Ephesians 5_21-24      Wives, Submit

Rev. David Holwick  B

First Baptist Church                     (needs more practical insight on

Ledgewood, New Jersey                            "how" to submit)

January 12, 1992

Ephesians 5:21-24


  I. Turmoil in the role of women and wives today.

      A. 20/20 TV program:

             Couple owns a greenhouse.

                She works late, feeds kids sandwiches at 10:00 at night.

             She is frustrated because traditional husband doesn't help.

             In the end, she opens up her own greenhouse.

                "It will be fun," she says with a smirk.

             Divorce inevitable?

      B. Turmoil over proper role has trickled down to kindergarten.

         At the Bryant School in Teaneck, N.J., children are read the

            classic story of Cinderella, but are then asked:

         "Will Cinderella be happy after she and the prince are married?"

         "Wouldn't it be better if Cinderella had wanted other things to

            make her happy?"

         Debra Goldsbury is a preschool teacher at the Happy Medium School

            in Seattle.

         She suggests confronting any tot who enjoys the fairy tale by


         "This story is not fun for me.

         Cinderella isn't making decisions for herself or taking charge of

            her own life."


         "Beauty and the Beast" movie also shows these themes.

            The beautiful heroine loves books more than the offish men.

II. The status of wives in the ancient world.

      A. In the Greek world, wives were respected but totally isolated.

          1) Famous philosopher Demosthenes laid down this rule:

             "We have ladies of the evening for pleasure,

              we have mistresses for daily co-habitation;

              we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately

                and of having a faithful guardian for our household."

          2) Philosopher Socrates shows how companionship was not valued:

             "Is there anyone to whom you entrust more serious matters

                 than to your wife -

              And is there anyone to whom you talk less?"         #1745

      B. Among Jews, wives fared a little better.

          1) But they still had a low view of marriage.

          2) Man's prayer:  "Thank you that you have not made me a Gentile,

                a slave, or a woman."

          3) In Jewish law, women were not persons, but things;

                they were absolutely their husbands' possession.    #1745

      C. New Testament's view of marriage roles.

          1) Very traditional.   Wives submit to husband's authority. 5:22

          2) Is it practical?   Is it good for women?

              a) Christian woman says:  this is very dangerous teaching.

              b) Easily perverted to put down women.

          3) Properly understood, the Bible's teaching is not only

               practical but liberating for women.

III. Authority and submission.   (Key issues in Bible's view)

      A. Cultural perversions.

          1) Wives as doormats, husbands at tyrants.

          2) Submit till abused to death.

      B. Biblical meaning of authority / submission.

          1) Differences - due to way God created us.   (Genesis)

              a) There is a divine order of things.

                  1> Permanent reality.

                  2> Those who go against it will pay a price.

              b) Husbands have been created to be the "head."

                  1> Male dominance can be seen throughout history.

                      A> Women have never dominated any society.

                      B> Probably due to hormones, physiology.

                  2> But "head" implies not only authority, but source

                       of love and life.       Eph 4:15-16

                  3> Interdependence is just as important as authority.

                      A> 1 Cor 11:11-12,  "no one is independent."

          2) Differences - due to salvation.

              a) Jesus Christ is the ultimate "head."        (Eph 4:15f)

                  1> Love more than obedience.

                  2> Joyful submission.

              b) When Jesus saves us, he changes us.

                  1> The harsh domination of men over women that has

                        followed the Fall is replaced by love.

                  2> Male and female become one in Christ.   Gal 3:28

                  3> Joint heirs of salvation.               1 Pet 3:7

              c) If husband resembles Christ, then women can resemble

                    Christians (the church).

                  1> Submission is grateful acceptance of husband's care.

                  2> Scholar Markus Barth:

                       "Paul is thinking of a voluntary, free, joyful

                        and thankful partnership, as the analogy of the

                        relationship of the church to Christ shows."

                  3> Such submission with not detract from her womanhood

                       but positively enrich it.

IV. Christian submission is limited in three important ways.

      A. Submission is mutual.

          1) Eph 5:21 is foundation of this passage.  (5:22 doesn't even

                have word "submit")

              a) Husbands conveniently forget this verse.

          2) Mutual submission seems to sweep away any concept of

               authority or subservience.

      B. Submission puts God first.

          1) No human authority, whether a husband or a government, can

               go against our allegiance to God's principles.    Acts 5:29

          2) Note emphasis on "for Christ," "as to the Lord" throughout

                passage.  Humans take second place.

      C. Submission has the ultimate example in Jesus Christ.

          1) Cuts two ways:

              a) Submission must be 100%, not less.

              b) Yet the wife should be submitting to someone who treats

                    her like Jesus treats the Church.

                  1> Difficult when husband is nonbeliever.

                  2> How many husbands here are as loving as Jesus?

          2) Woman's Lib is correct in criticism of American husbands.

              a) Woman are sick and tired of being pushed around by

                   40 million pushy, obnoxious, domineering husbands.

              b) But answer to 40 million pushy, obnoxious, domineering

                  husbands is not to create alongside them 40 million

                    pushy, obnoxious, domineering wives.

          3) Our society thinks that liberation is to become powerful.

              a) Exact opposite to what Bible teaches.

              b) Problem is not that women lack power, but that men

                   have abused it.

          4) Jesus - God stripped of his power by his own choice.

              a) Power and love are opposites.

              b) Jesus deals with us in love rather than in power.

              c) Wives should be treated same way.

