The Meaning of Sacrament (From a Linguistic View)

In the study of linguistics, it is normal to see that the meaning of words may change over time.  One such word that fits the category is the word “sacrament”.  When we hear that word, we think of the seven sacraments administered by the church.  They are a promise from Christ to show that he is still among us.  To do this properly we look to the Latin term sacramentum.

What does the word sacramentum mean?  To the Roman soldier it is a solemn obligation to carry out one’s duty even to the point of death.  It is similar to the oath that soldiers in the 21st century make in the United States.  They take an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all foreign and domestic enemies.  An oath is made to obey the orders of the President of the United States and those officers appointed over them.  When the Roman soldier enters military service an oath is made to the Senate and the People.  As the American soldier is called to make the ultimate sacrifice, the Roman soldier by virtue of his oath will fulfill his service to the point of death.

In regard to the sacraments it is a solemn pledge from God to us.  We are physical creatures, and sacramentum shows a personal relationship through physical matter.  God gave us an oath at the beginning of salvation history and carried it out to death on the cross.  The sacraments are a continued sign that he is always with us.

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Moral Relativism, Moral Code, and Human Freedom

In modern times it has been increasing popular to say that truth may vary by person. One person may say that murder is wrong, while another may say it is wrong depending on the scenario. Though the example given may seem outlandish is denotes a trend of moral relativism among our culture. The power to decide what is truth, and what is right of wrong is the domain of God. In the great encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, Saint Pope John Paul II writes, “Revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone” (Veritatis Splendor para 35). The ideas taught within nominalism have manifested themselves twofold within moral relativism. Furthermore, God has revealed through reason and natural law certain moral principles that man is to uphold. Sin undermines this by destroying what God had established, and in a sense, man has become their own god.

Image result for veritatis splendor an moral relativism

As previously stated God has revealed in natural law, and the scriptures the moral code in which man is supposed to act. Concerning morality, or the moral order, natural law helps us discern universal and binding moral principles and precepts. God gave this gift to man to show us how to love him and how to love each other. Natural law implies that there is a moral realism, or a defined moral order that we called to uphold. When we follow natural law, seek to know the truth about God, and seek to do good we echo the words of scripture “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NRSV). These appetites worked together to help man have happiness.

However, man wanted to be happy at all costs, and that would eventually mean transgressing moral law. Man wanted freedom, but what man does not understand is that the moral code leads to freedom. Saint Pope John Paul II writes, “God’s law does not reduce, much less do away with human freedom; rather, it protects and promotes that freedom” (Veritatis Splendor para 35). Sin destroys that freedom, and man becomes a slave to sin. Man tried to change morality was, and in the 14th century William Ockham said that universal ideas like truth and love were ideas and not reality . This would eventually give way to moral relativism which says that there is no objective truth. Truth is in the eye of the beholder and can change from one person to another. Through sin, man lost sight of what truth is and what would make him happy. Regarding this Servais Pinckaers writes, “With the advent of nominalism we witness the formation of the first morality obligation: The moral life will henceforth be circumscribed to obligations. The desire for happiness will be systematically set aside” (Pinckaers 72). Truth is not a concept or an abstract idea. Truth is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ.

Works Cited

Pinckaers, Servais. Morality: The Catholic View. St. Augustine’s Press. South Bend, IN: 2001. Print.

Pope John Paul II. Veritatis Splendor. http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor.html. Accessed February 27, 2018.

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

Victory in Jesus!

The letters of Paul are very powerful and beneficial to the Christian. They show a man who persecuted the church, became a missionary to the Gentiles, and a man who died a martyr for the Christian faith. His first letter to the Thessalonians was the first letter written in the New Testament, but what has God done according to Paul to bring humanity from the power of sin and death?

It is not enough to say that God sent his son Jesus to be the expiation of our sins. That is the end point, but we need to get to the beginning. Brown states “Just as Judaism had a basic story of how God chose and called Israel through Moses, so also, some would logically suppose, Christians had a basic story that retold God’s choice of Israel by recalling how God renewed the call through the ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus (Brown, page 440).”

