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I am currently preaching a sermon series on Sunday mornings at Wildwood Community Church called “Packed” – based out of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.  During this series, I am using my blog to post study prompts, devotionals, sermon audio/video, and discussion questions to help facilitate personal or group study of this book.  NOTE: At the bottom of this post, I have a set of links to previous resources in this series.

Ephesians 5:22-33 – Study Prompts #2

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read Ephesians 5:22-33
  3. After spending a few verses discussing the wife’s calling, Paul now focuses on husbands.  I mentioned yesterday in the study that the wife is called to submit to the husband, not the husband to the wife.  However, ALL Christians are called to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:21).  One other thing we saw yesterday in our study was that a possible interpretation of the word “submit” was “to structure to support.”  Read Ephesians 5:25-30 (Paul’s instructions to husbands.)  In what ways do you see this call to husbands as an admonition for husbands to “structure their lives to support” their wives?  Certainly there is import and distinction with the use of the words “submit” to the wife and “love” to the husband (we will talk about that in a moment), but there is also a similarity.  In what ways do you see this call for husbands to love AS A CALL to submit?
  4. In Ephesians 5:1-2, all Christians are called to imitate the love of God that was manifest in Jesus sacrifice on our behalf.  This is a self-sacrificing love that seeks the best for the one being loved.  A Christian worldview would have us see others existing as people we can serve, not as people who are there to serve us.  It was extremely important to Paul to clarify that this mentality FIRST exists in the way a husband loves his wife, not just in the way he loves his other neighbors.  In Paul’s day, husbands routinely treated their wives like second class objects.  It would not have sounded totally out of place when Paul called for wives to submit to their husbands, but it was earth-shaking news when he said that husbands were to see their wives as people they were to sacrifice for and build up, NOT as someone they were to use.  If you are a husband, think for a moment about what it would look like for you to structure your life to build up and support your spouse?  What would you continue to do, stop doing, start doing, etc.?
  5. STUDY NOTE:  Certainly there has been much harm done and taught in the name of male/female relationships throughout the history of mankind, and even the history of the church.  Much abuse, neglect, and disrespect has been committed or justified based on half-baked or totally errant understandings of passages like Ephesians 5:22-33.  However, in modern times, there has been a temptation to “swing the pendulum” all the way back in the other direction.  There has been a desire to make men and women identical and totally dissolve biblical gender roles in marriage.  This pendulum swing can end up swinging the conversation outside the bounds established by God in the New Testament.  As Darrell Bock says, “To speak in terms of functional equality for husband and wife erroneously removes the complementary quality of the relationship and invalidates the comparison to Christ and the church, who are not functionally equal.”  What Bock is saying is that while men and women are equally gifted, valued, and blessed, God has also set aside complementary roles for husbands and wives in the family.  The chief role of the husband seems to be as a leader (not a dictator, but a leader of the family).  Like any good leader, the good husband is not to DO everything, make every decision, have every good idea, etc. for the family.  Instead the good husband sets an environment where every person in the family (especially the wife) exhibits all their beauty, gifts, wisdom, and experiences.  The role of the husband is to serve the family (especially his wife) by creating an environment where she can flourish.  This understanding of the role of the husband is consistent with Ephesians 5 (as we will see with the rest of our study today) but flies in the face of chauvinistic chatter that has devolved out of wrong application of these principles.
  6. In 5:26-27 Paul calls on the husband again to imitate Christ by caring for the spiritual life of his wife.  As Christ cares for our souls, so husbands should lead out in the family by caring for the soul of the wife that she might grow into all God has intended for her.  As mentioned previously in the study note found in point 5 above, to lead, the husband serves by cultivating an environment where things happen.  A husband leads spiritually NOT by always being the first to pray, have the deepest spiritual insight, have memorized the most Scriptures, etc. (though these may be helpful things!)  The husband leads spiritually by upholding the value of rightly relating to God as a family.  I say this because I know from experience (both personal and in consultation with many Christian husbands) that too many Christian husbands feel defeated every time their wife is the first to remind them to pray, or if they share a good spiritual insight about a situation at hand.  The husband feels defeated because they misunderstand what it means to lead.  The good leader sees the wife’s request to pray as a GIFT from God . . . something to be encouraged . . . not a sign of their own failure as a person. That said, what are things husbands can do to cultivate an environment where their wife (and family) flourish spiritually?
  7. In 5:28-30, Paul expands the call for husbands to imitate Christ in their love for their wives by also providing for their physical needs.  What is the argument/logic that Paul uses for why a husband would help provide for his wife physically?
  8. Some of the most basic physical instincts are to provide adequate covering/clothing, food and water for ourselves.  When we are hungry we eat.  When we are thirsty we drink.  Why do we do these things?  Because we love ourselves.  That is, we care that we are alive, so we will naturally do things to perpetuate our survival.  Since husbands and wives are “one” in the Lord, the natural desire to care for one’s physical needs extends from the husband caring for himself, to the husband now caring for himself AND his spouse.  Again, this passage does not indicate that the husband must make all the money or most of the money; it does not indicate that the husband should make all the decisions on the houses, food, or major financial decisions.  What the passage IS saying is that the husband should lead out in a family to make sure that the family has adequate food, shelter, clothing, and other physical necessities.  What do you think it would look like for a husband to effectively serve his family by leading out in this area?
  9. STUDY NOTE:  The wife is not called to demand this love from her husband . . . instead the husband is called to willingly lay down his life for his wife.  Notice that the commands to both the husband and the wife revolve around their ongoing decision to serve one another as an act of obedience to Jesus Christ.  Notice also the tie back to 5:18.  The life that is controlled by the Spirit of God relates to others differently, especially the relationships that are at the center of our lives.  Husbands and wives naturally (because of the effects of sin) want to control each other, but under the Spirit’s control, they transform to serving each other to support each other in God’s best for their lives.  The Christian marriage is truly a supernatural gift to the husband AND the wife.  When two Christians are dependent on the Spirit’s power and committed to being controlled by His plan that is revealed in Scripture, the husband and wife commit to developing each other’s inner beauty and to live aggressively according to God’s plan for the rest of their lives!  What a contrast to the control and chaos of Genesis 3:16!
  10. Is the picture of Christian marriage described in Ephesians 5:22-33 attractive to you?  Trouble you?  Confuse you?  What are your general thought so far in this study?


For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:

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