Vol. 7, No. 1
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Some have posed a question desiring to know the relationship of Christ to the church. The answer to this question can be seen through the study of Ephesians 5:21-32. This passage speaks of the proper relationship between the husband and the wife. Paul compares this illustration to the type of relationship Christ maintains with the church.
Verse twenty-three states that Jesus is the head of the church, like the husband is the head of the wife. Paul then argues, in verse twenty-four, that the church, therefore, is subject or under authority to Christ. His reasoning is because the wife is subject to the husband. Since the husband and Christ both have a leadership role of authority, then the wife and the church both have submissive roles. The positions are the same; therefore, the roles are the same.
Verse twenty-five illustrates the degree of love the husband is to have for the wife. This is done by citing the degree of love Jesus has for the church--he died for her. The next two verses describe the result or purpose of Jesus dying for the church. The church is cleansed by his death and is therefore a "glorious church" without any blemishes. The comparison is that men should love their wives in the same manner--with the same degree of love.
Verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine relate that a man who loves his wife indicates he loves himself because marriage unites the two into one flesh. Man will not harm his own body, so it can be concluded that neither would he harm his wife. Likewise, Jesus nourishes and cherishes the church as his own body.
If there was ever any doubt as to what was being taught in this passage, it can easily be cleared up by simply reading verse thirty-two. It is here that Paul states he is speaking of the relationship of Christ to the church. Other passages allude to the same relationship. Jesus himself made the affirmation that he was the bridegroom to the church in Matthew 25. This is the text of what we commonly call the "Parable of the Ten Virgins." Jesus is indicated as the bridegroom to the church. Also, Revelation 22:17 makes reference to the same fact.
The relationship of Christ and the church is very similar to that of the relation between husband and wife. Each has a specific role with responsibilities. Christ is the head of the church as man is head of woman. This makes Christ the bridegroom to the church, the bride. This truth can be taught by simply studying one passage in the Bible, but it is also taught in several other passages.