As I am “re-researching” my lessons that I am going to preach this week in El Paso, TX, I was studying Ephesians 5 and submission. Concerning Ephesians 5:22-33, I noticed the ESV Study Bible study notes: “Husbands, on the other hand, are not told to submit to their own wives but to love them (v. 25-33).”
I guess I am reading a different Bible than many other people. Ephesians 5:21 gave instructions to everyone to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The apostle Paul commanded for everyone to submit to others because of our love and obedience to Jesus. Wives submit to their husbands, but husbands also submit to their wives.
One just needs to read the rest of Ephesians 5 to see this. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….” How did Christ love the church? The answer is obvious: by giving himself up for us. Jesus submitted himself to us. He yielded his will to do what was in our best interests. His death was not good for him, but was good for us. His death was not for his benefit, but for our benefit. Jesus submitted himself to us by dying on the cross.
Might I point out that true love is submission. Submission is true love in action. Children love their parents by submitting top them (doing what is in the interests of the parents). Parents love their children by acting in the child’s best interests. Wives love their husbands by doing what is in the husbands’ best interests. Husbands love their wives by doing what is in their wives’ best interests. We love God by doing what is in God’s interests.
The command for husbands to love their wives is submission. Husbands giving themselves up for their wives is submission. Husbands loving their wives as their own bodies (5:28) is submitting to them. It is time for us to realize that submission does not mean someone is bossing us around. Submission means we will act in the best interests of others rather than our own.
Therefore, as Ephesians 5:21 teaches, everyone is submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. No one is excluded from submission the command to submit to Jesus and to submit to others. Wives are not the only ones commanded to submit in this text. Read through Ephesians 6:9 and we see wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters are all told to act in the best interests (submit) to one another.