26 “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26–27 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul continues his comparison of the love a husband is to have for his wife with the love Christ has for the church. Christ’s love is the standard of self-sacrificial love of the will. A husband’s love for his wife is based and established on this sacrificial standard by the Lord Jesus. This holy standard, not only of God the Father’s love but also Christ’s love for the church, was previously spoken about by Paul in Ephesians 2:1-4.
What was the purpose of such love by God for sinners? Paul sets forth three purposes of Christ’s love in today’s text. The first is “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
The second purpose of God’s love in and through Christ is “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” Jesus Christ remains the subject since being introduced in Eph. 5:25. The masculine singular personal pronouns pertain to Him.
The phrase “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor” is established upon the truth of the first purpose of Christ’s love of sanctifying the church. This is accomplished solely through the regenerating work by the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8; Titus 3:1-5). Sinners are born again by the Holy Spirit in order to believe the truth of the Gospel. Regeneration precedes faith (John 3:1-3).
The phrase might present (παρίστημι; paristemi) means to cause to exist and to raise up. God the Father and Jesus Christ have raised up sinners unto Himself and justified them by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of the Savior alone.
Therefore the church will be resurrected in splendor. Splendor (ἔνδοξος; endoxos) means to be glorious and honored. Christ will present the church glorious to Himself.
As such the church will be eternally recognized as being without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” Spot (σπίλος; spilos) means a stain or blemish. Wrinkle (ῥυτίς; rhytis) is a crease or imperfection. Paul declared that the resurrected church in heaven will possess and reflect the glory and perfection of Jesus Christ. So too did the Apostle John (I John 3:1-3).
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Paul outlines in these verses the entire process to which Christ has committed Himself in His relationship with the church. He has washed her from sin and is preparing her for a glorious destiny with Himself. Husbands are called in like manner to adapt their lives to their wives’ needs and to provide for their spiritual growth and development.”
Husbands, how are you doing in adapting your life to your wife’s needs, spiritual growth and development? Ask the Lord at this very moment what you can do to truly love your wife as Christ loved, and loves, the church.
Soli deo Gloria!