In Ephesians 5:22-24(KJV) the Bible says the following:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Ephesians 5:22-24 teaches us the important Biblical principle that God designed marriage to be a picture of the relationship of Christ and his church. This tells us that we can and should look, not just at Ephesians 5:22-33, but also at all other references to how Christ and his church interact with one another throughout the Old and New Testaments to understand how marriage should operate.
A marriage built only on the principles of Ephesians 5:22-33 will be missing key and important attributes of Christ’s marriage to his church mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. In other words, a marriage modeled exclusively after the attributes described in Ephesians 5:22-33 will not fully and completely picture the relationship of Christ to his Church.
For example, Ephesians 5:25-29 commands men to love their wives a Christ loves his church and lists several attributes of Christ’s love for his church including him sacrificing himself for her, him washing her spiritual spots and wrinkles with the Word of God and him providing for and protecting his wife as he would his own body.
But Revelation 3:19 mentions some other attributes of Christ’s love for his church not found in Ephesians 5:25-29. In Revelation 3:19 (KJV) the Christ said the following to his seven churches:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
A husband’s love for his wife includes not his spiritual washing of her, his provision for her and his protection of her – but it also includes his rebuking her and chastening her.
The Biblical truth that the wife is to picture the church in relationship to Christ and the husband represents Christs means that a wife is to obey all the commands of God to the church relating to Christ, with the notable exceptions of worshipping her husband or seeing him as her savior from sin. Those qualities belong to Christ alone and not earthly husbands. I will address the worship issue more as this post progresses.
And now that we have firmly established the Biblical principle that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church – we will explore another passage which shows other aspects of the relationship of Christ and the church which also apply to marriage.