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25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”


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25. "Thou hast seen the measure of obedience; now hear also the measure of love. Do you wish your wife to obey you, as the Church is to obey Christ? Then have a solicitude for her as Christ had for the Church (Eph 5:23, "Himself the Saviour of the body"); and "if it be necessary to give thy life for her, or to be cut in ten thousand pieces, or to endure any other suffering whatever, do not refuse it; and if you suffer thus, not even so do you do what Christ has done; for you indeed do so being already united to her, but He did so for one that treated Him with aversion and hatred. As, therefore, He brought to His feet one that so treated Him, and that even wantonly spurned Him, by much tenderness of regard, not by threats, insults, and terror: so also do you act towards your wife, and though you see her disdainful and wantonly wayward, you will be able to bring her to your feet by much thoughtfulness for her, by love, by kindness. For no bound is more sovereign in binding than such bonds, especially in the case of husband and wife. For one may constrain a servant by fear, though not even he is so to be bound to you; for he may readily run away. But the companion of your life, the mother of your children, the basis of all your joy, you ought to bind to you, not by fear and threats, but by love and attachment" [Chrysostom].

gave himselfGreek, "gave Himself up."

for it—Translate, "for her." The relation of the Church to Christ is the ground of Christianity's having raised woman to her due place in the social scale, from which she was, and is, excluded in heathen lands.

26. sanctify—that is, consecrate her to God. Compare Joh 17:19, meaning, "I devote Myself as a holy sacrifice, that My disciples also may be devoted or consecrated as holy in (through) the truth" [Neander] (Heb 2:11; 10:10; 13:12 see on Heb 10:10).

and cleanse—rather, as Greek, "cleansing," without the "and."

with the washing of water—rather as Greek, "with," or "by the laver of the water," namely, the baptismal water. So it ought to be translated in Tit 3:5, the only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs. As the bride passed through a purifying bath before marriage, so the Church (compare Re 21:2). He speaks of baptism according to its high ideal and design, as if the inward grace accompanied the outward rite; hence he asserts of outward baptism whatever is involved in a believing appropriation of the divine truths it symbolizes, and says that Christ, by baptism, has purified the Church [Neander] (1Pe 3:21).

by the wordGreek, "IN the word." To be joined with "cleansing it," or "her." The "word of faith" (Ro 10:8, 9, 17), of which confession is made in baptism, and which carries the real cleansing (Joh 15:3; 17:17) and regenerating power (1Pe 1:23; 3:21) [Alford]. So Augustine [Tract 80, in John], "Take away the word, and what is the water save water? Add the word to the element, and it becomes a sacrament, being itself as it were the visible word." The regenerating efficacy of baptism is conveyed in, and by, the divine word alone.

27. he—The oldest manuscripts and authorities read, "That He might Himself present unto Himself the Church glorious," namely, as a bride (2Co 11:2). Holiness and glory are inseparable. "Cleansing" is the necessary preliminary to both. Holiness is glory internal; glory is holiness shining forth outwardly. The laver of baptism is the vehicle, but the word is the nobler and true instrument of the cleansing [Bengel]. It is Christ that prepares the Church with the necessary ornaments of grace, for presentation to Himself, as the Bridegroom at His coming again (Mt 25:1, &c.; Re 19:7; 21:2).

not having spot—(So 4:7). The visible Church now contains clean and unclean together, like Noah's ark; like the wedding room which contained some that had, and others that had not, the wedding garment (Mt 22:10-14; compare 2Ti 2:20); or as the good and bad fish are taken in the same net because it cannot discern the bad from the good, the fishermen being unable to know what kind of fish the nets have taken under the waves. Still the Church is termed "holy" in the creed, in reference to her ideal and ultimate destination. When the Bridegroom comes, the bride shall be presented to Him wholly without spot, the evil being cut off from the body for ever (Mt 13:47-50). Not that there are two churches, one with bad and good intermingled, another in which there are good alone; but one and the same Church in relation to different times, now with good and evil together, hereafter with good alone [Pearson].

28. Translate, "So ought husbands also (thus the oldest manuscripts read) to love their own (compare Note, see on Eph 5:22) wives as their own bodies."

He that loveth his wife loveth himself—So there is the same love and the same union of body between Christ and the Church (Eph 5:30, 32).

29. For—Supply, and we all love ourselves: "For no man," &c.

his own flesh—(Eph 5:31, end).

nourishethGreek, "nourisheth it up," namely, to maturity. "Nourisheth," refers to food and internal sustenance; "cherisheth," to clothing and external fostering.

even as—Translate, "even as also."

the Lord—The oldest manuscripts read, "Christ." Ex 21:10 prescribes three duties to the husband. The two former (food and raiment) are here alluded to in a spiritual sense, by "nourisheth and cherisheth"; the third "duty of marriage" is not added in consonance with the holy propriety of Scripture language: its antitype is, "know the Lord" (Ho 2:19, 20) [Bengel].

30. ForGreek, "Because" (1Co 6:15). Christ nourisheth and cherisheth the Church as being of one flesh with Him. Translate, "Because we are members of His body (His literal body), being OF His flesh and of His bones" [Alford] (Ge 2:23, 24). The Greek expresses, "Being formed out of" or "of the substance of His flesh." Adam's deep sleep, wherein Eve was formed from out of his opened side, is an emblem of Christ's death, which was the birth of the Spouse, the Church. Joh 12:24; 19:34, 35, to which Eph 5:25-27 allude, as implying atonement by His blood, and sanctification by the "water," answering to that which flowed from His side (compare also Joh 7:38, 39; 1Co 6:11). As Adam gave Eve a new name, Hebrew, "Isha," "woman," formed from his own rib, Ish, "man," signifying her formation from him, so Christ, Re 2:17; 3:12. Ge 2:21, 23, 24 puts the bones first because the reference there is to the natural structure. But Paul is referring to the flesh of Christ. It is not our bones and flesh, but "we" that are spiritually propagated (in our soul and spirit now, and in the body hereafter, regenerated) from the manhood of Christ which has flesh and bones. We are members of His glorified body (Joh 6:53). The two oldest existing manuscripts, and Coptic or Memphitic version, omit "of His flesh and of His bones"; the words may have crept into the text through the Margin from Ge 2:23, Septuagint. However, Irenæus, 294, and the old Latin and Vulgate versions, with some good old manuscripts, have them.

31. For—The propagation of the Church from Christ, as that of Eve from Adam, is the foundation of the spiritual marriage. The natural marriage, wherein "a man leaves father and mother (the oldest manuscripts omit 'his') and is joined unto his wife," is not the principal thing meant here, but the spiritual marriage represented by it, and on which it rests, whereby Christ left the Father's bosom to woo to Himself the Church out of a lost world: Eph 5:32 proves this: His earthly mother as such, also, He holds in secondary account as compared with His spiritual Bride (Lu 2:48, 49; 8:19-21; 11:27, 28). He shall again leave His Father's abode to consummate the union (Mt 25:1-10; Re 19:7).

they two shall be one flesh—So the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, &c., read (Ge 2:24), instead of "they shall be one flesh." So Mt 19:5. In natural marriage, husband and wife combine the elements of one perfect human being: the one being incomplete without the other. So Christ, as God-man, is pleased to make the Church, the body, a necessary adjunct to Himself, the Head. He is the archetype of the Church, from whom and according to whom, as the pattern, she is formed. He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife (Ro 6:5; 1Co 11:3; 15:45). Christ will never allow any power to sever Himself and His bride, indissolubly joined (Mt 19:6; Joh 10:28, 29; 13:1).




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