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Husbands Love Your Wives

The following is an excerpt from my book Dwell With Unity.

In the famous passage on husbands and wives in Ephesians 5, Paul uses the figure of the husband and his wife to illustrate the relationship of Jesus and the church, and he also uses it to tie together some of the important theological and spiritual concepts that had been discussed previously in the letter. It is especially true of the topic of sacrifice.[1] As Paul instructed, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). It is within this dialogue that Paul emphasized a few additional concepts that are inherently important to a marriage and hence would be vital for Christians to understand for their own marriages.

Another key principle appears in what Paul wrote addressing husbands, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). The charge in the passage is to love. Love is a key concept throughout the New Testament. Jesus proclaimed the greatest command was to, in fact, love (Luke 10:25–28). While it may seem obvious to connect the sacrificial death of Jesus with love in this context, it is also important to see the sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated in His life as well. Jesus’ life was dedicated to sacrificing His own place, position, comfort, sleep, rest, and countless other things in life to serve His people. It is this kind of love that husbands are challenged to give their wives.

One of the greatest illustrations of this form of love is found in John 13. In the first few verses, John set the scene by reminding his readers that Jesus knew who He was, what belonged ultimately to Him, and where His journey was leading, namely back to the Father. It is here that Jesus made a choice to love his disciples by girding Himself with a servant’s towel and preparing to wash the disciples’ feet (John 13:1–5). This picture may seem a bit odd but unspectacular at first. After all, Jesus had calmed seas, healed lepers, and raised the dead, but the act of washing the disciples’ feet is just as powerful for the human family to witness. It was an act of the greatest possible love. Peers did not wash each other’s feet. That job fell to the lowly servants of a household. It would have been an act solely of great love to serve another in such a way voluntarily.[2] The point to be drawn from all of this is a spectacular charge to husbands to love their wives with the same sacrificial love that not only drew Jesus to the cross, but to gird himself with a servant’s towel.

[1] Frank Thielman, Ephesians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 368. [2] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Leicester, England: InterVarsity, 1991), 462.

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