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Strange as it is, some dare suggest that what Paul really meant in Ephesians 5:25 was no more than,

“Husbands love your wives as …” also saith the law.

“Husbands love your wives as …” also your associate (neighbor).

In other words, some would reduce the love of Christ in the husband to: “Don’t hit her, don’t starve her, don’t freeze her.” Really? Is that all there is to it?

If so, why did Paul bring Christ into the equation at all? If that’s all there was to it, why didn’t Paul just say that? Why didn’t he just say what he meant?

We don’t need master-teachers skilled in the art of endless debate somehow to explain away the simple language of this wonderful phrase of Scripture, “Husbands, love your wives …” Now listen carefully to what Paul writes next:

even as Christ also loved the ecclesia, and gave Himself for it.

These words are so simple that a young child can grasp them and their significance. It takes amazing effort to explain away their clarity.

Surely we can learn much from Eden’s garden as well as the Mosaic law in relationship to marriage, but Paul unveils tremendous new ground for the husband/wife relationship: Christ!

While it is suggested that the true meaning of these words are somehow limited to a context of a few verses (:25-30), instead, as we have stated in an earlier section, the rich meaning of this phrase is actually to be understood in the broader context, taking us back to the beginning of the chapter.

The phrase “and gave Himself for it” looks backwards to :2. Paul plainly tells us exactly what that “giving” of Christ’s love for us was: (1) an offering, and (2) a sacrifice. The Concordant Literal Version translates the Greek word rendered “offering” in the KJV as “approach present.” An approach present was a gift offered to win another’s favor. It was a humble, sacrificial act to enable the giver to draw near to the recipient. An approach present was not chocolates and flowers. It represented a most significant sacrifice on the part of the giver. So, according to Paul’s own context, the husband’s love is to be an “approach present,” an “offering” of himself to his wife.

A whole new, never-before-known love was introduced by God through His Son, and it is that kind of love that the Father now has designed to be lived through husbands: a self-sacrificing love about which the law simply knew nothing. Christ represents the pinnacle of love and sacrifice, and Paul dares to hold up Christ’s love for the ecclesia as a model for the husband. What a glorious privilege and divine honor we husbands have been graciously granted.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his book, Wife Loving)

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I will make him an help meet for him (Genesis 2:18).

Make for him will I a helper as his complement (Concordant).

Husbands are discouraged in their ministry by what they consider to be their “inadequate wife.” “After all,” they lament, “She doesn’t qualify as a helper.” Perhaps this is true. In some cases this situation results from the man having acted rashly and not taking the time to have noted this deficiency prior to his taking on the responsibilities of a covenant of marriage. Other men may contend that she has become unhelpful since the covenant was established; but are they not then suggesting that their wife somehow has become unhelpful while under their husbandly ministry of nurture and loving care?

The reality of the divine method is that even an apparently “unhelpful” wife is indeed of great assistance to her husband. As hard as it is in the middle of our greatest trials, we must never forget that our “affliction” is divinely “working for us” (II Corinthians 4:17), or, as the CV says, “is producing for us a transcendently transcendent eonian burden of glory.” When faith grasps this, husbands will, with Paul, be able to “be glorying also in afflictions” (Romans 5:3).

Glorying in our afflictions is a lesson we must learn repeatedly, and there is no better place to learn it than in the home.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Christian writers have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the Church – read on – and gave His life for it (Ephesians 5:25). This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be, but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is – in her mere nature – least lovable.

CSLewisC.S. Lewis
The Four Loves (1960)

In Genesis 2 God lays forth a clear design of the wife’s role. Here is the seed-plot of her basic five-fold purpose that can be seen in this text:


It is not good that the man should be alone (:18).


I will make him a help meet for him (:18).


I will make him a help meet for him (:18).


Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife (:24).


… They shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (:24-25).

These five areas constitute the essence of the husband/wife relationship. The Creator of this first union makes it clear to us what the issues are in a man and woman being husband and wife. In this passage we can identify the divine design of how a wife may truly help her husband.

In future installments we will look at each of these five areas in more detail.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Husband Helping)

The author already has already written extensively on the structure of the home and the roles of husbands and wives in Heaven’s Embassy and The Great Omission. He also has a detailed video series entitles Male & Female. Lord willing, he plans to publish additional books on related subjects this year:

Male and Female
Wife Loving: The Husband’s Paramount Privilege
Husband Helping
The Family in Ruins
The Dictionary of Biblical Sexuality
When the Vow Breaks: God Is a Divorcee Too! (Biblical Words of Comfort, Encouragement, and Direction for the Divorced)

The husband is head of the wife even as Christ is Head of the ecclesia (Ephesians 5:23, CV).

Someone is responsible for the wife and the family. There is a place where the buck stops. God has made the husband that responsible agent (I Corinthians 11:3). It can clearly be seen in Genesis 3 that the husband is the responsible agent. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, for whom did God come looking? He came looking for Adam!

