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Friday, November 24, 2006

Head and body in Ephesians 5:23

(Revised version of this post, 24th November; the changes are only in the final paragraphs, after the quotation of verses 25-27, where I have added material about "household codes".)

In the light of our recent discussions on the meaning of kefalē, the Greek word for "head", I came across an interesting little point in Ephesians 5:23 today. Here is the Greek text of the second half of the verse:
ὡς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς κεφαλὴ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, αὐτὸς σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος
literally translated:
as also the Christ [is] Head of the church, he [is] Saviour of the body.
I'm not sure why TNIV rearranges this to:
as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.
(nor why "Saviour" merits a capital letter but "head" does not). For the identification of the body with the church is left implicit here, and in verse 30, although it is of course explicit in 1:22-23. Indeed, and here I partially correct what I noted in a comment on a previous post, Colossians 1:18 is the only place where Paul explicitly describes Christ as "the Head of the body". Also, despite the NASB mistranslation of Colossians 2:10, the only place where Christ is called "Head over" anything at all is in Ephesians 1:22-23, where he is described as:
head over everything for the church, which is his body (TNIV).
Thus there is no justification for the claim that Christ is "head over the church", or for assuming that "head of the body" implies a hierarchy.

The interesting point in 5:23 is that here we have two parallel descriptions of Christ, "Head of the church" and "Saviour of the body". I note that the second elements of the parallel, "church" and "body", are known to be identified with one another; also that there is some kind of cross-over or chiasmus here in that "Head" and "body" go together as part of the same metaphor, whereas "church" and "Saviour" go together as less metaphorical and more theological language. This strongly suggests to me that Paul has deliberately constructed a synonymous parallel pair here, with "Head of the church" and "Saviour of the body" effectively having the same meaning. Indeed we could probably unpack the chiasmus and understand Paul as saying "Head of the body, i.e. Saviour of the church".

This is significant in that it shows us what Paul means by "Head", when referring to Christ. Apparently he means not so much "Ruler" as "Saviour".

If so, what are the implications for the first half of the verse, where Paul states that
the husband is the head of the wife (TNIV)?
The connection with "as" makes it certain that "head" is being used in the same way in both halves of the verse. We must therefore conclude that the husband is to be understood as the saviour of the wife. How so? For an explanation we need to move on to verses 25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (TNIV).
Christ by his sacrificial love as expressed on the cross was able to save the church. And in the same way husbands are expected to "save" their wives by loving them in a self-sacrificial way.

Thus here in Ephesians 5:22-6:9 (and similarly in Colossians 3:18-4:1) Paul takes the traditional form of a "household code", with instructions for various groups, and turns it on its head. In the traditional form, wives were told to submit to their husbands and husbands to rule over their wives, but Paul's version is very different.

Paul does not omit the instruction for wives to submit to their husbands, but transforms it by putting it immediately after the instruction to all in Ephesians 5:21:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (TNIV).
Thus the submission of a wife to her husband is only an example of the submission of any believer to any other, including by implication the husband to his wife.

Paul does omit the instruction for men to rule over their wives; indeed this is nowhere taught in the Bible. Paul replaces it with "Husbands, love your wives" (5:25), further explained as quoted above. This omission of "rule" must be significant; the point is surely that for a husband there is no place here for ruling over his wife, but only for love and self-sacrifice.


At Thu Nov 23, 11:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You may an unusual jump in the comparison when you move from the text to your final statement, "There is no place here for ruling or subordination, but only for self-sacrifice."

Is not Christ not a loving authority? This is the clear point and application of the text. Christ, in his position of authority, does not rule over his church harshly, but with love.



At Fri Nov 24, 02:49:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy, I accept that in some sense Christ rules over the church. But there is no evidence that Paul was writing about this rule in this passage, for in Greek kefalē is not about rule.

I accept that the original conclusion of this post was a bit abrupt. I am revising the post by adding an expanded conclusion.

At Fri Nov 24, 09:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hope I’m not being a troll here (really, I do). I am thankful for this blog and am glad there is a blog dedicated to this topic. Moreover, I am thankful for your (entire blog’s) graciousness in disagreements. However, I think there are some significant problems here that should be addressed.

