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Christ and Creation

Unit 3: The Fruits of New Life
(Lessons 10-14)
"I hate divorce." Do you ever hear anyone say that? Children of divorced
parents may say it with their actions, if not literally with their words. People
who have been divorced may say it with their misery. So do their friends and
EPHESIANS 5:21-6:4
loved ones who watch the misery unfold. Ministers and counselors who help
clean up the mess are certainly no fans of divorce. God himself hates divorce
(see Malachi 2: 16).
As painful as divorce is, many families who stay together don't do much bet- I
ter at modeling God's love for one another as the Scriptures command. Children LESSON AIMS
may r ~ i e c t their parents' values after experiencing such dysfunction. For the sake After participating in this
of our children and the future of the church, we need to make sure family rela- lesson, each student will be
tionships conform to Scripture rather than to cultural norms. able to:
Note: Some in your class may be single and/or childless, either voluntarily 1. List Paul's commands
or involuntarily. Be sensitive to these as you teach today's lesson. However, for wives, husbands, children,
don't shy away from the topics at hand because of oversensitivity. Remember and fathers.
that the apostle Paul, author of today's Scripture text, was himself almost cer- 2. Evaluate his or herfam­
tainly both single and childless. : ily relationships in light of
Paul's commands.
B. LESSON BACKGROUND 3. State one change to
Paul knew the families of the Ephesian church well. After all, he had spent i make to align his or herfam­
about three years among them (Acts 20:31). It was the Ephesian elders who i ~ y with God's Word.
had given him such an emotional farewell as he set sail for Jerusalem (Acts
20:13-38). That farewell was about five years in the past when Paul wrote
to his beloved Ephesians. The families of that church were under pressure
(compare Revelation 2:1-7), Parents had to bring up their children in the
shadow of the great pagan temple to Artemis. Much of the economy of the
city revolved around that edifice (Acts 19:23-41). The temptation of "to get
along, you have to go along" is not new to the twenty-first century.
21. Submit to one another out of reverencefor Christ.
The New International Version, as other versions, organizes the flow of the
text in paragraphs. Paragraphs help us identify units of thought and transi­
tions to new thoughts. In this regard, the verse before us isn't really the open­
ing line of Ephesians 5:22 and following. Rather, verse 21 sums up some of
Paul's thoughts leading to Ephesians 5:20. Those thoughts include the need .
for Christians to avoid certain things (example: drunkenness, v. 18) while em- : _KFt_T_V_ERS_E _
bracing various holy practices (example: singing to the Lord, v. 19). Submit to one an-
Christian harmony in these areas requires submitting to one another out of other out of reverence
reverencefor Christ. While Paul is on the topic of submission, he decides to for Christ.
dig deeper. -Ephesians 5:21
22. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
The meaning of this verse has been hotly debated. That word submit strikes
a raw nerve in many. Genesis 3: 16 reminds us that Paul is not coming up with
something new: "your husband ... will rule over you." And I Peter 3: 1 is simi­
lar. The reason for the instruction we see here is the subject of the next verse.
Hmv has reverence for B. HIERARCHY (w. 23, 24)
Christ played a role in your For the the of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,
SL bmission tofi llmv b Hever 7 hIS body, of whIch he IS the SavIOr.
l [See Psalm f11: 1Deand s. Why should .the wife submit: husband is head of the wife.
Proverbs 9:10 before The word head IS often symbolIc III the BIble for authonty (examples: 2 Sam- i
al1Swering.] ueI22:44; Ephesians 1:22). Even today we talk about someone being "head
cheerleader" or "heading up a project." Back in the 1980s and 1990s, some
scholars proposed that head should be understood not as "authority," but as
"source." However, that idea was never supported by evidence. In a biblical
home, the husband is the head.
Some say this is degrading to women. Yet are we demeaned if we submit
; to other authorities such as the police, church elders, or the boss at work?
I Paul discusses this hierarchy also in I Corinthians 11:3.
I 24. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their
: husbands in everything.
. We would never question whether the church should follow the leadership
ofJesus Christ. In the same way, the Bible indicates that God expects the wife
to follow the lead of her husband, although it may seem old-fashioned or
"out of touch" in today's culture.
Notice the Bible does not command a woman to submit to each and every
man; if she is married, she is to submit to the one man to whom she has
vowed to be faithful. A woman who chooses to marry is to be devoted to fol­
lowing her husband as to Christ himself.
