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Love in Submission

Love in Submission

“Love” is surely one of the most attractive and popular words in the English language, even as “submission” is a candidate for the least popular. And yet the Apostle Paul uses both these words in connection to the same things- the Christian life and the Christian church (Ephesians 5:21-6:9) How are Christians to understand “submission”, for the apostle writes,

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21)

“Be filled with the Spirit” is the imperative from the Apostle Paul for all Christians (Eph 5:18) which introduces his section on submission. Notably, “Submitting to one another” (Eph 5:21) is just one of outworkings of being a Christian and being filled with the Spirit, the others include; speaking to each other with Psalms and songs, singing, and giving thanks to God. It is by being filled with the Spirit of God that we can be enabled to live according to God’s will for our lives; including submitting to one another.

The model for individuals to submit to one another is found in the way the church submits to Christ, that is, willingly (Eph 5:24). The driving force for Christian submission must never be fear, but love and reverence for Christ.

Paul uses the word “love” seven times in just a few verses (Eph 5:25, 28, 33) to especially emphasise that “husbands are to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). This other-person centred, self-sacrificial love is the type of love that men are commanded to have for their wives. Arising from the husband’s “love for his wife as he loves himself” (Eph 5:33), the wife is called to godly submission to her loving and godly husband. Clearly, this type of love, and “submission” arising from that type of love, allows no scope at all for any form of physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse. The Bible does not condone any such mistreatment of women under any circumstances.

Love and obedience to the will of God is what underpins all Paul’s instructions to husbands, wives, children, fathers, slaves and masters. Paul provides different instructions to different people, but universally calls us all to submit to Jesus and Lord and Saviour and consequently, in love to;

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21)

 

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