory of the man," but "the man is the image and glory of God" (1 Corinthians 11:7).

2. Her dependent position. As the "weaker vessel," she needs protection, while he far excels her in those qualities which entitle to command. Yet his superiority in these respects is consistent with his inferiority to the woman in gentleness, patience, sympathy, love, delicacy of sentiment.

3. The fitness of things. She is "to be subject to her own husband." This expressive phrase points to the closeness, exclusiveness, and specialty of the relationship. It is thus a great mischief to unsex woman by denying or disregarding the superiority of man.

4. The similarity of the relation to that between the Church and Christ. "As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." As Christ is the Source of authority and direction to the Church, as he exercises both with meekness and gentleness, so is the husband to the wife. She is bound, therefore, to give him the obedience the Church gives to Christ, limited, of course, by the nature of the relation and the authority of God. She is not to identify her husband's claims with Christ, as if her Savior could supersede or weaken the just authority of her husband over her. A religious wife loves and honors her husband all the more from the very intenseness of her love to Christ. Her very obedience, too, fashioned upon the obedience of the Church to Christ, becomes tributary to her influence over her husband. Christianity has lifted woman to a high place, but without unsexing her. The old pagan writer, Libanius, might well exclaim, "Oh what women these Christians have!" - T.C.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord.
1. For the duly — "Submit yourselves." Subjection in the general on God's part noteth the subordination of one creature to another according to His wise disposal, as the imperfect to the more perfect, and this for the good of both; for it is so ordered, that in all relations comfort and duty shall go together. On our part it is a ready inclination to obey this order set by God; for every creature must know his place, and be content with the order wherein God hath set him. According to this order, submission is required of the wife towards her husband; though she is not to be subject as children to their parents, much less as servants to their masters.

2. The persons — "To your own husbands."

3. The manner how it is to be done — "As unto the Lord," i.e., Christ.(1) The regulation of the duty; it must be clone willingly and sincerely, resembling that submission which is performed to Christ, whose image, in His government over the Church, the husband beareth in his superiority over the wife.(2) It may import the enforcement, the reason and motive of this duty, because Christ hath commanded it; and by virtue of the law of Christ all wives must be subject to their husbands; which doth not disannul, but confirm God's institution, for His precepts are not privative, but accumulative.(3) "As unto the Lord" implieth a limitation; this subjection must be in all things which belong to the lawful authority and superiority of the husband; or so it seemeth to be expressed: "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord" (Colossians 3:18).(4) It importeth Christ's acceptance of this duty. He interpreteth this subjection and obedience as given to Himself, and the contrary as rebellion against Himself; for it is service done to Christ: which may give the woman comfort against all unkindnesses, and unthankful returns from her husband. That wives must reckon it their unquestionable duty to be subject to their husbands.Let me show you —

(1)Wherein this subjection consisteth.

(2)The reasons and grounds of it.

I. Wherein it consisteth. To speak briefly of it, this subjection lieth in two things — in reverence and obedience.

1. In reverence, which is both inward and outward.(1) The inward, in a due esteem of the husband, which is the ground of all love and submission. So it is said, "Let the woman reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:33). If for nothing else, yet in a humble acknowledgment of his right by God's ordinance; for esteem is not only due to personal qualifications, but to the eminent dignity wherein God hath placed any creature with whom we have commerce; and if we cannot acknowledge them for any worth in them, yet we must acknowledge God in them, who hath put His image of superiority upon them, that we may the better discharge our duties to them.(2) Outward reverence is both in word and deed.

2. Obedience: that is showed in many things.(1) in studying to please rather than to be pleased; for the apostle telleth us that "she that is married eateth for the things of this world, that she may please her husband" (1 Corinthians 7:34).(2) By fulfilling his commands in all things lawful, and not contrary to her duty to God (Titus 2:5).(3) By submitting her will to her husband's content, and her desires to his approbation and allowance (Genesis 3:16).(4) In patience under his rebukes. So the apostle (1 Timothy 2:12). Meekness and quietness is chiefly exercised in bridling our passions, when anything falleth out cross and contrary to our desires and expectations, and we eschew all needless contradiction and expressions of malcontentedness. Now this is not only gaining upon the husband, but is very acceptable to God, who delighteth in the graces He hath wrought in His own people. But now, on the contrary, a humorous moroseness and impatiency is very displeasing unto God and man, and destructive of family society (Proverbs 13:19).(5) By being a comfort and a help to him (Genesis 2:18). The woman is to be a help, not a hindrance; not the governor, for the right is originally in the man, but a help in government, to ease him in part of his burden and cares; a help every way, for the comfort of society, for assistance in governing the family.