First, Peter, your revision of the last paragraph didn’t address the real problem with the conclusion – the logical fallacy implied in the supposed exclusivity of authority and love. I hope we can acknowledge that one can both be in authority and still love. However, your statement, “…that for a husband there is no place here for ruling over his wife, but only for love and self-sacrifice” attempts to put these two things up against each other. Complementarians should stop using this type of language since it implicitly misrepresents the opposing viewpoint (as both authoritarian and unloving), it is easy to spot as a fallacy of the excluded middle, and it lessens your credibility.

Secondly, the weight of your argument is based primarily on the chiasmus you see in 5:23. However, do you really think there is grammatical support that “strongly suggests” this as you say in light of the context? This is big conclusion to reach from a questionable grammatical structure that ignores the entire context of 5:22 – 6:9. You may be able to do this with this verse but I don’t think you can with the other verses in the context that deal with authority. Instead of trying to force a meaning on a word why not just take it in context (as you would surely recommend in any other place)?


At Fri Nov 24, 09:36:00 AM, Blogger Bryan Riley said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Peter, but I'm also glad that we have all of eternity to continue to grow in Him. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

At Fri Nov 24, 09:54:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I hope we can acknowledge that one can both be in authority and still love.

Two thoughts.

This sounds like a parent - child relationship. Remember that in marriage the Greeks were putting up a 35 year old man against a teenage girl, to create the correct natural balance of command and subordination. Even the Greeks didn't think that a teenage boy and a teenage girl were in a natural command/subordinate relationship.

I guess what bothers me more than anything is the use of marriage as a metaphor for the relationship of men and women in the church - icky!

Men and women are brothers an sisters, no. Otherwise, I just start feeling wierd about this. I can discuss all this with you as a brother, you sound a bit like my own brothers, they are great guys, that serves as a good model for our relationhip.

One can talk about Christ and the church and marriage, but to take the marriage thing and bring it into the 'women in the church' discussion, as some people do, maybe you don't, that just makes me look askance. It is embarassing - marriage is a private thing. Think of all the single and divorced people in the church. They just want to get on with their lives as Paul did.

I don't see Paul offering male headship to Lydia or Phoebe. He was helped by them and thanked them very much.

BTW, I appreciate your continuing thoughtful dialogue.

At Fri Nov 24, 01:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I guess what bothers me more than anything is the use of marriage as a metaphor for the relationship of men and women in the church

That should bother you since that is not the metaphor. The metaphor for the relationship between Christ and the church is the picture of marriage between a man and a women, not the general relationship between all men and all women within the church.

I don't think I implied this in my post so I'm not sure why you said this as a reply to my comment.


At Fri Nov 24, 01:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't see Paul offering male headship to Lydia or Phoebe. He was helped by them and thanked them very much.

I was going to let this go but the more I consider it the more I think that a failure to think logically about this topic is part of the problem. Therefore, I'm going to keep pressing on everyone here until they get this type of language out of their vocabulary. :-)

What makes you think that someone in authority cannot be helped by those who they are over?

Let me give a very simply example.

My boss has authority over me.
Part of my job is to help my boss.
Therefore, those under authority can help those over them.



At Fri Nov 24, 06:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In light of this I would just encourage you to form your opinions regarding Biblical authority based of what the Scripture teaches, not your experience.

Let me try to drawn an analogy that may help.

Many people reject the supernatural gifts of the spirit based on their own bad experience with them. However, their opinions are often formed entirely apart from the Bible. Paul did not tell the Corinthians to stop using the gifts because of abuses. Instead, he told them to use them in love. Likewise, Biblical authority, when abused, is no reason to throw off authority all together. Instead, we should advocate that it (and all else) be done in love.

It does not surprise me that I haven't received an acknowledgment regarding Christ's love and authority. Both are true of Christ and both may and should be true of any authority.

In summary, let your opinions regarding authority (and everything else) be informed by the Bible, not by what you may have seen or think that I, or anyone else, believes.



At Fri Nov 24, 10:02:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I decided to pull my comment because it is way off topic for me. What I want to write about are the things that relate to translation, and I feel that for me this wanders into exegesis and interpretation.

