Husbands - Ephesians 5:25-33
Message 4 in a series on Marriage
In our fourth study in this series, we turn our attention to husbands. First, we need a definition of husband, then there’s several things we can observe about husbands, and ultimately about Christ and His relationship to us from this passage.
The other messages in this series are:
Marriage - Ephesians 5:25-34 “Husbands”
Marriage - Hebrews 13:4 “Kept”
Here are my notes:
Marriage - Ephesians 5:25-33 “Husbands”
Let’s turn in our Bibles and Bible apps to Ephesians 5, where we will read from verse 25 down to the end of the paragraph, verse 33.
Ephesians 5:25–33 (CSB): 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to make her holy (some of your translations have “sanctify her” same idea, to set apart as different than the rest, other, not the same) to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to himself in splendor (radiant, glorious!), without spot or wrinkle or anything like that (some of the translations have “no blemish” in there), but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides (or “nourishes”) and cares for (or “cherishes”) it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since (or “because”) we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh., 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
This is the fourth study in a series on marriage, and we can see just from these last couple of sentences from the Apostle Paul, that when we are studying marriage in the Bible, we are actually studying and looking at Jesus, and the nature of His relationship with us as the church. So, everyone, whether married or unmarried has direct application and direct implication in what we are reading and studying.
Today, our topic is husbands. Let me encourage you, if you have missed any of the prior three studies, please, go and find them on the listen page of the church website, or in the podcast feed on iTunes and Google Play. Again, we are studying Jesus, and getting directly at the nature and the relationship that we have with Him as His bride.
In the first study, we were in Genesis, looking at the universal conditions of marriage. In the second, we were in 1 Corinthians 7 and the merits of marriage itself. Last week, our topic was wives. This week, it’s husbands. And, fair warning. Next week, we will look at what the Bible says about the sexual relationship we are to have in marriage. But, we can’t stress this enough, in each study, what we are truly studying and learning is about Jesus.
Today, our topic is Husbands. And, what we will do is take notice of some truths in the passage we just read.
First, though, a definition would be helpful.
What is a husband?
In English, we get the word husband from Old Norse. It’s a combination of two words. “Hus” - House, and “band” - ruler. It literally means house-ruler.
But, before you draw any conclusions based only off that definition of the word. Consider that the word “husband” is the root of two other words, that we don’t use very much anymore, but help colour the contours of our understanding of the word. And, they are the words “husbandry,” and also “Husbandman.”
According to Merriam Webster’s 10th edition dictionary:
Husbandry is “the cultivation and production of plants and animals.”
A Husbandman is “one that plows and cultivates land.”
Here’s what they describe. They describe a person that understands that their responsibility is to produce and cultivate life so that it thrives and grows.
Remember, back to our study in Genesis 3, looking at the conditions that God instituted at the fall. Remember that man is the seed giver. He’s the one that puts seeds in the earth where it germinates and grows. He’s to cultivate it. Not just land, but we know that man is also the seed-giver to the woman. The woman is the receiver of the seed, where it germinates and grows. But, the responsibility for cultivating life so that it thrives and grows is with the husband.
Paul writes: “Husbands love...”
The word “love” there is “agapeo.” You don’t necessarily need to know the Greek language to appreciate its meaning, because Paul gives the meaning. He writes:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church (this is past tense) and gave himself for her
First thing to note here. Husbands are to love their wives with a self-sacrificing love. Christ loved the church with a self-sacrificing love. Listen closely, it’s a love that values her above self. It’s a love that considers her life more valuable than my life. My life and quality of life isn’t more important than hers. No, her life and the quality of her life is more important than mine.
This ties directly in to what we were reading last week about wives in 1 Peter.
Keep your finger here in Ephesians, we will be back in a minute, and go with me to 1 Peter, where we will look in chapter 3.
Peter, as you remember from last week, is on the theme of unjust suffering, suffering physically, emotionally, psychologically for doing what is right. Peter writes starting in verse 7 -
1 Peter 3:7 (CSB): 7 Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner, showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Notice, again how it starts… He says, Husbands, in the same way, in the same way as what?
