Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1171 MP3 Audio File Video File

The Role of the Christian Wife

Ephesians 5:22-24

Delivered 06/18/2023

Good morning, Bereans. Happy Father's Day to all you fathers. Fathers, the God ordained head of the family, get a day to be honored in the middle of Pride month. Isn't that special. I asked last week, who designated this pride month? Well, I did a little research and found out who designated this pride month. It was President Barack Obama who hosted a large gathering of homosexuals at the White House on June 29. He proclaimed June as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month."

We'll get back to our study of 2 Thessalonians soon, but I feel I need to address what is going on with the whole LGBTQ push.

There is a war being waged over marriage and the family. On one side are those trying to preserve God's design; on the other, are those trying to destroy God's design!

The California Senate Judiciary Committee just heard and passed Assembly Bill 957 by Assemblywoman Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), which requires parents to "affirm" and agree to their child's claims about gender identity or risk losing custody of them. So, parents could be charged with child abuse (a criminal penalty) if they so much as object to their child's preferred pronouns.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham just signed a law that will permit minors access to sex-change care and abortions without parental knowledge or consent.

On April 26, 2023, A transgender state lawmaker in Minnesota introduced a measure that would remove language from the state's Human Rights Act that currently declares pedophiles are not included in protections based on "sexual orientation." "'Sexual orientation' does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult." That language would be removed under Finke's proposal.

Believers, they are doing all they can to normalize sexual perversion. Through legalizing same sex marriage and normalizing transgenderism and the making of "trans kids," the clear goal is to legalize pedophilia in America in the next few years. The United Nations already has the legal justification ready to go. Published April 17, 2023 EDT New UN-backed legal recommendations normalize sex with minors. Children may consent to sex with adults. This has been the plan all along.

The basic building block of society, the family, is under attack. Immorality threatens the family, thereby, threatening society. The family is the backbone of the church. If we don't have strong godly families, we will not have strong godly churches. The family is under attack in that public education in America is godless and man-centered. Women continue to leave the home for the work place, allowing the state to raise their children. The God-given roles of husband and wife are being abandoned by those who call themselves Christians.

For the next two weeks, we are going to be looking at the God-ordained roles for the family. When we forsake these roles, we destroy the family. Therefore, in order to preserve it, we need to be obeying the God-given principles for the family. Today we will look at the role of the wife and next week we will look at the role of the husband.

Before we examine these verses on family roles, let's back up a few verses, because none of this is possible unless we are controlled by the Spirit:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 ESV

If you compare Ephesians 5:18-21 and Colossians 3:16-18, it becomes clear that these two concepts,"being filled with the Spirit" and "letting the word of Christ richly dwell within you," are identical, because the passages that follow each are so similar. The result of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the same as the result of letting the Word richly dwell in one's life. Therefore, the two are the same spiritual reality viewed from two sides. To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by His Word.

When Paul says, "Be filled with the Spirit," he is giving a command. The word "filled" is the Greek wordpleroo which means "controlled." Believers who have the Spirit are commanded to be controlled by Him. The question, then, is: How are we controlled by Spirit? The Spirit's control is not an automatic, mechanical control. The Spirit's control is brought about by means. We must take possession of the divine strength He has made available to us in Christ. We appropriate the controlling grace of the Spirit through the means of letting the word of Christ richly dwell within us.

Believers, we need more than a casual acquaintance with the Bible. God's Word is to dwell in us abundantly—it is to saturate us. It must become part of our very being, transforming the way we think and act. This is where it all begins. The biblical roles in the family are a by-product of being controlled by the spirit.

As we look at these roles in marriage, you need to ask yourself some important questions. First, does your relationship with Christ make a difference in these relationships? Second, what difference does it make? Paul gives us some practical instruction that will enable us to have marriages that honor Yahweh.

If you follow this text, you will see that one of the results of being controlled by the Spirit is submission:

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 ESV

Some have derived from this verse the teaching of "mutual submission" (every believer must submit to every other believer), and they apply this to the domestic relationships that Paul is about to discuss. But the word translated "submit" (hupotasso) regularly functions to describe a one-directional subordination to another's authority rather than a symmetrical relationship.

By definition, mutual submission rules out hierarchical differences. In other words, if mutual submission is a reality between husband and wife, then it's a contradiction to say the husband has a special responsibility to lead and the wife a special responsibility to support that leadership and help carry it through. If this is teaching mutual submission, then parents can tell children when to go to bed, but children may reply, "Fine, but you should go to bed, too." No, it doesn't work that way.