At Sat Nov 25, 03:33:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy, you accused me of "the logical fallacy implied in the supposed exclusivity of authority and love". But I made no such claim. If I say that in a particular place there is no sugar but only salt, that does not imply any exclusivity, that the presence of salt necessarily implies the absence of sugar. Similarly with teaching about authority and love. In these verses Paul is teaching about love, not about authority. You mention "the other verses in the context that deal with authority", but I don't see any, only verses about mutual submission. There is nothing about exercising authority in Ephesians 5:21-6:9, except perhaps in 6:4 concerning fathers and children. So for Paul's teaching on authority in marriage you need to look elsewhere. For this I suggest you start in 1 Corinthians 7 where you will find that this authority is entirely gender neutral; see my series on this chapter.

At Sat Nov 25, 01:25:00 PM, Blogger Trierr said...


Can I ask a different question? What is the mis-transalation of Col 2:10 in the NASB? Both the NASB and NET versions translate this almost identically as head over every/all (NASB/NET) ruler and authority. The TNIV is a bit weird here translating head over every power and authority. Power seems like an odd translation for "arches" especially contrasted with "ezousias."

Your humble beginning greek student...

At Sun Nov 26, 08:40:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The mistranslation in Colossians 2:10 NASB is the word "over". It is perhaps a mistranslation only according to the literalistic translation principles of NASB, nevertheless it is a breach of those translation principles. But there is no Greek preposition represented by "over", only the Greek genitive which is usually translated as "of". Thus the RSV rendering "head of all rule and authority" is literal, as is KJV's "head of all principality and power". The translators of NASB, NET, NIV and TNIV all interpret "of" here as meaning "over", and their interpretation is equally dubious in each case, but of these versions NASB is I think the only one which disavows this kind of interpretive translation.

The problem seems to me that the NASB, NET, NIV and TNIV translators have all assumed that Greek kefalē means what English "head" means in such a context, which is "one with authority", "ruler". And in such a case "head over" is arguably more natural English than "head of", although personally I see nothing wrong with the RSV rendering, and the other versions allow "head of the body" and "head of the church". The problem here is that (if I remember correctly) there is no place in all of Greek literature where kefalē means "one with authority", "ruler". But in this kind of context the meaning is far more likely to be "source", a meaning well attested in Greek literature; thus Christ would be "source of all rule and authority", which fits the context rather well. Since this difference cannot perhaps be left ambiguous in a translation, the alternative interpretation should be footnoted.

As for the difference between RSV and NASB's "all" and TNIV's "every", the issue here is whether this is about "rule and authority" in the abstract or "rulers and those in authority". Paul's use of this terminology elsewhere suggests the latter, and for that reason several translations prefer "every". I agree that TNIV's "power" is an odd rendering here, but is perhaps an attempt to avoid getting too far from KJV's familiar "principalities and powers".

At Tue Nov 28, 08:46:00 AM, Blogger Trierr said...

Thanks Peter!

I'll have to go and look up kefalē in BDAG and Perseus.

At Tue Nov 28, 11:52:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Trierr, don't waste your time looking up kefalē in BDAG. It will simply rehash traditional Christian exegesis, and so to use it as the basis for your own exegesis is circular reasoning. By all means look at how the word is used in other Greek texts, and in dictionaries of classical or Hellenistic Greek (ignoring for the time being citations from biblical usage, to avoid circular reasoning), which you might find at Perseus.

At Fri Dec 01, 11:18:00 AM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

In regards to the "head" issue that has been going on here - I found something interesting.

I said once that if we understand what it means that God is the head of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3) it would help in the discussions about other passages.

In talking of the subordination of the Son to the Father there were some issues that came up saying that Christ is not subordinate (though he was for the time he was incarnate...which I could use to say it is so with women, while we are on earth...but I won't) to the Father and therefore women are not to men - but on a bigger picture, that being the "head" has no connotation of being "master" or "lord" of the thing one is head of.

I have not studied the Trinity in detail - and I was very suprised to find myself being called an Arian (heretic) in regards to some of the things I said.

I was reading an article and I found an interesting quote that deals with the subordination of the Son to the Father:

"If however the reason why the Son is said to have been sent by the Father is simply that the one is the Father and the other the Son then there is nothing at all to stop us believing that the Son is equal to the Father and consubstantial and co-eternal, and yet that the Son is sent by the Father. Not because one is greater and the other less, but because one is the Father and the other the Son; one is the begetter, the other begotten; the first is the one from whom the sent one is; the other is the one who is from the sender. For the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son. In the light of this we can now perceive that the Son is not just said to have been sent because the Word became flesh, but that he was sent in order for the Word to become flesh, and by his bodily presence to do all that was written. That is, we should understand that it was not just the man who the Word became that was sent, but the Word was sent to become man. For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son."

