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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday AM
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome one and all to our study of our Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
In Chapter 5 Paul commanded and encouraged all true Believers to be “imitators of God as beloved children” (5:1). Instead of walking hand-in-hand with this darkened world (5:16), the saints in Christ Jesus are to “walk in love, (with this goal) just as Christ also loved you” (5:2); they are to “walk as children of Light” (5:8); “walking not as unwise men (and women) but as wise” (5:15); making the most of your time (5:16a), and Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (5:20).
In this Paul is saying the true Believer’s life will not resemble their former life. In response to all that God has done for them (5:2) they’re to walk carefully (5:15). We’re to live our lives according to God’s expressed will, totally dependent on His Word and the Holy Spirit’s power demonstrating genuine love for one another (Romans 12:10).
Thank you for faithful attendance.
Let’s begin where we left off last week. Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:21-23.
We find our Apostle Paul continuing to teach on the subject of the true Believer’s walk here introducing two additional commands from the risen Lord:
…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ (5:21).
Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord (5:22).
Paul immediately gives the reason for this godly conduct: For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body (5:23).
Beginning at verse 5:21 where Paul said, “… and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” - the word “subject” in Koine Greek is Hupotasso (hoop-ot-as’-so), Verb, Strong’s Greek #5293. The Greek military meaning of “subject” is “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a designated leader. Its non-military use conveys the meaning of: a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating with one another.
Taking this into account, we understand the word “subject” to mean: “to set something in place up under something else.” Do you realize no matter who you are or where you presently stand with the Lord Jesus Christ, you submit to authority every single day. Children submit to parental authority around the clock. Adults submit to the laws of their state while driving to work and upon arriving at work they submit to the authority over them. Every time you sign and remit your annual income taxes to both your state and the federal government, you are submitting to the proper authority. You may not agree with how your tax dollars are being used or how the government is being managed, but this thinking has nothing to do with the other. Your submission in each of these examples has to do with an ordered arrangement, under the command of a designated leader; and your voluntary attitude of cooperation is required.
I had many designated “leaders” while serving in the military, some were competent, and others, not so much. But in every case, when an order was issued, obedience (submission) was mandatory. I did not possess the right to question any order; my duty was to carry it out to the best of my ability or face the consequences. In some cases, failure to perform my responsibilities could result in the loss of life!
Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus was a revered and powerful man in Jesus’ day. No human on earth was more powerful, when he spoke, the people obeyed, or else (Luke 2:1). So, the Lord’s enemies attempted to trap Him into making a treasonous statement publicly: They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for you are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll tax to Caesar or not?”
And Jesus (fully aware of the condition of their hearts) said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they were amazed at Him” (Mark 12:17).
Jesus isn’t drawing a line between human government and God here. He’s saying honor them both by giving what rightfully belongs to them. Now, let’s marry this thought with what Paul wrote in Romans 13:1: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
The Sovereign God and mighty Caesar did not answer to a higher authority. Their authority is clearly one-directional, meaning it’s not reciprocal, i.e. shared authority and this is line with the Greek word Hupotasso. Paul’s not talking about “mutual submission.” Instead, be subject, as it’s used here means: an ordered relationship in which one person is over and another is under the other.
Because Paul has commanded the churches to “be subject to one another” I rationalize the Believers were behaving poorly in this area. If this wasn’t a corporate problem, there would be no need to issue this command. Paul’s saying the body of Christ is to be subject (Hupotasso) to that person who has been given authority over them (Romans 8:7, 13:1; Ephesians 1:22, 5:24; Titus 3:1). Said differently, those who are under the Spirit’s control are to be submissive to those who have been placed in authority over them.
This thought intentionally leads us into 5:22-23.
God’s Design for the Family
I’ve heard it said, “God designed marriage, so He gets to define it.” Therefore we’re to pay attention to what He has said re: this topic and not Oprah.
Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
The term “one another” (5:21) stands as the introductory phrase for this section of scripture. But let’s be clear it isn’t referring to “mutual (reciprocal) submission,” as some people teach. If this was true, Paul would have also written: “Husbands submit to your wives.” We note that phrase is not found in scripture. Therefore God has purposed hierarchical authority in the Believer’s household with these words: “Wives be subject to your own husbands (how), as to the Lord.
That should tell you all you need to know. The Lord commands and we obey, in love. One day future all things will be summed up in Christ whether in heaven or on earth. Jesus Christ will be the Lord of all (Romans 14:11; Ephesians 9-10; Philippians 2:10). Nowhere in scripture does it say the Lord is subject to us.
