A worthy, loving walk in light provides a warm and joyful reality in the Christian home.

In this passage, we learn what marital and domestic relationships look like in Christ. When this passage is preached apart from its context, it can lead to bitterness, regrets, and disillusionment. We need to remember that all of us have been baptized into Christ and are brought into Light to live moral lifestyles (Eph. 4:1-6). Having already covered that ground, Paul assumes that his readers are being governed by the Spirit and living like Jesus in the home. As all members of a home live by the Spirit’s filling, there will be mutual submission to the direction of God. We are to respect, honor, reverence, and learn from one another. Outside of corporate worship, there’s no better place in the world than a Christian home.

The Warm and Joyful Reality of the Christian Wife (verses 22-24)

The wife’s person is in Christ. She is a member of the body of Christ, born again, and part of the new humanity He has created. She is a fellow learner and faithful servant in the church, devoted to prayer with fellow heirs of God’s grace.

Her responsibility is to “be subject” to her own husband, of her own willful volition. The natural response of a Spiritual woman is to follow a Spirit-filled man who loves her as Christ has loved her. It will be a warm and joyful experience as she does so in God’s ordained environment. She is to be subject “in everything,” as her husband also loves her in every way just as Christ.

“As to the Lord” is an important qualifier to understand. Satan tries to allure us away by masquerading like Jesus, just in the wrong context. What the Lord is to a woman, her husband is to be to her. The husband is to be the wife’s best friend, to be chivalrous and kind, to plan special events for her and share her deepest emotions. A wife should not have to follow Christ or her husband coldly. Nothing dishonors the Lord more than a husband who does not honor his wife and her thoughts equally with his own.

The Christian wife’s example is the church’s relationship to Christ as her Head and Savior. No Christian has a problem with Christ being Head of the church; so husbands are head of their wives. This is a thoroughly counter-cultural idea, even in most Christian culture. Nevertheless, the normal Christian reality is that there are roles to be played through all created order. Not one soul can escape the principle of authority and submission in time and eternity. A wife’s role is to order herself under her husband. As examples, the Son orders himself under the will of the Father, and the Spirit under the Son, supporting His ministry.

The warm and joyful reality of marriage for the lady is experienced as she is confident to follow her husband who mirrors the proper leadership of Christ as Head and Savior. It is the desire of a godly woman to arrange herself under a man who reminds her of her Jesus.

The Warm and Joyful Reality of the Christian Husband (verse 25-30)

The Christian husband’s person enjoys the same salvation as his wife and the same opportunity as a learner and a servant in the church.

The husband’s responsibility is to love his wife. This command is a common one in Scripture. God is love, and love is the greatest revelation of God in Jesus Christ.

The husband’s example is also Jesus Christ. Christ’s love for the church is sacrificial. A husband is to follow this example even to the point of losing his life for her. Christ’s love is a sanctifying love. The husband is to look after his wife’s need to experience God’s Word personally and publically. His is also a satisfying love. Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. Caring for ourselves is a natural desire. The husband should hurt when his wife hurts and be happy when she is. Christ shows His church a sharing love. We are members of His body and share in His union and family. In marriage, we have the privilege to partner with fellow future rulers of the world and do Christ’s mission together!

The husband, after Jesus’ example, is to be the deliverer and defender of his wife. As Jesus has saved her, the husband is to do everything in his ability to protect her from what Jesus has saved her from. Jesus never holds Christians accountable for their sin again after salvation; He doesn’t love us based on success or failure – and so should a husband love his wife without condition.

Conclusion (verses 31-33)

Marriage done as God ordains provides a secure environment (verse 31). Husband and wife leave the authority of their parents and become one new unit. Verse 32 tells us to embrace the mystery of the one new family that Christ has created. God’s church is best illustrated in our culture in the covenant of marriage. Verse 33 reiterates the mutual honor and respect we are to enjoy as each spouse submits his or her heart to the Lord Jesus.

The most significant way for married people to be Gospel light in our culture is to live this warm and joyful reality and express to the world that you’ve enjoyed the understanding of the mystery of the Gospel. The roles set out here are quite simply lived out between two equally saved and submitted souls who love Jesus Christ.

Application Points

  • How can you “be Jesus” to your spouse? When we follow God’s principles in marriage, marriage becomes as valuable, personal, and spiritually intimate as being married to Christ himself. Brainstorm some specific ways you can apply the principles above, then pick a couple to do this week.

  • A God-honoring Christian marriage is one of the best ways to be Gospel Light in our culture. Marriage is not a constant utopia, but we should be known as warm and joyful spouses who truly love and enjoy each other. As we’re known in our homes, so we’re known in our society. How do your kids see you living this out? What do your unsaved friends observe in your marriage? We have no Gospel unless we first live it at home.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Proverbs 18:22 – God ordained the institution of marriage for you to enjoy in Christ in the way He describes.
  • Mark 12:30-31, John 13:34-35 – Christians are repeatedly commanded to love.
  • John 3:16 – Love is the greatest revelation of God.
  • John 13:15 – Christ’s was the ultimate sacrificial love.
  • John 17:17, Titus 3:5, Psalm 119:9-11 – Sanctification comes by God’s Word.
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – A thorough description of Christian love.
  • 1 Peter 3:7 – Husbands and wives are both heirs of God’s grace.
Quotes to Ponder:

The Lord views the church as his bride and his body; He loves it, nourishes it, cherishes it; it is precious to Him. Nothing on earth or in Heaven compares with it. He dies to redeem it; He watches over it; His Holy Spirit guides it and gladdens it. At the Father’s right hand Christ is importuning [interceding] on the church’s behalf. He anticipates with delight the coming day when the church will be complete and will be like Him forever, when it will reign with Him over God’s vast empires. As far as the Lord is concerned, nothing is too good for His beloved church. The church is the love of His life, the center of His thoughts, and the object of His purposes.

Hast thou seen the measure of obedience? Here also is the measure of love. Wouldst thou that thy wife shouldst obey thee as the church doth love Christ? Then have care, thyself, for her, as Christ does for the church. And if it be needful that thou shouldst give thy life for her, or to be cut in pieces a thousand times for her, or endure anything whatsoever, refuse it not! Christ brought his church to his feet by His great love. Now, conduct thyself in love towards thy wife. – John Chrysostom