What does Ephesians 5:23 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
NASB: For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
CSB: because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.
NLT: For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.
KJV: For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
NKJV: For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Verse Commentary:
After instructing wives to submit to their husbands in verse 22, Paul provides a spiritual basis for his instruction. He uses the analogy of Christ (the husband) with the church (the wife). Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. Similarly, husbands are to love their wives and be willing to give up their lives on their behalf (Ephesians 5:25–29). Wives are to show devotion to their husbands similar to the church's call to love the Lord.

Paul also notes the church is Christ's "body, and [He] is himself its Savior." Using this analogy, husband and wife are one body (Ephesians 5:31). They are called to live united, serving one another together. It is not about one person being better than the other. Instead, this is mutual submission which honors God and shows love. Jesus, as part of the Trinity, is identical in essence and equal to God the Father. And yet, He is able to submit without becoming "inferior." This is the model of marital submission which Paul has in view.
Verse Context:
Ephesians 5:22–33 is an often-cited but frequently misunderstood passage. Here, Paul explains how Christian husbands and wives should apply their understanding of salvation within their marriage. Wives are commanded to ''submit'' to their husbands as they would to Christ, and to show them respect. Often overlooked, however, is that men are equally obligated. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church: with humility and sacrifice, as if caring for their own bodies. Despite popular myth, the Bible does not permit either sex to be abusive or unloving within a marriage.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 5 begins with an admonition to imitate Christ. In order to do so, Christians must avoid sexual immorality, vulgar language, foolishness, and other inappropriate attitudes. Paul warns that those who persist in these behaviors are not part of the kingdom of God. The passage then transitions to an explanation of mutual submission, including that between husbands and wives. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and respect them. Husbands are to love their wives in a Christ-like, sacrificial, and humble way.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 5 continues the very practical second half of the book of Ephesians. Chapter 4 encouraged Christians not to live as unbelievers do, but worthy of the gift we have been given. Chapter 5 gives even more direct application of these principles. Paul details impure attitudes and habits which Christians ought to put aside. He then details the proper approach to marriage, rooted in a Christian understanding of the gospel. This style of advice will continue through chapter 6. Paul's advice will culminate in a famous analogy about applying Christian principles to all of life, using the symbolism of a suit of armor.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
Accessed 5/26/2024 5:23:37 PM
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