When reading Ephesians 5, it is important to remember the order in which Ephesians is written. The first three chapters are filled with Paul writing about the greatness of Christ and how he reconciled us to the Father. He clearly demonstrates that we are saved only because of what Christ has done, and not at all because of what we have done. So when we read Paul writing about how Christians should live, it is not because we are trying to earn something, but instead because we want to honor God with our lives in response to him giving his life for us.
1-6: Paul is giving a list of things that believers should abstain from doing. Sexual impurity, covetousness, and crude joking are all things that Christians should fight from partaking in.
7-16: Paul is telling us to not become partners with them (that is, in their sin). Instead, Christians are to walk as children of light, striving to please the Lord in their actions.
Question: In verse five Paul calls sexual immorality and covetousness idolatry. The Biblical sexual ethic (that sex and sexual relationships are designed to take place in the covenant of a marriage between a man and a woman) is a radical position in our culture. Both sexual immorality and covetousness (though that is much easier to hide), take place at their root because of idolatry. In fact, all sin can be found to be rooted in idolatry. Why is that the case?
Question: Can you share a time when your idolatry over something lead you to sin?
Question: We cannot forget that we are all sinners and cannot consistently live the Christian life without the help of the Holy Spirit. How often to you ask for the Spirit’s guidance and help in your life?
22-24: Notice that this verse is not saying all women should submit to all men, it is strictly speaking in terms of the marriage relationship. These verses also do not say women have less value then men (Galatians 3:26 shows us we are all equal before the Lord!). Instead, it is saying that wives should respect the leadership of their husbands as the church follows the leadership and headship of Christ.
25-29: Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. This does not just mean sacrificing your life for your wife’s life in a dangerous situation. It means sacrificing your wants and needs for hers. As the leader of the family, if the husband does this well, the wife will much more willingly want to submit to his headship.
31-32: Marriage, in a mysterious way, displays the relationship between Christ and the church.
Question: The idea of submission/headship is a touchy subject in our society today. Especially with so many broken homes and with so few people seeing a marriage like this done well. However, the marriage relationship in a mysterious way, represents Christ’s relationship to the church. Therefore, 1) How can and should husbands practically love their wife and put her first? 2) How can wives respect their husbands, and what does it look like to submit to his headship in a healthy way?
Question: If you show me a husband who loves his wife well and puts her needs before his own, I can show you a wife who has no issues respecting and following her husband. Just as we submit to Christ because he gave his life for our salvation; we know we can trust him. Have you ever had someone (a boss, mentor, teacher, parent, etc.) that you gladly followed because you knew they loved and wanted what was best for you? What was it about them that made you want to follow and trust them?