II. The grounds and reasons.

1. The law of nature written by God's own finger in the hearts of men. We read of those who were heathens, that they enacted a law and decree: "That every man should bear rule in his own house; and that all the women should give honour to the husband, both great and small" (Esther 1:20, 22). Indeed, both anciently and to this very day, great is the power of the husbands over their wives in Persia. Now, shall heathens see that which Christians do not?

2. God's ordination, which a holy heart dareth not disobey. Now, God hath expressly commanded it in His word in the text (so Colossians 3:18).

3. The natural imperfection of the woman. The apostle calleth her "the weaker vessel" (1 Peter 3:7). Abilities of mind are not ordinarily so strong in her as in the man; and they have fewer opportunities than man hath for perfecting their natural parts; and they are not so able to provide for themselves, modesty not permitting them to go up and down in the world.

4. The manner and order of the creation. The woman was made after man, out of man, and for man. God formed man first, and then the woman out of him, and for man's good (see 1 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9).

5. From the woman's being first in the transgression; for this is a part of the sentence: "He shall bear rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16).

6. The inconveniences that would ensue if this subjection were taken away. There must be order in every society, without which there followeth division, and thereupon confusion; and a house divided cannot stand.

Use 1. Is reproof to several sorts.

1. Of all those frothy and profane wits who scoff at women's subjection, and make it a matter of unsavoury mirth. See how misbecoming Christians this is, partly as it is a duty required by God.

2. It reproveth those that dispute against it by manifold cavils; but no reasoning must be allowed against a plain and known duty. Therefore, to prevent these disputes, let me lay down two conclusions —(1) On the wife's part; no privilege of birth, parts, breeding, can exempt her from it.(2) On the husband's part; no personal infirmity, no froward nature, no error in religion (1 Corinthians 7:13), deprives him of it.

3. It reproveth them that have no reason to allege but their own imperious and peevish humour causeth them to live discontentedly and disobediently in this relation.

4. It reproveth those husbands that by their own default lose their authority and dignity, and are themselves causes that their own power is lessened and diminished, either by their intemperance, behaving themselves as beasts rather than men, that they are altogether unfit to judge what is meet and good for the family. It is true the husband is to govern, not by fear, but by love. He is the image of Christ in governing His Church, and the wife is not a slave, but a meet help; but this love should not be a snare to him. And it is true the wife should not be despised, for God saith to Abraham, "Hearken to the voice of Sarah." But there is a difference between hearkening to good counsel, and swallowing a temptation, and being driven to evil by the woman's imperiousness.

Use 2. Is to exhort wives to submit to their own husbands.

1. The impediments.


(2)A defect of true love.

(3)Affectation of vanity.

(4)Want of self-denial.

2. Motives.(1) It is easier and safer to obey than to prescribe and direct, and more felicity is found in obedience than in commands; and in the event it is found more safe; as Zipporah, by obeying her husband in circumcising the child, saved his life (Exodus 4:26).(2) It is better to give the husband occasion of thanksgiving than of complaining (James 5:9).(3) Your own peace, that your "prayers may not be interrupted" (1 Peter 3:7).(4) Honour to God.(a) It takes away the reproach of the gospel: "Obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:5). That Christian religion may not be thought to impose anything contrary to moral virtues.(b) That gainsayers may be won to God: "Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives" (1 Peter 3:1).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Mary, wife of Prince William of Orange, and the heir-apparent to the English throne, was asked what her husband the Prince should be if she became Queen. She called in her husband, and she promised him he should always bear rule; and she asked only that he would obey the command of, "Husbands, love your wives," as she should do that, "Wives, be obedient to your husbands in all things."

(Little's Historical Lights.)