Our first parents sinned and brought sin into the world, but throughout history God made covenants with a tiny nation called Israel. He brought them through things that seemed insurmountable. Christ came to us through a Davidic line that included prostitutes, adulterers, and murderers to show us that nothing is impossible with God. That God has a way of making something positive out of something that seems to be negative.

In regards to sin and death Paul says in Romans 5:17 “If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Adam sinned, but Christ took his place and was without sin. He was the second Adam that came into the world to give all of us another chance. Through Him we were given a second chance to be children of God.

That required faith in the work that Christ accomplished for us, and a willingness on our part to believe in him. Raymond Brown states “For Paul, it describes God’s powerful salvific act through faith in Jesus Christ. The other side of the coin is the effect of the Christ-event: justification, i.e., the relationship of human being to God effected by God’s gracious, unmerited action in Christ: They now stand before God acquitted or innocent (Brown, page 441).” Through our faith in Christ we have overcome sin and death.

This victory over sin is available to everyone regardless of what we have done. Have you accepted the gift of salvation through Christ? I will promise you one thing. You will lose everything, but you will gain so much more. You will gain an eternity with the savior of the world, and that is the greatest gift we could ever hope for. You don’t have to be good enough, just humble enough to admit that you need him.

Works Cited

Brown, Raymond, An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997

Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version

Unmerited Grace

The following topic is one that I have avoided writing about for quite some time.  That is because it is a very personal story, and many of those close to me would have difficulty believing it.  However the call of the Holy Spirit must trump all of my desires.  This is my story.  A story of a near fatal accident, a pain killer addiction, and redemption.

I grew up in a Christian home, went to church and was very active in many things so I had a decent grasp on the faith.  However there are situations in our lives that seem insurmountable, and cause us to call into question things we hold dear.  Looking back it is strange because what happened should have strengthened my faith, and it hindsight it has though at the time it seemed to not be the case.

In February 2013 I was involved in a rollover accident.  I was driving to work, hit a patch of black ice, and rolled several times.  I remember waking up with my truck on its side, my foot flooring the gas pedal, and the fresh McDonald’s coffee all over me.  I was obviously a bit flustered, and this was caused to the initial impact being firmly on top of my head.  I was able to climb out under my own power thanks to a nurse that was traveling behind me.

The next couple months are a blur as I was having horrible migraines, and memory issues.  All typical things when sustaining a huge concussion, but I was also having neck pain that was persistent.  The constant pain, migraines, and memory issues threw me into a deep depression.  I was given multiple prescription for anti-depressants, pain killers, and muscle relaxers.  I was supposed to take two of each per day, but that led to four per day, which would lead to six per day.  At my worst I was taking up to 53 pills per day just to function.  I was hooked and it seemed like things were just getting worse.  I had a horrible temper, treated people horribly, and felt like I had nowhere to turn.   Things got so bad that I wanted to end my life, and all this happened with a great wife, two kids, and two more on the way.

There was a cliff on the way to work that I had planned to drive off of.  I could not do it and tried to go to work like nothing unusual had happened.  I cried all day.  Not just a whimper, but a full blown cry.  Later that night, when everyone was in bed, I cried more.  A Bible verse from my past came to mind.  It was 2 Corinthians 12:9 which states, “And he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Most, gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me[1].”  This message was given to the Apostle Paul who asked three times for his infirmity to be taken away.  The KJV Biblical Commentary states, “The trial will remain but will be accompanied by the enduring grace of God[2].”

I knelt on in the middle of my living room that night, and with all the strength I could muster I asked for this grace.  I asked for help to endure the migraines, the neck and nerve issues, and PTSD that remain long after the accident.  I no longer wanted to be the addict that I had become.  I have not touched a pain pill since that night, and it is because of the unmerited grace of Christ.  I understand that an instantaneous event such as I had is very rare, and I do not know why it happened to me.  However I do know that the grace I experienced is available to anyone, and it doesn’t cost a dime.  It will cost us our lives because you will be choosing to hand your life over to Christ.  I have been on both sides, and the side of Christ is the one to be on.

It was time to tell this story, and I apologize or keeping it in for so long.  It is my hope and prayer that it will help someone who is going through a similar situation.  God bless you my friends.

[1] 2 Corinthians 12:9 (New American Standard Bible).

[2] King James Version Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005), 1527.

