Lesson 19

Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

5:29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ also the assembly; 5:30 because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. 5:31 "For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh." 5:32 This mystery is great, but I speak in regard of Christ and of the assembly. 5:33 Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


Today's Lesson

 Paul concludes his advice to husbands and wives in this passage. Once more, his words addressed to us more rightly speak of Christ. They are along the same vain as the two previous sections and reinforce what Paul has said before.


Men do not usually hate their own flesh. We know there are aberrations to this rule, but Paul is talking in general. Just as a man nourishes his body and cares for it and is concerned when it does not thrive, so Christ cares for His body the church. The church was designed from the beginning of creation and implemented in our own age in order to provide a body within which God would dwell. Christ will care for that body just as we would our own. He will feed it and defend it. He will clothe it and train it.


But, remember here that Paul is not just talking about Christ and the church. He is also talking about the union of husband and wife. When a man and women join, they become one flesh. I would no more dishonor my wife than I would dishonor my own flesh. Not if I understand our relationship in the way that God sees it. There is no division between us. There is nothing gained when one partner withholds anything from the other. There is no mine and thine. There are only us and ours.


Paul quotes a passage from the beginning of Jewish written scripture. A man will leave his father and mother and be joined with his wife. They will become one flesh. Paul says that it is a great mystery and he primarily speaks of Christ and His church when he says this. But, in relationship to husbands and wives, I think it is also a mystery that is in need of revelation to this day and age. Marriage is too easily set aside. We are too fiercely individualistic, even with those with whom we are most intimate. And, our conception of power and prowess is that, if we rely or care about another too much, we are less than complete.


But, our model is Jesus Christ. Though being in the form of God, He was willing to set that aside and become like a servant. He was willing to suffer and die for the sake of those that He loved. And, the amazing part is that when He was accomplishing His greatest work, all those whom He loved most were rejecting him. He was suffering and dying for people who were not worthy of the sacrifice that He was making. But, in God's eyes, they were worthy.


Paul has been speaking in lofty terms, but, just in case someone thinks he has lost his way in higher matters, he calls us back to his original thought in verse 33. Husbands are to love their wives as they do themselves. Wives are to respect their husbands. Their mutual love and respect and concern are what will cause their union to endure the trials of this life.


Paul's ideal of marriage is a high one. Husbands and wives are one flesh. One member of the body is not superior to the other. They are the same being. They must love and work as one being. Each must respect and accommodate the other. Each must hold the other dear. They are more than equal partners. They are united in a holy union that transcends what each was before they joined.


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