Did you ever hear the word "husband" explained? It means literally "the band of the house," the support of it, the person who keeps it together, as a band keeps together a sheaf of corn. There are many married men who are not husbands, because they are not the band of the house. Truly, in many cases, the wife is the husband; far oftentimes it is she who, by her prudence, and thrift, and economy, keeps the house together. The married man who, by his dissolute habits, strips his house of all comfort, is not a husband; in a legal sense he is, but in no other; for he is not a house-band; instead of keeping things together, he scatters them among the pawnbrokers. And now let us see whether the word "wife" has not a lesson too. It literally means a weaver. The wife is the person who weaves. Before our great cotton and cloth factories arose, one of the principal employments in every house was the fabrication of clothing: every family made its own. The wool was spun into thread by the girls, who were therefore called spinsters; the thread was woven into cloth by their mother, who accordingly was called the weaver, or the wife: and another remnant of this old truth we discover in the word "heirloom," applied to any old piece of furniture which has come down to us from our ancestors, and which, though it may be a chair or bed, shows that a loom was once a most important article in every house. Thus the word "wife" means weaver; and, as Trench well remarks, "in the word itself is wrapped up a hint of earnest, indoor, stay-at-home occupations, as being fitted for her who bears this name."



1. But observe, He is also her governing Head. He has the sole guidance, and direction, and control of her.

2. But He is also her protecting Head.

II. THE SUBMISSION WHICH THE CHURCH IS ENJOINED TO GIVE TO HER HEAD, IS THE PATTERN OF THE SUBJECTION WHICH CHRISTIAN WIVES ARE COMMANDED TO GIVE THEIR HUSBANDS. But what is the nature of the subjection? I know it has its basis in affection; but yet it goes beyond that; it has its basis in the principle of allegiance. The Church owes Christ its allegiance. He is her rightful Lord.

2. But observe, it is the submission of dependency. The Church is essentially dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, then, is the true principle of that subjection, that submission which the Lord enjoins on every Christian wife: to rely upon, and to confide in, the power, wisdom, and love of her husband. To receive from him that which supplies her family with all things needful; and to receive it meekly from him too. To seek her happiness in his smile and in his presence; and to mourn for his absence, and to long for his appearing. To go to him for counsel in difficulties; to give up her own pleasures, and yield up her own will.

III. THE EXTENT AND LIMIT OF THIS SUBJECTION — "In everything." Not in some things, but in all things; "in everything." Some of you may say, beloved sisters in Jesus — "In things pleasant I find it not difficult." Yes, but in things painful. Some of you may say, "In great things I would yield." Yes, but subjection in little things; in little things; in "everything." You may say, "When we are alone together, I dare not refuse; but suppose it is in public, then my will goes another way." In public you are commanded to submit. "Yes," but you may say, "in things that relate to himself of course I submit; but in things that relate to myself, of course I may act for myself." For yourself? "In everything," even as regards yourselves. Yet there is a limit. Is there not a limit? Yes, blessed be God, there is a limit in the very text before us. Observe the twenty-second verse: "as unto the Lord"; no further. Act up to it, but go not beyond it.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

I. Subjection. Look at —

1. The creation — woman was made after, out of, and for, man.

2. The Fall — the woman occasioned it.

3. The history of woman. Does not everything point to her subordination?

II. Reverence.

1. In words — speaking of, to, or before her husband.

2. In actions.

III. Meekness.

IV. Modesty — not adorning herself with dress.

V. Economy and order in household management — freedom from extravagance.

VI. Attention to all that concerns the welfare and comfort of the children, if there be any. For this purpose she must be a keeper at home.

(J. A. James.)

The words contain a reason of the foregoing precept, both of the matter and manner of the duty. Why subject to their "own husbands"? Why "as unto the Lord"? The reason is taken from the resemblance which the husband carrieth in family government to Christ. In them observe three things —

(1)What the husband is to the wife.

(2)What Christ is to the Church.

(3)The resemblance between the one and the other — "Even as Christ."There is a similitude, though not an exact equality in the case. In handling of this Scripture we must first speak of Christ's relation to His Church, and then of the husband's relation to the wife; for first we must consider the pattern before we can state the resemblance. That Jesus Christ is the Church's Head.

1. Oneness of nature between Him and the Church; for head and members suit. The Church hath such a Head as carrieth conformity with the rest of the members. He and we have one flesh; and so the Godhead, that was at such a distance from us, is brought down in our nature that it might be nearer at hand, and within the reach of our commerce.

2. It implieth an eminency; for the head is the most eminent part of the body. As it is the noblest, so nature hath placed it nearest heaven. The very situation doth in a manner oblige the other parts to show their reverence. So Christ is the Head of She Church, infinitely of much more worth than the Church, as being the only-begotten Son of God.

3. The head is the most illustrious throne of the soul; not only the seat of nerves and senses, but of the memory and understanding: so there is in Christ a fulness of perfection, enabling Him to do all the duties of a Head to such a great and necessitous body as the Church is (Colossians 2:3).