Drop Anchor

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”- Hebrews 2:1

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes about much that still happens today.  He implores us to take the message of salvation to heart, to hold it, to cherish it, and never let anything take its place.  However there are times in all of our lives where we let something take the place of our salvation in Jesus Christ.  We backslide and neglect the message of our salvation.

This is not to say that our salvation is lost, because finished that work.  There are times we anchor in a harbor other than the safe harbor of the Gospel.  It may be a relationship, work, or anything else.  Where are you anchored?  If it isn’t in Christ you will be tossed around when that heavy storm comes.  In Christ the storm will still come, but your anchor will hold.  Praying daily, reading scripture, and fellowship with other believers are key elements of strengthening our anchor.  Examine yourself this morning and see if your anchor has become something other than Christ.  If it has exchange it for the anchor that no others can beat.  Exchange it for Christ.

Faith and Assurance

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”- Hebrews 11:1

Chapter eleven of the book of Hebrews is known as the hall of fame of faith.  It describes the faith of the Old Testament patriarchs.  The chapter gives examples of the Noah, Abraham, Enoch, and others who were deemed righteous because of their faith.  By giving examples, the author shows us that biblical faith is not grounded in some vague hope, but gives us confidence of something in the future.

This faith is not some sort of blind trust, but confidence in an all-powerful God.  This assurance and confidence is granted to those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.  Where are you putting your faith today?  By putting your faith in Jesus Christ we are made a new creation and are granted the assurance of Heaven.  Take a few moments to examine your life.  Is there something that you are hesitant in handing over to Christ.  That thing has the greatest potential to make you stumble.  Lastly if you have accepted Christ have confidence in His promise to never leave you nor forsake you.  If you have drifted away ask Him for forgiveness and come back.  It is never to late.

Discipleship is a Process

As we get older we look back on things we have done with a sense of awe, accomplishment, and in some cases horror.  This is because life is a learning process that starts from the time we are born.  We learn to walk, speak, ride a bike, and later in life we teach others to do the same.  Discipleship is similar in this regard.  In Discipleship we start with our birth which is making Christ our savior, we learn to walk and talk, and later teach others the same.

According to Jim Putnam, discipleship consists of the following five stages:  Spiritually dead, infant, child, young adult, and parent[1].  He goes further and introduces four relational spheres which are the centrality of a relationship with God, relationships with the family of God, relationships at home, and relationships with the world[2].  The combination of the stages and spheres assists the disciple in determining where they are with their walk with Christ.  It also assists disciple makers in making better disciples, because each stage and sphere will require a different approach to get the person to the next level.  Following the process assists the church because stronger disciples help create other disciples, and it ensures that leadership positions are not filled by those that are not ready for the task.

We have all met someone who is in stage one.  These individuals may believe there is a God, but want to follow their own path.  Or they may not believe in God at all, but either way an acceptance of Christ as savior has not happened.  Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  The outcome of “sin is different from that of obedience to Christ.  Remuneration is the principle by which we become heirs to death[3].”  It is important to understand how to interact with an individual in this stage.  Putnam says it best when he says “They need love through honest friendships and relationships with believers.  We often preach our best sermons with our lives and not words[4].”

The second stage of discipleship is that of an infant.  An infant is someone who is most likely a new believer, but it can be someone who has been a Christian for years and has failed to grow.  2 Peter 2:2 describes this stage as “like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”  What is an infant?  An infant makes messes, cries when they need something, and they need twenty four hour care.  Though infants are a lot of work they are incredible blessings that God bestows on us.  It is the same with spiritual infants.  David Platt writes “He created human beings, not only to enjoy his grace in a relationship with Him, but also to extend His glory to the ends of the earth[5].”

The infant has been spiritually transformed by coming to faith and accepting Christ as savior.  We have all been in this stage and it is very important to remember that.  The infant will have zeal, and hopefully will ask a lot of questions about the faith.  They are new to it and do not understand.  Putnam states “They need someone to care for and feed them so they can grow and thrive.  Eventually they will learn to feed themselves, but at this point, they don’t really know how.  They need protection and guidance during this vulnerable stage of discipleship[6].”  It is not enough to show them how to do it, but just like any parent we must pray them through it.  Prayer is critical[7].