It is indeed a high and difficult calling for wives to be subject to their hus­
bands in everything. Scripture is clear that there are limits to obedience to au­
thority when a violation of God's law is at stake (Acts 4: 19; 5: 29). If a woman
has a husband who asks or tries to force her to do something that contradicts
God's Word, she must obey God.
I A. COMMAND (V. 25a)
25a. Husbands, love your wives
Paul now turns his attention to the husbands. The command love your wives
could be taken in different senses if the thought ended right there. But Paul
quickly follows by listing a model.
B. EXTENT (w.25b-27)
25b. ... just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
For husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave
In which areas of life is it himself upfor her is no small command! As hard as it may be for the wife to
easiest and hardest for you to submit to her husband, the command for a husband to love his wife in this
love and submit? Why? way is undoubtedly the more difficult one to follow.
LESSON 13 __
Mary Winkler was known as "the perfect mother, the perfect wife." But in
March 2006, this minister's wife killed her husband with a shotgun. After her
arrest, she claimed the shooting was an accident, but also hinted at years of abuse
by her husband. Her father later spoke of the abuse he believed to have triggered
the crime: "[It was] physical, mental, verbal. ... I saw bad bruises. The heaviest
of makeup covering facial bruises."
As the case wa5 nearing trial, someone self-identified as "Shannon" wrote a blog
saying, "The [church Winkler attended] is very degrading to women. Has anyone
looked into that[?] They are not allowed to do anything in church services and are
made to feel lesser than their husbands." One analysis claimed, "Statistics indi­
cate that beneath the smiling, steadfast veneer of a pastor's wife, there often lies a
deeply isolated woman who ... frequendy feels neglected and left without a sup­
port system of her own."
"Shannon" voices a common (mis)perception of how the church applies today's
text. How can that perception be corrected? Are some ministers-as-husbands guilty
of ignoring the spirit of what Paul is saying? If so, what can the church do to cor­
rect this problem? -c. R. B.
26.... to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the
According to the standard oEjesus, the test of one's success as a husband
is whether or not his wife is growing in holiness. Some wives we asked sug­
gested several practical ways to do this: praying with and for her; guarding
her from temptation; taking her to church every week; and taking the initia­
tive to be the spiritual leader in your home by praying at meals are just a few
ideas. The Word of God has the central place in anyone's growth in holiness.
The description of washing recalls Titus 3:5.
27.... and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or
wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
God declares the church to be holy and blameless because the blood of
Christ has forgiven our sins. The church's beauty in holiness grows as a
result of her faithfulness. Jesus looks to no bride other than his church
(compare Revelation 21:2). She looks to no bridegroom other than Jesus
(contrast Ezekiel 23).
Husbands and wives will have eyes only for each other Men are known to
be more "visually oriented" than women when it comes to interacting with
the opposite sex. Perhaps this is why Paul draws on the visual cues of stain,
wl1nllle, and blemish in illustrating a husband's responsibility. These refer, of
course, to spiritual issues, not physical ones. God calls husbands to see their
wives as beautiful and attractive for all the right reasons (Proverbs 31:30).
C. PARALLEL (w. 28-30)
28. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
The next three verses bring to mind the "one body" illustrations that
Paul uses elsewhere. In Romans 12:4, 5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, the
"body" is the church, with a stress on the fact that the individual members
form a unit. Here, that idea is delayed until verses 29, 30 (below). The
verse at hand stresses a certain logic that finds overtones in the "one flesh"
What are some additional
ways in which a husband can
nurture his wife spiritually?
What are some ways a
husband and wife Call con­
tinue to see one another as
attractive as the years take
their toll?
MAY 2't->-2DQ9 .__~ __ 251L_. ~ . _ NE\\!...LlFE [!'LLH..Ltl 0 ME
Monday, May 18­
Trained by God's Grace
(Titus 2: 1-13)
Tuesday, May 19­
Partnership in Maniage
(Genesis 2: 18-25)
Wednesday, May
20-Interpreting Traditions
(Exodus 12:21-28)
Thursday, May 21­
Parental Advice (Proverbs
Friday, May 22­
Spiritual Guidancefor
Families (Colossians 3:
Saturday, May 23-Pro­
vidingfor Family Members
(l Timothy 5: 1-8)
Sunday, May 24­
Christian Family Relation­
ships (Ephesians 5:21-6:4)
What relationships or
potential relationships can
become a threat to the 1711­
mary of the husband-wife
'j concept of Genesis 2:24 (more on this below). Husband and wife fonn a
, unit. Thus he who loves his wife loves himself.
