Daily Devotional Ephesians 5:21–33
In a culture that prizes independence, submission is not a popular idea. Many modern readers bristle when they come to Ephesians 5:22, where Paul says wives should submit to their husbands. However, the command to submit is not just for wives. In this section of his letter, the apostle speaks of submission as a universal obligation and as an expression of reverence for Christ (v. 21).
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
These guidelines are sometimes referred to as the Haustafel, a German word that means “household order.” The command of verse 21 serves as a heading for this section of this letter, which runs through Ephesians 6:9. Here Paul describes the roles of wives, husbands, children, fathers, enslaved people, and masters. Paul’s goal was to help his readers live Christianly within a social structure of his day. John Stott points out that Paul’s directives assume the dignity of womanhood, childhood, servanthood, and equality before God of all human beings.
The apostle describes differences in the roles of husbands and wives, using Christ and the church as a pattern. The guiding principle is the rule of love. He commands husbands to love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (v. 25). Wives, in turn, respond to this love with voluntary submission. In its proper context, the call for wives to “submit to their husbands in everything” is not demeaning. Husbands are to act as servants to their wives in the same way that Jesus served the church (vv. 28–29). Rather than ascribing a difference in status between husbands and wives, Paul emphasizes mutuality. Both are dependent upon each other. Each serves the other. Husband and wife are equal in the eyes of Christ (1 Cor. 11:8–12).
>> Jesus said, “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matt. 10:24). If He was not ashamed to take the role of a servant, we should not be reluctant to submit to one another in love.
Pray with Us
Mutual submission is a simple concept, but it is difficult to carry out between imperfect people. Endow us with the humility and Christlike love to truly see one another as better than ourselves!