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The "S" Word

Words of Faith Final

The "S" Word

Words of Faith 4-8-2021

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Ephesians 5

[21] Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. [22] Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.


      Ephesians 5 has the most careful description of marriage and family in the entire Bible.  After laying the foundation for the family as a careful walk with Christ, Paul shifts gears to the matter of submission.  Many will click on to some other reading at this point.  But this is critical.  For those who hang in there, there is some insight to gain so let's take a careful look at the "S" word: submission. 

      Verse 22 is one that many husbands love to hear preached.  Wives are supposed to submit.  But often those same husbands (and the preacher) will completely miss the fact that verses 21 and 22 go together-- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, then, Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

     Some may argue that the division in their Bible places verse 21 with the previous paragraph.  Okay.  But if you look at the Greek text there are no paragraphs and no "section titles" at all.  So where does verse 21 belong?  Even the NIV separates verse 21 from the previous paragraph and leaves it all alone by itself. 

      Here is the question. Is the mutual submission talked about in verse 21 the climactic thought in the previous paragraph, or is it the introductory basis to the section on marriage?  Does the imitation of God-- staying in the Light, careful use of time, filling of the Spirit, strong fellowship of the Body-- culminate in glorifying God, or in mutual the submission of believers to one another in reverence to Christ?

      Not sure? There is another matter to point out.  In the Greek text, verse 22 does not even have the verb "submit" in it.  Grammatically, verse 22 MUST borrow that verb from the previous sentence.  The verse literally would read-- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ and wives to your husbands.  The verse makes no sense standing alone as many try to read it. It would only say-- "Wives to your husbands as to the Lord."

       The answer may be that all this culminates the walk of a believer that imitates God, but clearly, we cannot understand or even read verse 22 without verse 21.  Yet, it is done all the time.  In wedding after wedding, the passage is read starting at verse 22 without verse 21.  But the truth is that the submission of the wife to her husband is predicated upon the mutual submission of husband and wife to each other out of reverence for Christ.

      Think about it.  It makes so much sense.  Functionally, marriage is all about submission or "giving in."  Marriage is, among other things, a lengthy series of compromises where we give up selfish things and consider another as more important than ourselves.  Marriage is all about adjustments to another person.  Because of this, selfish people are miserable in marriage.  All people are miserable in marriage unless they have learned to reverence Christ and give in to each other.

      Mutual submission can only happen in reverence for Christ.  This means that as two people surrender themselves to Christ, they very naturally can submit to one another.  The exhortation for husbands later in the text is to love your wife as Christ loved the church.  This sort of sacrificial love will never ever happen in a man who is unwilling to "give in" on the adjustments necessary for two people to come together.

    So, let's start here with the "S" word.  Whether married or not, plan to marry or plan never to be married-- surrender to the Lord in reverence to Christ is foundational.  Submit or give in to one another.  Be willing to set aside your wants, desires, and agendas.  Set aside selfishness and have the attitude of Christ Jesus that counts others as more important than yourself. 


     Father God, build in me the sort of foundation that makes family a joy and relationships a delight. Teach me how to give in to another out of reverence to Christ.  Teach me how to set aside my desires and love unselfishly.  Teach me how to surrender my will to Yours.  In Jesus' Name.