Ephesians 5:22-33 Husbands and Wives Imitate Jesus and His Church

Ephesians 5:22-33

Walk worthy of our calling: Husbands and wives imitate Jesus and his church

We are called as “in Christ” to walk worthy of the calling to be unified in Christ as one body with Jesus Christ as our leader.

Chapters 1-3 are all about the doctrine of us being “in Christ”.

  1. We have been predestined to adoption as sons and daughters in Christ.
  1. We have redemption, the forgiveness of our trespasses in Christ.
  1. We have had the wisdom and insight of the gospel lavished on us in Christ. We have wisdom and insight in to the plan to unite all things in Christ in the full coming of the kingdom.
  1. We have obtained an inheritance in Christ.
  1. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance as sons and daughters.
  1. We have been rescued from our dead and slave to Satan state by grace through faith.
  1. All of us “in Christ”, whether Jew or Gentile, are one body in Christ.
  1. Through us, the church, Father’s multi-faceted wisdom is proclaimed to the spiritual entities in the heavenly places.

Chapters 4-6 are the delightful duty of walking worthy of our being “in Christ” as one body comprised of Jews and Gentiles.

We are to walk worthy of these glorious kingdom realities.

Walking worthy looks like:

  1. Everyone putting his or her Jesus given gifting to work in the church.
  2. We are to put off the old self and put on the new self by putting a sword in the quivering corpse of our fallen flesh.
  3. We seek to glorify the Spirit not grieve him in our actions.
  4. We seek to imitate God.
  5. We seek to be morally distinct from the sons of disobedience by the manner of our life being light not darkness.
  6. We live wisely not in folly.

Today, we will continue to learn how we walk worthy of our gospel calling by looking at verse 22-33 and the truth that the marriage relationship is to mirror Jesus’ relationship to his church.

5:22-6:4 has been titled the “Haustafel”, the “house table” by Martin Luther due to the nature of the instruction being about the home. Our text over the next couple of weeks will address husbands, wives, children and parents/parenting, the home.

A word to young men:

Young women in the church are not there for you to learn on. They are not there for you to kick the tires on and see if you wan to be a buyer. They are not there as objects for your satisfaction. Decide what God wants, get your desires in line by rejecting a cursed view of women and sexuality, and then go find a woman running the race at your speed and invite her to run it with you.

A word to young women:

Young men in the church are never going live up to the female perversion of a Mister “pride and prejudice” who is a physical knight and an emotional woman. They are not cuddle bunnies, in spite of how they act while they are dating you. They are “gremlins” dressed up like furry “mogwai”. As soon as you give in they’ll go “gremlin” on you. They will need to be socialized a bit and taught how to act in public, but they should serve kingdom ends well. They are not there for you to expect to be Jesus without martyrdom.

By the way, we are not advocating dating or courting. Courting is just dating and having your parents go to the movies with you. I don’t care which one you do. Be holy.

What we are going to advocate is that relationships beyond buddies are intended to be engaged in the confines of marriage and that marriage is to be fearfully and joyfully set on imitating Jesus and his church.


“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” -Hebrews 13:4 ESV

A word to husbands:

We have the higher responsibility here. We are to imitate the King. We are the engine that runs the car. We are to reject passivity. We are to lead courageously. We are to accept responsibility. We are to expect God’s reward not man’s. We are to love as our wives receive love.

A word to wives:

Your submission is not to be submission to folly, but to Spirit-controlled love and self-sacrifice because that is what a Christian husband is to be. You are to respect and honor your husband’s leadership.

A word about the foundation of why husbands and wives are to act in this manner:

Ephesians 5:32 “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

This mystery Paul refers to is found in verse 31. And that mystery is a man leaving his father and mother and holding fast to his wife and the two becoming one flesh.

Two people from different families commit their lives to each other and spiritually and physically they become one.

The text tells us that this is a profound mystery. It is spiritual. It defies pure physical explanation.

Then we are told that this mysteriously spiritual union refers to Christ and the church.

So, this whole physical institution of marriage was created to refer people back to its source, and that is Christ and his church.

As a result:

  1. Marriage is uniquely God’s, and it must be treated as though it were God’s.

Marriage is a uniquely Christian institution that refers people to the gospel and is a common grace to humanity to restrain the curse of the fall from completely pillaging image bearers.

Governments, courts, and we do not get to decide what marriage is and whom it is for.

  1. Marriage is primarily not about the husband and the wife, but first about Jesus and his church.
  1. If God’s instituted marriage before the fall, and he did, and it refers to Christ and his church, then Father had an eternal plan for Jesus to elect a bride for himself, seek her out, win her and secure her for himself, all before the foundation of the world, thus rendering the church of inestimable value because he secured her with is own incarnation, perfection, death, burial and resurrection.

Thus Jesus speaks to Saul, who will become Paul, in Acts 9:4-5 “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting…”

Saul is persecuting the church, and Jesus, not mistaken but looking out for his bride, refers to himself as the object of the persecution. Mess with the church and you mess with King Jesus.

Jesus loves his church, and you and I should too.

So, how does the bible tell us to walk worthy as husbands and wives?

The Church Submits To its Leader, Jesus, so the wife submits to her husband who is leader v. 22-24, 33

  1. The text teaches there is a God-given order in the marriage relationship.
  2. The husband is the head of the wife just like Jesus is the head of the church
  3. Head equals leader spiritually and physically
  4. Reject passivity
  5. Lead courageously
  6. Accept responsibility
  7. Expect God’s reward not man’s
  1. Because the husband is the head, the wife must submit like the church

submits to Jesus

“Submit” has become a dirty word. It does not mean “oppress”, “subjugate”, or “dominate”.