Paul makes a general call to all Christians to submit to one another in whatever hierarchical relationships they are involved in. He then gives three specific examples of relationships in which submission of one party is required.

Submission is a result of the Spirit-controlled life. Paul goes on to explain how this submission works out in the family. In chapter 5:22-24, Paul begins with giving us the role of the Christian wife.

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. Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV

Verse 22 literally reads, "Women, be subject to your own men, as to the Lord." The Greek language has no distinctive terms corresponding to our words "wife" or "husband." But the reference to married persons is unmistakable.

The word "submit" is from the Greek wordhupotasso, which comes from two Greek words: hupo ("under") andtasso ("to set in place"). In other words, the word means to set something in place under something else. In the context, it refers to submitting to the authority of another. Paul is, therefore, saying to the wives, "Be willing to place yourself in a position under your husband's authority as head of the family."

Hupotasso is in the present tense, indicating this is to be a wife's lifestyle. The mood is imperative, indicating that it is a command. Finally, it is in the middle voice, which signifies that the wife initiates the act of submitting and participates in the effects or results of her submission. It conveys the idea of the wife's putting herself under the authority of her husband, not by compulsion, but willingly. The middle voice also conveys a reflexive sense and can be translated as "subject yourselves." In any case, the idea of submission of the wife is that of a voluntary attitude and action based upon one's recognition of Yahweh's ordained order, and it cannot be forced upon her against her will by a demanding despot.

Paul says that the wife is to submit to her "own" husband, as opposed to men in general. It is significant that whenever the New Testament addresses the subject of Christian marriage, it always commands the wife to be subject to her husband, using the same verb as here. But it never commands the husband to be subject to his wife.

Submission is lining up under authority and involves respect and obedience. Notice what Paul says when he sums up his counsel in verse 33.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:33 ESV

He repeats that the husband is to love his wife (from verse 25). But rather than saying that the wife must submit to her husband, he says that she must respect him. So, we could say that submission involves respect.

Often commentators will make a distinction between submission and obedience and say that wives are never commanded to obey their husbands. They claim that the word "obey" does not appear in Scripture with respect to wives. They use as their argument that children and slaves are called to hupakouo (obey), but wives are called tohupotasso, which they claim does not involve obedience. However, notice what Strong's Concordance says about the term hupotasso. It means "to subordinate; reflexively to obey—be under obedience."

When we submit to someone who has authority over us, our submission in part should be evidenced by obedience. When commentators state: "The word 'obey' does not appear in Scripture with respect to wives," they must miss the fact that the Bible useshupakouo ("obey") when it speaks about Sarah in 1 Peter 3:5-6:

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:5-6 ESV

Peter writes that Sarah obeyed (hupakouo) her husband. Then, he says that women are to follow her example. This necessarily implies that we must equally applyhupakouo (obey) to all wives. In addition, the verse itself either equateshupotasso (submit) withhupakouo (obey), or assumes thathupotasso (submit) implieshupakouo (obey) since it says, "They were submissive (hupotasso) to their own husbands, just as Sarah obeyed (hupakouo) Abraham and called him her lord." These women were submissive, like Sarah, who obeyed. Thus, the two terms seem to be used synonymously.

Paul says that the wife is to be subject to her own husband"as to the Lord"—who is the Lord in this phrase? Thomas Aquinas, among others, argues that a wife is to be subject to her husband "as a lord." But since the adverbial phrase"as to the Lord" in the two other uses in the New Testament (Eph. 6:7; Col. 2:23) refers to Christ and not to man, it is reasonable to think that it also refers to Christ here. Again, if we look at the parallel text in Colossians, it helps clear it up.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18 ESV

"As is fitting"—is the Greek wordaneko, which means "something is fitting or right to do and is what is proper or is one's duty."Aneko is used of actions that are due to someone; it conveys the ultimate meaning of moral obligation.

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Yeshua— Philemon 1:8-9 ESV

The contextual use ofaneko denotes not merely that which is fitting but that which is almost legally obligatory or a necessary duty. In this use in Colossians,aneko is in the imperfect tense. As such, it denotes an action going on in past time. The Greek form in this phrase expresses an obligation. It is how Yahweh designed and commands the family to operate.

