Continued from post #59 in the thread, Women speaking in the church.
I realize we are studying women’s roles in this study; however, we can’t properly understand the topic apart from taking a quick look at the relationship between husbands and wives. The text for this portion is Ephesians 5:17-33:
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
This brings us to the point oftaking a look at the meaning of the word, head, which translates the Greek word, kephale. Kephale refers to something that is first, supreme, prominent, outstanding, or determinative…or an extremity, or end point…or the physical, anatomic head of a person or animal. In the first century, kephale also had another meaning. Philo, a Jewish contemporary of Paul, used kephale to mean source. Given that there are several choices regarding the meaning of head, we will have to look to Paul for explanation. In Ephesians we find the following uses of kephale:
Ephesians 1: 22-23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children,tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
There can be no question that we are underthe authority of Christ; however, I don’t see that as the meaning of head as Paul uses it in Ephesians…especially given the lexical definitions. The relationship of Christ to the church is not one of sovereign and subjects, superior and inferiors, rather, it is a relationship of life and incorporation. The church is not simply some sort of an institution ruled by Christ as president, or merely a kingdom wherein He is the Supreme King. She is a people in vital union with Him, having Him as the source of life, being sustained and guided by His power, and being the instrument, or body, through which He accomplishes His work. The church was begun when Christ arose, because He is the firstborn among many brethren. Hebrews even uses the descriptor, church of the firstborn. Christ is the source of the church. Additionally, it is difficult to define head as superior given that we are seated at the right hand of our Father in the heavenly places in Christ. Perhaps we need to stop viewing Christ as our ruler and begin to see that we are a corporeal part of Him. As such, we rule with Him.
Colossians 2:19 also supports the meaning, source, for kephale:
…and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.
The language of Ephesians does not portray Jesus as ruling Christians via laws and edicts. It depicts Him living within the heart of saints to change how each feels, thinks, and desires. This causes believers to want the same things He wants thus becoming vessels for His love. So now, let’s consider Ephesians 5:22-23:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Clearly, we must interpret the headship of Christ in light of what Paul has already said about Christ and the church, and this is very similar to the ‘one flesh’ relationship for marriages from Genesis2, as well as the picture of woman coming out of man as her source. The church is the fullness of Christ and His body. Consequently, husbands, as heads of their wives, are obligated to provide for her needs for growth just as Christ provides for the growth of the church. Just as Christ’s headship is for the church, so also is the husbands headship for his wife. It follows, then, that the wife must be obligated to be her husband’s fullness, ie to complete that which was lacking in him when he was alone. The metaphor used by Paul in Ephesians is very consistent with and supportive of what we saw in Genesis 2. This brings us to the topic of submission, which will hafta wait until tomorrow evening…unless I have a very unusually slow day at the clinic tomorrow!