| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 45 - Page 161 of 251 Index | Zoom | |
"The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the
head of Christ is God."
Thus we have a divinely relationship ascending from woman through man, and
through Christ to God. If the head of the woman is the man, and the Head of the Church
is Christ, then there is an analogy between a wife's relationship to her husband and the
Church's relation to Christ. Once this is seen, the conception that men are better than
women, or that women are expected to render them slavish obedience, vanishes. The
husband has a tremendous responsibility, for he prefigures Christ as the Body's Head and
Saviour, and is enjoined to love his wife "even as Christ also loved the church, and gave
Himself up for it" (25 R.V.). This goes much deeper than attraction or affection, and
involves his unceasing and self-sacrificing concern for her well-being, thus safeguarding
her dignity and welfare. And when wives constantly receive this sort of consideration,
are they going to experience any difficulty in being in subjection to such a man? Surely
this deference will be the natural outcome of such a high relationship.
But the Apostle now leaves the husband-wife relationship behind, for he goes on to
state that, not only did the Lord give Himself up for His body, but He did this in order
that "He might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word"
(26 R.V.). We have a double figure here for cleansing--water and the Word of God.
One is immediately reminded of Ezek. 36: 25-27 when, at the future re-gathering of
Israel, God says:
"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your
filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you."
Obviously here the water is not literal. The cleansing is not that of the body, but that
of the mind. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you"
(36: 26). Later on, in the N.T., we find the Lord saying, "Now ye are clean through
the word which I have spoken unto you" (John 15: 3). Ritualists must be hard put to it to
try and make Eph. 5: 26 refer to water baptism. Had Paul meant to teach this, the phrase
"by the Word" would have been omitted. In any case, as we have already seen, the ONE
baptism of 4: 5 precludes that of the type and shadow--literal water--and must refer to
the abiding spiritual reality, the work of the Holy Spirit Himself. The only other
occurrence of the word rendered "washing" is Titus 3: 5, where we have the "washing
of regeneration", once again clearly not alluding to literal water, and this guides us in
interpreting Eph. 5: 26.
This divine cleansing is in order that:
"He might present the church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle
or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (5: 27 R.V.).
This great presentation day is often forgotten by believers. The future glory for the
Body must not be looked at exclusively as the realization of the hope of each member.
Let us not forget what that day will mean for the Lord as well--the receiving to Himself
of His complete and perfected Body. This is what the Father had in mind when He chose
this company in Christ before the foundation of the world "that it should be holy and