Marriage, Jesus, and the Church

Text: Ephesians 5:22-33

This passage is often used to discuss the roles of husbands and wives. This is certainly taught in this passage. However, these roles are used to illustrate the main point – the relationship between Christ and the church. This lesson will consider what this passage says about the roles of husbands and wives. From there, we will see how this explains the relationship between Christ and the church. After we understand that, we will come back and make some applications for our lives.

Husbands and Wives

  • Different roles in the marriage relationship – the husband is the head (Ephesians 5:23), not because of superiority/inferiority, but because of the role God has given (1 Corinthians 11:3; cf. John 10:30; Galatians 3:28); the wife is to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22) as his help meet (Genesis 2:18)
  • Within those roles, there are different responsibilities to one another – the husband is to love his wife (Ephesians 5:25) with a sacrificial love and nourish and cherish her (Ephesians 5:29; cf. 1 Peter 3:7); the wife is to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33), not submit to him begrudgingly or spitefully (cf. 1 Peter 3:2)
  • Reminder of the origin of marriage (Ephesians 5:31; cf. Genesis 2:24) – two become one; leave parents’ home (and their authority) and start a new home

Jesus and the Church

  • What the marriage relationship teaches us about the church – it is to follow the words of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:42); it is not to follow anyone else (1 Corinthians 1:10-13); those in the church have left the world to join Christ (Colossians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18); it is to respect Christ through obedience (Colossians 3:17)
  • What the marriage relationship teaches us about Christ – He sacrificed His life for the church (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28; John 10:17-18); He sanctified the church (1 Corinthians 1:2) which is done through the washing of water with the word (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Corinthians 6:11; John 17:17); He makes the church holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:3-4); He nourishes and cherishes the church by continuing to provide help (Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1); He has all authority (Matthew 28:18) as the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23; 1:22)

Applying This to Ourselves

  • To husbands – love your wife as Christ loved the church; principle of love (1 John 4:11-12, 20-21) is that we cannot claim to love God without loving others (including our wives); treating our wives as we are expected to keeps us in good standing with God (1 Peter 3:7)
  • To wives – submit to and respect your husband as the church is to do with regard to Christ; do this to keep from God’s word being blasphemed (Titus 2:5); do this to positively influence your husband to obey the Lord (1 Peter 3:1)
  • To those who are not married – Paul’s use of this illustration does not mean that marriage is required of God’s people (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1, 8, 26-28); whether you ever marry or not, have the type of character described (loving, submissive); if you marry, look for a mate that will complement you in this (loving, submissive)


  • Marriage is a great blessing – but it also teaches us about Christ and the church
  • We may marry, or we may not – either way, we must submit to Christ and be part of His church; our salvation depends on it (Ephesians 5:23)

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