Ephesians 5:22-33 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What connection is there between Ephesians 5:18, 21 and 22 (printed below?)

…be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)… submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (5:21)…Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord (5:22)

Verse 18 exhorts the Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Verse 21 indicates that one evidence and one mark of being filled with the Holy Spirit is living in submission to one another. In verse 22 Paul indicates that when Christian wives are living a Spirit-filled life, this characteristic of godly submission will be especially displayed in the marriage relationship and will be practiced with regard to the wife’s relationship to her husband. One evidence of a Spirit-filled life is submissiveness; and, conversely, the source of submissiveness is a Spirit-filled life.

2. The apostle Paul instructs wives to submit unto their husbands “as unto the Lord.” What do you think this means?

The Christian wife is to submit herself to her husband for the sake of Jesus, doing it out of love and devotion to her Lord. She should do so remembering that out of love for her the Lord Jesus submitted Himself to God, which meant going to the cross of Calvary. The wife is to submit herself to her husband because he is responsible to fulfill the role of the Lord Jesus in the marriage (note verses 23,25).

3. What does the apostle exhort Christian husbands to do? See Ephesians 5:25a (printed below)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)

The apostle Paul exhorts Christian husbands to “love your wives.” Note: the husband is not instructed to make sure that his wife lives in submission to him; on the contrary, he is commanded to love his wife.

4. What kind of love should the husband have for his wife? Whose example should he imitate? See Ephesians 5:25b (printed above under question #3)

Husbands are commanded to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church.” Out of love, Christ gave himself up for the church; Christ denied Himself, He sacrificed Himself, and did so for the life and well-being of His church. The Christian husband is to sacrifice himself (his time, his use of money, his desires, etc.) for the sake of his wife. The specific way in which the husband displays the submissiveness that is characteristic of a Spirit-filled life is by loving his wife with a Christ-like love.

5. What does Ephesians 5:25-27 (printed below) tell us about Christ’s love for the church? What does this mean with regard to the way in which a Christian husband ought to love his wife?

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (26) so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her with the washing of water by the word—(27) so that he might present the church to himself in glory, without blemish or wrinkle or any other such thing, but being holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Christ lovingly and painstakingly is preparing us as His church for a glorious future with Himself (verses 25-27;) He concerns Himself with our well-being. Christian husbands are to help their wives grow into all they can become as godly women, and by no means is the Christian husband to stifle his wife’s spiritual life or the use of her God-given gifts.