The third stage is that of a Child.  A child must be nurtured, and they are growing in their relationship with God and with other Christians as well.  Hey can be either a new believer or someone who has believed for many years.  The can do things for themselves but still depend on others to lead them.  A Child can be “overconfident, prideful, and full of himself, but they can also be insecure, self-loathing, and full of defeat[8].”  They need to be instructed about what to expect from others, and to be obedient to God.  On a personal note this is where I currently fall in my spiritual life.  When things do not go my way the first thing I try to do is fix it instead of going to prayer and seeking God’s wisdom.  Also if I get to much affirmation pride starts to set in.  It is truly irritating when this happens, but I do not realize it until it is too late.

The fourth stage is that of the young adult.  The young adult is God focused and making the shift from being self-centered to others centered.  The Apostle John describes young adults as overcoming the evil one.  1 John 2:13 states “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.  I have written to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.  I have written to you, children, because you know the father.”  They are involved in ministry and they put the needs of others before their own.  They do not seek affirmation for the things they do, but are humbled because they are able to participate in ministry.  They are starting to see the mission that God has in store for them, they want to study, serve, evangelize, and go on missions trips.  They need help in be held accountable for their ministry experiences, plenty of coaching, and a lot of love.

The final stage is that of a parent.  This is someone who has progressed through the five stages, has matured, and can now teach others.  A perfect example would be a Pastor of a local church, and for some of us it could take a lifetime to get there.  God is the center of their lives and they seek to study, and live His word on a daily basis[9].  They have a strong desire make disciples that will serve the Lord Jesus.  Parents also have an innate ability to determine where a person is on their spiritual journey.  As a result they will know what attention they need, and how to get them the help and resources needed to progress.  Though a Pastor is a good example it does not need to be only them.  It could be a Sunday school teacher, the secretary, and the list can go on.  Parents are not perfect and should not be expected to be.  They need to be aligned with other parents who can help them, and keep them accountable to keep progressing with their own spiritual lives.

To go along with the five stages of discipleship there is also the four relational spheres.  The first is in the disciple’s relationship with God.  We must remember that God is the nucleus of everything, the center on which everything else rests.  We are saved by grace, and should never forget the necessity of this fact.  If we do we run the risk of trying to work out things for ourselves[10].  If God is the center of our lives then we should also be bearing some fruit.  If we are not then we need to take a closer look to see if we are truly submitted to this first sphere.

The second sphere involves our relationship with the Church as a whole.  The church in this case means other believers not just a building.  How is our relationship with other believers?  We should be building each other up just as the early church did in the book of Acts.  We are human and there will be disagreements, but are they left to infect the whole church?  Or are they hearty disagreements that are discussed rationally to better the community.  If Christ is central in our lives then our love for others will naturally grow.

The third sphere is about our relationship in regards to our home.  This sphere is one that can sometimes get neglected, and to be honest one that I need to do a better job at.  Sometimes I get this notion that if I am not at the church teaching then I am not doing God’s work.  The Lord gave me a wife and four children and their relationship with God should be more important to me then someone else.  I also tend to get selfish and wants things, and some time to myself which can lead to neglecting my primary responsibilities as a husband and father.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes “Self-Denial means only knowing Christ, no longer knowing oneself[11].”   The needs of the family, and me being the spiritual leader of the household need to be a stronger priority.  This can be done by remembering these words of Bonhoeffer.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  If we are unable to disciple at home then chances are we will not be able to do it anywhere.

The final sphere involves our relationship with the world.  Whether we like it or not, if we say we are Christians then we are representatives of the kingdom.  Everything we do should be for the glory of God, and that involves everything not just those within the confines of the church.  Do people you work with know you are a Christian?  In this way we are missionaries.  There are lost people at work, and they need to know the saving grace of God.  We are to be Christians 100% of the time and work, school, and home are not exempt.  Colossians 3:23 states “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than men.”  Everything we do is for the Lord and that must remembered.

The five stages of discipleship and the relational spheres come together to ask one question.  Are we being submissive to Christ?  In Luke 9:23 Jesus defines what this meant.  He told His disciples “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  The look on the faces of the disciples probably emanated fear.  Today the image of the cross, though important, is a symbol of what Christ did for us.  When Jesus spoke this it meant death and humiliation.

