on Ephesians 5 :33
Nevertheless - Πλην· Moreover, or therefore, on the consideration of God's design in the institution of marriage, let every one of you love his wife as himself, because she is both naturally and by a Divine ordinance a part of himself.
That she reverence her husband - Let the wife ever consider the husband as her head, and this he is, not only by nature, but also by the ordinance of God. These are very important matters, and on them the apostle lays great stress. See the following observations.
There is one subject in the preceding verse on which I could not enlarge sufficiently in the notes, and which I have reserved for this place; viz. what the apostle says concerning the mystery of marriage, which certainly has a deeper meaning than what is generally apprehended. Dr. Macknight has some good observations on this part of the subject, which I shall beg leave to lay before my readers.
1. "The apostle calls the formation of Eve from Adam's body, his marriage with her; and the intimate union established between them by that marriage, a great mystery, because it contained an important emblematical meaning concerning the regeneration of believers, and their union with Christ, which hitherto had been kept secret, but which he had discovered in the 30th verse. For there, in allusion to what Adam said concerning Eve, 'This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,' the apostle says, concerning Christ and believers: We are bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh: that is, we are parts of his body, the Church. And by this application of Adam's words concerning Eve to Christ and to his Church, he intimates,
First, That the formation of Eve of a rib taken out of Adam's body was a figure of the regeneration of believers by the breaking of Christ's body, mentioned Ephesians 5:25.
Secondly, That Adam's love to Eve, on account of her being formed of his body, was a figure of Christ's love to believers because they are become his body, Ephesians 5:30.
Thirdly, That Adam's marriage with Eve was a figure of the eternal union of Christ with believers in heaven, mentioned Ephesians 5:27. For he left his Father to be united to his Church.
2. "In giving this emblematical representation of these ancient facts, the apostle has not exceeded the bounds of probability. In the first age, neither the art of writing, nor any permanent method of conveying instruction, being invented, it was necessary to make such striking actions and events as could not easily be forgotten emblems of the instruction meant to be perpetuated. On this supposition, Adam, in whom the human race began, was a natural image of Christ, in whom the human race was to be restored; and his deep sleep, the opening of his side, and the formation of Eve of a rib taken out of his side, were fit emblems of Christ's death, of the opening of his side on the cross, and of the regeneration of believers by his death. The love which Adam expressed towards Eve, and his union with her by marriage, were lively images of Christ's love to believers, and of his eternal union with them in one society after their resurrection; and Eve herself, who was formed of a rib taken from Adam's side, was a natural image of believers, who are regenerated, both in their body and in their mind, by the breaking of Christ's side on the cross. Thus, the circumstances which accompanied the formation of Eve being fit emblems of the formation of the Church, we may suppose they were brought to pass to prefigure that great event; and, by prefiguring it, to show that it was decreed of God from the very beginning.
3. "The aptness, however, of these images is not the only reason for supposing that the formation of Eve, and her marriage with Adam in paradise, were emblems of the regeneration of believers by the death of Christ, and of their eternal union with him in heaven. The singular manner in which Eve was formed, and the declaration at her marriage with Adam, 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh,' strongly lead to that conclusion. Eve was not formed of the dust of the earth, as all other living things were made, (not excepting Adam himself), but of a rib taken from Adam's side while he was in a deep sleep. Now, for this diversity, what reason can be assigned, if that which the apostle hath suggested is not admitted? Farther: unless some deep instruction were couched under the formation of Eve, what occasion was there for Adam, at his marriage with her, to declare, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man: therefore shall a man leave,' etc.? For although the taking of Eve out of Adam might be a reason for Adam's affection towards her, it was no reason for the affection of his posterity towards their wives, who were not so formed. The reason of their love to their wives is their being creatures of the same species with themselves. This Eve might have been, though, like Adam, she had been formed of the dust of the earth. Wherefore Adam's declaration concerning Eve being taken out of his body, and concerning his love to her on that account, was intended for some purpose peculiar to himself; namely, as he was a type of Him who was to restore the human race by the breaking of his body on the cross, and who on that account loves them, and will unite them to himself for ever. Upon the whole, the formation of Eve and her marriage with Adam, and his love to and union with her because she was taken out of his side, and the declaration that, on that account, all his posterity should love their wives, and continue united to them through life, (a union which does not subsist among other animals), are events so singular, that I do not see what account can be given of them, unless, with the Apostle Paul, we suppose that, agreeably to the most ancient method of instruction, God intended these things as figurative representations of the regeneration of believers by the death of Christ, and of his eternal union with them in heaven; and that Adam and Eve were taught by God himself to consider them as such.
