Ephesians 5:33—6:2 (NASB)
Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),
These verses are a part of Paul’s discussion of how family members should treat one another. In verse 5:33, Paul instructs husbands on the love which they are to have for their wives; it is the very love of God Himself. The word love here is Agapē. Agapē is a selfless and unselfish love, a giving and sacrificial love. It is the love of the mind and will as well as of the heart. It is not only a love of affection and feelings; it is a love of the will and commitment. It is a love that wills and commits itself to love a person. It is the love that works for the highest good of the person loved even if the person does not deserve to be loved or even if the person is utterly unworthy of being loved.
Just imagine! What would happen in most marriages if the husband so loved his wife…
- with a selfless and unselfish love.
- with a giving and sacrificial love.
- with a love of the will as well as of the heart.
- with a love of commitment as well as of affection.
Notice that the standard of the husband’s love is the love of Christ for the church. The love of Christ for the church can be described in one simple statement: Christ gave Himself for the church. Christ loved the church so much that He gave Himself—sacrificed Himself totally—gave all He was and had for it. This is the love the husband is to have for his wife.
In chapter 6 vs. 1-2, children are to obey their parents. The word “obey” (hupakouō) means to submit to; to comply with; to hearken; to heed; to follow the directions or guidance of some instruction. When a parent guides and directs a child, the child is to obey the parent. But what about the problems that are so repulsively evident in society: the problems of parental abuse—the problems of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and mental abuse? Is a child to obey a parent when the parent is so devilishly wrong? No! A thousand times no!
To obey means to obey in the Lord. Notice the command: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” There is a limit to the child’s obedience. When a parent is not acting in the Lord, he is not to be obeyed. The Lord has nothing whatsoever to do with the filth of unrighteousness and abuse of precious children. The emphasis here—children are not told to obey parents because it pleases the parent, but because it pleases the Lord. The child is to know the Lord to such a degree that he is continually thinking about the Lord and about pleasing Him. The child is to walk so closely to the Lord that his mind is constantly upon the Lord—upon what he can do to please the Lord. When the child so knows the Lord, then obeying his parents will become an automatic response.
This is an important passage, not only for the day of Paul, but for every generation. Children and parents are to walk together under God’s authority.