Ephesians | a Word about the wife

Ephesians | a Word about the wife March 12, 2023

Ephesians | a Word about the wife

in the Roman Empire Christians are noticed

Christians are not noticed for political statements, their military, or their royalty.

Christians are noticed by the public for their unique Christian conduct in homes. Because the public notices Christians, Peter and Paul write Household Codes.[1]

in the ancient Near East {aNE} there would be nothing more noticeable than a male leader of the house who treats his wife, children, and servants with respect and great care

Take a look at the whole Passage so you can see: Ephesians 5.22-33

“Paul’s world was intensely patriarchal even at the expense of the woman’s rights. Thus, what Paul introduced here was revolutionary. Paul elevated woman and he elevated the marriage relationship to heavenly levels.”[2]

We may look back and think women have come so far since then. However, if we consider what Peter and Paul do for women, it’s a revolution.

Would you like to know where women’s rights began?

let’s take a little time to review submission for wives

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph 5.22-24, ESV)

The words submission or subject are mistranslations. The word subordination is a better term.

“The term ‘submission’ means to subordinate oneself or to come under the authority and protection of. It is the idea of a soldier who comes under the authority and protection of his officer.”[3]

If we apply subordination in a military way, we have a different word picture.

After basic training, the role of the commander is to utilize each soldier to the best of that soldier’s abilities. After basic training, the role of each soldier is to step up. Each soldier has unique skills and abilities to bring to the table.

Like the commander after basic training, the husband has a God-given responsibility to draw out the best in his wife. The wife has a God given responsibility to step up and into her calling.

Together, we fulfill our mission as a household within God’s household.

the helpmeet

Paul refers to the Genesis account:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Eph 5.31)

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2.24)

Since he refers to this story, I think another verse will be of benefit.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Gen 2.18)

The word helper is also translated helpmeet (Gen 2.18, 20).

In the Hebrew Bible, the majority of the time the word helpmeet is used, it refers to a military campaign. It also refers to God as a helpmeet coming to the aid of His people, assisting them in battle, and delivering them from their enemies. I don’t think Paul’s use of the military term subordination is too different than the role of the helpmeet.

Do wives know how powerful their prayers are for their husbands?
If helpmeet and subordination are military terms . . .
then a wife has power to do spiritual battle for her husband and home.

Do wives know the importance of their skills and perspective?
Do they see the need for their voice of counsel for their husband?
It is not an uncommon belief that the wife is the best career counselor for her husband.

the eagles

I once pastored a church overlooking Long Lake in Michigan, a beautiful sight. When I originally prepared this study, I was at my desk looking at the lake.

I noticed a bald eagle soaring over our property and our shore of the lake. I quickly sent a couple videos back to the family, because they never believe my tall tales about nature. However, God often ministers to me through His creation. It’s like a spiritual discipline for me.

I did some fact finding to set up this story:

  1. Eagles mate for life
  2. They are territorial and guard their area for about 1-2 miles in any direction from their nests
  3. An eagle couple fly together and know each other’s flight patterns intimately
  4. They do a “Death Spiral” together in mid-air, some sort of passionate dance

So the eagle I saw soared back and forth over our area of the lake. Soon I was amazed when a 2nd bald eagle appeared, probably the mate. They worked our shore back and forth, visible to me at times, then out of sight along the shore at other times.

As I continued to study, I watched them fly. They circled around, appearing here and there, for an hour. Then one was gone, probably back to the nest. The other one continued to soar for awhile, then probably went home as well.

do you think it was of God?  think about it . . .

I’m preparing a study on the wife, the helpmeet . . .
I see a pristine couple of bald eagles soar in perfect unison and work together.

Are we any less than animals, or do we hold a higher role in creation?

Do we have the ability to soar through life together in unison?

As a Pastor I thought I was about finished with my study preparation, but God had other plans, plans to get a Word-in at the end. It’s a Word of hope for marriages that are difficult. It’s a Word to tuck away for later if your marriage is doing okay now.

You may think that we’re just talking about the roles in a family . . .
but we are talking about the difference between being grounded and trying to look up at others soar . . .
or being in the air experiencing the exhilaration of what God desires for your marriage and family.

As silly as it sounds, it’s not about isolating the particular role of husband and wife. Sure, there are distinctions to each role, but they’re better understood in tandem. The hour-long tutorial from the eagle mates makes me believe the Spirit seems to be saying about couples in this Passage: We were meant to soar!


pic credit: Hannah Busing | girl wearing floral dress reading bible alone in grass | 04.13.22 | unsplash

  1. Paul J. Achtemeier, Joel B. Green, and Marianne Meye Thompson, Introducing the New Testament: It’s Literature and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001), 380.
  2. Vernell Ingle, The Truth About The Family: Biblical Patterns And Principles (Joplin, MO: Messenger Publishing House, 2005), 58.
  3. Ibid.

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