Reverence in Marriage (Part 2)

June 29, 2011 at 9:05 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 12 Comments
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In Part 1 we discovered that the Greek word for the way wives are supposed to relate to their husbands is phobos, which is often translated as “fear,” although in Ephesians 5:33 it has been translated as “reverence.”

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33, emphasis added

The reason the translators chose “reverence” as the English word for phobos, instead of “fear,” is because “reverence” is greater than simple “respect,” but it keeps the “fear” of a wife for her husband out of the area which is supposed to be reserved for God only. Husbands need love from their wives, but they need reverence more than love because reverence makes it possible to lead in love. Remember, husbands are commanded to love as Christ loved. Without willing reverence from the wife, the husband would be commanded to be so loving that he would never command. Christ didn’t love the Church even though He had to give it commands; He loved us so much that He had to give us commands.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:21-22

Notice that there is no general command for women to submit to men. Wives have a special duty of submission to their own husbands. Headship and submission are real, and they are not negated by Ephesians 5:21’s general command to be submissive toward others in our general attitude. In fact, you may be in a marriage where you have been extremely submissive, and it has, in large part, contributed to your husband being an overbearing jerk. Despite this, your continued submission and humility will often go a long way toward sweetening the marriage relationship when things begin to turn around.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:38-45

In a worst case scenario, your husband may be: (a) cold and indifferent like a stranger to you – in which case you are commanded to love your neighbor, which includes strangers; or (b) hateful and spiteful to you like your worst enemy – in which case you are commanded to love your enemy. God is in charge of justice. We leave the justice up to Him, and we are to show grace and mercy. Marriage may be the only place that some of us can truly learn the difficult virtue of Christ-honoring humility.

Reverence in Marriage (Part 1)

June 1, 2011 at 10:33 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 10 Comments
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Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33, emphasis added

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

“Reverence” in Ephesians 5:33 is translated from the Greek word “phobos,” meaning “fear.” It might sound contradictory to you as a wife if I tell you that the Bible commands you to both love and fear your husband. However, fear does not cancel out “agape” love, which was described in a previous lesson. Think of it in terms of how you love God. We are commanded to love God and to draw close to Him. Drawing closer to God always brings greater love and fear.

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees had a theory that if they could know which commandment was the greatest, then they could keep that one and be right with God, and thereby earn eternal salvation. Jesus tells them that “agape” is the greatest commandment. Think about why this is. For one thing, it is impossible to sin while exercising true “agape.” “Agape” seeks to show kindness and to move the other person to righteousness.

When I John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear, the Bible is not contradicting itself. The fear that is being cast out by perfect love is the fear of no longer being right with the person who truly loves you. When I love my spouse perfectly, then my spouse’s insecurity about her “standing” with me is cast out. In other words, perfect love casts out fear of loss of the relationship.

This will be further developed in Part 2.

Faithful Wounds

November 18, 2009 at 11:39 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Biblical Violence, Biblical Walking | 22 Comments
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The young boy walked across the church parking lot, tossing a ball in the air and catching it as it fell, casually wandering toward a busy highway. One man noticed this, and, being a religious man, he began to wring his hands, pray, and ask the boy politely to stop, to change directions, or at least to pay attention to where he was going. The boy remained oblivious and kept moving toward the highway. Another man observed the boy, and, being a caring man, he ran in a flat-out sprint toward the boy, dove through the air, and crashed into the boy with a flying shoulder tackle. Both he and the boy landed, just short of the path of a speeding truck, in a ditch filled with mud, weeds, and broken glass. The boy was shaken up, crying, cut, and bruised, but still alive.

The two men had taken drastically different approaches. One man appeared loving and polite, but his passivity was evidence of a callow cruelty toward the boy. One man appeared hateful and rash, but his willingness to act was evidence of a true love for the boy.

Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:5-6

Christians are not supposed to just “have” friends. They are supposed to LOVE their friends. Christian love is more than just a “feeling.” It always involves action. If I have a friend who is walking toward destruction, my “secret love” for this friend will be of little help. However, a loud verbal warning during a face-to-face confrontation, even though it may cause hard feelings, could do a world of good. I need to have a loving willingness to batter and bruise (and then bandage) my friends, instead of a weak-willed sentimental desire to give them little kisses good-bye as they head for damnation.


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