Ephesians | {love &} respect

Ephesians | {love &} respect March 20, 2023

Ephesians | {love &} respect

I’d like to review Paul’s passage on marriage one last time (Ephesians 5). For Christ and husbands, we see the actions . . . the roles . . . the doing.

What do we see through the Church’s lens and the wife’s eyes? As a church are we not the receiver of God’s grace? In some way, is not the wife the recipient of the husband’s love?

There’s a different way to view this passage if we are receivers . . . not doers.

We’ll do a recap of subordination, & sanctification. Then we’ll look at sacrifice, nurture, and respect.

quick recap: Subordination & Sanctification

Ephesians 5.22-27: I won’t return to this whole Passage in depth. I’ll just highlight some verses.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord . . . Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (verses 22, 24; ESV)

Subordination is a better translation for “submit/s.” 

that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (verse 26)

The phrase, “cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,” is Sanctification.

Subordination and Sanctification are responses of the church to Jesus Christ’s activity. We subordinate ourselves to Him. He positions us in the Kingdom. We allow ourselves to be washed and sanctified by His Word.


Then there’s Sacrifice, Christ for the church, husband for the wife.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (verse 25)

Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church adds, “Giving up your life for your spouse means recognizing and honoring his or her needs and desires, especially when they are different than yours.”[1]

It is a very noble thing for a man to give his life for his wife. It’s a very difficult thing to sacrifice your pursuits to elevate your wife’s.

If we understand Subordination, Sanctification, and Sacrifice, we see the church and the wife as recipients of, responders to, the activity of Christ and the husband.


In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Eph 5.28-30)

We often think of the wife as nurturer, brooding over the home. In a way, Paul urges the husband to pick up this role of nurturer.

“She should be treated with the same dignity and respect and care as he would give himself. What Paul urged here was countercultural.”[2]

The wife may be a natural nurturer in the home, but the husband nurtures her.

The word “nourishes” or to nourish means to nurture and to cherish. It implies to keep warm and to share tender love and care. It can also mean close physical contact, or even an intimate kiss.

Some ancient Near East (aNE) Household Codes make room for the wife to bring something to the table of the husband’s vocation. The wife’s honor is usually tied to her husband’s honor or her father’s. What makes the Christian Household Code different is not honor, but the self-sacrificial love of the husband. It’s modeled after the love Christ has for His church. This makes all the difference.[3]

Let’s consider 1 principle of the husband’s nurturing love.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (verse 31)

Problem: Paul asks aNE husbands to leave their family of origin, even if it means leaving the husband’s father’s business.

It’s not all about the location of the family. It’s a new marriage principle.

The husband no longer asks, “What’s best for my future?”

The husband asks, “What’s best for our future, even if it’s unfamiliar?”

So nurturing the wife elevates her life purpose, and it’s a mystery.

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (verse 32)


However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5.33)

In this context of love received, the wife’s respect for her husband flowers.

Respect is translated as reverence in the King James Version. Respect: fear & awe. It’s the same term for our response to God in Scripture.

from the husband – unconditional love

from the wife – unconditional respect

“Honor is the number one need in a man’s life – it’s the key to his heart. A husband will never open up emotionally if his wife doesn’t honor him. Men are much more sensitive to words than we often realize. The key to connecting to a man’s heart is not what you say but how you say it.”[4]

Even if the husband is slow to mature in self-sacrificial love . . .
even if the husband is really a bad guy . . .
the wife is to continue to offer unconditional respect.

Emerson Eggerichs, the author of Love & Respect says: “Never blame your lack of respect on his lack of love. Your lack of respect is disobedience to Ephesians 5:33b.”[5]

. . . and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

think of the implications of these truths

What if the husband stops loving, or the wife stops respecting? We see family dysfunction.

What if only 1 spouse starts loving or respecting? The family can actually be blessed if just one partner is starting to operate Biblically.

On the other hand, 1 spouse can be doing everything right and the marriage can experience dysfunction. Think about our Lord. Our Lord never stops loving and nurturing us, but we can become dysfunctional. Our spiritual life spirals into dysfunction if we stop responding with honor, stop worshiping, stop being grateful, etc.

For more on the marital relationship, visit Archives | Select a Category | Family


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

  1. Robert Morris, “Happy Wife, Happy Life,” in the Fresh Start Bible: Direction for Every Day, ed. John Andersen (Southlake, TX: Gateway Press, 2019), 1046.
  2. Frederick J. Long, OneBook Daily-Weekly: The Letter to the Ephesians (Franklin, TN: Seedbed Publishing, 2017), 118.
  3. David A. deSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2000), 232.
  4. Morris, “Happy Husband, Happy Home,” in the Fresh Start Bible, 1045.
  5. 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), 307.

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