St. Augustine, The Trinity, trans. Edmund Hill, vol. 5 of The Works of St. Augustine (Brooklyn, NY: New City Press, 1991) IV. 27 (italics added)

So the claim that what I stated about the Son being subordinate, yes, eternally subordinate to the Father was some new heresy from Piper and Grudem is totally false.

So, what does this mean in regards to God being the "head" of Christ and man being the "head" of woman and Christ being the "head" of man and Christ being the "head" of the Church?


At Fri Dec 01, 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...


There is no evidence from the Bible itself, as far as I have been able to discover during my lifetime, that being a biblical head of someone (note it is head "of" not head "over") indicates any hierarchical relationship. Instead, when the Bible speaks about Christ being the head of man, man being the head of his wife, and God being the head of Christ, there are different meanings emphasized. One of them is that is the union of head and body. There is a unity. Another is that one comes *from* the other. Woman (Eve) was taken from man. And a head lifts up the body to a place of honor. After Christ returned to heaven, the Bible makes it clear that God gave him a name above all names and had him sit on the throne with him. To sit on the throne with someone meant to share honor equally.

One problem in all of this is that it is so easy to assume that our English metaphor of "head" is the same as the Greek metaphor of head that Paul uses. But metaphors are seldom the same from one language to another. And I have not yet found any evidence from the Bible itself that Paul's use of the metaphor of head is the same as the English metaphor of head.

Read each of the head passages in context without assuming any other theology that is possible to bring to the text. You just might discover the same as I have, that there is nothing about hierarchy in those passages. Anything about hierarchy seems to come from us. I suspect it is a kind of eisegesis.

I used to assume that the biblical metaphor of head meant the same as the English metaphor. But they I studied the Bible passages and found that they did not focus on what the English metaphor of head focuses on.

At Fri Dec 01, 09:03:00 PM, Blogger Cheryl Schatz said...

Excellent points Wayne! I especially liked how you phrased this: “And a head lifts up the body to a place of honor”

In my study of scripture I have noticed that the traits that we normally think of belonging to a hierarchical relationship are missing in the relationship between God the Father and the Word and between the husband and wife. For example, we would expect to find command, demand, authority over, rule or control. These are words that show hierarchy and a chain of command. Yet in the Trinity we never find these words. Instead we find words of relationship and equality. The fact that the Father sends the Son does not put the Son under the rulership of the Father. I have many times sent my husband to do something for me. My sending him, most would agree, does not mean that he is lesser in position than I am, nor does it mean that I am higher than him in a chain of command. No, sending is something that equals frequently do. But I do not command him to do something for me. Commanding or taking authority over someone is something that is done in a hierarchical chain of command. Does the Father ever command the Word? Never! Does the Father ever rule the Son? No, never.

It is the same way in marriage in that God never tells the husband to command his wife. The husband is also never told to take authority over her. He is not to demand or to rule her or to take control. Instead he is told to love her and to give up his life for her. In what way does giving up of one’s life for another fit into a hierarchical chain of command? It doesn’t.

Nathan: in the quote that you gave from Augustine, it said “there is nothing at all to stop us believing that the Son is equal to the Father and consubstantial and co-eternal”.

Cosubstantial means of one and the same substance, essence, or nature. Augustine is not saying that the Father rules the Son. If they have the same substance, essence and nature, there cannot be a rulership of one over the other. You also said: “So the claim that what I stated about the Son being subordinate, yes, eternally subordinate to the Father was some new heresy from Piper and Grudem is totally false.” Augustine is not speaking about subordination but about oneness (equal, consubstantial, co-eternal) and the source of the shared power and substance. That is not subordination in the Trinity but complete unity.

At Sat Dec 02, 03:07:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...


Does Jesus ever send the Father?
Does Jesus ever tell the Father what to say?
Does Jesus ever relay His own truth?