Are we willing to follow our master’s example?  By no means does this mean we have to physically die, but it does mean we must die to ourselves.  It means to put him first, and the needs of others such as our family.  Bonhoeffer writes “The first Christ-suffering that everyone has to experience is the call which summons us away from our attachments of the world.  It is the death of the old self in the encounter with Jesus Christ[12].”  When the disciples were called they left everything and followed.  Will we do that?  Dr. Earley states “Any disciple-making strategy that merely adds Jesus to an already busy life is doomed for failure.  Potential disciples must be called to forsake all to follow Jesus[13].”

Following Jesus will ultimately lead to the cross.  This is where his transforming work was done for us, and we will eventually reach a point of no return.  We will either give none or all because there is no middle road.  Submission to Christ will eventually mean the end of what we want, because Christ will have something much greater for us to do.

WORKS CITED

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Discipleship. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&​h Publishing Group, 2013..

King James Version Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005.

Platt, David. Radical. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010.

Putnam, Jim, and Bobby Harrington With Robert Coleman. Discipleshift. Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013.

[1] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 61-69.

[2] Ibid, 85-88.

[3] King James Version Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005), 1419.

[4] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 62-63.

[5] David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010), 65.

[6] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 64.

[7] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&​h Publishing Group, 2013), 152.

[8] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 66.

[9] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 69.

[10] Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington with Robert Coleman, Discipleshift (Grand Rapids, MICHIGAN: Zondervan, 2013), 85.

[11] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 86.

[12] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 87.

[13] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…How to live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&​h Publishing Group, 2013), 86.

Watch Your Tongue

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not be so.”.- James 3:10

James dedicates a whole chapter on taming the tongue.  It is very clear that he does not take the issue lightly.  We are all guilty of what he speaks of in todays verse…no exceptions.  In the modern world of today it is even easier to fall into this trap.  The internet gives a sense of immunity, but the effects of the tongue are the same.

We are called to something better.  If a juicy piece of gossip comes our way what are we going to do?  Are we going to participate in its spread, or take make it go no further than us?  Just because it comes to us does not mean it needs to branch out from us.  The tongue can do great damage.  It can ruin reputations, relationships, and has even caused some to end their own lives.  We must take the words that James writes to heart.  If we have an issue with something someone is doing it must be taken to them in private.  That is the loving and respectful way to go about it.  Above all we must remember that nobody is exempt from the forgiveness of Christ.  A private discussion does much more than a public shaming. Resolve today to control your tongue and pray for the strength to do so.

Wives do what! An Exegetical look at Ephesians 5:22-33

INTRODUCTION

In Ephesians 5:22-23 the Apostle Paul is outlining several different things to the new believers in Ephesus. Readings of the previous verses will reveal a fatherly approach to the Christian life. Paul discusses where the Ephesians came from, the importance of Unity, and in this section he is moving into family life[1].

The passage also includes a beautiful image of Christ as the head of the church, and speaks of how Christ loved the church so much that he sacrificed himself for her. The Apostle Paul uses the model of Christ loving his church as a model on how husbands and wives should live out their faith. As Christ poured himself out for the church, husbands and wives should pour themselves out to each other in mutual submission and love. In his book Jesus the Bridegroom Dr. Brant Pitre states, “In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul not only describes the sacrificial death of Christ for the Church in terms of a husband’s love for his wife: he also explicitly describes the love between Christ and the church as a great mystery[2].”

This great passage from Ephesians tells us about how spouses should love, respect, and treat each other. In doing so it tells of the love that Christ has for his church, and brings to mind everything He had to endure to claim us as his own.

HISTORICAL/LITERARY CONTEXT

To understand this passage from the book of Ephesians we must first understand the historical context in which it was written. The Letter was written between 60-62A.D. by the Apostle Paul, and is not addressed to anyone specifically. There were some in the early church who speculated that this let was the “letter to the Laodiceans” referred to in Colossians 4:16[3]. To be fair there are many similarities between the letters, but Ephesians was a general letter that discussed more than one topic.

