Bible Dig into Ephesus: Ephesians 5:21-33

Against long-standing cultural standards, God calls for husbands, wives, and families to live according to our roles as God has designed them. This takes yielding and submissive spirits–loving, supporting, and growing and developing together, just a a physical body grows together.

Read Ephesians 5:21-33, out loud if possible, in The Message.

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.
22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.
29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. 
Ephesians 5:21-33, MSG

Signs of the Times

  • Endoxos, the Greek word for “radiance” also can be translated as “gorgeous,” “honorable,” “esteemed,” “splendid,” “infused with glory.” The kind of love that Christ has for the church means that He views us as endoxus—that is what Hislove will help us to become. (vs 27)
  • Wine was the most common fermented drink in the ancient world. It was used for religious rituals, festivities, and was a part of every-day life in the Mediterranean culture. Viticulture, growing grapes for making wine, was and continues to be a major agricultural industry in modern-day Israel.
  • Nearly every ancient Mediterranean society expected wives to submit to their husband, but what this meant depended on where you were. In Ephesians 5:25-6:8, Paul assumes a top-down, male-dominated society. Household codes instructed men how to rule their wives, children, and slaves, and for subordinates to submit.
    • In Athens, women were expected to stay home, away from the gaze of other men. Aristotle attributed women’s lower status to their natural inferiority of character. Most Greek men had sexual experiences with slaves, prostitutes, or other males by the time they married. Wives were to produce legitimate heirs, not to provide acceptable sexual outlets.
    • The father is the “head” of the household in Roman culture. Fathers provided, mothers nurtured children and managed the household, and fathers assumed responsibility for their sons’ education. Women had fewer rights than men, but they still had rights and often enjoyed deep affection from their husbands and fathers.

Read these verses again, this time using the New Living Translation.

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 
Ephesians 5:21-33, NLT

Our chart today will include a Biblical picture of marriage and family based on the relationship of Christ and the Church. Perhaps the best way to do this would be to build a picture of these two connections side by side.

ChristThe ChurchHusbandsWives

As you prepare to read through Ephesians 5:21-33 for a third time, take time to quiet your mind. If you find it helpful, do some repetitive movements first that involve your whole body for a few minutes. Then find a comfortable position and focus on relaxing each part of your body from your head down. Take a few deep breaths, and invite God to speak into you as you read his words. Staying in that listening mode, read the Scripture.

21 And out of your reverence for Christ be supportive of each other in love. 22 For wives, this means being devoted to your husbands like you are tenderly devoted to our Lord, 23 for the husband provides leadership for the wife, just as Christ provides leadership for his church, as the Savior and Reviver of the body. 24 In the same way the church is devoted to Christ, let the wives be devoted to their husbands in everything.
25 And to the husbands, you are to demonstrate love for your wives with the same tender devotion that Christ demonstrated to us, his bride. For he died for us, sacrificing himself 26 to make us holy and pure, cleansing us through the showering of the pure water of the Word of God. 27 All that he does in us is designed to make us a mature church for his pleasure, until we become a source of praise to him—glorious and radiant, beautiful and holy, without fault or flaw.
28 Husbands have the obligation of loving and caring for their wives the same way they love and care for their own bodies, for to love your wife is to love your own self. 29 No one abuses his own body, but pampers it—serving and satisfying its needs. That’s exactly what Christ does for his church! 30 He serves and satisfies us as members of his body.
31 For this reason a man is to leave his father and his mother and lovingly hold to his wife, since the two have become joined as one flesh. 32 Marriage is the beautiful design of the Almighty, a great mystery of Christ and his church. 33 So every married man should be gracious to his wife just as he is gracious to himself. And every wife should be tenderly devoted to her husband.
Ephesians 5:21-33, TPT

What method will you use to express what you’ve heard in God’s word today? Feel free to share it with me in the comment section below or in an email to

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