Friday 27 November 2015

Bible Book:

"Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." (v.21)

Ephesians 5:21-33 Friday 27 November 2015

Psalm: Psalm 135:15-21


The original Greek text of the Bible has no verse numbers, nosection headings and little punctuation. As a result there has beena debate among scholars about whether verse 21 belongs with this'household code' or with the previous section, which ends with howa person should live while filled with the Spirit. The NRSVtranslation of the Bible includes it with this section, asotherwise, verse 22 has no verb (it is implied by the "submit" inverse 21).

Thus we see that the first and most significant part of this'household code' (first identified as such by Martin Luther) ismutual submission. What a difference taking that seriously makes tothe rest of the passage. All other forms of submission within thiscode (in this section between women and men) need to be read withina context of mutual submission out of reverence for Christ.

An understanding built on a foundation of mutual submission leadsus to challenge traditional 'male headship' views of marriage,which ignore the demand for equal and mutual submission to theother. Such a foundation might open us to new shades of meaning tothe gospel of reconciliation. But is this idea of mutual submissionvalid beyond marriage?

Perhaps we can see submission to human authority in Jesus as hewillingly went to the Cross? Perhaps in that there is a call forsubmission in the way we submit our lives to Jesus throughdiscipleship and he responds with love for us?

Maybe, just as we are being called to submit to each other inmarriage out of reverence for Christ, we need to submit to othersin different aspects of our lives. Maybe the gospel ofreconciliation needs to be lived out through our submission offeredto others - submission that ideally becomes mutual by beingaccepted by others.

Such a life would require a surrender of power and authority - aseeking of what is good for others rather than ourselves. It seemsmutual submission is required for a Christian marriage and, ifsuccessful there, then why not follow the example of Jesus and useit elsewhere?

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about a call to submit to others?
  • In which relationships might this be most challenging, mostfruitful, most scary?
  • What costs might result for you from exploring mutualsubmission in your relationships?
  • Where might you try this out?
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