When the apostle Paul begins to lay out guidelines for husbands in Ephesians five, he immediately directs our attention to a model that was established long before. In Adam, Isaac, Joseph, and Boaz we see pictures and principles which would all have been good places to start, but Paul doesn’t begin there. The model for husbands is Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:2 Paul portrays the saints in Corinth as being betrothed to the Lord Jesus Christ at salvation and in the epistles He is set before us as the perfect model for husbands.
Primarily and repeatedly husbands are called upon to love their wives. Lest we husbands take it upon ourselves to try to define loving our wives, the Spirit of God defines it for us. A list of do’s and don’ts is not given, nor even a 1 Corinthians 13 definition; but the actions of our Lord, Who loved the Church and gave Himself for it. Ephesians 5:25 also reveals to us that Christ’s attention and love was set on the Church before it existed. Correspondingly, His sacrificial act to procure it was planned before the beginning of time. She has been the singular object of His attention and affection long before her beginning.
At the end of Genesis 2 we see the beautiful account of God bringing together the first couple. The Lord God says that it is not good for man to be alone. So Eve is made from the man’s rib and brought to him. It is interesting that the Lord God appreciated that this unique man was alone amidst, and even at the helm of, a wondrously vast and diverse creation. Apart from his Creator, his position in this paradise would have left this perfect man alone. Nothing in a perfect world compared to the spouse he received from the Lord. Likewise, what Christ sought and bought at Calvary as a companion was not found, nor even seen on the earth before.
The giving of Himself at Calvary shows the full commitment required for spouses. His is a love that gives. Ephesians 5:26-30 lays out before us the desires the Lord has for the Church and the care He is willing to give for her. What we often are quick to do for our own bodies, especially in seeking nourishment, the Lord does for His Church.
We all delight in the story of the book of Ruth. What did Boaz, this mighty man of wealth, need? He needed nothing that the narrative reveals. However, it is Ruth who draws upon him to take the kinsman’s part and pay the unknown price for redemption. It is consistent with his character, but the woman and the circumstances are what reveal the extent to which his love would willingly go.
Both the Ephesian passage and the Genesis account show us that God intended that spouses would complement each other. Adam understood this when he said, “This is now bone of my bones.”(Gen 2:23) Some interpret this as, “Ah, now this is a suitable companion!” This was someone made like him, because she was made from him. She would complement him, and he her. Millennia later, according to His plan to restore fellowship with mankind, God’s eternal Son became a Man, or as Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that He was made in the likeness of men. What an honor for mankind and what wondrous humility on His part that One in the form of God would be found in fashion as a man! What wondrous grace that this unique Man would then purchase, sanctify, and cleanse a bride out of fallen humanity to be made like unto Him, holy and without blemish, each one eternally complementing the other and showing forth His glory and honor. Only through His sufferings and death could a suitable companion be made for Him, and only through His cleansing, cherishing, and nourishing will the Church be the complement to His glorious person that she is meant to be.
Because they complement each other, one of the last things we understand from Christ and the Church is that they complete each other. Flashing back to the first couple in early Eden, verse 31 shows that no one else is needed or included–nothing comes between, and there is a oneness that describes them. Paul ends the first chapter of Ephesians with these remarkable words: “… the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” This is a great mystery, but also a great delight to know a completeness found in a relationship with another.
Our Lord is the model for husbands, and in this way, the model spouse; and we see that marriage itself is actually a picture and prelude to what God has for His beloved Son and the Church He loves so much. While we enjoy the presence of the Lord in our lives, He is in Heaven waiting to receive His bride. At this time of physical separation, we long for the coming of our Lord, Savior, Bridegroom, and Head. As bridegrooms typified throughout Scripture are full of joy and bringing that joy with them, Christ the Heavenly Bridegroom is bringing joy with Him (John 3:29). It has been suggested where we read of the coming bridegroom of Solomon’s Song 2:8-13, that when he comes, he brings spring with him. Our Lord will surely bring spring with Him! Let us not miss the fact that He still waits for His Church, and for the marriage supper, yet is the model for married men. He has already committed His love and His life, and now He faithfully and patiently waits to be satisfied by the fruit of the travail of His soul. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him, “For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev 19:7).