The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
October 28, 2012


1) Ephesians 5:31-33 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 5:31-33
by Tom Edwards

In Ephesians 5:31, Paul declares,"FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH."   This was first expressed in Genesis 2:24 and is also repeated in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7,8.  The phrase "shall be joined to his wife" is rendered in the KJV as "shall cleave to his wife," with the Greek verb being "kollao," a term that means "1) to glue upon, glue to" and "2) to join one's self to closely, cleave to, stick to" (Thayer).  So the idea is that these two are so well joined together that no one can separate them.  And in commenting on "the two shall become one flesh," Adam Clarke writes, "Not only meaning, that they should be considered as one body, but also as two souls in one body, with a complete union of interests, and an indissoluble partnership of life and fortune, comfort and support, desires and inclinations, joys and sorrows."

Husband and wife often complement each other by helping their spouse to better develop those qualities in which they lack.  For instance, an extroverted husband might help his introverted wife to become more outgoing, while she could also influence her husband into increasing his own zeal for true spirituality (cf. 1 Pet. 3:1,2).  So another way we might look at this is that by the husband and wife becoming one, they will each reach more of their own potential and be better individuals, when they are truly striving to keep God first in their relationship and treating each other as the Lord would have them to.

This reference in Ephesians 5:31 goes all the way back to the first couple -- Adam and Eve -- and they also serve as a shadow for Christ and the church.  For instance, both Adam and Jesus were progenitors of large groups of people.  With Adam being the first man of the human race; and through Jesus, all those who become children of God. In Adam's case, Genesis 2:21 points out what was first necessary: "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place."

As this passages shows, in order for God to bring about His plan for Adam (and ultimately for the world), the Lord had to first cause a deep sleep to come over Adam. Why?  For a couple reasons: a) So Eve could be made, and b) so the two of them could have offspring and the world be populated.  

Just as Adam was put to sleep so that this could all be brought about, Jesus also needed to be put to "sleep," in a manner of speaking, in order to bring about a people for God.  But though in Adam's case, his sleep was just a deep sleep, in the Lord's case, He was put to sleep in the sense of being put to death, as Romans 5:6-10 makes clear.  Paul also states in 1 Corinthians 15:3, "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."  

In addition, Genesis 2:21 shows that Adam's side had been opened in order that he could have his bride.  And in John 19:33,34, Christ also had his side opened: "but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." Though Jesus was already deceased when His side was pierced, it was still part of the event of the Lord's crucifixion for every transgressor; and to the spectators, it would further indicate that Jesus truly had died.  His tortured body was now lifeless -- not even a spear thrust into its side could cause a reaction.   

As we study about Adam and Jesus, it is obvious that they both had to pay a price in order to carry out God's will.  Not only did Adam have his side opened, but it also cost him his rib, from which Eve was made (Gen. 2:21-23).  So, in other words, Adam had to sacrifice part of himself.  

Jesus, too, had to make a sacrifice.  However, He had to give more than merely His rib -- He had to give His all, His very life: "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Heb. 13:12).  When we read expressions, such as, "being saved by the blood of Jesus," it signifies the life He gave for us (and, therefore, also His death).  For, according to Leviticus 17:11, "...the life of the flesh is in the blood..." -- and Jesus willingly and compassionately shed His blood, thus giving his life, for every transgressor (cf. Heb. 2:9).

For another shadow, the loss of Adam's rib gained him a companion -- a bride (Gen. 2:22,23).  In similar manner, the sacrifice Jesus made gained him a "bride" as well, which Revelation 19:7 uses in figuratively referring to the church.  It states, "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."

Yes, the bride, the church, has a part to play in getting ready; but without the sacrifice of Jesus, all of our preparation would still leave us lost and hopeless.  For Acts 20:28 points out that the church was purchased with Christ's blood.  So regardless of what good works a person has done, if that person has not submitted to the gospel plan of salvation to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, that person will remain in a lost state. Furthermore, we can also infer from this passage that when people say that the church is not important, then they are belittling or seeing no value in the blood of Christ. And, sad to say, that is the condition of many people today.  For to them, Christ's death is nothing but a vain, ineffectual thing; and which will remain that way to them, until they come to believe in the Lord, repent of their sins, and obey the gospel plan of salvation.  "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18).

In getting back to our types and antitypes, Genesis 2:24,25 shows that Eve became Adam's bride; and Adam was to be the head of the household, according to Genesis 3:16: "...Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you."  

