So I thought I’d actually write about the stuff I’ve been hinting at that I may have seen vaguely in Ephesians like a mystery of complexity upon the brow of inversion. This sentence makes no sense. And that is how we all like it. But the thing is, I was writing a paper for Ephesians and came across this interesting thought/epiphany that I had concerning the ending of Ephesians. Here is the section (we all know it):
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church – he himself being the savior of the body. But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious – not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment accompanied by a promise, namely, “that it may go well with you and that you will live a long time on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ, not like those who do their work only when someone is watching – as people-pleasers – but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart. Obey with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord and not people, because you know that each person, whether slave or free, if he does something good, this will be rewarded by the Lord. Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
So my grand epiphany is that women should submit to men.
Anyways, I was thinking about this in the context of the whole book of Ephesians, and if Paul is pointing out that the whole church is like a body, with Christ at the head, why would he then divulge into just small social things like roles of men/women, masters/slaves, fathers/children? Now I do not mean to say that what Paul tells us can just be ignored in the context of these social matters; men and women should act in such a way, as should slaves and masters, fathers and children. But if Paul is really talking “with reference to Christ and the church,” maybe this all makes more sense now. If we are to be children (5:1, 5:8) to our Father (5:20), and if we are His possession (1:11), and when Paul speaks of husbands and wives he speaks of the church and Christ, we begin to see that Paul is in a larger context talking about the church in relation to Christ and the Father. As the wife of Christ we must submit to Christ, as the possession of the Father we must obey, and as children of light, children of the Father, we must honor our Father who is in heaven.
Now I do believe Paul is talking about real masters and slaves; it isn’t just all an allegory. But he also is telling the church to live as one body, submitted to Christ and the Father. And Paul builds upon this earlier in his letter by showing how we are the body, children of light, and possessions of God. So it isn’t just to give us social actions but also how the church must act in context to Him.
Be a wife to the Husband.
Be children to the Father.
Be slaves to the Master.