Now, it is human nature to find fault with Paul’s statement and people have resisted and spoken out against it since Paul dictated the command to his scribe, but always remember our Apostle Paul is the spokesperson for God’s one Church.
If you’ll spend some time studying the history of this period, you’ll learn women possessed few rights. While the man’s responsibility was seen as public, women’s rights were restricted almost entirely within the home. Women could not testify in court, which put them in the same category as Gentiles, minors, and deaf-mutes. This also includes “undesirables” such as gamblers, the insane, and those who loaned money at exorbitant rates. Customarily, a woman was not permitted to engage in commerce, and was rarely seen outside of the home. If she was seen outdoors, she was heavily veiled and prohibited from conversing with men. Study the Muslim countries and you’ll find women still have few rights.
Enter the Lord Jesus Christ and our Apostle Paul. Jesus Christ is considered a Revolutionary for many reasons. He wasn’t afraid to challenge the accepted thinking of the day. In fact, His teachings were considered “radical” by the Jewish religious leaders. He included women in His ministry as did Paul. Both took the women out of the shadows and brought them into the Light (Matthew 15:28; Luke 4:14-19; John 11:26-27; Acts 16, 17:17, 18:2; Romans 16:1-2, 6). To be clear, Paul did more to advance the rights of women in the church than any other individual in history. And yet both he and his writings are vilified by the very people he was assisting.
To get a handle on this church teaching (the world has its own view) we need to go back to the beginning (the book of Genesis) where the LORD God established the marriage covenant between one man and one woman.
I said covenant on purpose. The Bible never mentions the term “marriage contract,” that’s man’s legal view of this religious ceremony. If I’ve learned anything after two divorces and a couple of home sales that fell through, I’ve learned a good lawyer can nullify any contract, which means contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
Looking to this book, we find there are many different covenants in the Bible; however, there are only two types of covenants conditional and unconditional. Marriage is a good illustration of a covenant because a man and a woman choose to enter into the relationship and they make promises (vows) to one another and to God openly.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
There’s a lot going on here, but I’m going to focus on three important things that are pertinent to our study.
1) The woman here is called the man’s suitable helper. In Hebrew (the language of the O.T.) the word helper, as used in Genesis 2:18, 20 is translated from the word Ezer (ay-zer) and it is always and only used in the O.T. in the context of vitally important and powerful acts of rescue and support. In Genesis 18:4, Moses named one of his sons Eliezer, which in Hebrew means, “My God is my helper) – Eli = my God; ezer = helper. Moses named his son Eliezer after the LORD God delivered him from Pharaoh’s sword.
Now, let’s look at the qualifying word appearing before “helper,” and that’s the word “suitable.” In Hebrew this word is Kenegdo. This word is never used to describe a subordinate. Most of the time when you see this word in the O.T. it is used of the LORD God in His role as rescuer, savior, and protector (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7). Thus, it conveys the meaning the woman was designed by the LORD to be the man’s equal partner. There is no hint of her being subordinate to the man, although some people read it this way; and that would be incorrect (Genesis 2:7). The truth is she was a full-partner in the marriage covenant. She completed the man.
2) The married couple is not to remain under their parents’ roof. They are to leave their father and mother and cleave to one another, united as one, and then establish their own domicile. Responsibility shifts from the parent’s to the newlyweds. They are to make their own way, united, as one. This was in keeping with the LORD God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 2:28).
3) The woman was taken from the man’s “side-chamber.” The man said, “She is the bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” The marital bond between husband and wife is meant to be so strong; one could not leave the relationship without causing extensive damage to self and others. If you’ve suffered the pain of divorce, then you know it’s destroyer of hopes and dreams and fractures family relationships. These are a few reasons why “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16; 1 Peter 3:7). Divorce is man’s way out of a jam, but God has said “No” to divorce except for one reason – infidelity.
Thus Ephesians 5:21 to 6:9 give Believers practical examples of the Spirit-filled life we are to walk, in love. Put another way, “This is truly where the rubber meets the highway of life.” These three areas are where we have an opportunity to show the difference the Lord has made in our lives because almost everyone has to deal with one or more of these on a daily basis: our marriage, our home, at our workplace. Here Paul begins with the marriage relationship: Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord we find the reason for this behavior in 5:23: For the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savor of the body.
