Sabbath School Lesson for August 26-September 1
Overview of Lesson 10–Husbands and Wives, Together at the Cross
Memory Text: “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.” Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV
What to expect:
- Sunday: Counsel to Christian Wives–What does it mean to submit to their husbands “as is fitting in the Lord”?
- Monday: The Church and the Bride of Christ (Part 1)–How does Christ, the Bridegroom, prepare the bride, the church?
- Tuesday: The Church and the Bride of Christ (Part 2)–When will the “wedding” take place between Christ and the church?
- Wednesday: Love Your Wife as You Do Yourself–How should the husband treat his wife?
- Thursday: The “One-Flesh” Model of Marriage–How does this “one-flesh” arrangement reflect unity, rather than subjugation or dominance of either partner over the other?
Paul continues his theme of church unity by encouraging church members to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21). He follows this with a metaphor of husbands and wives, and how they should relate to each other. In particular, how wives should submit to their own husbands–and how husbands should, in turn, love their wives.
He makes it clear that the marriage relationship shows how Christ, the Bridegroom, relates to His bride, the church. The ancient wedding ceremony had many features that remind us of how we become betrothed to Jesus, are prepared for the wedding by the washing of the word (Ephesians 5:26, 27), and finally celebrate the wedding supper with Him in heaven, after He comes for us at the Second Coming (Revelation 19:9).
Sunday: Counsel to Christian Wives
Paul’s counsel to wives to submit to their own husbands (Ephesians 5:22), follows his counsel for all church members to submit to each other “in the fear of God”. The ESV, translates this as “out of reverence for Christ”. The reason for wives to submit, therefore, comes from their desire and love for Christ. Honoring God should always come before honoring one’s husband.
Christ’s love and care for the church is a model for a true, Christian marriage relationship. It is based on mutual love and self-sacrificing submission to each other.
Dysfunctional homes do exist, however. Especially when one of the partners is controlling, egotistical, and harsh. No one is expected to submit to that kind of treatment. This does not in any way represent a Christian marriage, one that reflects Christ’s treatment of the church.
Ephesians 5:21, Mark 10:42-45, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3, 4
- What do these verses tell us about submitting to each other?
Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18
- What does it mean to submit “as is fitting in the Lord”?
Monday: The Church as the Bride of Christ (Part 1)
We are touched with the love God had for Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16:1-14. He accepts His chosen city as one would take a foundling child, and prepare it for adoption into the family of God. The passage talks about how God washed the infant, then clothed and adorned it in fine apparel, including all kinds of precious jewels.
The parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25) also remind us of the preparations made for an ancient wedding. The wise virgins in the parable alert us to the need to have oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, in our lamps, as we wait for the bridegroom to come.
Even today, much care is taken in the bride’s special dress and adornment, as she is presented to the bridegroom at the altar. The church needs the Holy Spirit as never before to prepare, as we anxiously wait for Christ, our Bridegroom, to come and take us to the altar and then share the wedding feast with Him in heaven.
- How is Christ’s love for the church similar to the way a husband should love his wife?
- How does the husband help in preparing the wife for Christ to come? What is needed for him to make this possible?
Tuesday: The Church as the Bride of Christ (Part 2)
As Paul describes the marriage ceremony, we are reminded of Christ’s relationship to the church. Here are the events that he highlights in Ephesians 5:25-27:
- the betrothal–Christ’s sacrificial death is seen as the “bride price”, customary in Paul’s time
- preparation for the wedding ceremony–Christ cleanses and sanctifies the church to prepare her for His return
- a grand parade, ending with the wedding ceremony–Christ’s Second Coming for the bride, as He takes her to their new home in heaven
- What practical messages do we receive from this description of a happy, hopeful marriage that reflects Christ’s love for us?
- How do you perceive what the perfect, happy marriage relationship should look like, beginning with the engagement, or betrothal? How only is it achieved?
Wednesday: Love Your Wife as You Do Yourself
Loving your wife as you do yourself was Paul’s counsel to husbands in Ephesians 5:28-30. It is our responsibility to take care of our bodies, the dwelling place, or temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19). And since husbands and wives are considered one flesh, this advice seems most appropriate.
This kind of “self-love” seems reasonable when we remember the Golden Rule, which tells us that “whatever you want others to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). Luke 10:27 also tells us to love our neighbor as ourself. So loving yourself makes sense in the context of marriage. Each should consider the other’s welfare as equal to his own. Equal treatment should be the standard for the happy, Christian marriage.
Unfortunately, the pattern in Paul’s time, and almost throughout history, has been for husbands to be harsh, overbearing, and even abusive, toward their wives. And most of the time it has been his human, legal right to do so. But Paul is suggesting a different treatment, one of deep care and abiding love that only God can supply.
How much happier our homes and families would be if Paul’s counsel would be followed. Often, even Christian husbands only read and remind their wives to submit, as mentioned earlier by Paul. But, husbands are also obliged to submit to their wives, in order for true love to be established in the home.
After all, Christ submitted to God’s will, humbled Himself by coming to earth and becoming our Sacrifice. Husbands should likewise be willing to sacrifice their all for their wives, treating them lovingly, as Christ treats the church.
- What is Paul’s rationale for treating their wives differently than most of the world does?
Thursday: The One-Flesh Model of Marriage
Paul’s final admonition and rationale for the perfect model of marriage in Ephesians 5:31-33 takes us all the way back to Genesis. As a matter of fact, he quotes Genesis 2:24 when he says they are joined together and become one flesh. In the previous verse, Genesis 2:23, we are told that woman was taken out of man, so they really are made not just for each other, but from each other. What a tight, loving bond should exist then between husband and wife.
Modern cultures, and even historical ones, have exploited the sexual relationship, leaving men and women in very unequal roles, usually with the male excessively dominant. But this was not God’s original plan, and Christian marriages should strive to preserve the spiritual and emotional unity that marriage is supposed to provide the partners.
In following God’s divine plan for marriage in the beginning, we are given clearer insight into the kind of united relationship the church has with Christ. It also represents the relationship of the close, equal relationship between the members of the Godhead.
Genesis 2:23, 24
- What did God intend us to learn from the way He created Adam and Eve?
- What kind of unity does the marriage relationship represent?
- How does Paul reinforce the kind of self-love that is required for a successful, happy marriage?
- What does this “one-flesh” concept mean to you as you consider your own marriage relationship?
- Have you always felt united with your partner to the extent that it showed you and others how Christ loves the church?
Friday: Final Thoughts
Satan has made concerted efforts to cloud our understanding of the marital relationship, even to the extent of confusing our physical gender identities with genetic, hormonal imbalances and faulty environmental influences. God calls these abnormal interferences an abomination for good reason. In addition to marring the image of God (Genesis 1:27), they often lead to sinful, promiscuous behaviors, perhaps driven by unreasonable, societal expectations.
But, when Christ comes into the heart, even seemingly insurmountable barriers, created by Satan, can result in permanent, loving, caring relationships.
Above all, marriage partners, men and women alike, should not try to control each other. Ellen White, in The Adventist Home, p. 118, encouraged us to be “kind, and forbearing, considerate, and courteous”. This is the kind of Christlike behavior God would have us all develop and maintain in all our human relationships.
(See this link to an article for ways to speak up and give kind, courteous answers to difficult questions, “Be Ready!”.)
Next Week: Practicing Supreme Loyalty to Christ
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