This fact has profound implications. At various times in history (and even
in some cultures today), women have been treated as property. Paul will have
none of this! Men today may love their cars, tools, and lawn tractors in a cer­
tain "pride of ownership" sense, but men are not to love their wives in that
way. Rather, they are to love their wives as their own bodies.
I 29. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just
as Christ does the church-
Think about how difficult it is to find anyone who hates his own body
There are a few who do, but that is very often due to some kind of mental ill­
ness. And there are a few religious people who hate their own flesh because
of a misguided doctrinal conviction that the human body is inherently evil
(but see Genesis 1:31). These are not the situations that Paul expects.
30. ... for we are members of his body.
This verse completes the parallel drawn between husband-and-\vife as a
I unit and Christ's body as a unit. The Christian married couple thus enjoys a
i kind of double unity: between themselves and within the church.
D. GENESIS (v. 31)
31. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to
his wife, and the two will become oneflesh. "
We mentioned Genesis 2:24 earlier, and this is the specific reference. After
God perfonned the first wedding, he gave this summary of the purpose of
marriage. Jesus quoted this same passage when he defended the purpose of
marriage before the Sadducees (Matthew 19:5). Here is the ultimate test of a
husband's love: Is his wife the primary human relationship in his life?
i E. MYSTERY (v. 32)
I 32. This is a profound mystery-but 1am talking about Christ and the church.
i Marriage is an illustration of Christ and the church. Paul says it is a mystery
. how this all work". But when a Christian couple truly loves one another on
I the biblical model, they are showing the world the love, in some sense, that
Christ has for his bride, the church.
F. MUTUALITY (v. 33)
33. However, each one ofyou also must love his wife as he loves himself, and
the wife must respect her husband.
Perhaps you have admired the skill of a couple perfonning a waltz in a
motion picture. The man leads confidently and lovingly; the woman follows
gracefully and beautifully. Jesus Christ wants to take our marriages and tum
them into a beautiful dance that illustrates his love for his bride. When Chris­
tian husbands and wives love each other, the world says, "Look at that beau-
j tiful couple!" And God gel') the glory.
A. WHAT TO Do (v. 1)
1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
This command is certainly most difficult for the child whose parents do
not know God or who are not exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. So many
LESSON 13 359 MAY 24,2009
excuses seem legitimate: my father is a jerk; my mother's demands are un­
realistic; he's not even a Christian; she drinks; he's a hypocrite; she's not
even my real mom; they don't care about me.
Even so, children are to obey their parents. The in the Lord qualifier per­
haps brings back the idea we discussed earlier that we are not to obey people
ahead of God (again, Acts 4: 19; 5:29). If parents command a child to steal,
lie, etc., then the child is to trust God and disobey the command. But that
seldom happens. Usually it is stubborn, rebellious hearts that lead children
to disobey
B. WHY TO Do IT (vv. 2, 3)
2. "Honor yourfather and mother"-which is thefirst commandment with a
Paul, still addressing children, quotes the Fifth Commandment. This is
found in Exodus 20: 12 and Deuteronomy 5: 16. While "children, obey"
speaks to the outward actions, honor speaks to the motivation of the heart.
This command applies at all stages of life. Christians are to provide for
their parents and grandparents in their old age (l Timothy 5: 4-8). Jesus had
words of condemnation for those who refused to do this (Mark 7:9-13).
This commandment is the first of the Ten Commandments that comes with a
promise. See the next verse.
3. " ... that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the
earth. "
The promise is twofold: it will go well with you, and you will live long on the
earth. If we compare Exodus 20:12 with Deuteronomy 5:16, we see that the
one in Deuteronomy is the longer version. That is the one Paul is using.
Does it not go well with children when they obey their parents, and does it
not go poorly with them when they disobey? Consider a teenager who comes
to his parents requesting permission to go out with his friends that evening. If
he has been sour, complaining, even outright disobedient throughout the day,
he is less likely to be granted his request. If on the other hand he has been
pleasant, obedient, and industrious, his parents are more likely to trust him
with privileges.
