Husband and Wife

Ephesians 5:22‑23  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
“Workers Together”
God has established the relationship of husband and wife for the good of His creatures. Let us look at this subject in the Word for instruction and admonition.
The more we enter into the relationship between Christ and His Church, the more we shall understand this husband-and-wife relationship. In Eph. 5, the conduct of the husband towards his wife is regulated by the relationship in which Christ stands to the Church, and the Church to Christ. There is mischief and danger where only certain portions of the Scriptures are read, because we need the whole truth and all is given for our blessing.
So God proposed and carried into execution that which He proposed, wonderfully coming forward to meet the need of His creature! Adam needed one who could enter into his thoughts, share his mind, and be a companion for him. Certainly a "help meet" is not one who is to do all the drudgery. No, I take it that she is a counterpart.
What we have had so far is the institution of marriage. Let us turn to Gen. 3:1717And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (Genesis 3:17), "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife." We find here that the greatest gift God bestowed upon His creature became the occasion of his sorrow. Satan seduced Eve. But instead of listening to God, Adam hearkened to the voice of his wife, which he ought not to have done. See also Gen. 16:22And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16:2): "Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai." Instead of resting upon God for the accomplishment of the promises, he listens to his wife.
We find another example in Isaac and Rebekah. They did not exactly hit it off too well, as we say; favoritism came in and Rebekah teaches her son to deceive his father.
Next turn to Josh. 15:13-1913And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. 14And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjath-sepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. 17And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. 18And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? 19Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs. (Joshua 15:13‑19) for a beautiful picture. It is the freshness of a marriage day; the bridegroom had shown himself worthy of the bride. Achsah's father, Caleb, knew that she wanted a warrior for a husband. She moved him to ask for a field (v. 18). She moved him in the right direction. We cannot have too much of God's land. What a beautiful thing for a bride to move her husband on her wedding day. Some might think it was a piece of worldly wisdom in her. No, I believe it was a matter of faith. What was this land? In Deut. 11:8-128Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; 9And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. 10For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: 11But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: 12A land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:8‑12) it says it was a land that God had promised: a land that "drinketh water of the rain of heaven," the land for which the Lord God cares, and the eyes of the Lord are always upon it. See what accordance of heart there was in this young woman with her husband? She moved him!
Helpers Together
In Acts 18:2-112And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. 5And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. 7And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. 9Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 11And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:2‑11) we have a couple whose occupation was to make tents, and because Paul was of the same craft, he abode with them. As he came home from preaching and teaching, they could talk together and pray together about many things.
How blessed! Thank God there is many a scene like it in these days; would that we had more of them. They little thought they were his helpers. Aquila perhaps thought more of providing for his bodily needs, and no doubt the couple prayed for him (Rom. 16:3,43Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. (Romans 16:3‑4)).
In verses 25 and 26 of Acts 18, it is very interesting that Aquila and Priscilla see how little Apollos had learned, but instead of criticizing him, they ask him to their home and help him. They are in agreement in it too. The wife does not say, "Do not ask him to our home." What benefit the churches received by the help of these two. And there is still more: "Greet the church that is in their house." How sweet and blessed!
The Word of God and Prayer
In 1 Peter 3:1-71Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:1‑7) we get two things brought together: the Word of God and prayer. The wives are addressed first, and it is so plain that I need not remark on it. In 1 Tim. 2, men were to pray everywhere (vv. 8-13). There is the order in the Church of God. The characteristic of men was prayer (1 Peter 3:77Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)), and the characteristic of women was their dress. It is all plain enough. The apostle of the Gentiles speaks of it, and now the apostle of the circumcision.
Why do people adorn themselves? For others to look at? Is that your ideal? What are they in the eyes of God? God looks for adornment, which is of great price in the eyes of God. But let it be the adornment of the hidden man of the heart, expressed in a meek and quiet spirit. The covering of the head (1 Cor. 11) is "because of the angels," for they behold God's order in the Church.
In 1 Peter 3:77Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7) we get a word for husbands: "Giving honor unto the wife. (Notice the words "giving honor," not "crushing.") Why? Because she is the weaker vessel, that is, as to nature. But there is more than that, "as being heirs together of the grace of life." What is the result? "That your prayers be not hindered." Where there is that giving honor, that care, and solicitude, there is nothing but harmony, for "no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it.”
The husband should care for the well-being of the wife in every detail, and care for her soul too. Where there is this care, you can go together on your knees—there is no chafing of spirit, but "heirs together." There is much more blessing when this relationship is controlled by the Word of God.
I might add another thing according to the wonderfully blessed importance of 1 Peter 3 as to wives. Even when a husband does not obey the Word of God, he may be won by her walk. Then comes the adornment of a meek and quiet spirit.
What a difference there is between a godly woman and one who is going on with the world! In fine weather you don't see it perhaps, but let the storms and trials come, and they are not "afraid with any amazement." Why? The godly woman does not fear, because she knows a power which is above it all. Then in verse 7, they both pray for their children.
What a blessing to see husband and wife together in the place of dependence and strength. There may be plenty of difficulties. Surely there are, but how are you to meet them and how are you to handle them unless you are seeking His grace.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." Col. 3:1818Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18). It is a fitting thing for a wife, even for an unconverted wife, to be in subjection to her husband. In Eph. 5:2424Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:24) it says, "as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." Then there is another side: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”
Now just a word with regard to the children. They look at the parents and they see their father loving his wife as Christ loved the Church, and their mother subject to her husband as the Church to Christ. For children to grow up with this before them is a lovely thing.
There is one word in both Ephesians and Colossians for the children, and that is obedience. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well-pleasing unto the Lord.”
And now "fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Eph. 6:44And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). The greatest friend of a child is his father, both in Christianity or in nature. It is a lovely and blessed thing that there should be confidence between the child and his father. A child is quick to discern if anything discordant comes in. It interferes with this confidence and prevents the father from being the receptacle for the child's cares and sorrows.
So we have the love of the husband, the subjection of the wife, and the obedience of the children. May the Lord lead us more and more into a true sense of what our responsibility is as to these things, for His name's sake.