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Paul's View of Marriage

Paul's View of Marriage

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Published by Andrew Noble
A detailed look at Paul's exhortation to those who are married. I look at current scholarly debate over the topic of submission, headship, and love in the context of Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5:22-33 marriage roles of Paul, was done for a Religious Studies course at my University.
A detailed look at Paul's exhortation to those who are married. I look at current scholarly debate over the topic of submission, headship, and love in the context of Ephesians 5. Ephesians 5:22-33 marriage roles of Paul, was done for a Religious Studies course at my University.

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Published by: Andrew Noble on Mar 16, 2011
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Paul·s View ofMarriage
A detailed look at the roles ofhusbands and wives inthe letter to the Ephesians
March 9, 2011By Andrew NobleRS 236
 
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How should two individuals in a Biblical marriage act toward one another? Many peoplewill have strong opinions on this subject. Two sides of the argument have emerged.Complementarians will hold onto the distinction of roles, believing men should be the head andhave authority over the wife. Egalitarians will focus on the equality between the two individuals,with equal rights and roles given to each partner. But what did Paul, the likely writer of Ephesians, think? In this paper I will look at Paul¶s view of the roles of both wives and husbandsin Ephesians and focus on what the text actually says. There is currently ³no understanding of Ephesians 5:22-6:9 that has won scholarly consensus´ (Talbert 2007, 150)The passage I will focus on is Ephesians 5:21-5:33. I will assume Paul wrote the letter (even though this has been questioned in recent scholarship). The letter did not have chapters andverses at the time of its writing, and would have been read aloud to a congregation of believers.The message to married couples in chapter five would be in the context of the extravagantspiritual blessings and unity within the gospel community in the first few chapters, and the newlife and exhortations of the second half of the letter. The household codes of Ephesians 5:22 ± 6:9 are written to believers¶ households (Thompson 2005, 91 and Talbert 2007, 139).
Submission
In Ephesians 5:22 Paul says plainly,
wives, submit to your own husbands
(EnglishStandard Version). ³To submit´ can mean ³to place oneself under´ (Williamson 2009, 155) or can mean ³to accept/recognize the authority of another´ (Johnson 2008, 210). In this verse it isdirected to wives, but in the verse earlier the text says ³be subject to one another in the fear of Christ´ (New American Standard Version). Marshall suggests that this makes the particular exhortation to wives inconsequential, as all believers in the previous verse are called to mutual
 
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submission (2004, 196). Marshall also notes the many other ways Paul emphasises that believersshould humble themselves toward one another. Paul radically shaped how believers should acttoward one another, telling them to be slaves of one (Galations 3:13) and to look to other¶sinterests before their own (Philippians 2:3-4). Furthermore, when it comes to sexual relationsPaul says the wife has authority over her husband¶s body, and the husband has authority over thewife¶s body (see 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 for full context). Paul seems to outline mutual submissionin sexual relations, and it seems to fit into his theological approach to all believers, so why notfull marital mutual submission here?O¶Brien believes that the idea of mutual submission here comes from an incorrect viewof the words ³one another´ (1999). The pronoun ³one another´ is not always fully reciprocal(Grudem and Piper 2006). For example, Galatians 6:2 says to ³bear one another¶s burdens,´(ESV) but this does not mean that everyone should exchange burdens with everyone else. Rather,the verse in Galatians is saying that only some strong people should bear the burdens of those inneed. This is just one example of how³one another ´can be directed to only some people (see 1 Cor 11:33, Luke 2:15, 24:32 for further examples). Therefore O¶Brien suggests that in Ephesians5:21 ³believers are urged to be submissive to those who are in authority over them´ (1999, 402).Wayne Walden has suggested there is a better translation than the ESV that would articulate ³bein subordination among yourselves´ as a general principle with examples following (2005, 180).Others have also used this introductory approach with verse 21 (Muddiman 2001).There is no clear punctuation in the original Greek text, so it makes this interpretation amore difficult task. Many Christian Bibles will place verse 21 in a separate paragraph from thehousehold code. Johnson believes the verse is best understood as a climax to the commands inverses 19-21 and a separate thought from the household codes (2008). Regardless of what

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