  V. Modern applications.

      A. Peace in a marriage comes from a proper relationship.

          1) Wives should not cut down husbands out of frustration.

          2) Men feel pressures and inadequacies that their wives often

                fail to appreciate.

          3) Build your husband up by showing him respect!     5:33

      B. Try not to let your relationship be driven by economics.

          1) Women no longer just take care of home, but work outside.

              a) Division of housework often doesn't change.

              b) Has changed some - husbands now do 9 more minutes of

                    housework than ten years ago.

              c) Comment of woman in church - "I need a wife!"

          2) Christian response:

              a) See if you can live on a lower economic level.

              b) Be firm and clear about what help you need.

      C. What if your husband is not a Christian?

          1) Submission is not limited to super-husbands.

          2) Sinful ones need submission even more.

          3) Submission does have limits, but it also has power.

              a) It communicates God's grace to them, so they may be saved.

              b) Even if they are not influenced, God is honored by you.


Roberta Hestenes, CT, 10/3/86, 7-I

  I. Traditional paradigm of male/female relationships.

      A. Hierarchy important.

      B. Male predominance part of creation.

          1) Heightened, distorted by Fall.

          2) With new creation in Christ, restored to proper order.

              a) Spiritual equality, but men have authority.

      C. Older forms:  proof found in weakness, sexual tempt., etc.

          1) Recent form:  God simply made us this way.

          2) Fulfillment is found in reflecting God's pattern.

      D. Biblical support.

          1) Gen 1-3.

          2) Lack of women priests and kings in OT.

          3) No women apostles in NT.

          4) Silence of women in NT church.

          5) Wive's submission (headship).

          6) Pastoral letters' credentials for male elders and deacons.

II. Partnership paradigm.

      A. Partnership is important.

          1) Equality in the church and at home.

          2) Gen 1-2 teaches unity of male & female in God's image.

          3) Male domination is due to Fall, Gen 3.

      B. Biblical support.

          1) Husband/wife make decisions by mutual consent.  1 Cor 7:3-5

          2) Women prophets and judges in OT.

          3) All Christians are priests.

          4) Acceptance by God:

              a) In OT, males by circumcision.

              b) In NT, everyone by baptism.

      C. Stress on disunity between old and new ages.

          1) Pentecost brought prophecy for both sexes.

          2) Post-resurrection appearances to women.

          3) Female leadership in NT church.

          4) Eph 5 teaches mutual submission.

              a) Self-giving husband corresponds to submission of wife.

          5) 1 Tim 2:8 (can't teach) limited to particular instance.

              a) Learned women like Priscilla can teach, and did.

          6) Gal 3:27-28 affirms partnership.

              a) Not limited to spiritual issues.

              b) Spiritual gifts are given to all, male & female.


     John Stott, "God's New Society" (Ephesians)

  I. Practical, down-to-earth relationships in VIew.

II. Authority and submission.

      A. Cultural perversions.

          1) Women as doormats.

          2) Submit till abused to death.

          3) Denial of personhood.

      B. Biblical meaning.

          1) Differences due to creation.

              a) Divine order.

              b) Permanent reality.

              c) Male dominance in history.

              d) Meaning of "head".     Source vs. ruler.

          2) Differences due to salvation.

              a) Dominance with a difference.

              b) Focuses on Jesus Christ.

                  1> Love more than obedience.

                  2> Joyful submission.

                  3> Mutual submission.

                      A> Note that "submit" is not in verse 22, but is

                           inferred from verse 21, "to one another."

              c) Effects of new order in Christ.

                  1> Spiritual equality.

III. Husbands and wives.

      A. Two reasons for submission.

          1) "Headship" of husband, drawn from Creation account.

              a) See 1 Cor 11:3-12, 1 Tim 2:11-13.

                  1> Mutual independence.

                  2> He emphasizes order, mode and purpose of

                        creation of Eve.

                      A> Permanent and universal validity.

                      B> Applications (veiling) are cultural.

                  3> No culture should go against creation.

                  4> (Wives to be freed, like slaves?  Not parallel)

              b) Differences between sexes.

                  1> Similarities.

                      A> Both created in God's image.

                      B> Both complement the other.

                  2> Differences are on biologic and social level.

                      A> "The Inevitability of Patriarchy."

                                           Professor Steven Goldberg

                          1: No society has been ruled by women.

                      B> Three features of all societies:

                          1: Patriarchy.       (hierarchical positions)

                          2: Male attainment.  (high-status roles)

                          3: Male dominance.   (in relationships)

                      C> Universal realities, not value judgments.

                          1: Based on physiology.

              c) Meaning of submission.

                  1> Women put down in ancient world.  (Jewish prayer)

                  2> Stereotypes not always true.

                      A> Housework.   (Husbands are doing more - 9 min)

                  3> Meaning of "headship" must come from Jesus.

          2) "Headship" of Jesus, drawn from his redemption.

              a) In Eph 4:15-16, Christ as the head is the source of

                   health of the body, the Church.

                  1> Care rather than control.

                  2> Responsibility rather than rule.

                  3> Saviorship rather than lordship.

              b) If husband resembles Christ, then women can resemble

                    Christians (the church).

                  1> Submission is grateful acceptance of husband's care.

                  2> Markus Barth:  "Paul is thinking of a voluntary,

                      free, joyful and thankful partnership, as the

                      analogy of the relationship of the church to

                      Christ shows."

                  3> Such submission with not detract from her

                       womanhood but positively enrich it.

Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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