Ephesians 5:23, appears to be a fairly straightforward statement. Or, is it? For different reasons, men & women focus on the 1st portion of the verse, while ignoring the remainder of the passage along with the verses of Ephesians (Eph) 5, which follow. As is the case with all verses of Scripture, they can not be interpreted on a stand-alone basis. Doing so gives one a skewed interpretation of what is being presented. Some women resent this verse, feeling that it impinges on their equality. Too many men use this verse as an excuse to be dictators within their families. However, by reading all of Ephesians 5 a much different picture of the relationship God desires between a husband & wife is presented.
To properly understand Ephesians 5:23 it is necessary to consider not only the entire verse; but, also the context it is contained in. The purpose of this page is to examine Eph 5 to determine what God says is the ideal relationship that should exist between a husband & wife. To do this we will examine both the the entire verse along with several following ones.
The 2nd portion of the first sentence of Ephesians 5:23 says,
“as Christ is the head of the church”
and further on in Eph 5:25 we find the following,
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.”
Therefore, the relationship between a husband & wife should be the same as that between Jesus & the body of believers called His Church. The Church is subject to His authority in everything; yet He, by choice, is a servant of the body of believers. He aids, comforts, strengthens, uplifts, and consoles them. He is considerate of them, listening & responding to their problems, worries, and fears. This is the type of relationship God desires His children to have.
Further on in Ephesians, we find the following two verses,
“So husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself.”
“But every husband must love his wife as he loves himself, and wives should respect their husbands.”
To paraphrase, 'A man must treat his wife the same way he wants to be treated.' A man wants to be treated lovingly, with respect. He wants others to be considerate & respectful of his feelings, suggestions, opinions, and ideas. He does not want to be dictated to, ignored, abused, or be treated as a slave, or piece of furniture. He wants others to be quick to cheerfully help when he needs assistance. This is what God desires a marriage between His children to be. Ephesians 5 teaches that a husband should treat his wife as a co-equal, who is just as important as he is.
Ephesians 5 describes a partnership, which is what marriage should be. It is a well known fact, that for any two person partnership to be truly successful, one of the partners has to be the managing partner. No matter how well matched, two people will not agree on every decision that has to be made in a partnership. If there were no managing partner then there would be no action taken on any decision upon which the partners disagree. What God has done in Eph 5:23 is assign the role of managing partner to the husband. This is in agreement with His intent
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him."
Marriage was never intended to be a union between a woman and a tyrant, dictator, or ogre. God intends for it to be a loving, considerate, respectful, partnership between a man & woman. This is the true teaching surrounding Ephesians 5:23.
page updated 03/01/2011.