Christ’s sacrificial love from Ephesians 5

It’s probably not that surprising how the Ephesians passage is easily warped into “servant leadership” or rather do what your wife wants to make her feel better. However, few do get the deep context of the passage.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

The sacrificial love Christ gave is for the specific purpose of sanctification. In other words, with His death Christ was thinking about how to reconcile us to God and Himself.

What most people don’t realize is that this passage mirrors Genesis 2-3 accurately.

Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The purpose of the Ephesians 5 passage goes back to the garden:

  1. God commands Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
  2. Adam ate from it without being deceived, under the persuasion of his wife (1 Tim 2)
  3. God goes to Adam, and Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent

Christ’s as the 2nd Adam (1 Cor 15) and his sacrifice is the example of a sacrificial love for our reconciliation with God. Thus, God gives husbands the same mission again to be the head of their wives and guide / teach / correct / rebuke them toward holiness rather than sin. To help them choose the tree of life rather than the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

When pastors make this passage about a husband making his wife feel better, they miss the deep meaning behind Christ’s sacrifice and parallel to creation in the passage.

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15 Responses to Christ’s sacrificial love from Ephesians 5

  1. Well said but in my experience most sermons just stop at verse 25. This Mothers day sermon was one of those. Followed by: The word says that she is to be subject not that you should subjugate her. Your job is just to love her.

  2. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    It is worth mentioning again. If it were offered to men, a lot of them would not partake of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A woman’s endorsement just isn’t as effective as it was then. As for women, they are going to do what they are going to do and men have little influence on them.

  3. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    DS – you have hit on at least two cavils that Christo-feminists use to decapitate the home.

    The first is the contention that it is not loving to admonish, exhort and rebuke your wife. Some say if you hurt her feelings it is a great sin of abuse. The fallacious view that love is about making people feel good is simply a tolerance of sin and an apathy to sanctification. It is not love because it does not seek the other’s good and for a husband it does not emulate the sacrifice of Christ for their holiness. It most certainly is not speaking the truth in love, but misses on both accounts.

    The second fallacious canard equates leading with love from a position of authority to how “the gentiles lord it over them”. Positional authority is often replaced with the idea that Christian leadership and especially leadership in the home is primarily eschewing authority and becoming a servant to serve the happiness of their spouse, a daughter of the king. So a leader is actually a servant, albeit a servant that not only carries the guilt of the household but the responsibility. It seems critical theory has infected the church’s view of leadership in the home and so it resists authority as “privilege” and equates submission under authority as “oppression”.

    These odious teachings undermining that love that sanctifies, love that comes from a position of authority a picture of God’s love the church is removing the biblical idea of headship. It is removing the head from the body of the household and as spiritually fatal as removing the Lordship of Christ from the church. The church ought to worship and adore Her Lord for choosing, preserving and sanctifying her to holiness. In the same way a wife ought to be taught to love and honor her husband for choosing her, protecting her and leading her to holiness, even if that leading involves unpleasant changes.

  4. Jacob says:

    Great observations. I particularly appreciate the previous commenters last sentence. Men are not just going to be able to conjure up the ability to so those things for wives without training. Churches need to provide the facility for men to know how to choose the right kindnof woman to marry, the right way to protect her and lead her to holiness, and the courage to handle necessarily unpleasant feelings. Instead, men in church are taught to navigate the stormy seas as if they’re endowed at birth or simply by faith. It just doesn’t work that way.

  5. Joe2 says:

    If it were offered to men, a lot of them would not partake of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A woman’s endorsement just isn’t as effective as it was then.

    I agree and appreciate your comment, but speaking for myself I’m not certain that I wouldn’t fall (no pun intended) and partake. I continue to make errors in judgment, even though at the time the decision is made it seems to be correct. I’m not necessarily talking about decisions which result in sin. It’s not that I’m deceived; it’s just that sometimes I don’t apply what I know to a particular situation (and I don’t know why that is) and the result is an incorrect decision. I do make fewer errors in judgment now, but I’m not 100% confident I won’t make another error and, while many men would not partake, I don’t think any man should be so confident and believe they wouldn’t partake.

  6. @ fuzzie

    If it were offered to men, a lot of them would not partake of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    I disagree. Maybe not in a certain area like men and women, but everyone has a particular area where they struggle in.

    If a person is tempted in an area that is difficult for them, it is hard for them to say no. Mature Christians are no exception. Hence, Paul’s statement:

    Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

  7. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    DS,
    It is my guess that Adam wanted to share the same fate as Eve that led him to partake. We all have our faults. Bears are notorious for having a sweet tooth. Adam had to be fond of Eve. The point that I was trying to make is that women don’t exert that much influence over men and that men exert less than that over women.
    As for the quote from Raul, it made me think of how monks submit to work assignments that abbots designate. No good abbot would assign work that a monk would hate all the time. Just a little to to keep the monk humble and things in perspective. I think Paul knew this too.

  8. Pingback: False desire and true desire | Christianity and masculinity

  9. @ fuzzie

    It is my guess that Adam wanted to share the same fate as Eve that led him to partake. We all have our faults. Bears are notorious for having a sweet tooth. Adam had to be fond of Eve. The point that I was trying to make is that women don’t exert that much influence over men and that men exert less than that over women.

    I’d agree with that on a general basis.

    Though you and I probably both know that the majority of husbands would go along with their wives on sin rather than stand up to her and obey God. It’s too ingrained in this culture at least.

  10. Junkyard Dawg says:

    A timely post. I’m part of a Bible study that has been working its way through Ephesians over the last few months and this Sunday will be when we get to this passage. It should be interesting. I will have a few things to say on the matter, including some of the things you and some of your commenters have said here.

    My wife has no intention of submitting to anything remotely resembling headship coming from me, but likes it when we’re nicey-nice together and when I do things to please her (take her to nice places and generally doing what she says to do). Whether she is an actual believer or not, she is slowly moving in that direction, although it’s hard to say how far this is going to go. She comes to these studies sometimes and it will be interesting what she has to “contribute” during the discussion.

    I was talking to one of the women after the study last Sunday, who says that she does submit to her husband. Again, the discussion should be interesting.

  11. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    While bears do have a sweet tooth, I can’t get over how well behaved this one is.

  12. ballista74 says:

    When pastors make this passage about a husband making his wife feel better, they miss the deep meaning behind Christ’s sacrifice and parallel to creation in the passage.

    One should not be surprised. I can’t tell if the false gospel that prompts this came first or the worship of women as goddesses, but when women are considered holy and blameless, equal to the Lord God, you will inevitably get such results. This false gospel is one of the major focuses of the book I’m working on, but hopefully I’ll have some posts up soon on the underpinnings behind this post which have not been covered.

  13. Sharkly says:

    ballista74,
    I’ve got your link up at my blog, and I can’t wait for more of your excellent posts. I don’t usually buy books, but I may just have to make an exception for yours. I give some history of the slow elevation of women in the church over the last 2000 years in this post:
    https://laf443259520.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/worshipping-the-great-whore/

    Deep Strength, I seem to recall hearing that you had a book out too. Is there information about it and how to purchase it somewhere?

  14. @ Sharkly

    Deep Strength, I seem to recall hearing that you had a book out too. Is there information about it and how to purchase it somewhere?

    It’s here:

  15. Lost Patrol says:

    I noted on the book thread that I enjoyed reading it, but the thread is old so I’ll reiterate here.

    There is a great deal of real-talk about men and women, and actionable advice, that I do not hear among church going men. The sorts of things that usually make them uncomfortable.

    Have you received feedback from people you know, that know you are the author?

    I have wondered if there was general acceptance, or resistance.

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