In similar manner, with the church being the bride of Christ, the Lord, therefore, is the one who rules over them and to whom they are to submit: "For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church..." (Eph. 5:23).

Another part of God's plan for Adam and Eve is that they would have children and increase in number (Gen. 1:26-28).   Verse 28 in this passage states, "God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"

Jesus also desires to see His people, the church, multiply; and He has given the word so that we can.  For it is by the message of the gospel that people can be born again, according to 1 Peter 1:22-25, and become a part of that spiritual family.  

It would be pretty reasonable to assume that Adam loved his wife.  Even so, Christ loved His bride, the church: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Eph. 5:25).  And just as the husband has the responsibility toward providing for his wife, Christ also provides for His bride, the church: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt. 6:33).  So as we think of Adam's relationship to Eve, we can also think of Christ's relationship to the church.  

From these brief comparisons, it is easy to see why Adam is referred to as a "type" or "figure" of Christ in Romans 5:14.  

In Ephesians 5:32 Paul then says, "This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church."  As Paul points out in this verse, it is not marriage itself, but Christ and His church being emphasized as the great mystery, which is typified by the marriage relationship.  Commenting on this, Albert Barnes states: "The truth that was so great a mystery was, that the eternal Son of God should form such an union with people; that he should take them into a connection with himself, implying an ardor of attachment, and a strength of affection superior to even that which exists in the marriage relation. This was a great and profound truth, to understand which, it was necessary to receive instruction. No one would have understood it without a revelation; no one understands it now except they who are taught of God."

In the Vulgate, the phrase "This Mystery is great" is rendered as "this sacrament is great," with the Latin word "sacramentum" being wrongly used for the Greek word for mystery (musterion).  It is from this that many Catholics refer to marriage as a sacrament, but that is not the meaning of the original.  

James Burton Coffman writes: "The exalted view, both of marriage and of the church of Jesus Christ, shines forth in this text.  The sacredness of marriage is seen in God's design of it, from the very beginning, to be a figure of the union of Christ and his church; and the glorious importance of the church appears in the fact of its having been in the design of God from the very beginning."

That the church was in God's mind even before the beginning, rather than a mere "afterthought" or "substitute for the kingdom," as some premillennialists have wrongly taught, can be seen in Ephesians 3:10,11, where the church is referred to as being part of God's "eternal purpose" for the proclamation of His word.   

The chapter then closes in Ephesians 5:33 with Paul giving the following marital instruction: "Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."  Commenting on this verse, David Lipscomb points out that for the husband to love his wife as himself, he is to "make her a part of himself, in his thoughts, feelings, purposes, and regard her comfort and happiness as he does his own, and do for her as he does for himself."

Paul also shows in this verse that the wife is to "RESPECT" her husband.  It is also rendered as "reverence" in the KJV and some other versions; but as E.M. Zerr writes, "It does not have the sense of regarding her husband as a superhuman or divine being, as the word 'reverend' generally (but erroneously) is thought to mean."  J. W. Shepherd shows that "Reverence consists of love and esteem which produce a care to please, and a fear which awakens caution lest just offense be given."  Some versions also translated this as "fear"; but it does not mean that the wife would be afraid of her husband, as she might be afraid of spiders or snakes.  Rather, it is a "respectful behavior" toward her husband, as Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 3:2.  

Marriage and the church are two institutions that God Himself established, and the former a few thousand years before the latter.  A third institution is government (cf. Rom. 13:1-7).  And just as you would expect, the One who established these has also given instruction in His word concerning our responsibility and how we are to conduct ourselves in these institutions, which always begins by putting, keeping, and exalting God above all!   So may that also -- and always -- be true of us.    


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following people in prayer:

Kay Babin has still not received the test results on whether she has viral meningitis or the West Nile Virus.  But she is improving, though still with some headaches.

Mozelle Robertson who is 92 and not able to drive and get around as she once did, but still faithful in her church attendance.

Wayne Murray who is in a nursing home in Columbus, Mississippi.

Gabrielle Lombrage who is healing from recent surgery and also having another procedure today.

Clifton Trimble who is in his 80's with heart trouble.

Caleb Davis who is now in Afghanistan.

Ginnie Perry Gott who is now in her second pregnancy.

Pam MacDonald who has severe back trouble.

Cheryl Crews who has chronic ailments.

Shirley Young who has continual fibromyalgia.

Bill Barfield who has been several months in a hospital's step-down unit. 

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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