Manhood is defined by God, not by society. Being a real man has nothing to do with body-building or “bossing women around.” It has to do with responsibility. The course of the world will lead men to become effeminate in the guise of masculinity by forsaking the seriousness of their divine responsibilities. Such emasculated men will tirelessly point in all directions in an attempt to pass off the responsibility of their marriages and homes. A godly man will man-up to his God-given responsibility as a husband. An unrighteous man will neglect or despise them. There is no end to which he will go at self-justification (“That woman You gave me, she …” Genesis 3:12). Of course, the most “honorable” way of abdication is by justifying irresponsibility by self-serving re-interpretation of Scripture.

Anything that goes wrong in my marriage or home, I own – all of it. It’s 100% on me. This does not mean that there is no other accountability in my home, but there is no other responsibility. This is what headship is all about. A lot of marriages fail because husbands are selfish, immature and irresponsible. Women are divinely designed to be led and loved in marriage. Husbands are the initiators, wives are the responders. This is God’s plan.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Under the Law of Moses we can see an astounding illustration of the important place that the wife has in the life of her husband.

When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken (Deuteronomy 24:5).

This emphasis, even under the Mosaic Law, is a remarkable one: a man with a new wife was to take a year off from his duties to cheer her up. “Cheer up” is translated “give joy to” in the Dabhar version and “gladden” by Darby.

Although society has made such a provision nearly impossible to implement, this nonetheless stresses the significant nature of the husband/wife relationship and the essential need and importance of husbands’ personal ministry to their wives.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

The larger problem in marriage is not women who do not know how to be women and wives, as large of a problem as this may be in our society. The trouble is with men who do not know how to be men and husbands. Some men want to reap all of the benefits of married life without the responsibilities of being a husband, acting as if they were “single.”

As with the husband’s role in love, his role in headship has for its corresponding example Christ.

The husband is head of the wife even as Christ is Head of the ecclesia (Ephesians 5:23, CV).

Of every man the head is the Christ, and the head of a woman is the husband, and the head of Christ is God (I Corinthians 11:3, YLT).

For husbands, learning the role of Christ to our wives is one of the richest experiences of life.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Because of the restructuring of the Western, nuclear family, men have been led to devote much of their newly acquired “free” time in pursuits of unprecedented personal interest that, even a century ago, were virtually unknown. As a result, the role of the “family man” has, in many ways, become a part-time venture. Our culture encourages the detached, independent man in the endless pleasure-pursuits of his own personal interests and hobbies, often to the neglect and detriment of his role as husband, father and patriarch.

The most important thing that a husband can give his wife and family is himself: his time and attention. A man’s wife should be his primary interest, followed by his children. They are his greatest investments in life. For the husband, regardless of whatever he and his family must do to “make a living,” his wife should be his “career.” This is the essence of a husband’s ministry. A wife should never have to compete for her husband’s interest and attention. When she is properly valued and cared for she can thrive, knowing that she is of the utmost importance to him. and as a result he himself can be released to abundant dimensions, for “he who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28).

So preeminent is this responsibility that Paul asks about a man who is negligent of his household,

How will he care for the ecclesia of God? (I Timothy 3:5).

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Sometimes when presenting the responsibilities of a husband, some men will counter,

“Well, that’s all well and good for those blessed with godly wives. But, you don’t know how difficult my wife is.”

Let’s say for a moment that a husband has a wife that has serious brokenness: emotional, physical, mental, spiritual. Does this seeming deficiency in her somehow negate the husband’s own responsibilities? Should she be neglected because of her brokenness? Should she be abandoned because of her problems and struggles? Or, should her life be made so much more miserable by her husband that she will be forced to leave; or, her life made so much more unhappy and depressed that she insists that he leave?

Do not even extremely broken women still deserve to be loved and cherished? Who better than a godly, righteous man to do so? Is it not an honor and a privilege to express to her the unending, unwavering love, grace, patience (longsuffering), gentleness and kindness of Christ?

Love never fails (I Corinthians 13:8).

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

Some husbands view the sacrificial love and care of their wives, to which they have been called, as some grievous burden weighing heavily on their backs; others view it as a blessed honor and divine privilege to be treasured in their hearts. For the latter, it not only has rich reward in this life, but the expectation of a lasting value in the resurrection.

Divine love is “gladly spent” for its object, regardless of the response.

I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved (II Corinthians 12:15).

Yet with the greatest relish shall I spend and be bankrupted for the sake of your souls, even if loving you more exceedingly diminishes your love for me (CV).

Godly husbands ardently agree with Paul. They count it their highest privilege to bring the love of Christ to their wives.

C2Pilkington-4Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his upcoming book, Wife Loving)

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May 2023
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