You are right, Augustine is talking about the unity in substance of the Trinity (all three are equally God and are one God)- but - he is also talking about how Christ is the eternally sent One - Christ was sent before he was incarnate - that is what I believe Augustine means when he said, "the Son is not just said to have been sent because the Word became flesh, but that he was sent in order for the Word to become flesh"

Christ never used his own authority (while on earth) but only that which, because of his role as Son, was given to him by the Father.

I am not talking about Jesus being God or not being God - I am referring to Christ being the Son and the role therein.


I guess what I am trying to do is show that on the whole - regardless of what "head" means or doesn't mean - I am trying to prove that it is talking about relationship - therefore by understanding the relationship between the Father and the Son we can understand what the word "head" means. The Son and the Father are put up as an example of the relationship that exists between the man and the woman - as well as Christ in his relationship with the Church is compared with a man and wife. Do you see my reasoning?

So God is the source of Christ in the same way as the man is the source of woman - what does that mean? What is the relationship that is being conveyed there and how does it apply to my life?

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church he himself being the savior of the body."
(Ephesians 5:22-23 NET)

Not being the head means you submit (I'm not sure how you read this, because I said this before and you didn't agree) and being the head means you give yourself (die to save) for the body.

You claim that being the head has nothing to do with role or rule - Is Christ not Lord of the Church? Does this verse not tell wives to submit to their husbands because their husband is the "head"?


At Sat Dec 02, 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...


Let me clarify - I said, "Christ never used his own authority (while on earth)"

But I think based on Scripture and based on Augustine's argument we can say - Christ never used his own authority EVER - but is the eternally sent one - sent by the Father, not vice versa.

It is His role as Son and has nothing to do with Him being or not an equal person in the Godhead (as Augustine states).

Does that make sense? I am interested to hear your take on this.


At Sat Dec 02, 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...


You said, "Thus the submission of a wife to her husband is only an example of the submission of any believer to any other, including by implication the husband to his wife."

But if we look at the verse there is no implication for the husband to submit to the wife - why is the wife supposed to submit?

What is the reason given?

It is out of reverence for Christ (v 21)? No, another, specific reason is given, one that CAN NOT be said of husbands. The reason given is because the husband is the "head". The wife IS NOT the "head" therefore it cannot be applied in the same way to the man.

This must be a special submitting - one that is not universally applicable to women and men.


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At Wed Dec 06, 10:39:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Nathan, I had missed the further discussion on this post in the last few days. But I can look at these points now. For more on this subject you might like to look at some recent discussions on Adrian Warnock's blog, where I have been discussing similar issues in comments, brought up by a post on the attributes of God and part one of Adrian's interview of Wayne Grudem.

As for your Augustine quote, in it Augustine specifically denies any difference in essence or rank between the Son to the Father, in these words: "he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father". But I did not claim that "the Son being subordinate, yes, eternally subordinate to the Father was some new heresy from Piper and Grudem". Eternal subordination of the Son is not a new heresy but an old one, one which has come up and been rejected several times in church history, as Kevin Giles has shown. If you haven't looked at the Kruse Kronicle post where this is reported, you certainly should. Grudem's alleged new heresy is that this subordination is eternal but not essential. If he means that it is voluntary but eternal, he may have a point, based on 1 Corinthians 15:28; note that "will... be subjected" (RSV) or "will be made subject" (TNIV) is probably over-translation here, as the Greek verb cannot be pressed to have a passive rather than middle meaning (as Carl Conrad has argued on this blog); it is in fact the same verb in the same voice as in Ephesians 5:21, and can refer to voluntary as well as forced submission. But I would prefer to interpret this as Christ voluntarily submitting himself, for all eternity, to the collective will of the Trinity.

But please stop quoting Ephesians 5:22 out of context. The verb "submit" or "be subject" does not even appear in this verse, in the best Greek manuscripts. The overall instruction is in verse 21, for all believers to "submit" to one another (and see my comments on Adrian's blog concerning what that might mean). In verse 22 we have "wives to husbands" as just one example of that mutual submission, and in verse 25 we have as another example "husbands to wives", explained as self-sacrificial love of the kind which Christ has for the church.

At Wed Dec 06, 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

Thanks for getting back with me.

As far as the Greek word being or not being there, I have no clue - but all the major versions of English Bibles I looked at have that word - so you are up against quite a few people on that one (I say it does exist).