4. "It is no small confirmation of the apostle's emblematical interpretation of the formation and marriage of Eve, that in Scripture we find a variety of images and expressions founded on that interpretation. For example, Romans 5:14, Adam is expressly called a type of him who was to come, on which account, 1 Corinthians 15:45, Christ is called the last Adam. Next, the catholic Church, consisting of believers of all nations, is called the body of Christ, and the members thereof are said to be members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; in allusion to the formation of Eve, the emblem of the Church. For, as Eve was formed of a rib taken out of Adam's body during his deep sleep, so believers are regenerated both in mind and body, and formed into one great society, and united to Christ as their head and governor, by the breaking of his body on the cross. Thirdly, to this emblematical meaning of the formation of Eve, our Lord, I think, alluded when he instituted his supper. For instead of appointing one symbol only of his death, he appointed two; and, in explaining the first of them, he expressed himself in such a manner as to show that he had his eye on what happened to Adam when Eve was formed: This is my body which is broken for you - for your regeneration. Fourthly, the eternal union of the regenerated with Christ after the resurrection is called a marriage, Revelation 19:7; and the new Jerusalem, that is, the inhabitants of the new Jerusalem, the society of the redeemed, is termed the bride, the Lamb's wife; and the preparing of men for that happy union, by introducing them into the Church upon earth through faith, and by sanctifying them through the word, is called, 2 Corinthians 11:2, A fitting them for one husband, that at the resurrection they may be presented a chaste virgin to Christ; in allusion, I suppose, to the presenting of Eve to Adam, in order to her marriage with him; and to show that, in this expression, the apostle had the figurative meaning of Eve's marriage in his mind, he mentions, 2 Corinthians 11:3, the subtlety of the devil in deceiving Eve. Finally, the union of the Jewish Church with God, as the figure of the catholic Church, consisting of the regenerated of all nations, is by God himself termed a marriage, Jeremiah 3:14; Ezekiel 16:8-32; and God is called the husband of that people, Isaiah 54:5; and their union to him by the law of Moses is termed, The day of their espousals, Jeremiah 2:2."
1. A truly Christian marriage has an excellence, holiness, and unity in it, that cannot be easily described; and let it be observed that, while it prefigures the union of Christ with his Church, it is one means of giving children to the Church, and members to the mystical body of Christ. It is an ordinance of God, and, cannot be too highly honored; endless volumes might be written on its utility to man: without marriage, by which every man is assigned his own wife, and every woman her own husband, even the multitude of spurious births which would take place would fail to keep up the population of the earth; and natural, moral, and political wretchedness would be the consequence of promiscuous, fortuitous, and transitory connections. For without that ascertainment of peculiar property which marriage gives to every man in his wife, and to every woman in her husband, the human progeny would be unnoticed, unclaimed, uneducated, and totally neglected. This would continually increase the wretchedness, and in process of time bring about the total depopulation of the world.
2. The husband is to love his wife, the wife to obey and venerate her husband; love and protection on the one hand, affectionate subjection and fidelity on the other. The husband should provide for his wife without encouraging profuseness; watch over her conduct without giving her vexation; keep her in subjection without making her a slave; love her without jealousy; oblige her without flattery; honor her without making her proud; and be hers entirely, without becoming either her footman or her slave. In short, they have equal rights and equal claims; but superior strength gives the man dominion, affection and subjection entitle the woman to love and protection. Without the woman, man is but half a human being; in union with the man, the woman finds her safety and perfection. In the above remarks there are many things solid and useful; there are others which rest more on fancy than judgment.
3. Of marriage the Church of Rome has made a sacrament, and it is one of the seven which that Church acknowledges. That it is an ordinance of God is sufficiently evident; that he has not made it a sacrament is not less so. Though the minister of religion celebrates it, yet the regulation of it, in reference to inheritance, etc., is assumed by the state. This is of great moment, as by it many evils are prevented, and many political and domestic advantages secured. If a man enter hastily into this state it is at his own risk; after he has once entered it, the seal of the legislature is imposed upon it, and with his engagements, he cannot trifle. A consideration of this has prevented many hasty and disproportionate alliances. Though they might hope to trifle with the Church, they dare not do it with the state.
on Ephesians 5 :33
Nevertheless - The apostle here resumes the subject which he had been discussing in Ephesians 5:21-29, and says that it was the duty of every man to love his wife as he did himself. This was the main topic, from which he had been diverted by the discussion respecting the love which the Redeemer had shown for his church.
And the wife see that she reverence her husband - The word "see" is supplied by our translators. The meaning is, that it was the special duty of the wife to show respect for her husband as the head of the family, and as set over her in the Lord; see on Ephesians 5:22, note 28, note. The word rendered "reverence," is that which usually denotes "fear" - φοβῆται phobētai. She is to fear; i. e., to honor, respect, obey the will of her husband. It is, of course, not implied that it is not also her duty to love her husband, but that there should be no usurping of authority; no disregard of the arrangement which God has made; and that order and peace should be secured in a family by regarding the husband as the source of law.
From what is here said of the duties of husband and wife we may remark:
(1) That the happiness of society depends on just views of the marriage relation. It is true the world over, that the views which prevail in regard to this relation, determine everything in reference to all other relations of life, and to all other sources of enjoyment.
