22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22–24 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul cited that biblical submission was one evidence of the Holy Spirit’s filling in the believer’s life (Ephesians 5:21). It is a personal and relational submission. Submitting (ὑποτάσσω; hypotasso) means to willingly obey, and be obedient (Luke 2:51; Eph. 5:22). It also means to bring oneself bring under control, and to put oneself in subjection (1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Php. 3:21; Heb. 2:5, 8). It is the Holy Spirit who does this work in the believer’s heart.
The Strong’s Greek Lexicon explains that submission is a “Greek military term meaning ‘to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader’. In non-military use, it was ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden’.”
It is the believers’ reverence (φόβος; phobos), fear and awe of Christ that prompts this voluntary attitude and behavior of submission. Submission cannot be demanded by an individual towards an individual. It must be truly voluntary for the act of submission to be truly biblical.
This is especially true in the marriage relationship which the Apostle Paul begins to address in Ephesians 5:22-33. The phrase “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” is often misunderstood. In the Greek, the verse reads as follows: “Wives, to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” The verb submit is not actually contained in vs. 22 but in the immediate context is taken from Ephesians 5:21.
Women are not commanded to submit. Rather, wives are to recognize that the Holy Spirit’s filling in their lives will bring them to an attitude of being personally responsible to and responsible for their own husband. The husband is never to demand or command his wife to submit to him. However, God calls the Christian wife to grateful acceptance of her husband’s care and leadership in the family.
Like an individual’s submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to one another (Eph. 5:21), the godly wife seeks her husband’s welfare. Submission is a voluntary attitude of cooperation and a mutual carrying in the responsibility of the marriage. King Lemuel outlined the characteristics of a submissive and godly wife who is filled by the Holy Spirit in Proverbs 31:10-31.
More to come concerning submission within the home. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!