It is considered one of the “prison Epistles” and was written while Paul was in captivity. The Epistle was written to new Believers in Ephesus to give them instruction on doctrine and church life. In this regard Brooke Westcott states, “The unity of life, of all life, nay of all being, of the seen and the unseen: and, specially the fellowship of man with men and of man with God. The Epistle to the Ephesians.… in the fewest words commends this aspect of Creation to us, and it is … of intense practical significance[4].”

Ephesus was a huge city that had many pagan roots. It was not only an economic power, but was home to the Temple of the goddess Diana. As part of the worship of this goddess there were prostitutes for the goddess on the streets. The people could experience the goddess on a more intimate level by engaging in sexual acts with the prostitutes[5]. Paul is encouraging the new believers in Ephesus by telling them where they came from, how they were saved, how to live, and how to live with each other.

The Literary context in which Paul writes is much different than other letters he has written. In most Pauline letters Paul addresses his audience specifically, but this designation is omitted in Ephesians[6]. Paul also refers to the church as a congregation and not as a universal Christian people. The passage of Ephesians 5:22-33 fits in with what Paul is trying to teach the believers.

Paul tells the women in verse 22 to be submissive to your husbands. When taken alone this passage is very controversial, but when taken in context it is a beautiful imagery of mutual love between spouses. To illustrate this Ephesians 5:21 states, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ[7].” One needs to look no further to see that Paul is not teaching for men to be dominating over their spouse, but quite the opposite. They are to love their wives as they love themselves.

The literary context of the 5:22-33 can be further illustrated using 6:1 which states, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right[8].” Paul is talking about everyone’s role within the Christian household and how it will help maintain unity and cohesion in a city with so much immorality.

EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS

The passage in question is Ephesians 5:22-33 which states, “22 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; 33 however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband[9].”

  1. Submission of Wives and Husbands

When it comes to the Christian household wives are addressed first. Some translations of scripture tell the wives to “submit”, but the Greek word used here means something different. The word used by Paul in the Greek is hupotassō, it means to “order oneself under[10].” Though it is true that the word can mean “obey”, but to get the precise meaning the passage must be read in context. Verse 21 is one of mutual submission, so it makes little sense to tell someone to obey someone else immediately after. In this case a “wife’s submission is not coerced, and is a free and voluntary act[11].” This is further illustrated when verse 33 is read. Ephesians 5:33 states, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband[12].” In this verse we see the word “respect.” In the Greek Paul wrote the word phobetai which means “fear[13].” This is not a fear like a fear of being bitten by a shark. This “fear” is the reverence and fear of the Lord[14]. Paul writes this to not put women down but to lift up the community of believers. It is a lesson in Christian unity. Paul knows that man and woman are equal and says so in Galatians 3:28. In that passage Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus[15].”

In verses 23-24 Paul compares the husband to Christ who is the head of the church. In this regard the husband is the head of the family, and therefore Paul says that the wife, though equal, should respect her husband. The authority that Christ has comes from his love for the church and his sacrifice for it[16]. Therefore the authority that the husband has comes from his sacrificial love for his wife. If anything the husband is held to a much higher standard in family life. This is best illustrated by looking at verse 25 which states, “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her[17].”

  1. Husbands are to Love as Christ Loved the Church

If the husband is to love as Christ loved the church then there is nothing that a husband would not do for his wife. A husband would be willing to suffer, deny himself, and do everything possible to love and provide for his spouse[18]. The Pulpit Commentary states, “This parallel restores the balance; if it should seem hard for the wife to be in subjection, the spirit of love, Christ-like love, on the part of the husband makes the duty easy[19].” Paul was writing to the Ephesians and the husbands of the time reigned like tyrants over their wives. They now have a much bigger responsibility and that is to build up his marriage and family. When put into context it shows a loving and nurturing relationship where the husband puts the needs of his spouse before his own. Paul puts it very eloquently when he writes, “Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself[20]

  1. Husbands and Wives are One Flesh

Verse 28 plainly says that a husband should love his wife as he loves himself. Verse 31 emphasizes this unity of the two by saying, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh[21].” Here Paul goes back to the beginning of scripture and directly quotes Genesis 2:24, and again emphasizes that the husband and wife relationship is like the relationship between Christ and his church[22]. The Septuagint translation of Genesis 2:24 contains the Greek word ἀντὶ τούτου, which means “for this cause[23].”

