21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-32
The dreaded “S word”--submit. Many preachers are afraid to tackle this subject—afraid of being “the bad guy” and many others tackle with this subject—not caring if they’re “the bad guy”. The Bible does indeed say that wives are to submit to their husbands, but there are a couple things to note. In the Greek, the word submit, doesn’t even appear in Ephesians 5:22 but comes from verse 21 “submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ”—all Christians are to submit to one another. It’s about mutual submission because we love Jesus and we love each other. The Greek word translated as “submit” is hupotasso, which is a military term; when it’s used in a non-military sense as this is, it means to voluntarily come under with the idea of cooperating together to accomplish something*. Paul and Peter always spoke directly to the wives and never told the husbands to make them submit. I’ve come across several women who want nothing to do with God because their fathers yelled at their mothers, “Woman, submit!”
From the beginning, it was not so… Incidentally, the Bible never tells all women to submit to all men just because they’re men. And it NEVER commands women whether Old Covenant or New, to obey their husbands. But Sarah obeyed Abraham… Yes, but she chose that and was commended not commanded. ( However, God commanded Abraham to listen to his wife and do what she said concerning Hagar. (Genesis 21:12)
If you look at the whole section in Ephesians 5 you’ll see that once again, the Bible interprets itself. Paul emphasizes one role of Jesus toward the church as a comparison to marriage, that of a savior who laid down his life. Paul used a metaphor; metaphors don’t compare on every point, only those that the author emphasizes, just as when we refer to Jesus as “the Lion of Judah”, we refer to his strength, power, and leadership, even ferocity. We’re not saying that he has four paws and a tail and sleeps all day draped over tree branches! In the same way, Paul does not mean to compare husbands to Jesus in every way. A husband can never save wives from their sin, he didn’t create them and he’s certainly not God! What Paul does say is that a husband is to give himself up for his wife, loving her as much as he loves himself, to feed and care for her—just as Jesus did and does for the Church (this was a culture that treated women with contempt and as property), even leaving his family behind. Notice that the majority of the instruction is to the husband! It’s about love not rulership!
Think about it, when you go to a salon to get your hair cut, you have to voluntarily come under the stylist, you have to sit still and let him or her serve you. Peter didn’t want to allow Jesus to serve him by washing his feet—he didn’t want to hupotasso to Jesus’ loving service. Jesus washed his disciples feet to be an example for us to serve one another.
*Bauer’s Ardnt Gingrich, (Chicago University of Chicago Press) 847
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (software)
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man--there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as "The women, God help us!" or "The ladies, God bless them!"; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deed of Jesus that there was anything "funny" about woman's nature.