4. It implies authority and power to govern. His excellency giveth Him fitness, but authority, right to rule and govern the Church; to appoint officers, and to make laws that shall universally bind all His people (Matthew 28:18, 19).

5. It implies strict union between Him and the Church, such as is between the head and members in the natural body; which union is brought about externally by confederation, or visible owning the covenant, and professing faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.

6. Thence there resulteth a communication of influences.

7. It implies sympathy with His members; there is none of them hurt but it redoundeth to Him (Acts 9:6).

Use 1. If Christ be Head of the Church —(1) Then there is no other that can usurp and take this honour upon him.(2) None can be a political governing head to the Church universal but He who is a Mediatorial Head, of vital influence to them.(3) A ministerial, universal head, that shall give law to all other churches and Christian societies; and if they depend not on Him, shall be excluded from the privileges of a Christian Church.

Use 2. Let us make conscience of those duties which this relation bindeth us unto; for if Christ be our Head, we must subject ourselves to Him, and live by His laws.

Use 3. Is comfort to those that are in so near a relation to Christ. He is not only a governing Head, but a quickening Head; giveth life, and strength, and growth (Ephesians 1:22).

II. I come now to handle the second title, "He is the saviour of the body." He must do the part of a Saviour as well as a Head; and His dominion over the Church is exercised in procuring her good and salvation. Here I shall show you —

(1)The nature of this salvation;

(2)The manner, or the several ways by which Christ doth accomplish it.First: The nature of it will be known by several distinctions.

1. The notion of a saviour is doubly applied — First, to him that preserveth that which is already made, that it may not perish and return into nothing, or to him that recovereth a thing that is lost out of a state of perdition.

2. That salvation is positive and privative.

3. Salvation is either temporal or eternal.(1) Temporal salvation, when we are saved from the dangers incident to the present life. In this notion it is taken, 1 Peter 3:20.(2) However we have a better salvation to wait for besides the mercies of daily providence, even the enjoyment of God and Christ to all eternity; this is salvation, and this is blessedness. This is the end of our faith (1 Peter 1:5). Better we had never been born if we have not an interest in this salvation.

4. Eternal salvation is either begun or consummate. Salvation begun is attributed to the grace vouchsafed to us in this life; as the grace of justification or sanctification.

5. There is a typical saviour and a real Saviour. The people of God of old were mostly acquainted with the typical salvation.

6. There are some inferior helps or subordinate instruments which are called saviours; but the Saviour, or the original author of all salvation, is Christ.Secondly: The manner, or the ways and means by which Christ doth accomplish it.

1. By way of satisfaction, because He sayeth us from the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, and the eternal wrath of God, which are the lets and hindrances of our salvation, and could not otherwise be removed by us. So we are said to be saved by His blood (Romans 5:9).

2. By His merit, because He procureth to us the favour of God, and a right to all those blessings which are bestowed on the children of God.

3. By way of efficacy and power, because by His Spirit He doth effect and work in us all those things which belong to salvation.Use 1. Let us come to Christ for salvation if He be a Saviour; for this is His office. All men would be saved, why then is there no more resort and recourse to Christ?

2. Let us believe the truth of this salvation, and how worthy it is of our deepest thoughts (1 Timothy 1:15).

3. Embrace this salvation in Christ's own way, and upon His own terms.

4. Leave not this way till you have the evidence in yourselves (1 John 5:8, 10).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
I. As the Head, CHRIST IS THE LIFE of the Church. Head and heart are essential to life of body — latter, blood centre; former, nerve centre. The mere animal life is connected with the heart; but all belonging to higher life depends on head. Paralyze the brain, and all the characteristic features of the life of man fail. Illustrate by the old manner of execution, severing head from body. To keep the head is to keep life; to lose the head is to lose life.

1. This is true of each individual member of the Church. No life as a mere member; no life save as he comes into relation to the head.

2. It is true of the united life of the Church. The harmony that is in the body is only secured through the common share in the life of the Head.