It is the unique relationship between a husband a wife that a man leaves his father and mother and lives with his wife. The man does not abandon his father and mother, but leaves to fulfill a higher purpose in God’s plan. In a similar way Jesus left his father in heaven and came to be with his bride, the church. Russell Moore writes in regard to the two becoming one flesh, “The drive toward marital unity is powerful, so powerful that it can feel as wild as fire. In Paul’s theology, this universal truth is because the one-flesh union points beyond itself to the union of Christ and his church[24].”

  1. The Great Mystery

Through the course of these passages Paul has been writing about the roles of husbands and wives, and relating that back to Christ and the church. In verse 32 Paul pauses and writes, “This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church[25].” The relationship between spouses and Christ and the church are similar to the foundations of the world[26]. Marriage on Earth is representative of the divine union between Christ and the church. This is the great mystery that Paul refers to. In regards to the Church Paul previously said that he “loved her” (agapao in Greek) and gave himself for her. At that moment Christ is fulfilling his role as the Divine Bridegroom and the new Adam joined his wife to become one flesh[27]. Part of the mystery that Paul refers to is the hidden meaning in Genesis that may is interpreted in a Typological fashion when the New Covenant has been established[28].

In this typology the Adam and Eve are joined as one flesh from the side of Adam, and the Church is joined to Christ through his side that was pierced by the spear at the crucifixion. It is an eye opening passage that paints marriage in a new light and underscores its role in salvation history. This view is confirmed by D.A. Carson who writes, “At one level, then, Paul’s teaching on marriage is grounded in the Old Testament, while at another level the church’s marriage to Christ is prefigured in Adam and Eve[29].”

APPLICATION

There are several applications of Ephesians 5:22-33 which are applicable for the believers of today. Just as in Paul’s time there are some wives who are taken advantage of. In some cases verse 22 is taken out of context as justification for it. Just like the early church, and the church of today, we must keep everything in context. Husbands are not to be tyrants and treating their wives badly. In verse 28 Paul says that he who loves his wife loves himself[30]. Using that logic if a man loves himself he would love his wife just as much if not more so.

Verse 22 is also taken out of context by some feminists groups who say that Christianity is all about oppressing women. A further reading into the passage will prove that theory false. Ephesians 5:22-33 equality that men and women have, because the two become one. How can one flesh oppress half of itself? The church has certainly made mistakes in the past, and will most likely continue to do so. That is because there is a human factor in the church, and it is not because God wants to demean women.

Lastly is the recognition as the church as the bride of Christ. Everything we can apply from this passage hangs on that. Wives submit to their husbands out of reverence for Christ, and husbands love their wives the same way that Christ loves the church. This also means as a husband that we are to forgive and put ourselves second for the good of our spouse. Through our profession of faith in Christ we have become part of his body, and we are now his bride. We are to submit to him and therefore verse 22 comes full circle.

CONCLUSION

This passage of scripture has a lot of content that can be easily glossed over. If we read superficially we may miss the typology with Genesis, or that the great mystery spoken of is the union between Christ and the church. In fact that union is something that we hear often, and we tend to think that it is a nice little metaphor. When we exegete a passage properly it brings so much more meaning then we could ever fathom.

Ephesians 5:22-33 is an ever present reminder of marriage functionality, love, respect, and physical and spiritual union. As Christ loves the church so husbands should love their wives. As wives love Christ so should they respect their husbands. Christ is the center of it all and both spouses must always remember that.

This assignment has been very beneficial in allowing this passage to be seen properly. Sacrificial love and respect are what make successful marriages according to Paul. He relates it to Christ and the church so it is a big deal. We just need to realize that?

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“A Survey and Outline of the Book of Ephesians.” foundations for freedom. Accessed May 1, 2015. http:/​/​foundationsforfreedom.net/​References/​NT/​Pauline/​Ephesians/​Ephesians0/​Ephesians0_Survey.html.

Anders, Max. Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians and Ephesians. Nashville, TN: Broadman &​ Holman Publishers, 1999.

———. Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians and Ephesians. Nashville, TN: Broadman &​ Holman Publishers, 1999.

