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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 26, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; July 26, 2017 from Ephesians 5:25-29

Theme: The husband is to love his own wife as Jesus loves His church.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

We have been exploring how the apostle Paul was teaching his readers to manifest the filling of the Holy Spirit in the various relationships that they were in. And in our last time together, we saw how he brought this teaching to bear on the marital relationship. Specifically, in Ephesians 5:22-24, the apostle taught that the wife was to be submitted to her own husband’s ‘headship’ role just as the church—the body of Christ—is to be submitted to the role of it’s ‘Head’. And now, in verses 25-29, the apostle turns specifically to the role of the husband in loving his wife as the Lord Jesus loves His church.

If a husband were to look at that command in and of itself, it would seem like an overwhelmingly impossible task. No matter how wonderful a man’s wife may be, and no matter how much he may have loved her already, how could he ever hope to love her as Christ loves His church? But it makes all the difference if a man first looks at the love of Christ for His church (which would include that believing husband as a member), bask in that immeasurable love, allow the Holy Spirit to sink an awareness of that love deeply into his being (see Ephesians 3:17-19), and then become motivated—by a heart transformed by Christ’s immeasurable love for himself—to love his own wife. As always in all of this instruction on marriage, it is not human marriage that is presented as the example of divine love; but rather, the unmerited and sacrificial love of Christ for His church that is to be the example and motivation of human marriage.

Note first …


In the context of verse 21 (“submitting to one another in the fear of God”); Paul now says, “Husbands, love your wives …” Whereas the wife is commanded to be submitted to and respectful of her own husband, the husband is commanded to love and sacrificially minister to his own wife. This doesn’t mean that the wife doesn’t have to love her husband, of course. (The Bible even tells her in Leviticus 19:1 to ‘love her neighbor as herself’; and she could hardly find a closer neighbor than her own husband!) Rather this is speaking of the differing roles that are brought together in perfect complementarity. Here role in the harmonious union is to be respectful of her husband’s leadership role and be submitted to it in the Lord; and his role is to love her sacrificially as the Lord loves His bride. Faithfulness to submit to God in one’s own God-appointed role makes it much easier for the other party to submit to God’s role for them.

The commandment is that the husband love her with a truly sacrificial love—agape. The best way to define such love is that it is an action (not merely an emotion) in which the good of the one loved is sacrificially sought. There really couldn’t be a better way to define that love than in the way it’s described in 1 Corinthians 13.

That’s what the husband is to do. And how is he to do it? Paul then shows us …


The husband is to love his own wife “just as Christ also loved the church …” This means that a man ought then to study how Jesus loved His church, and then use that as the model for his love for his wife. He is to imitate Jesus’ love in his love of his wife.

How then did Jesus love His church? Paul writes, “and gave Himself for her …” (v. 25). His love took sacrificial action to the fullest degree. Philippians 2:5-11 describes the profound depths to which Jesus went in His sacrificial love for His bride; and the husband is to “let this mind be” also in himself toward his own wife. In Hebrews 12:2, we’re told of how Jesus, “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame”; and that “joy” was the prospect of His bride’s salvation and glory. Unless a husband is prepared to lay down his life for his wife, he does not yet love her as Jesus loved His church; because Jesus didn’t just give of Himself, but rather gave “Himself”.

And the husband should also consider why Jesus gave Himself to the ultimate degree for his church. It was “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word …” (v. 26). Our Lord’s work was unique in its sanctifying and cleansing effect—and not something that a man can do for his wife. Jesus’ work toward His bride involved ‘setting her apart’ as holy unto Himself; and He did this through the ‘washing of water by the word’. This could be a reference to the ‘washing’ that comes from being saved by believing ‘the word’ of the gospel (Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:323-24; 2 Peter 1:9); or it may be a reference to the cleansing that comes Christ declaring us clean in Himself by virtue of His atoning sacrifice for us (John 15:3); or it may be the ongoing work of the word of God in cleansing and sanctifying His people through the Scriptures (John 17:17). The point is not that the husband can do the same sort of thing for his wife; but rather that he follows the Lord’s pattern of seeking his wife’s purity and glorification—just as Jesus does for His church. A husband ought to be prepared to sacrificially give her whatever she needs in order to be the person God has made her to be, and to keep anything out of the home that might bring down her spirit.

And a husband ought also to consider what goal the Lord had in mind in His sacrificial love to His church. It was “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (v. 27). All that Jesus does for His church rebounds to His own blessedness in her. He is made complete by His bride’s perfection (see Ephesians 1:4; 1 John 3:1-3; Jude 24-25; Revelation 21:2). Likewise, the husband should find his fulfillment in the blessedness of his own wife.

Note finally …


The word “so” in verse 28 can be translated “thus”; and that’s how it should be understood. “Thus husbands ought to love their own wives …” How ‘thus’? Paul tells us, “as their own bodies” (v. 28). “Ought” speaks of a strong obligation; and so, the husband is obliged to love his own wife with the same kind of nurture and care that he would show to his own body. Indeed, he and she have been made “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). If he has received the self-sacrificing love of Jesus for himself, then truly he ‘ought’ to show that same self-sacrificing love toward his wife (see 1 John 3:16).

This obligation is based, once again, on Jesus’ loving nurture and care for His church. As Paul went on to explain this through a very common-sense illustration; that “he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (vv. 28b-29). A man normally nurtures and feeds and protects and cares-for and builds-up his own body. He doesn’t (knowingly) put things into it that would harm it; but instead seeks its comfort and care. A man is to do the same for his own wife; and this is because this is what Jesus does with His own church—His ‘body’ (Ephesians 1:23). Jesus’ ‘one-fleshing’ with His own bride (of which the husband is a part) truly obligates him to do the same for his own wife.

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To put it simply, a husband is to love his own wife with the same love with which Jesus loves her—and as He also loves the husband himself. If we have been truly impacted by that love, and have truly let that love sink deeply into our being, then this commandment is a joy to keep.

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