II. As the Head, CHRIST IS THE GUIDE of the Church.

III. As the Head, CHRIST BEARS THE RULE in His Church. He alone has the right to make laws for us; and He alone has the right, the power, to preside over their execution.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

The greatness which the apostle commends to Christian wives, is expressly the greatness of Christ. It is His glory and joy to be subject to the Father. "I came down from heaven not to do My own will but the will of Him that sent Me." "I do always those things which please Him." There is nothing servile in the meek subjection of a wife to her own husband. The very contrary: it is her crown of beauty. She is counselled to clothe herself with the dignity of Jesus. Moreover, the woman who has married wisely, and who respects her own marriage, puts on authority and walks in freedom, just in proportion as she is subject to her husband. The body can in no other way walk in power and freedom, than by being subject to its own head. The earth is beautiful so long as she is directly subject to her own sun. She no sooner enters upon the path of independence than she becomes cold and gloomy. The more complete her subjection, the greater is her freedom, and the more she sings and rejoices. In like manner, wives will find that subjection to their own husbands is the very law of their freedom and joy. Not only the wife's reverence, but her love, for her husband, inclines her in this direction. Wherein a wife hesitates to be subject to her husband, she must lose the sense that she is his wife. By an independent course of action, she virtually separates herself, asserts her self-sufficiency, and ceases to respect her wifehood. If she only knew it, the path of subjection, appointed of God for the Christian wife, is an inestimable opportunity and privilege. Therein she will find the most favorable condition possible, for the growth and development of her eternal beauty. On no account let her look upon subjection to her husband as having its end in time. It is a sacred thing. The root of it is in Christ, the flower thereof is in eternity. The hidden wisdom, and the love and beauty of God are being embodied in her daily meekness. "The Lord lifteth up the meek." "He will beautify the meek with salvation." Home is the wife's empire, and she is exhorted to reign there, not after a vulgar or worldly manner, but after a heavenly manner. Her free and loving subjection is a perennial means of grace. She renders it indeed to her husband, but "as unto the Lord." Many fair appearances are deceitful; but the beautiful deportment of a Christian wife is even more beautiful within than without. Jesus hides Himself under the veil of her quiet habit. By her own obedience she rules her household. There is an air of majesty about her. Steadfast in piety, and self-possessed, an atmosphere of unknown power encircles her. Her husband may, or may not, appreciate her sovereign humility. The Lord notes it. In His sight it is an ornament of great price. It is fragrant to the angels. Her thousand private acts, lost to common observation, are written in heaven. Many an excellent wife, buried in deepest obscurity, and withal, sorely tried, is yet sweetly fulfilling her course. Her fair monument, all unknown to herself, is being built in the presence of the Lord. Pure-hearted woman! she will do her husband nothing but "good all the days of her life." He may "safely trust in her," as in the quicker soul of his soul, the secret heart of his heart.

(J. Pulsford.)

Here the apostle inferreth the conclusion from the foregoing argument. In the proposal of this conclusion two things are considerable —

1. The manner how this subjection is to be performed — "As the Church is subject to Christ."

2. The extent; unlimited, "In everything": that is, in everything that is lawful and belonging to her duty.

1. Let us state the nature of the subjection of the Church of Christ.

2. Give the reasons of it. In stating the subjection to Christ we must consider —

(1)The foundation;

(2)The nature;

(3)The properties of it.First: The foundation is Christ's authority. The primitive sovereign is God; the sovereign by derivation is Christ the Mediator, in His manhood united to the second person in the Godhead. He is Lord, not as Creator but Redeemer, which kind of authority accrueth to Him by His own merit and purchase (Romans 14:9). Concerning it observe two things —

1. It is superadded to the former sovereignty and dominion, which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost had as Creator. This new dominion and sovereignty is not destructive Of the former, but accumulative.

2. This authority and dominion which the Redeemer is possessed of is comfortable and beneficial to us; and the end and effect of it was our cure and recovery. Secondly: — The nature of this subjection. It consisteth of two things —

(1)Our willing and hearty consent to become subjects to Christ;

(2)Our actual obedience to His commands.Thirdly: The properties of this subjection and obedience.

1. It is a willing subjection and obedience: "Thy people shall be a willing people in the day of Thy power" (Psalm 110:3). They voluntarily submit themselves to the Son of God as their Prophet, Lord, and Sovereign.

2. It is a thankful subjection and obedience. The design of God in the work of redemption was to lay a foundation of the highest thankfulness; therefore the obedience to our Redeemer must be a thankful obedience. A mere law, as a law, requireth obedience; but a benefit, as a benefit, requireth thankfulness. Join both notions together, and then you will see it is a thankful obedience we are called unto.

