By Earl Robertson
Our world knows little of what God says to man and much less what He teaches concerning the responsibilities of the husband to the wife. The failure to know this teaching and have respect for it has, no doubt, contributed much to the many problems we have of asocial and moral nature. We have no earthly relationships so close as the one in marriage. Nothing in all the word of God degrades marriage, but, to the contrary, exalts and honors the bond (Heb. 13:4).
The love which the husband gives to his wife is self giving. It is inconceivable that a human being could do more than this. But this is exactly what the Bible teaches the husband to do. Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33 gives most plainly this responsibility. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”; “so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” These verses declare the love which comprehends what the Almighty intends marriage to be. Verse 25 is a parallelism: it is emphatic in placing the husband (with love toward his wife) with Christ and his love for the church. The church is the body of Christ and, in this sense, the wife is the body of the husband. They are joined and are one flesh (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5, 6; Eph. 5:31). So, as Christ loved His own body, the husband is to love his wife as being his own body. The word love in these three verses is the greatest and most comprehensive of all the words our English word love renders. The word is agapao and is used in the singular case in all three verses. Verse 25 is marking the husband as the one who must love. This love never works ill for its object: it is the love God has for man.
Marriage creates moral duties. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies” is a moral duty. This is one of the very basic truths of good living. Loving his wife as being his own flesh; they are joined, they are not two, but one flesh, and in this union he “nourisheth and cherisheth it” (5:29), that is, he cares for his own flesh and fosters with tenderness his very own. This is a different love than that of the wife to her husband (Titus 2:4). The husband’s love is shown in his headship and provisions for her, and she, in turn, has warm subjective feelings for him being his wife. Her love is earned, not demanded.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 26, p. 423
June 26, 1980