The promise you may enjoy long life on the earth should be seen in the origi­
nallight as given to the nation of Israel. If the Israelites were a people who re­
spected and obeyed their parents, then their days "in the land" would not be
cut short. Ezekiel 22: 7 reveals that a refusal to honor parents was one reason
the people of]udah were exiled to Babylon, cutting short the nation's life. We
reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). Those who are rebellious and violent invite
the same in return. Absalom is a good example (2 Samuel 15-18).
4a. Fathers, do not exasperate your children;
Fathers will give account before God for how they handled (or didn't han­
dle) their parental duties. The father's responsibility is summed up with two
commands, one negative and one positive.
The negative command is do not exasperate your children. Have you ever
seen a child embittered toward his or her father? This tragedy does not usu­
ally happen overnight. It happens when a series of emotional wounds go
Absalom. AB-suh-lum.
Artemis. AR-teh-miss.
Babylon. BAB-uh-lun.
Colossians. Kuh-LOSH-unz.
Corinthians. Ko-RIN-thee­
unz (th as in thin).
Deuteronomy. Due-ter-AHN­
Ephesians. Ee-FEE-zlnmz.
Ezekiel. Ee-ZEEK-ee-ulor
Malachi. MAL-uh-kye.
Sadducees. SAD-you-seez.
Titus. TY-tus.
Visual for Lesson 13.
Point to this visual as you
ask, "How does the text you
see here tie in with today's
lesson text?"
M ~ Y 2L2Q09
Father, thank you for cre­
ating the family. We pray for
our marriages. Forgive us
when we are a poor illustra­
tion to the world of Christ's
lovefor the church. Empower
us with your Spirit that we
will love one another with the
sacrificial love that you dem­
onstrated when you were on
this earth. Help us to live in
such a way that our children
will want to follow our Lord
Jesus. In his name we pray.
_ ___~ ~ - - . l ~ ~ __~ _ NEW LIFE IN THLliDME
unattended, and the wounds fester until they become an infected pool of
emotions. Consider some of the ways a father can embitter his children: belit­
tling them; disciplining too strictly; setting unrealistic expectations; breaking
promises; being uninvolved at home-the list goes on.
4b. ... instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Paul moves on to the positive command: bring them up in the training and
instruction of the Lord. The word translated "bring them up" is translated
"feeds" in Ephesians 5:29. Fathers are to feed their children, but this is talk­
ing about spiritual rather than physical food.
The two words translated training and instruction have to do with loving
discipline and correction. They are used in similar contexts in Hebrews 12:5
and Titus 3: 10, respectively. What a wonderful balance Paul provides! Fathers
are to be involved in their children's lives, with the goal that their children
will be brought up under the discipline of God's Word. However, they are to
do this lovingly, not harshly lest they embitter their children (compare Deu­
teronomy 6:7; Colossians 3:21).
A certain Ohio couple seemed to be kind, caring, and noble. The evidence for
this was that they had done something few other parents would do: they had
adopted 11 special needs children.
The picture changed when authorities removed all the children from the home,
charging the parents with cruelty: Witnesses in the case-including some of the
children-testified that the children were forced to sleep in filthy wood-and-wire
cages. The parents claimed the children were put in the cages for protection, not
punishment. They also blamed social services personnel for not helping them with
the destructive behavior of some of the children. The parents were sentenced to
Child-rearing is a significant, divine responsibility: It involves providing both
nurture and correction in a godly manner The extremes and the criminal behav­
ior need to be dealt with, of course. But in so doing, let us not let godly parenting
go unnoticed. -C. R. B.
Imagine that the elders of your church came to you and said, "We are
beginning a new discipleship program, and we believe you are the perfect
candidate to lead a small group of people in this new program. We want you
to prayerfully consider investing a significant portion of your time into three
disciples we are going to assign to you."
Later, you tell your spouse what the elders have asked of you. "I have
thought and prayed about this all day," you say. ''I'm thinking that per­
haps God is leading me to say yes to this opportunity. It will mean I will
have to make some sacrifices. I will need to cut out some activities so that
I can have time to spend with these three people. I'll have to get my own
spiritual habits in order so that I can be an example. We'll have to let them
come into our home so they can witness a godly marriage. It's a little fright­
ening to think of this kind of responsibility, but I really think we can do
it. Imagine what it would be like to really make a difference in the lives of
these three individuals!"
