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"Therefore be followers/imitators of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." Ephesians 5:1
Ephesians 5 begins by encouraging everyone to be followers/imitators of God. God is love and we know love is the fulfilment of the law. This is the main point of this passage, walking in love as Christ has loved us. To be imitators of God, requires a revelation of who God is. To walk in Christ means we need to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. When we do this we will be sacrificial people, a "sweet smelling savour," offered to God. This word is for men and women and echoes the words of Jesus, "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34).
"speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ... and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ." (19,21)
Paul encourages everyone to share, to speak to each other. This includes speaking Scripture to one another and submitting to each other in the fear of God. In other words, we all listen out for the Holy Spirit’s voice as He speaks through ourselves and others. We listen in the position of being in Christ, in the awe/respect/reverence of God.
Ephesians repeats the first verse about love, to husbands and repeats the submitting verse to wives, but both are called to love and submit to each other. He has already written that. Even the wisdom of God is submissive.
"But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."
Verse 22: "the wives, to their own man/husbands, while to the Lord,"
The words "own" and "while to the Lord" are often ignored and I'm sure you can figure out why it was important to mention the special place the husband of a Christian wife had, but she needed to do it while (which is often translated "as") being submitted to the Lord, not instead of listening to the Lord.
Some are ignorant in this matter as if submitting and respecting one anther is only required by the wife. Ephesians warned us not to let any man deceive us with vain words, we are not told to submit to them. Sometimes people try to coerce others to do what they want, to follow them rather than the Holy Spirit. Beware of this. Jesus is our Lord. No one else deserves that place. Follow/listen to/imitate Him. Men and women are called and enabled to sacrificially love and surely respect is an aspect of love. Wives are not to be treated as a chattel or a child, and husbands are not to be treated as the mediator between God and them.
Now concerning the greatly misunderstood word, "head." Paul hasn’t used any of the Greek words that mean leader and ruler, nor has he used the word for authority. He has used the word head because he is speaking about Christians being members of his body, and we know we are joint heirs with Christ, members one of another (Romans 12:5). We also know this is not about authority, because in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5 Paul says, "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." As members of Christ's body we don't lord it over one another (Matthew 20:25). Jesus told and demonstrated this.
Where do the rivers of living flow from? The head? No. They flow from the belly/womb, from the new heart Christ has made His home (John 7:38). The belly is part of the body and influences the head as the head influences the heart. The body is not in the head, nor the head in the body. Yet Christ is in both. We follow Christ who we can hear speaking from our heart and thoughts in our head.
On the scroll, the head or kephale was the part a person held onto. The authority was in the words of the scroll not the head of the scroll. When we say the husband is head of his wife, this means they are both connected to each other, as one.
The head or kephale in Greek also means beginning, or first, like the first button in a row of buttons or the first month of a year or "In the beginning" (Genesis 1). As I've shown, it does not mean authority or ruling over. It has the meaning of kinship. It is written that Christ was the first born from the dead and He is our brother. (Other passages speak of His authority and rule, but other words are used, not "head" to speak of this. Jesus said those who wanted to be first must be slaves to all (Mark 10:44). When one is head they are to serve. This ties in with the idea of the Helper ezer given to the Adam. The Hebrew word for helper has an eye, a plough and a head in it. The helper was first then, and now the husband is first with his wife. His function is to serve her. If we put someone other than ourselves first, isn't this the same thing as loving sacrificially? Isn't this what Jesus means when He calls us to love one another as he loves us?
First there was the natural man and then the spiritual. It is also written that first the man was created and then the woman. The word head may also have meant source. Why was this important? Because some believed that everyone came from a female god of fertility (Isis), and females not men were revered like gods. So it was important that everyone knew that wives were to respect their husbands too.
So what does it mean when Christ is head of the church and the husband is head of his wife? We cannot take this out of context of the chapter where both men and women are told to sacrificially walk in love and submit themselves to one another (Ephesians 5:1). Ephesians 5 begins by saying this, yet some men try to coerce and exercise power over their wives by ignoring these verses, and some wives opt out of their responsibility to listen to the Lord, by only listening to their husbands. Men and women are called to be followers of God. Men and women are called to walk in Christ, who is love, and to respect Him. He empowers us to this. How else can we respond to the revelation of His holiness, power and love, but with respect and reverence?
I have laboured the point and repeated myself. I do it because this is important. Satan wants to knock half of God's labourers out of the work. He wants men to treat their wives as children and lord it over them and he wants wives to listen and be dependent on, and only to, their husbands and not to Christ.
Keep it simple. Love.
I am still working on this to try and make it as clear and truthful as I can, so that God's people may walk in the freedom they were called to.
References in brackets come from the Bible. Some are Jennifer Kathleen Phillips' translations from the Greek.