Sermon 15-8-23 (Eph. 5)

 Reading

Eph. 5:

[21] Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. [22] Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. [23] 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. [24] Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing. [25] Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; [26] That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, [27] That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. [28] So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. [29] For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: [30] For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. [31] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. [32] This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Here Paul is using the sexual feeling of being one flesh as a parable for the relationship between Christ and the Church! So sexual feelings are not bad at all, they are the standard of the highest values and the relationship between Christ and the Church can only be equalled to these feelings!!!

We are meant to submit ourselves to each other in the fear of God. None of us shall actively rise up above the other. This seems a mutual equivalent relationship, even though amongst Christians Paul seems to occupy a preeminent position.

Between ‘husband and wife’ the relationship also is not equal, ‘wives’ shall submit, ‘husbands’ shall love! Well we should love all our neighbours as ourselves and Paul writes this also, ‘He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Overall this reading seems to portray a pretty modern view of the relationship between ‘husband and wife’. Now in the Bible there are no words for husband and wife. In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, they simply don’t exist and in Ancient Greek, the language of the New Testament, they do exist but they are not used in the Bible. So wherever it says husband in the Reading it says aner ‘man’ in the Ancient Greek text and wherever it says wife, it says gynae ‘woman’.

So Paul describes here is a relationship between man and woman. Now the possessive pronoun does occur in this passage quite frequently and the expressions ‘your own men’ and ‘their own husbands’ certainly seem to indicate a one on one possessive relationship.

This however may not be what is meant here at all. The word for own is ‘idios’ the word which has developed into the modern word ‘idiot’. An idiotes was a person in Ancient Greek cities who cared more about his personal wealth than the well – being of his city as a whole. Obviously it is a derogatory word since, if the city is taken by enemies, his wealth does not help the man at all. It would be taken off him.

Maybe this is something modern tax payers have to keep in mind. So an idiot in the original meaning transferred to today is someone who would value his own job security above environmental issues, someone who would travel to work in a motorised vehicle, even though he could use a bicycle.

In the sense between sexual partners, however, it might mean forgetting, forgetting of the Original Sin, forgetting that sex makes women pregnant. (See Greetings from Paradise, the chapter on the Original Sin.) Or as Jesus put it (Matt.: 18: 3), ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Or to put it into the words of the Black Eyed Peas, ‘Let’s get retarded, let’s disconnect from all intellect.’ Verse 28, ‘So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.’ In love we are not even to distinguish between our own and our partner’s body.

Paul even quotes Gen. 2: 24, ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.Even Paul himself calls this a great mystery, something that is beyond the understanding of man in verse 32. This is a pre Sin verse. The Original Sin occurred in Gen. 3 and the extreme age of Gen 2: 24 is also indicated by the fact that this verse refers to conditions which must have existed at a time when women were not ruling society but they were worshipped by society, since for some then unknown reason every so often they would grow a big belly and then a child would come forth from it. This act of creating new life must have appeared divine to Ancient Man or rather Woman, using this latter word in a generic sense which includes the then less important gender, man. No man reported in the Bible ever left his father and mother to be joined to a wife, always the woman left her family and was joined unto the man! So what is described here is a very original feeling towards each other without any thought of pregnancy and childbirth, a feeling of pure pleasure, uninhibited by the thought of the ‘consequences’ of sex between man and woman.

So idios has been translated as ‘your own’ while the word autos has been translated as ‘your’ or ‘his’ or in plural eautou as ‘your’ or ‘their’. These words are really reflexive words. The word autos occurs in the modern word automobile, something that moves, is mobile, by itself without a horse pulling it. These are reflexive words. Men themselves shall love women (verse 25).

In verse 25 ‘… Christ also loved the church and gave himself (eautou) for it (autos, the Church).’

Verse 23, ‘For the man is the head of the woman, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.’ This sounds very sexist, but it might not be for two reasons. First of all, the man being the head of the woman is reminiscent of Gen. 3: 16 where it says that man shall rule over the woman. This verse is part of God’s punishment to the woman for the Original Sin. It is discussed in detail in Greetings from Paradise in the chapter on the Sin. This may not be a legal law, to which a woman should subject herself against her own will, but a natural law, which was just preceding in Gen. 3: 16, ‘… thy desire [shall be] to thy man, and he shall rule over thee.’ This would make Eph. 5: 23 & 24 mean that woman should not hold back on their God – given sexual desires. This is the aspect of being with each other without Sin, by forgetting the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The other aspect may be a division of labour. In the days of Genesis and also in the days of the Apostle Paul, children were not seen as a burden as today, but as a blessing.

Psalm 127: [3] Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. [4] As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. [5] Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

More children meant more labour. Also there was hardly any medical care. Child mortality was higher and then sons in particular were prone to die, since they lived a more dangerous lives than daughters. Anything dangerous should be done by a man, since in reproduction he is finished with his part in ten minutes, while the woman is pregnant for nine months and she has to care for the child for some time thereafter. Therefore women should not risk their lives unnecessarily. Consequently there were always more women than men in Ancient Society and that is the reason why one man used to have several women, and not one woman several men.

Upper class men kept one woman to themselves to make sure their heir is really their own (there is that word again) child. Lower class people could freely engage in sex. If a slave girl would get pregnant, all the better, her master would get a new slave for free.

Early Christians were lower class people. It is quite likely that they kept their women in common. Indications for that are in 1. Cor. 9 and in Tit

1. Cor. 9 clearly says that Even The Apostles Had Sex! The Apostles had a Christian Woman or a Sisterly Woman for their carnal needs. Paul explicitly says that in this letter.

Titus 2: 4: That they (old women) sober up young men – lovers to be children – lovers.

King James translated it completely different. He deserves a Fail Grade for that! Early Christians kept their women in common and cared for their children in common. How else could someone become a martyr, if his wife and children would suffer?