Paul uses the model of marriage to develop the reality of our relationship to the church, and the church’s relationship to us as a body of believers. With this in mind, take a moment to think about your understanding of what marriage should look like. From where does this understanding originate? From a parental model, church experience, friends, cultural, or societal views?
- Read Ephesians 5:21. Jim explains that “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (ESV) is the basis for all of the relationships Paul will talk about in the coming sections from 5:22 to 6:9. He also explains the instructions are in pairs and cannot be separated—you cannot take the instructions to wives separate from the instructions to husbands.
Discuss this verse and the type of relationship that is being described by this verse with your group. What can be another word to describe a relationship where both sides are asked to submit to one another?
- Read Ephesians 5:21-33. Here Paul transitions by means of verse 21 where he says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (ESV) into the first pairing of instructions. Verses 22-24 are one half of the pairing and should not be looked at separated from verses 25-33. Take a moment and read Ephesians 5:21-33 aloud. What do you think Paul actually means by submission or an act of giving up leadership to, in this context?
- Can you think of any occasions where you relinquished leadership to someone despite feeling that you could tackle it yourself? Talk with your group about this experience and how it impacted you.
Read Ephesians 5:25-27. Paul suggests we should not take charge in our relationships, but take responsibility. He also says here that whatever societal tropes that have been placed on the nature of the household over time have been radically redefined in Christ.
a. What is the husband being asked to sacrifice for his wife as Christ did for us?
b. Why do you think Paul decides to use the marriage relationship in this text to provide an example of what it looks like for us to live as Christ calls us to live?
c. Can you think of a time when you felt you abused authority that had been given to you, and you saw your decision incur damage on that relationship? Why do think this action is particularly destructive to community? (If applicable, in the context of Marriage?)
d. How should Christ’s example redefine how you approach responsibility, authority and leadership in your own life?
Jim explains the importance of the household’s healthiness directly correlating to the wellbeing of the city in Roman Greco times. Do you think this still stands true today as it relates to our city?
Read Ephesians 5:28-33. Through these words Paul shows us the depth by which Christ cares for us and for the church.
a. In what ways have you struggled to love yourself? How has that affected how you love those closest to you?
b.What are some of the ways you have felt the Church has not done well in loving you, or guiding you to personal holiness in the past or the present?
As we wrap up this chapter of Ephesians, remember Paul, first and foremost, calls us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Spend time this week praying for the relationships in your life and ask God what it might look like to live a life out of reverence for Christ.