Listen, wives, the reason why you are to submit to your husband is not because he is such a wonderful guy. It is not because he deserves it. You know very well that sometimes your husband does not deserve anything from you! The reason why you are to submit is not because HE deserves it, but because our Lord Yeshua the Christ deserves it. It is because you have died and have been raised with Christ that you are to set your mind on things above and put to death the things that belong to your earthly, sinful self. And out of your gratitude toward Yahweh, you can submit to Him, in the name of Yeshua, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

It's not because you love your husband that much, but it is because you love Yeshua that much. That is the key. As I love the Lord Yeshua, I am willing to do whatever it is He tells me to do. A wife's love for Christ motivates her to submit. So, she looks in God's Word. She is a student of Scripture. She can't be Spirit-filled if she is not because the Scripture has to play a role in our obeying the Lord Yeshua the Christ. She gets into the Word, and she knows that Ephesians 5:22 says

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22 ESV

Yeshua said in John 14:21,"If you love Me, you will obey Me." She says, "Out of loving You, Lord, I am going to do what You have told me to do." That is the motivation of submission—it is"as to the Lord."

Now the society that Paul was writing to in the city of Ephesus was within the bounds of the Roman Empire, and we need to understand the cultural backdrop that was there. Women within that society were unimportant, they had no authority in the home, and the only duties that they had were preparing food and bearing children. Men could do as they pleased within the home in Rome. But a Christian home, a home that was now coming on the scene through Paul and the preaching of the Gospel within the whole of the Roman Empire, involved a new thing, a new man, a new people.

Within the New Testament you find the elevation of women to a position of honor, respect, and dignity. It was a product not of the women's liberation movement, but of Christ and Christianity.

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. Ephesians 5:23 ESV

First let me say that this is NOT a command. It is a statement of FACT. The fact is that"The husband is the head of his wife." Some husbands are weak, ineffective, and just plain lousy heads of their wives, but they are still in that position of authority. Because the husband is the head of the wife, he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership.

"The husband is the head."  What is meant here by "head" (the Greek wordkephale)? Those of so called "evangelical feminism" say that "head" does not carry the meaning of leadership or authority at all. Instead, they say it means "source," somewhat in the sense that we use the word "fountainhead" or the "head of a river."

Wayne Grudem did a study of the wordkephale in the history of the Greek language. He found that every time it doesn't speak of a specific task, like the head waiter, and every time it is used in terms of relationship, it always means "authority." Always. It never means anything else.Kephale metaphorically means "government, or authority." "Head" here clearly means authority. Notice how Paul uses it in Ephesians 1.

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, Ephesians 1:22 ESV

Yeshua is head over all things to the Church. Now look at our verse again.

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. Ephesians 5:23 ESV

The husband is the head of the wife just as Christ also is the head of the Church. "Head" here means "authority." In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul declares the principle of headship that is to govern the people of God for all time. Here is the principle:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

The word "head" here is the Greek wordkephale. Now when "head" is used figuratively, as it is here, it refers to priority in function. That is what the head of our body does; it runs the body; it is in charge; it is the direction setter of the body. Used metaphorically, therefore, the word "head" means primarily "leadership," and thus it is used in this passage.

Now the statement is clearly made that Christ has a head, and his head is God the Father. And the statement is made that we have a head, and our head is Christ, and the woman has a head, and her head is the man.

Now, let me ask you a question, as Christians: If God is the head of Christ, are we to assume, then, that Christ is inferior to God? No, absolutely not. We know the Scriptures teach us that Yeshua is the second person of the Trinity, and He is equal with the Father in all of the things that make up deity. And yet at the same time the Father is the head of Christ.

The hierarchy here is God, Christ, man, and woman. God and the Messiah are equally divine, but there is a subordination of function; so too, man and woman are spiritually equal, but one ranks above the other in function.

So, when Paul says to the wife,"submit to your own husbands as unto the Lord," he means simply submission and not inferiority. It does not suggest in any way that the woman is inferior to the man, but rather, that she has a certain relationship for a specific purpose.

At the end of verse 23 Paul says,"his body, and is himself its Savior"—most commentators understand that this clause refers solely to Christ, but some see this as referring to both Christ and the husband. I see it as referring solely to Christ because the personal pronoun "autos," in apposition to Christ, is emphatic by its presence and its position. This personal pronoun emphasizes Christ's exclusive work as savior of the body. Plus, nowhere in the context is the wife viewed as the husband's body.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:24 ESV

I really don't think any Christian would disagree that the Church is to submit to Christ. Anybody want to challenge that? You read through the feminist literature that wants to overturn all of this, and you won't find anybody, any evangelical, saying, "Well, the Church doesn't have to submit to Christ at all." Well then if the Church is to submit to Christ, then the wife is to submit to her husband because that's what it uses as the analogy and model.