3. This subjection must be constant unto the death (Revelation 2:10).

4. Our subjection must be dutiful, and with great reverence.

5. Our subjection must be universal and unlimited, having respect to all His commandments (Psalm 119:6 and Colossians 4:12). It is not enough to do some things required by Christ, but the Church must be regulated by Him in all things. If we would be contented with a little of Christ, we should soon despatch our business. The world will yield to a little of Christ; they will prize His name when they neglect His office; they will embrace the outward form of His religion when they hate the power: they will value and esteem and desire His benefits, but they despise His laws; they will attend upon external duties, but neglect private or inward acts of grace; they will seem to acknowledge the general duties, but as to particulars questioned or assaulted in the age they live in, they desire to be excused; but a gracious heart reverenceth everything that carrieth the stamp of Christ upon it, and in everything desires to submit to Him.

II. I shall give the reasons of it; though they be evident already in stating the nature of this subjection, yet I shall add more.

1. Because obedience is the best impression or stamp of our religion upon us.

2. This obedience is the qualification of those that, shall have benefit by Christ. That is evident in the same chapter: "He is the Author of eternal salvation to those that obey Him" (ver. 9).On the contrary, vengeance is threatened on those "that obey not the gospel" (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

1. Consider whom it is we call you to obey: Jesus Christ, who —(1) Hath sovereign authority to command, as He gave good evidence in the days of His flesh: for the whole course of nature obeyed Him (Matthew 8:27).(2) This Jesus is your Saviour, and shall He not be your Lord?(3) It is Christ who hath set us so perfect a copy, and first obeyed Himself, and put His own neck under the yoke, that we might obey Him the more patiently.

2. Consider wherein we are to obey Him; in things just and equal. He only lays necessary laws upon us.

3. Consider why this obedience is required. Christ doth not rule us for our hurt and ruin, but for our conduct. His conduct and government is to lead us to eternal life, and when you disobey Him, you forsake your own happiness.

Use 1. To persuade the people of God to live in a more perfect and exact obedience to His will.

1. It is more perfidious for you to disobey Him, that have given up yourselves by a serious covenant made with God, renouncing sin, and devoting yourselves to the will of God (1 Peter 1:14).

2. You have received the sanctifying Spirit, and begun this work (1 Peter 1:22). Others offer violence to their duty, but you to your nature.

3. You make a profession of being in relation to Christ as your Lord, and therefore you should live in a strict obedience to His holy will (Luke 6:46).

4. You know what the will of God is more than others, and therefore, if you disobey it, you will be beaten with many stripes (Luke 12:47).

5. You have found Him a Saviour; and therefore you should not stick to obey Him as a Lord. We have seen the pattern; Christ the pattern of the husband's preeminence, the Church the pattern of the wife's subjection. Now it is easy to accommodate these things.First: The husband is the head of the wife.

1. As the head is more eminent than the rest of the members Of the body, so there is an eminency and superiority in the husband because of his sex! "The head of the woman is the man, and the Head of the man is Christ, and the Head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). Man is superior in dignity and authority, as the head is above the body.

2. As the head hath power over the body to rule it and direct it, so it noteth his authority and power of government.

3. As the head is the seat of the senses and understanding, so the husband should be furnished with some complete measure of knowledge and prudence (1 Peter 3:7).

Use 2. Direction to husbands.

1. They ought to resemble Christ, whose image they bear —(1) In other things as well as in point of superiority; holiness, self-denial, love, and all sorts of duty.(2) In using and employing their dignity and power suitable to the ends of their relation. Christ, that is the Head of the Church, is also the Saviour of the body.

2. If the husband, by being the head of the wife, bear Christ's image, then this image must not be defaced nor despised.(1) Not be defaced by the husband by impertinent commands. If they would have that submission and respect from inferiors, they must carry their government prudently and lovingly. Then it is most a similitude of Christ's authority over the Church; Christ doth not burden His Church with needless laws.(2) Not despised by the woman. All superiors have a piece of the image of Christ put upon them, therefore they must not be contemned by their inferiors, lest thereby they despise and contemn the image of God. If Jacob could say, "I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me" (Genesis 33:10); he saw God in His kindness and reconciliation; so here.Secondly: The wife's subjection — "As the Church is subject to Christ." Where observe the manner —(1) Negatively, not merely for their own ease, peace, and credit, but in conscience of and respect to that dignity God hath put on her husband. He bath placed him above her.(2) Positively.

1. A righteous subjection, not a slavish.

2. A willing subjection, not grudging.

3. A dutiful subjection.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

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