Well, like we saw last week, it’s in the same way as Jesus. And, if you missed last week, we looked at this in depth, and you really must go back and listen to that study. Here’s a very, very short summary. Look at chapter 2, verse 21 -
For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth;, 23 when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. (The Lord sees, and the Lord knows and will keep score. He will judge) 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed. (Peter says, it’s because Jesus was willing to bear up under unjust suffering that act is what frees us. We are all called to “follow Jesus” into unjust suffering, because it heals the other) 25 For you were like sheep going astray,, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21–25 (CSB)
7 Husbands, in the same way, (in the same way as Jesus, with that attitude of bearing up under unjust suffering. Prepared to suffer physically, emotionally, psychologically the consequences of your wife’s sins) in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way (Pastor Ken Graves used to say, “that means you might have to read a book!” But, seriously, it means that you need to work at understanding, seeing things from her perspective) live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker partner,
What does that mean? Some people think it means she’s weaker physically, and that may be true. Many women are weaker physically than men. But, I believe it means weaker in that regard to headship. Remember what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:3 that the husband was the head of the wife. The one that is held responsible for the decisions, for the relationship. Look at what he writes next.
showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life,
We would say… “she’s hitched her wagon to your star.” Her life is going to be as good or as bad as the decisions you make. Let me give you an example.
Gen and I have some friends that pastor a French church. He met his wife when he was living in Switzerland. And, there was a bit of a contest for her attention. She had another suitor. But, my friend eventually won her heart and married her. A few years ago, she was back in Switzerland visiting her family and as she was driving in her home town, she drove past a woman who was out on the balcony of her home, her home was on top of an auto garage. And, our friend, told us, as she was driving by that home, seeing that woman, she thought to herself, that could have been me. I could have lived my whole life on top of that garage. The woman she drove past, was married to that other guy that pursued her.
Husbands, you need to show honor, because she’s hitched her wagon to your star. And, this is a self-sacrificing honor, it’s part of the call to unjust suffering.
In the book “Every Man’s Marriage” by Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn, they spend some time talking about this, “living with your wives in an understanding way, showing them honor as co-heirs of the grace of life.” They suggest that a husband should make decisions in his wife’s favour over 50% of the time. In other words, when it really counts, when it’s an important decision, and your at odds, you shouldn’t do it always in your favor that’s a tyrant. You shouldn’t decide in her favor all the time. That’s abdication. You can’t hit 50/50. That’s impossible. You can’t flip a coin. That’s foolishness. You should decide in her favor over 50%. And, listen, it only counts when you know she’s wrong, and you’re willing to suffer for it anyway. Without complaining. Without “I told you so.”
Why would a husband do that? Peter says...
so that your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 (CSB)
If you don’t listen to her, the Lord will stop listening to you. He will treat you the way you’re treating her.
It’s a self-sacrificing love. It is the kind of love that is willing to bear unjust suffering. Back to Ephesians. The first thing we note is that a husbands love, Christ’s love is a self-sacrificing love.
The second thing we note is in verse 26.
Paul goes on.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church (this is past tense) and gave himself for her 26 to make her holy (or to “sanctify her,” to set apart as different than the rest, other, not the same), cleansing her (now that’s present tense, that’s what Jesus is doing now) cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.
A husband’s love, Christ’s love is a cleansing love.
This is what the Lord is doing right now, right now at this moment, as we are reading and studying and submitting to the word of God, it’s washing over us, it’s cleansing us, it’s sanctifying us, it’s removing our minds and hearts from the pollution of the world and it’s setting us apart for God, for love, for light, for truth, for life. His word is changing our thinking, and therefore changing our actions.
Listen, some of us are plagued with bad thoughts, bad ideas, sometimes, bad memories, and we need that cleansing of the Word. God’s Word has the power to cleanse. Do you want to get rid of all those images in your mind? Flood your mind with God’s word. Submit to the washing of the Word. God has supplied it for us. Guys, like no other time in history is God’s Word so available to us. Not only the printed page, provided for you free, we will happily give you a Bible. But, also through the smartphone and the internet. There’s nothing like reading, large sections, spending hours at a time reading through the Bible. It’s good for the mind.
So, there’s that opportunity that’s provided. But, listen, Paul says that this is something that Jesus is active in, it’s Him that is cleansing.
Many of us have had that experience, where the Lord speaks to our hearts specifically with a word. I remember many years ago, I was at a Men’s Retreat and I was walking out to my truck, young man, newly married, working at a cabinet shop and I’ll never forget hearing the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart. “Andy, put your hand in my hand, and let’s walk together into your fears.” That word was cleansing, it was sanctifying. It purified me. And, we did. That next year was a year of facing my fears, things that debilitated me, but the Lord was with me, and without that experience, I wouldn’t have had the faith to venture out into ministry, moving here and so forth.
It’s the present tense. It’s cultivating. It’s not always nice. It’s always kind. And, Jesus is our example. He’s cleansing us with the washing of the Word.
