We live in a time where words are constantly being redefined. One word that has experienced extreme redefinition lately is the word wife. This has led to confusion and an inordinate amount of instability in families. Because of this, it is important to know what is the Biblical definition and role of a wife.
What is the common definition of the word wife?
The word wife is commonly defined as (1): a married woman considered in relation to her husband. This has significant meaning when looking at the Bible definition of a wife.
What is the Bible definition of the word wife?
The first Biblical reference to a wife is found Genesis 2:21-25 when God made a woman from Adam’s rib. Here the concept of a one flesh relationship in marriage is established.
The Hebrew word for wife is “ish-shaw,” which is the feminine form of “ish,” which means husband. Conceptually, as the woman was an extension from the man, the word for wife is also an extension of the word for man. Likewise, the English word woman denotes a man with a womb. In the Greek, the word for wife is “gyne,” which is from the root “ginomai.” This is the same root as the word gynecology, which is the study of a woman or female.
It is clear from these words that a wife is a woman. As a woman, God gave her certain roles. We find those roles in Titus 2:3-5, 1 Timothy 5:14; and Proverbs 31:10-31.
What is the role of a wife?
Proverbs 31:10-31 gives four roles for a woman. These roles apply perfectly to the marriage relationship. Many may disagree with these roles, but it is clear that this was God’s plan for wives.
The wife is to be discrete.
Proverbs 31:10-12 says a woman’s virtue and discretion is priceless (See also 1 Timothy 5:11-14; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-4). She keeps the secret details of her intimate family life separate from others. She is devoted to being good her husband and does not gossip to others about him. She shares her heart with him as he does with her. This verbal intimacy and private time develops a deep trust and strengthens their bond to one another.
The wife is to be chaste
A wife must be chaste or sexually faithful to her husband and provide for his sexual needs. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 says that the wife’s body belongs to her husband and that she should not withhold herself from him sexually (1 Corinthians 7:6-9; Matthew 19:1-19). This is for two reasons: to meet his sexual needs and to protect him from temptation to have a sexual affair. Likewise, she abstains from things that might lead her to be physically attracted to someone other than her husband. (For more on this see the article entitled, “What Is The Bible Definition and Explanation Of Fornication?”)
The wife is to be the keeper of the home
Genesis 1:26-27 says God gave mankind dominion over all living things on the earth, which includes the husband’s dominion over his household (1 Corinthians 1:1-16; 1 Timothy 2:12-14; Ephesians 5:22-32). However, the wife has the role of keeping or managing the household as a sub-dominion. This requires a wife to submit to her husband’s leadership (Ephesians 5:22), not in a way that is demeaning, but is in synch with supporting one another as believers (Ephesians 5:21). This involves a voluntary placement of her role under the Biblical leadership that her husband exhibits as a servant leader. (For more on this, see the article, “What Is The Role Of A husband? Bible Definition Of A Husband.”)
Keeping of the home includes normal household duties such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, decorating, and managing household affairs in addition to other things. This is not to say that the husband cannot do any of these things and should not help where needed, but God has given this role to the wife.
When a wife keeps a home, it creates an environment to which her husband can come home and share time with his wife. It also creates an environment where children can be raised with structure and order. This helps establish the family dynamic as one that is devoted to loving and supporting each other and establishing a family way of doing things that is in keeping with God’s charge of how to raise children and run a home (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
The wife is to be a Spiritually minded.
Although the husband must provide for the wife’s Spiritual needs, she must develop a close relationship with Jesus Christ so that she can model Christ. To model Christ as a wife, she must model Christ as a woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). This is because Christ is the cornerstone and the Word of God is the foundation of all of all that we say and do (Acts 4:9-12; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 1 Peter 2:1-8).
When a wife strives to model Christ, she influences her husband with her Godly behavior (Romans 12:18-21; 1 Corinthians 7:13-17; 1 Peter 3:1-6). As she fulfills her role motivated by her love of Christ, she demonstrates reverence for her husband and sets a Christ like example for her children.
The wife models the church in the marriage relationship
Ephesians 5:22-32 says that marriage is a model of the relationship between Christ and the church. This means that a Godly husband must love his wife first (Ephesians 5:25), like Christ loved us (the church) first (1 John 4:19). He seeks to provide for her physical, emotional, and Spiritual needs above his own needs. He does this as a servant leader to inspire his wife, not intimidate her, which leads to conflict.
The wife should seek to encourage and reverence her husband to be more like Christ (Ephesians 5:32. Like Him, serving her husband should be out of desire to inspire him to be what God has called him to be. As the church is to Christ, so must the wife be to her husband (Ephesians 5:24). With this attitude, the marriage will be fruitful and serve as a model to others of God’s relationship with us.
A wife is a woman who is tasked with the roles of being discrete, chaste, a keeper of the home and Spiritually minded for her husband. She uses the example and inspiration of Jesus Christ to place the needs of her husband above her own in providing for his physical, emotional and Spiritual needs. In doing so, she glorifies God by modeling the relationship between Christ and the church.
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Dr. Michael L. Williams is a pastor, author, Christian educator and Biblical counselor who has served in ministry since March of 2000. Dr. Mike holds under-graduate through post graduate degrees in Christian Education and formerly worked as a nurse. Dr. Mike is the Senior Pastor of Selah Mountain Ministries, which he founded in March of 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA (selahmountain.org). In addition to counseling, he teaches how to overcome life issues Biblically on topics such as anger management, marriage, addictions, and other subjects typically referred to as mental illnesses. Dr. Mike is also a writer at What Christians Want To Know. Dr. Mike lives with his wife Pamela Rose and adult daughter Hollie Rose. He and Pamela have other adult children and several grandchildren as well. Learn more about Dr. Mike at his personal ministry web site Wisdom4Today
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Google. (2014). “Wife”. Retrieved from Google, https: //www. google. com/?gws_rd=ssl #q=definition+of+wife