(2) God designed that woman should occupy a subordinate, though an important place in the relations of social life. This arrangement is never disregarded without evils which cannot be corrected until the original intention is secured. No imaginary good that can come out of the violation of the original design; no benefits which females, individual or associated, can confer on mankind by disregarding this arrangement, can be a compensation for the evil that is done, nor can the evil be remedied unless woman occupies the place which God designed she should fill. There nothing else can supply her place; and when she is absent from that situation - no matter what good she may be doing elsewhere - there is a silent evil reigning, which can be removed only by her return. It is not hers to fight battles, or to command armies and navies, or to control kingdoms, or to make laws. Nor is it hers to go forward as a public leader even in enterprises of benevolence, or in associations designed to act on the public mind. Her empire is the domestic circle; her first influence is there; and in connection with that, in such scenes as she can engage in without trenching on the prerogative of man, or neglecting the duty which she owes to her own family.
(3) it is not best that there should be the open exercise of authority in a family. When "commands" begin in the relation of husband and wife, "happiness" flies; and the moment a husband is "disposed" to command his wife, or is "under a necessity" of doing it, that moment he may bid adieu to domestic peace and joy.
(4) a wife, therefore, should never give her husband "occasion" to command her to do anything, or forbid anything. His known wish, except in cases of conscience, should be law to her. The moment she can ascertain what his will is, that moment ought to settle her mind as to what is to be done.
(5) a husband should never "wish" or "expect" anything that it may not be perfectly proper for a wife to render. He, too, should consult "her" wishes; and when he understands what they are, he should regard what she prefers as the very thing which he would command. The known wish and preference of a wife, unless there be something wrong in it, should be allowed to influence his mind, and be that which he directs in the family.
(6) there is no danger that a husband will love a wife too much, provides his love be subordinate to the love of God. The command is, to love her as Christ loved the church. What love has ever been like that? How can a husband exceed it? What did not Christ endure to redeem the church? So should a husband be willing to deny himself to promote the happiness of his wife; to watch by her in sickness, and, if need be, to peril health and life to promote her welfare. Doing this, he will not go beyond what Christ did for the church. He should remember that she has a special claim of justice on him. For him she has left her father's home, forsaken the friends of her youth, endowed him with whatever property she may have, sunk her name in his, confided her honor, her character, and her happiness, to his virtue; and the least that he can do for her is to love her, and strive to make her happy. This was what she asked when she consented to become his; and a husband's love is what she still asks to sustain and cheer her in the trials of life. If she has not this, whither shall she go for comfort?
(7) we may see, then, the guilt of those husbands who withhold their affections from their wives, and forsake those to whom they had solemnly pledged themselves at the altar; those who neglect to provide for their needs, or to minister to them in sickness; and those who become the victims of intemperance, and leave their wives to tears. There is much, much guilt of this kind on earth. There are many, many broken vows. There are many, many hearts made to bleed. There is many a pure and virtuous woman who was once the object of tender affection, now, by no fault of hers, forsaken, abused, broken-hearted, by the brutal conduct of a husband,
(8) wives should manifest such a character as to be worthy of love. They owe this to their husbands. They demand the confidence and affection of man; and they should show that they are worthy of that confidence and affection. It is not possible to love that which is unlovely, nor to force affection where it is undeserved; and, as a wife expects that a husband will love her more than he does any other earthly being, it is but right that she should evince such a spirit as shall make that proper. A wife may easily alienate the affections of her partner in life. If she is irritable and fault-finding; if none of his ways please her; if she takes no interest in his plans, and in what he does; if she forsakes her home when she should he there, and seeks happiness abroad; or if, at home, she never greets him with a smile; if she is wasteful of his earnings, and extravagant in her habits, it will be impossible to prevent the effects of such a course of life on his mind. And when a wife perceives the slightest evidence of alienated affection in her husband, she should inquire at once whether she has not given occasion for it, and exhibited such a spirit as tended inevitably to produce such a result.
(9) to secure mutual love, therefore, it is necessary that there should be mutual kindness, and mutual loveliness of character. Whatever is seen to be offensive or painful, should be at once abandoned. All the little peculiarities of temper and modes of speech that are observed to give pain, should be forsaken; and, while one party should endeavor to tolerate them, and not to be offended, the other should make it a matter of conscience to remove them.
(10) the great secret of conjugal happiness is in the cultivation of a proper temper. It is not so much in the great and trying scenes of life that the strength of virtue is tested; it is in the events that are constantly occurring; the manifestation of kindness in the things that are happening every moment; the gentleness that flows along every day, like the stream that winds through the meadow and around the farm-house, noiseless but useful, diffusing fertility by day and by night. Great deeds rarely occur. The happiness of life depends little on them, but mainly on the little acts of kindness in life. We need them everywhere; we need them always. And eminently in the marriage relation there is need of gentleness and love, returning each morning, beaming in the eye, and dwelling in the heart through the livelong day.
on Ephesians 5 :33