In what area are wives to be subject to their husbands? In what areas is the Church to be subject to Christ?In everything! That of course is everything that is not unbiblical.

We need to notice something very important about this passage. To whom is it addressed? It is addressed to the wives. It is not addressed to the husbands. This is very important. What usually happens is that the husband reads the instruction addressed to his wife and reminds her when she is not living up to it (in his view). Is it illegal to read someone else's mail? Well, it should be illegal in this case. Husbands, this is not written to you.

Submission is not a command for the husband to enforce. There is never even a hint of such an idea in the Scripture in which a man, through conniving, brute force, manipulation, or mind-control, can bring his wife into submission. It is not something the husband demands of his wife any more than she makes the demand that he love her. So, we are not looking at ways to bring a wife into submission as we consider our text. In this verse, Paul is addressing the responsibilities of the wife.

Women, please understand that this text in Ephesians is not an isolated text. This is not the only time in the New Testament that wives are told to submit to their husbands. The idea of a wife's submission is taught throughout the Bible. This submission is not only to be seen in the home, but in the church also.

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 ESV

These verses give us the woman's role in the church. She is not to rule or be a teacher over men. Her silence is that of not being a teacher. Many today would say that this is cultural. But Paul, in this text, says this is how God designed it from creation.

For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 1 Timothy 2:13-14 ESV

Let's go back to the passage in 1 Corinthians 11:

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 ESV

Here Paul gives the reasons for the woman's subjection. Adam was formed first—Man was made for God, the WOMAN WAS MADE FOR MAN. Do you believe that? Yahweh could have created Adam and Eve at the same instant by speaking the word, but He did not. He created Eve out of Adam.

She was to be a helper suitable for him, to assist him in his God-given tasks. So, the roles in marriage are not culturally determined, but rather, are ordained by God at creation. Specific duties in a household are flexible and can be worked out in a marriage for the mutual good of the couple. But the role of the husband as head and the wife as subject to him are fixed.

The priority of creation places man in a position of authority over the woman. Eve was made for the sake of Adam, to be his helper.

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Genesis 2:18 ESV

She is to be his helper and his glory.

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:7 ESV

The principle of headship is something true from the beginning of mankind. By virtue of creation, there is a difference which puts the man above the woman in terms of function, a difference we should never forget.

Man is uniquely created to bear the image of God as a ruler who was given a sphere of sovereignty. Both men and women were created in God's image, but as Paul points out in verse 8, the original creation from the"dust of the ground" was Adam only. Eve was created later from part of Adam himself. The male was given the dominion and authority over God's created world and is, by that fact, the glory of God.

Woman is the glory of man. She was made to manifest man's authority and man was made to manifest God's authority. The woman is a viceregent who rules instead of man or who carries out man's will, just as man is God's viceregent who rules in His stead or carries out His will. Charles Hodge says, "She receives and reveals what there is of majesty in him. She always assumes his station; becomes a queen if he is a king, and manifests to others the wealth and honor which may belong to her husband."

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 1 Corinthians 11:8 ESV

The man was created directly for God; the woman, on the other hand, was made for man. She was created on his account, and not he on hers. God could have simultaneously created Adam and Eve as He did the animals, but He created Adam first, then Eve. God made this distinction for all time, and with it He reveals His design and purpose for the sexes. Woman was created under the headship of man.

It's interesting that the church and also the woman were formed out of a husband. In the Torah, when Eve was created by God, she was created out of Adam. God took the rib of Adam, and out of the rib of Adam, He formed Eve, his wife. Paul uses that as a reason for submission: she has secondary existence from Adam.

The church, similarly, has come into existence. For the church is the product of the work of the Lord Yeshua the Christ. Just as Adam was by God put in a deep sleep through a divine anesthetic and out of that picture of death Eve was created, so Yeshua, on Calvary's cross, Christ died for sinners so that out of His death there might be created the basis for the existence of the Christian church. So, both the wife and the church have been formed out of their husbands.