Blaikie, W. G., ed. The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians. New York, NY: Funk &​ Wagnalls Company, 1990.

Bratcher, Robert G., and Eugene A. Nida. Ephesians: A Translators Handbook. New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1982.

Carson, D.A., and Douglas J. Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005.

———.a., ed. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Letter to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: William B.eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999.

———.A. ed. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Letter to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: William B.eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999.

Moore, Russell D. “Man, Woman, And the Mystery of Christ: An Evangelical Protestant Perspective.” JETS: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 58, no. 1 (2015, March 1): 89-94.

Neufeld, Thomas R. Yoder. Believers Church Bible Commentary: Ephesians. Scottdale, PN: Herald Press, 2001.

Pitre, Brant. Jesus the Bridegroom. New York, NY: Image Books, 2014.

———. Jesus the Bridegroom. New York, NY: Image Books, 2014.

Simeon, Charles. HORÆ HOMILETICÆ: Galatians and Ephesians. London, ENGLAND: Holdsworth and Ball, 1933.

Spence-jones, H. D. M, ed. Ephesians. London, NY: Funk &​ Wagnalls Company, 1909.

Westcott, B. F., and J. M. Schulhof, eds. Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda. London;NY: The Macmillan Company, 1909.

Williamson, Peter S. Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

[1] D.A. Carson, ed., The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 65.

[2] Brant Pitre, Jesus the Bridegroom (New York, NY: Image Books, 2014), 112.

[3] W. G. Blaikie, ed., The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians (New York, NY: Funk &​ Wagnalls Company, 1990), iv.

[4] B. F. Westcott and J. M. Schulhof, eds., Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (London; NY: The Macmillan Company, 1909), lxiii.

[5] “A Survey and Outline of the Book of Ephesians,” foundations for freedom, accessed May 1, 2015, http:/​/​foundationsforfreedom.net/​References/​NT/​Pauline/​Ephesians/​Ephesians0/​Ephesians0_Survey.html.

[6] D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 480.

[7] Ephesians 5:21 (Revised Standard Version).

[8] Ephesians 6:1 (Revised Standard Version).

[9] Ephesians 5:22-33 (Revised Standard Version).

[10] Thomas R. Yoder Neufeld, Believers Church Bible Commentary: Ephesians (Scottdale, PN: Herald Press, 2001), 217.

[11] Peter S Williamson, Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 316.

[12] Ephesians 5:33 (Revised Standard Version).

[13] Max Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians and Ephesians (Nashville, TN: Broadman &​ Holman Publishers, 1999), 174.

[14] Ibid, 174.

[15] Galatians 3:28 (Revised Standard Version).

[16] Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene A. Nida, Ephesians: A Translators Handbook (New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1982), 139.

[17] Ephesians 5:25 (Revised Standard Version).

[18] Charles Simeon, HORÆ HOMILETICÆ: Galatians and Ephesians (London, ENGLAND: Holdsworth And Ball, 1933), 402.

[19] H. D. M Spence-jones, ed., Ephesians (London, NY: Funk &​ Wagnalls Company, 1909), 212.

[20] Ephesians 5:28 (Revised Standard Version).

[21] Ephesians 5:31 (Revised Standard Version).

[22] Max Anders, Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians and Ephesians (Nashville, TN: Broadman &​ Holman Publishers, 1999), 175.

[23] B. F. Westcott and J. M. Schulhof, eds., Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: The Greek Text with Notes and Addenda (London;NY: The Macmillan Company, 1909), 86.

[24] Russell D. Moore, “Man, Woman, And the Mystery of Christ: An Evangelical Protestant Perspective,” JETS: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 58, no. 1 (2015, March 1): 90.

[25] Ephesians 5:32 (Revised Standard Version).

[26] Charles Simeon, HORÆ HOMILETICÆ: Galatians and Ephesians (London, ENGLAND: Holdsworth and Ball, 1933), 414.

[27] Brant Pitre, Jesus the Bridegroom (New York, NY: Image Books, 2014), 113.

[28] Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene A. Nida, Ephesians: A Translators Handbook (New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1982), 146.

[29] D.A. Carson, ed., The Pillar New Testament Commentary: Letter to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 65.

[30] Ephesians 5:28 (Revised Standard Version).

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