Ephesians 5.33 | Love

Ephesians 5.33 | Love February 3, 2020

Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. – Ephesians 5.33, NRSV

Wesley Adams, a commentator in the Full Life Bible Commentary, writes, “5:33 summarizes the entire passage: The husband ‘must love his wife,’ and ‘the wife must respect her husband.’”[1]

In 2004, Thomas Nelson published the book Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs.[2]  This book has been transforming marriages ever since, based on this simple concept in Ephesians 5.  As Emerson teaches about love and respect, he shows us the importance of this Scripture.

In this culture, a love-dominated society, a woman tends to talk far more about her need for love than her husband talks about his need for respect.  Biblically there are two sides to the marital coin: love AND respect.  We need to think Biblically not just culturally . . .

Ephesians 5 | Love

Unconditional respect is as powerful to a husband as unconditional love is to a wife.  This truth needs to be put back on the marital radar screen.  It’s a lasting contribution that Emerson has made to the ongoing dialogue among Christian marriage and family leaders.

Running in circles

Most of the time, we are hardwired to think in terms of cause and effect.  We want to trace a problem, or a success, back to its root causes.  This is evidence of a linear mindset.  We usually apply this type of thinking in our marriages when we’re troubleshooting or trying to stop arguments.

A + B = C

i.e. A (someone starts something) + B (the spouse reacts) = C (an argument follows)

Is it really that simple?

Most of the time we’re not operating in a linear fashion.  More than likely we’re running in circles.  Consider these lines that pastors and marriage counselors often hear.

“You know, if you’d be a little more submissive, I’d be a little more loving!” claims the husband and, of course, she retorts, “Well, if you’d be a little more loving I might consider being more submissive.”[3]

Love and submission are like love and respect.  Both are needed in marriage, but one does not build off of the other as much as they both support each other.  Therefore we are not talking about linear thinking.

We’re talking about circular causality.

This is a cycle that spins, for better or for worse.  If a husband does not feel respected by his wife, it is sometimes difficult for him to show her the love she needs.  If a wife does not feel loved by her husband, it’s sometimes difficult for her to show him the respect he needs.

Whether or not the cycle is spinning in a positive or negative direction, we are called by Scripture to operate this way in marriage.  So if my spouse does not respond the way I like, it does not mean I’m off the hook.  I answer to God for the way I treat my spouse.


Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself . . . Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. – Ephesians 5.25, 28, 33

The word that is used six times here for “love” is the verbal form of agape.  We tend to think of it as the love of God, and it certainly is associated with the love of God in the New Testament.  We may also think of agape as unconditional love, but that is not quite a full understanding.

When we speak about unconditional love, it is usually in the context of me as a receiver of the love.  In some instances, we come to expect this love from God, just like we come to expect forgiveness.  We may even develop a sense of entitlement.  “I’m entitled to God’s love and forgiveness because it is unconditional.”  When we think this way, we are treading on thin ice.

To understand agape, we must think in terms of the doer rather than the receiverAgape is better understood as committed and even sacrificial love.  Therefore instead of receiving unconditional love, I become a conduit of the committed love of God that flows to all of humanity within my reach.

In marriage I love my wife with a love that is constant in good times and bad . . . available with or without the feelings . . . sacrificial to the point of valuing her life above mine . . . and committed to seeing her as God sees her.

The love of Christ

Agape is less about unconditional love that I receive and more about a committed, self-sacrificial love that I offer freely.

This is the love of Christ for His Church.  This is the kind of love that can stop the deadly cycle of sin in our lives.  It’s also the kind of love that can stop the downward spiral in our marriages.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5.25

This committed, self-sacrificial love from the husband is complimented by her honor for him.

Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. – Ephesians 5.33

featured image:

Dan & Angela Norris | Empire State Building | 03.04.19 | used with permission

Pastor Dan Norris is simply a paragon of Christian love for his wife, their three daughters, their next generation that is coming along, his church, the people of God, people in general, and fellow ministers.  One way his love is exhibited is in his authentic approach in any conversation, the way he tunes out excess chatter, and hones-in on anyone he’s talking to.  In a crowd, he can make you feel like you’re the only one in the room.  Anyone who has been in a good conversation with Pastor Dan has come away encouraged by the heart of God.

Rev. Jared Ingle
Pastor: Long Lake Friends Church
Supervised Therapist: personal, couples, families
Traverse City, MI

Meet Jared

Related Articles & Sermons


Submission CLICK HERE

Submission in the House of God CLICK HERE

The Sanctity of Water & the Word CLICK HERE

The Husband as Kephale CLICK HERE

Paul on the Role of Husband & Savior CLICK HERE

Revisiting the Wife’s Role as Help Meet CLICK HERE


Submission CLICK HERE

Sanctification CLICK HERE

Sexuality CLICK HERE

Husband, Head & Savior CLICK HERE

Revisiting the Wife’s Role as Help Meet CLICK HERE



[1] Wesley Adams, Ephesians, in the Full Life Bible Commentary: An International Commentary for Spirit-Filled Christians, eds. French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 1075. [2] Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs (Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family / Thomas Nelson, 2004). [3] Vernell Ingle, The Truth About The Family: Biblical Patterns And Principles (Joplin, MO: Messenger Publishing House, 2005), 70-71.

JC Ingle, Inc.

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