Paul wrote similar commands to the other churches:
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3).
For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake (1 Corinthians 11:8-9).
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord (Colossians 3:18).
For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (1 Timothy 2:13-14).
These verses are not difficult to understand, but it does require the Spirit-filled Believer to walk in accordance with God’s expressed will. However, I’ve found this to be a problem in the Christian home; my own included. My parent’s marriage ended in divorce. This was heart-breaking and a bit more than disconcerting to the rest of the family. In March of this year I suffered my second divorce, after 16 years of marriage. She told me she still loved me; she just didn’t want to be married to me any longer… One of the reasons she petitioned for divorce was this passage of scripture (5:22-23). You have to understand my ex-wife had her beliefs (religious traditions) and these often contradicted with what God has actually said. When I attempted to teach her the meaning of this verse, she told me I was trying to dominate her. She also said this was my opinion; the Bible doesn’t actually say this. She was obviously frustrated with marital life because she included my poor health as an additional reason. However, our separate views regarding what God said and did not say placed a permanent wedge in our marriage relationship. She placed her complete trust in her Baptist upbringing. I informed her many times I don’t believe in “labels” I am merely a Believer of what God said. Besides that, I was her 5th husband, so she had a history of leaving and not cleaving! Clearly, my ex-wife had not been taught scripture, rightly divided, or accurately, and despite my best efforts, she continued to resist the truth.
So, before we go any further, I point out there are certain political groups and people, in general, who disagree with these commands from Paul, which essentially mean they disagree with what God has plainly said. In short, the vast majority of Christian homes today are not following along with God’s blueprint for success or His expressed will for the marital relationship. Because of this I know many people reading this will disagree with what has been written here, but I point out I’m merely the messenger or your guide.
The term “be subject” in 5:21 is equal to the term “be subject” found in 5:23. Both these words in Koine Greek are Hupotasso. Once again, this word does not mean “mutual submission;” it means a “one-directional” authority.
For the husband is head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body – the Koine Greek word head is Kephale (kef-al-ay’), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #2776, and it means: anything supreme, chief, or prominent. Of persons: master or lord; of a husband: in relation to his wife. Here Paul speaks of government (management) or God-given authority (Romans 13:1).
The idea being expressed here is the husband, being the head of his wife speaks of a position of authority and responsibility. It is not saying the husband is superior and the wife is merely a “step-n’-fetch” or inferior. Our pride was undone at our conversion. If not, you need to work on it. The wife may possess abilities and skills that exceed her husband’s; however, we’re not talking about those attributes here we’re talking about order and God’s divine purpose.
Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 11:3 come to mind: But I want you to (what) understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. This follows the order of creation, as Paul points out in 1Timothy 2:13: For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. It also follows the purpose of our creation for the woman was created to be the compliment of the man, and not vice versa. Again, this is not how the world views this subject, and this explains why more than 50% of marriages, even Christian marriages, end in divorce. God said follow His blueprint for success and you’ll have a successful marriage.
The Believer’s love for one another is fostered and will proceed to flow out of a marriage that displays the attributes described by Paul in Philippians 2:3-7: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
God will hold those husbands accountable for how they choose to lead their wives and families in godliness, but it’s also true God will hold the wives accountable for how they followed their husbands godly lead (5:24).
The Apostle Peter’s words stress this point more than Paul: In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:1-4).
Bear in mind these apostles are not saying submission means zero limits. First, your submission is to God and then your husbands. You cannot submit to anything that contradicts God’s expressed will or His commandments, “…for we are to obey God rather than men.”
You also do not have to suffer your husband’s abuse. This is clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11: But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not (what) leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
Divorce is not an option for a Believer. I wish my ex-wife would have devoted more time to Bible study, perhaps then we would not be in this present situation. I say this because I honestly don’t believe she’s aware of this comment from Paul: “…and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (5:33b).
No one is perfect, we all have our failures and our successes in life, there are things we are good at, and there are things we struggle to achieve. But the Bible doesn’t say your husband has to be perfect for their wives to respect them. The only perfect Man was nailed to a Roman cross.
People are rebellious in nature which explains why they disagree, outright, with the statement the woman was created for the man’s sake. But, if you read the account in Genesis again, you’ll find the woman didn’t argue about her marital role, she walked in it. So, when the true Believer puts God and His Word above all else, they demonstrate their spirit-filled walk to this God-hating world.
(To be continued)
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