Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Submit or Obey ~ part 2

Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, (submit) to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 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 is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

The main issue of upotassomenoi is voice. If I tell someone to submit, I am commanding they come under me (coming under, or yielding is the main meaning) , my authority, my desires, my wishes (the tone and part of the meaning of upotasso is respect, see verse 33). But the ending menoi or mai that is added to upotasso in the instances we are discussing (Ephe. 5:21) bring a whole new picture. Instead of men commanding women to come under their authority, or even one man commanding women to come under male authority, we have something else that changes the tone and the picture. We have Paul first telling all brethren, male and female of all ages, to yield themselves to one another. Specifically, the tone is that each person is to command themselves (that takes away the issue of others taking authority over) to take a respectful attitude toward each other. It becomes self telling self to mold oneself under instead of exalting oneself over. Then we have Paul turning to the wives and saying, 'and you too' toward your husband, as if to say, this attitude includes the arena of marriage.

So because Paul is saying to control self, there is no issue of anyone taking authority over anyone else.

There is also no mantle of leadership given to husbands as some like to read into this section. When Paul tells wives to respect their husbands in the same manner as they do the Lord, he also turns around and tells husbands to respect their wives as their own body, without which they would have no life. The body does not live without the head, and the head does not live without the body. The picture Paul is trying to paint is one of a unity of respect and honor, not only of the whole body, but of all our intimate relationships: marriage, children, slaves.

If one reads the entire chapter we can see that first Paul tells all to love one another sacrificially (including spouses to one another) in verses 1-2. (walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.) Then he bookends this in verse 21 by telling all to respect one another and yield, honor, make room for the other by telling them to submit one to another (including spouses). I use the term "book end" because those exact two issues Paul addresses to both parties in the three groups from various angles. Thus he has laid out the picture of loving and respecting, with the verses 1-2 and 21, and inbetween those verses he goes into some detail into how that is accomplished: staying in the light and the fruit of the Spirit, redeeming the days with wisdom, being filled with the Spirit, praising God, always giving thanks, etc. It is that entire picture that we are to carry over into each of those relationships and which EACH PARTY is to live toward the other.

This leaves no room for one having the attitude of taking authority over but rather changes the attitudes (especially of those culturally given authority) to one of how can I benefit my spouse, my parent, my child, my master, my slave. And how can I do this giving honor to Christ.

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