Submit does mean to yield to the order of things.

The submission of this text is Trinitarian in nature. Father is the head, Son submits to the Father, Spirit submits to the Son, Father exalts the Son, and Spirit, Spirit exalts the Son. Son exalts the Spirit.

Divine order lived out in Trinity is the model of submission.

  1. Men, actively lead spiritually and physically by fighting the inertia

of the curse.

  1. Don’t pass the buck regarding our failures. Repent and accept that

it’s our job and do what is right.

  1. The truths of this text have been abused by sinful people since the Garden.

There are couch potato men who order their wives and children around like they are a head of state.

There are adulterous men who have the sexual ethic of Jabba the Hut and use bible verses to keep their wives faithful.[1]

  1. Verses 22-33 are preceded by verses 18-21 that tell us we are to be filled with the Spirit, and according to verse 21, we will be submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  2. Being a Spirit-filled man who can submit makes one easier to submit to.
  1. Husbands love like Jesus and wives respect and honor like the church v. 33[2]

Jesus Loves His Church, so the husband must love his wife like that v. 25a

Jesus loves his church because he was given a church from the Father in Trinitarian love.

Jesus’ love for his church also achieves ends in his church: He gave himself up to: sanctify her and to present her to himself.

  1. Jesus gave himself up for his church v. 25b
  1. Husbands are to give themselves up for their wives.
  1. Jesus’ death for his church sanctifies his church v. 26

Jesus loves us that he may clean us up from the curse.

  1. Husbands are to work for the sanctification of their wives.
  1. Jesus death for his church is so that he may present her to himself v. 27

Jesus is going to clean up the church. We are being made holy that we may be presented to Jesus at the restoration of all things as his kingdom of people from all nations who will be his people forever.

We have allowed the marriage to become more about the sexual and emotional bonding experience than about loving, protecting and working for the sanctification of a loved / respected image bearer for their good and God’s glory.

  1. Husbands are to give themselves up for, work for the sanctification

of and then present their wives to Jesus in the end as a part of his

church, and the husband is Jesus’ instrument for her good, his own joy and Jesus’ glory.

Jesus loves his church as himself because his glory is staked on loving us and saving us from the curse, so husbands love your wives like your own salvation depended on it v. 28-30

How in the world can we come from verses 28-30 to that statement?

  1. This whole passage is referring to Christ and his church.
  1. This means that Jesus loves you and me as he loves himself.

I have a hard time believing this due to unbelief still at work in me. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

This is one of the reasons I love these lyrics from Lecrae’s song “Gotta Know”

You know I need you like aqua,

Day without ya got me so nauseous,

If I ain’t cautious, I’m gonna self-inflict my sickness

You know it’s true, you as my witness

At how you witness my inconsistence

Yes, the ovation when I need your assistance

And I just gotta know that even though I’m a misfit

I’m still worth more than calamity’s French kiss

Yes I’m loved, and I’m pursued

And though I can’t feel it, still I know that it’s true

Somebody woke me up, and yeah, I know it was you

And yet I keep tryin’ to steer clear of your view

Cause if you get me, I know that you got me

But I’m so insecure I can’t believe that you want me

But then I heard you went on your way to adopt me

Well you can have my all if you swear you won’t drop me

Cause I gotta know

  1. How can Jesus love me as he loves himself?

John 10:22-30 tells us that the Father has given Jesus a people and no one is able to snatch them from his hand (v. 28).

If Jesus were to loose any of the people the Father has given him, then his glory would be lost as one who could not secure what was given to him.

So, Jesus loves us as his very self and he would in no way loose his glory or rob the Father of glory by failing to be who he is, and that is the eternal Son of God who would come and secure the salvation of his people. Jesus loves his glory and that love of his glory ensures that I would be saved, he loves us like that.

  1. Therefore, Jesus nourishes and cherishes his church because we are his (v. 30).
  1. Jesus nourishes us with the word (it is living and active)
  2. Jesus nourishes us with the Holy Spirit (creator, counselor, guide, Father

and Son come to us; John 14-16)

Husbands, we are to love our wives as though our very salvation depended on it because it does. If we let our wives fall into disrepute and disrepair because we fail to imitate Jesus (Ephesians 5:1), then we have denied the gospel and walked away from the faith.

Therefore, husbands nourish and cherish our wives spiritually and physically because that what Jesus does for his church.

Men, don’t despair because men transformed by the gospel do this. We don’t do it perfectly, but we strive for it and we’ll get better at it as we abide in Christ and grow in maturity in Christ. We put off the old self and put on the new self. We are getting better at this day by day and year-by-year.

What do we carry away from today?

  1. We are greatly loved by Jesus as his church.
  1. Us husbands have a joyous and heavy responsibility to produce, by Jesus’ help, healthy homes and thus a healthy church.
  1. We are to be a worshiping people because we are loved and have the joyous job of loving like Jesus.

Men, this is no downer. This is a challenge, and if you have an ounce of testosterone flowing through your body you want to go after this challenge and glorify Jesus and present your wife to Jesus well.

We don’t run from challenges, we run to them. Jesus didn’t run from saving his church, he laid down his life.

You look at the challenge and you demand that it bring it’s best game because you are bringing yours. Let’s worship.

[1] Kent Hughes

[2] Read “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

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