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[Who is Yahweh]:
[The Son]:
Duties of the Wife
Written on January 25th, 2007 - 7:18PM
Last Updated: January 29th, 2007 - 5:20PM

Once the duties of the husband are seen, revealed as an emulation in the flesh of the spiritual relationship Christ has toward the Assembly, we are able to look at the duties of the wife. For just as the husband imitates Jesus, so does the wife imitate the Church.

The following will look at the specific commands given to the wife concerning the husband.

Give the Due

Let the husband render to his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:3)

This same truth is seen in the study of the husband's duties, but because the verse has the same command for both the husband and the wife, I have copied it here as well, from the perspective of the wife.

"Render" (αποδιδωμι) means to pay off, to discharge what is due. It comes from two basic Greek words meaning "from" (απο) and "to give" (διδωμι). It has the idea of a giving from one's own allottment, often in order to fulfill a prior obligation.

This is why Paul adds she is to render what is "owed" the husband. That word οφειλη means a "debt," coming from the base word meaning "profit" (οφελος), giving the idea of an accruing. So the wife is to pay off the affection that is owed him, that has accrued to his account. She must settle the account by giving what he is due.

What is he owed, which she must give? There are two main textual testimonies.

One gives no description. The word "due" is in noun form, with an article in front of it ("the due, the owed").

The other text adds the word "affection" (ευνοια). It comes from the verb "to wish well, be peaceable, agree" (ευνοεω), which further comes from two basic Greek roots meaning "good" (ευ) and "mind" (νους). One can see the many possible translations of such a word, like "good will, kindness, benevolence."

Regardless, the following verse and surrounding context clarifies that to which Paul is referring.

The wife doesn't have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn't have authority over his own body, but the wife. (1 Corinthians 7:4)

Speaking initially of it being good for a man not to touch a woman, but that in order to prevent fornication a man should take a wife, then charging them to give each other what is due, Paul now explains why: their own bodies do not belong to themselves, but to the other person. It is a matter of fleshly union, and as they have been "glued [joined] together," so they each become the other's; so much so that he says they do not have authority over their own bodies, but that the other does.

Clearly this speaks to sexual relations, which is the pinnacle of the marriage relationship—the two become one flesh—so much so that this union of flesh happens also outside of formal marriage, even with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:15-16)!

Therefore, the wife should not hold back what is rightfully the husband's—but according as her body is not under her own authority, but the husband's, she should give it to him as is his due. In love, her body belongs to him, for his pleasure, just as his belongs to her. Nothing is held back, because in truth each does not have power over their own body.

Please the Husband

There is also a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)

Although this verse is used as an exhortation to stay single in the time of Paul, it also shows the duties of marriage. Because marriage is a matter of the flesh and the natural world, it inherently involves caring for those things. The wife, then, is to be concerned about these things of the world, how she might "please" her husband. That word, αρεση, is a simple one meaning "to please or strive to please, to accomodate." It is thought to come from the verb αιρω meaning "to raise up, to elevate," then seeing "to please" as an exciting of emotion, or an uplifting of the spirit.

It is used several times in the New Covenant, including:

  • The daughter of Herodias "pleasing" Herod with her dancing and very presence (Mark 6:22)
  • The decision of the apostles to only pray and serve the Word, and to appoint deacons to serve tables, "pleased" the multitude of believers (Acts 6:5)
  • Those in the flesh cannot "please" God, including the unbelieving Jewish nation who killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets (Romans 8:8)(1 Thessalonians 2:15)
  • Those strong in faith should bear the weak ones' weaknesses rather than "pleasing" oneself, for their salvation, just as did Christ (Romans 15:1-3)(1 Corinthians 10:33)
  • Not "pleasing" men in order to gain their favor but preaching the Gospel with integrity to "please" God (Galatians 1:10)(1 Thessalonians 2:4)(1 Thessalonians 4:1)
  • Those who become soldiers seek to "please" their enroller, and do not entangle themselves with the world, just as we as soldiers of Christ Jesus seek to please Him rather than getting involved with the world (2 Timothy 2:4)

As can be seen, the matter of the wife pleasing the husband does not only deal with sexual relations, but the entire life. She should be seeking how to please him in each instance. In the phrase "cares for the things of the world," the verb "cares" is in the present, active form. It is a continual thing she is doing. However, "please" is in the aorist form, meaning a point in time action. As she is continually anxious about the things of the world, she seeks how she might please her husband—right now, at that moment. How can she uplift him in each instance of life? Not, how can she bring him down at every turn!

Be Subject to your own Husband

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

What then does it mean to be in subjection (υποτασσεσθε)? The word υποτασσω comes from two words meaning "under" and "to put in order, to place, to assign, to station." She is to place herself under her own husband; not as a spacial assignment, that she is physically under his body, but in the sense of a formal ordering. Her position in the marriage is to be under the husband; not every husband, but "her own" (ιδιοις). Woman does not answer to man, but wife answers to husband.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

Although the Greek texts vary slightly in this verse, with many having the phrase "be in subjection," and a few not having it, the context remains the same. Paul had been telling his readers to be subject to each other in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21), and continues his command with "wives, to your husbands, as unto the Lord." Whether or not the phrase "be in subjection" is in this verse as well as Colossians, the context certainly implies it. For the texts that have it here, as well as the text of (Colossians 3:18), the verb is in the middle voice, meaning it is something the wife is to do to herself.