LE$.SQRlL .. 361.__
Perhaps the elders have not come to you asking you to lead a discipleship
group. But if you are a husband/wife and/or father/mother, Jesus Christ has
commissioned you to "love your wife as Christ loved the church" or "respect
your husband" and "bring your children up in the training and instruction of
the Lord." You have your marching orders. Will you make the sacrifices nec­
essary to succeed?
Discovery Learning
MAY 24,2009
Illustrate Christ's love by
loving one another.
The following is an alternative lesson plan emphasizing learning activities.
Classes desiring such student involvement will find these suggestions helpful. At the
back of this book are reproducible student pages to further enhance activity learning.
Ask your class to form small groups of two or
three. Encourage members of couples to go into
different groups. Then distribute all the follow­
ing questions to each group and ask them to give
each person a chance to answer them, if he or she
wishes. Tell them they have 10 minutes to work
through the questions.
1. "What was the atmosphere in your home like
when you were growing up? How well did everyone
get along?" 2. "What kind of marriage did your par­
ents have? If there was divorce in your family, what
was that situation like?" 3. "What impact does your
parents' marriage have on your family life today?"
Conclude the discussion time by remarking,
"Your parents' approach to their marriage probably
had a significant effect on your family life while
you were growing up. Today's Scripture will give us
some very helpful information on how to improve
our own marriages and families."
Read today's printed text aloud. Say, "Successful
relationships in the home are built on the prin­
ciples in verse 21. The first step, beyond submitting
ourselves to God the Father, is for all Christians to
have a spirit of submission toward one another. "
Use the discussion groups created in the first
activity to complete one of the following three
tasks each. (If your class is large, assign duplicate
tasks; if your class is small, double up on tasks.)
Give each team a "vritten copy of their task, a pho­
tocopy of the lesson commentary on the appropri­
ate passage of Scripture, a piece of poster board,
and a marker.
Task # 1, Instructions for Wives: State practical
conclusions about wives' relationships with their
husbands. Begin by reading Ephesians 5:22-24, 33.
Then use the lesson commentary to help you an­
swer the following questions: 1. What foundational
principle is Paul teaching about the wife's responsi­
bility in the marriage relationship? 2. What reasons
are given for wives submitting to their husbands?
3. What are some practical ways to apply the emo­
tionally charged issue of submission? Be ready to
share your conclusions with the class.
Task #2, Instructions for Husbands: State practi­
cal conclusions about husbands' relationships with
their wives. Read Ephesians 5:25-33. Then use
the lesson commentary to help you answer these
questions: 1. What foundational principle is Paul
teaching about the husband's responsibility in the
marriage relationship? 2. In what ways is the mar­
riage relationship to be like Christ's relationship
to the church? 3. How can husbands demonstrate
their love for their wives? Be ready to share your
conclusions with the class.
Task #3, Instructions for Children and Fathers:
State practical conclusions about children's rela­
tionships with parents. Read Ephesians 6:1-4. Then
use the lesson commentary to help you answer the
following questions: 1. What principles are being
taught about a child's relationship to parents? 2.
What reasons are given for children obeying and
honoring their parents? 3. How can adults continue
to honor their parents? 4. Why do you think Paul
zeroes in on fathers in verse 4? Be ready to share
your conclusions with the class.
This can be a time-intensive activity, so you may
not have time to have more than one of the teams
report its findings. If teams use poster boards to
write out their answers, you can display them. If
you have several teams working on each task and
want to give them all a chance to report, each team
can report its findings on just one of the questions.
Alternative: Instead of the above tasks, use the
two reproducible activities on page 383 in small
Say, "People may blame their parents' bad
example for their own failures as spouses or as
parents. How valid is that excuse?" Allow several
class members to share their thoughts. Then say,
'1\ certain author has said, 'The family you come
from isn't as important as the family you're going
to have.' Do you agree with that statement? Why,
or why not?"
Conclude with, "If we don't want to be stuck
in bad habits that we learned from our families of
origin, then we need to take seriously the teach­
ings of Scripture about how to be good wives, good
husbands, and good parents. What one change will
you make to align your family with God's Word?"