I’m fascinated by Revelation chapter 2 and 3. There you have Jesus dictating a separate letter to seven different churches. They are each in a unique situation, and Jesus speaks a sanctifying word to each one of them. That’s an interesting study. And, I think a great place for a husband to spend some time thinking and praying and studying how to address various situations. Jesus is our example! And, we follow him humbly, recognizing that we don’t have his moral authority, he’s perfect, we aren’t, but He calls us to follow His example in speaking the truth in love.
A husband’s love, Christ’s love is a self-sacrificing, cleansing love. It cultivates. It may not always be nice. But, it is always kind, loving, washing, scrubbing sometimes. Sanctifying.
The next thing to note is in Verse 27 -
27 He did this to present (that’s future! So, listen, the whole process is there, justification - past tense, sanctification - present tense, and then watch this glorification - future tense) He did this to present the church to himself in splendor (radiant, glorious!), without spot or wrinkle or anything like that (some of the translations have “no blemish” in there), but holy and blameless.
A husband’s love, Christ’s love is a glorifying love.
This is incredible to consider. Jesus puts more in than he takes out. He’s not looking to use people and then throw them away. He wants to invest, love, cleanse, glorify. He’s cultivating. Jesus is going to not use you and then throw you away. In a year, if you respond to his cleansing work, you will be better off than now. In 5 years, in 10 years, in 20 years, cultivated, fruitful.
Remember, John 15, Jesus said:
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (that word in Greek is “georgos” it means husbandman, farmer, vinedresser) 2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. John 15:1–3 (CSB)
Later on He says:
8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. John 15:8 (CSB)
Look, he wants to invest. He wants to glorify.
Pastor Brian Brodersen of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa tells a story of a young married man that came into see him for counseling. He had been married for a little over a year and there were problems. He told Pastor Brian. I don’t understand. When we got married, she was great, a bubbly effervescent young lady, taught kids at church, just wonderful. But, now we are married, and she’s depressed, discouraged, she’s not taking a care of herself, doesn’t want to go to church, much less serve. I feel like I got ripped off. Brian said… “Congratulations! Her parents took over 20 years to get her in a great place, and you’ve used her up in a little over a year, and are thinking of finding someone else. You need to change your approach and put more in than you’re taking out.”
27 He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides (or “nourishes”) and cares for (or “cherishes”) it, just as (keyword!) Christ does for the church, 30 since (or “because”) we are members of his body.
So, how does Christ do it? How does he provide and care for the church?
2 Peter 1:3–4 (CSB): His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.
He’s given us everything. A better question is what does He not do?
You know one of the number one question I hear from Christians? Why isn’t the church one? Why can’t we all get together? Why do we all have to be separate and have 15 million different denominations? My answer is always the same. Take it up with the head. He’s the head of the body. Obviously, He’s okay with it, otherwise, He would have done something about it.
So, listen, as we look through not just the New Testament, but all through church history, we see that Jesus isn’t controlling, or knit-picky. There’s a lot of freedom. There’s so much freedom, so much grace, that it’s scary. It’s dangerous!
Think about it. People ask me, what kind of accountability do you have in your life? Who is your pastor? Who are you submitted to? Why? Because, actually, honestly, they don’t believe that the Lord will stop me from doing something stupid. And, to some degree they are right. There’s a lot of freedom. So much that you can destroy yourself.
Husband, let me ask you? Are you controlling your wife more than Jesus controls the church? Does she have freedom? Does she have as much freedom as the church does? Does your love for her reflect the maturing love of Jesus for the church? Or are you insecure? Are you afraid of your reputation being damaged by her actions, or by her failure? Jesus doesn’t seem to be that way. He is not overbearing, critical, condemning, obsessive, manipulative, controlling or insecure.
On the flip side, Pat said it well this week. “It’s hard for a wife to submit to a guy who is laying on the couch and not doing anything.”
It’s obvious from the New Testament and church history that Jesus isn’t laying on the couch with a beer watching us flail. “Hey! I gave you a Bible and told you I loved you 20 years ago, what more do you want? Maybe if you would amp up that worship service, get a little loud, maybe cheer for me more than the Sens, or actually, really pray, and believe by faith, I’ll think about doing something, otherwise, you’re on your own. I’ll be here when you get back from work. Bring me some more chips.”
That is absolutely not Jesus, and neither should it be any of us.
Do you remember, Acts 9:5?
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul said.
“I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting,” he replied.
Was Saul persecuting Jesus? Yes, he was persecuting his church. And, Jesus showed up to do something about it. He’s active. Present. Leading and guiding, just like he promised he would.
A Husband’s love, Christ’s love is a self-sacrificing, cleansing, glorifying, freeing love that cultivates a mutual and mature oneness.