Women's subjection is tied to creation, and it also ties to the fall.

and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 1 Timothy 2:14 ESV

Eve was the first to fall. Eve's fall occurred when she ignored her divinely ordained position. Instead of following, she chose to lead. Women, do you see the seriousness of not submitting to your husband?

Romans 5:12-21 places the blame on Adam; he followed his wife. Men, God created us to be the leaders. When we fail to do this and follow our wives instead, it causes numerous problems. Eve needed protection; she needed a head. She acted independently and was deceived and fell. The fall was caused by a violation of God ordained roles of the sexes; she took authority, and he submitted.

Turn with me to Titus where we see the seriousness of submission.

and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:4-5 ESV

The word "submissive" here ishupotasso. Ladies, when you don't submit to your husband's authority, you are dishonoring the Word of God.

Now let me say this again—submission is not Inferiority! The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is one God who subsists in three persons who are themselves equal in power, in authority, in the possession of the divine attributes. To say that submission means inferiority is heretical because it would imply the inferiority of the Son to the Father, because the Son submits to the Father.

The submissive wife makes a choice to place herself as an equal underneath the authority of another equal, her husband, in order that there can be order and function in the family. If you want to have a properly functioning family, wives, you yourself make up your mind you are going to live in the state of submissiveness to your husband, no matter what he is like.

It is really clear in the Scripture that the man's responsibility is to lead, and the woman's responsibility is to submit. I think that most Christians understand this, but I also believe that in most Christian homes the woman is running the show. She is not submitting/ she is leading. It is a constant struggle, and there can only be harmony when believers are controlled by the Spirit of God. Submission is a sign of the Spirit's control in your life.

Paul wants wives to know that that is not only how God has made things to be, but He has made things to be that way for their good. His is the divinely given order of the household, and when His order is reversed, when these roles are reversed, just like with Adam and Eve in the fall, it always results not only in the destruction of the man, but in the self-destruction of the wife. And so he calls for a recognition of the divinely given order of the household.

Single ladies: The husband is the established authority under the laws of divine order. Any woman thinking of marriage should think twice before she agrees to marry any man. She should ask herself the question, "Do I want to be under this man's authority for life?"

How can you tell who's the leader in the home?

1. Who is making the decisions—leaders make decisions. This does not mean that a husband must make every decision, but he is responsible for every decision made. With the children, if a husband and wife disagree on a certain course of action, whose decision should be followed? Leaders make decisions as to the finances, the church, the schooling of the children. Women, how do you respond when your husband makes a decision that you disagree with? Do you line up under his authority?

2. Listen to the speech—those in submission don't give imperatives. You don't tell your commanding officer, "Get me a cup of coffee." You give commands to subordinates, not authorities. Does your speech betray you?

Why is there such rebellion against God ordained priorities of male leadership in the church and family? I think the answer may be found in Genesis.

To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." Genesis 3:16 NASB
To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you." Genesis 3:16 ESV

The second part of this verse says,"Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you"—what exactly does this mean? Many say that this means that it's normal for a wife to have a strong sexual and psychological dependence on her husband, and that it's normal for her to desire the man, and for the man to rule over her. The Hebrew word for "desire" isteshuwqah. This Hebrew word is used only one other time in the Torah.

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it."  Genesis 4:7 ESV

The best textual rendering of this verse is, "Sin will desire to master you (or control you), but you must master it." The word "desire" used here is the same as that in 3:16. Therefore, 3:16 would rightly read, "To the woman, He said, 'Your desire will be to control your husband, but he will rule over you.'" This is where the battle of the sexes comes from. It is a constant struggle, and there can only be harmony when believers are controlled by the Spirit of God.

According to Paul, there is no possibility of a married woman's surrender to a heavenly Christ, which is not made visible and actual by some submission to an earthly husband. This directive is not mine, not the Puritan's, it's not even ultimately Paul's. And when it is ignored, it does not make life better for women, it actually makes life worse. And I would argue that many of the stresses and strains on family life today are precisely due to disagreeing or ignoring this particular biblical directive.

Whether our culture agrees with Scripture or not—whether we agree with Paul or not—the clear teaching of this text, supported by other equally clear instructions from Scripture, is that wives are to be subject to their own husbands in everything.

 The Christian home is the outpost of Christianity. God places us in this environment to represent him here on earth. If someone asked me, "How does the church submit to Christ?" could I point to you? Could I say, "look at how she submits to her husband"?

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