And I don't think you read what I said about the passage. I am saying that the reason Paul gives for why wives are supposed to submit is because the man is the head (not "out of reverence for Christ" alone). Therefore it is not an "example" per say but a specific instruction to women and one that cannot be said of men to their wives (women are not the head of men).

Do you see my line of reasoning there?


I'm not trying to take it out of context - I don't understand how you understand the context, so, if you are willing, please show me where and how I am wrong for saying this in regards to it being something that can be said of both man and wife.

At Wed Dec 06, 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

I will look at those links you gave - thank you.


At Wed Dec 06, 04:26:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

Oh, and something more about the subjecting.

I read in Robertsons that is in not in some manuscripts (so you were right, though I am not sure if it is "the best" manuscripts that don't have it since all major versions of the English Bible have that word...) - but here is another verse he supplied that at least shows it is not a foreign concept in the Bible:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
(Colossians 3:18 NASB)

At Fri Dec 08, 01:46:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Nathan, the word rendered "submit" is not found in Ephesians 5:22 in the critical (UBS, Nestle-Aland) text, nor in some of the very oldest manuscripts. Most manuscripts, and the Textus Receptus, have it here, but in various forms. The assumption is that it has been added by later copyists, in different forms, for clarity, just as many translators of modern English versions have added "submit" here even though they are translating the critical text. And the word is found unambiguously in Colossians 3:18. So I don't deny that Paul expected women to "submit" to their husbands. My point is that Paul is explicitly linking this, by grammatical subordination, to the general instruction in Ephesians 5:21 for all believers to submit to one another; and so this instruction should not be taken on its own or split from what precedes it, as in some translations by unfortunate section headings. Also the implication of "submit to one another" is that husbands should also "submit" to wives; while this is not made explicit, the kind of self-sacrificial love which a husband is to show to his wife in 5:25 is I think what he means by submitting to one another.

At Fri Dec 08, 09:20:00 AM, Blogger Sungkhum said...


But what is the reason Paul gives to wives to submit?

The reason is one that does not apply to husbands (women are never called the head of the man) therefore there cannot be any implication that husbands are to do this same type of submitting to their wives.


At Fri Dec 08, 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Nathan, are women not to love their husbands because Paul doesn't explicitly tell them to?

If someone can explain to me exactly what kefalē means in this context, I might understand what it is telling us about how women should behave towards their husbands. But apart from this the best I can do is what I argued in the body of this post, that in this context "head" means something very like "Saviour". So women should "submit" to the one who is their "saviour".

I have just been looking, for a quite different purpose, at the work of a גֹאֵל go'el or "kinsman redeemer" in the Old Testament: the one who had the duty of buying back temporarily sold property and slaves, as outlined in Leviticus 25 and Ruth 3-4, also of being the "avenger of blood" in Numbers 35. It seems that each Israelite had a nearest relative who was their go'el or "redeemer", was responsible for dealing with their affairs if they got into trouble, and even for avenging their death. In Proverbs 23:11 we learn that God himself is the go'el of the fatherless; and in Isaiah 35-63 passim that he is the go'el of exiled Israel, the one who has taken responsibility for obtaining their freedom. Perhaps it is this Old Testament concept which Paul is taking up when he calls the husband the "head" and implicitly the "saviour" of the wife. It was in fact more or less a given in ancient societies, and many modern ones, that husbands had this kind of responsibility for their wives. Also Christ has this responsibility for the church, and God the Father has it for Christ, compare 1 Corinthians 11:3. So it would actually fit rather well to link go'el and kefalē. That doesn't imply of course that this identification is correct, but it is suggestive.

At Fri Dec 08, 04:47:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

I would say women are not to love their husbands in the same way that husbands are commanded to love their wives.

Wife's are never called to give their lives up for their husbands either - there are explicit teachings to both. There are general calls, but I believe these are specific just based on the limited quality of the reason Paul gives.

Men are the head as Christ is the head, Men are to give up their lives and love their wife, because Christ gave up his life and loves the church.

Women are to submit to their husbands because the man is the head as Christ is the head of the Church and because the church submits to Christ (Eph. 5:25).

I understand your questions about "head" but here's another question - why didn't Paul tell wives to love, why didn't Paul tell husbands to submit?

He had opportunity - but in multiple places he did not.



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