This obviously can have several meanings: she is to be under his control; she is to support him as a foundation; she is to become lower than him as in humility (also recognizing herself as the weaker vessel). And this is to be done in a way as she would do as unto the Lord. The word had a military sense at the time in which it was used, indicating an obedience as though by order. Just as the Lord Jesus orders His people, being their Lord, so the wife is ordered by her husband, as though he is her lord.

But what exactly does it mean for her to station herself under her own husband? Paul immediately gives his own interpretation:

For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. (Ephesians 5:23)

As Christ is head of the Church, so the husband is head of the wife. As the head directs the body, so the husband directs the wife. As Paul elsewhere reveals, no one body part can exist on its own. The wife needs the husband to direct their life, and the husband needs the wife to have their life effectively directed. One cannot exist without the other. Just as Jesus gave Himself up to be joined to His people, the Assembly, so He now is forever connected to us—we do His work on earth as He directs us by His Spirit.

But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:24)

Whatever He desires to do He does through the Church, and the result is the glorification of Christ, in which glory the Church shares, because it is one with Him. In the same way, the wife is subjected to her husband "in every thing," in order to have his will done. What he desires for their life, she is able to perform. It is for the best interest of both of them, and the result will be a godly life that will bring glory to both of them as they act in unison.

In this verse, something else interesting can be gained from the language—"be subject" is in the passive voice here, not middle, meaning it is something done to it. For Paul stresses here that the Assembly does not subject itself to the Lord, but rather is subjected to Him (by Himself). He then says that wives are to be subjected to their own husbands in the same way, indicating the role of the husband to take the lead as does Christ with the Church.

But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

So we see the dual nature of this subjection—shortly before, Paul said that wives were to subject themselves to their husbands (middle voice), and here he says they are to be subjected to their husbands (passive voice). Although it is something the wife must participate in herself, it is also done to her by someone else.

In like manner, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; so that, even if any don't obey the Word, they may be won by the behavior of their wives without a word; (1 Peter 3:1)

Peter tells the wives to do the same. Again he compares the action to that of Christ and His people. He says, "likewise" or "therefore," before this command. This is a continuation of his previous thought:

For you were going astray like sheep; but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer{"Overseer" is from the Greek episkopon, which can mean overseer, curator, guardian, or superintendent.} of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25)

Having described the life of the Lord Jesus, how He endured shame and wrongful treament, He nonetheless was faithful to God. He didn't curse back, but bore our own sins in His Body. The very ones who cursed Him, the same had their sins paid for by His own suffering. Peter can then reveal that we, those who had previously rejected Him as the Savior and Christ of Yahweh, have returned to Him. We were going astray, but we have returned to our Shepherd and Overseer.

Peter then immediately says,

In like manner, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; so that, even if any don't obey the Word, they may be won by the behavior of their wives without a word; (1 Peter 3:1)

Just as we returned to Christ, and allowed Him to act as our Shepherd and Overseer, so must wives be in subjection to their own husbands. Even if they have wandered from his oversight, from his rule, they are to return, as they did spiritually toward the Lord. They are to allow the husband to protect them, and guide them through their earthly life.

Respect the Husband

Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)

In the same exhortation from Paul to husbands, that they love their wives as themselves, so he exhorts the wife to "respect" (φοβηται) her husband. This word is actually the usual verb for "to fear," and comes from the Greek root word φοβος, from which we get our English word "phobia" (a fear of something). This word is used is several ways, so looking at the rest of the New Covenant for some examples will help us understand what it means when Paul says that the wife should "respect or fear" her husband.

  • Yahweh's angel telling Joseph not "to fear" to take Mary as his wife, even though she was pregnant but not by him (Matthew 1:20)
  • Joseph being "afraid" to take his family to Judea, because of Herod (Matthew 2:22)
  • Jesus command to His disciples to "be not afraid" when they saw Him walking on the waters toward them (Matthew 14:27-30)
  • The disciples being "afraid" when they heard the voice of the Father speaking of His Son (Matthew 17:7)
  • Believers "fearing" the example of Israel in the wildnerness, when the unbelievers didn't enter God's Rest because of disobedience (Hebrews 4:1)
  • Peter's command to "fear God" (1 Peter 2:17)
  • Jesus' exhortation to the assembly of Smyrna, that they not be "afraid" of what they would suffer for Him by the Devil (Revelation 2:8-11)

There is no verb for "see" in the verse, but rather this is a construction in Greek that A.T. Robertson calls an "elliptical imperative," meaning it is a succinct command for the wife to "fear" the husband. It does not actually say "her" husband, but rather "the" husband—probably alluding to the spiritual truth underlying this command, that just as the Assembly submits to and fears Christ as her Lord so should the wife do so to the husband. She should see the role of husband as a natural imitation of the Lord Jesus, and therefore respect or fear the husband (not any husband, of course, but hers and the concept in general).

As mentioned in another article here, fear is simply the revelation that something else has authority or power over you. Ultimately, God alone has power over us, so we fear Him above all; but of course, in the natural world, there are other things that exert influence and power over us. The husband, as he is tasked by Yahweh to love his wife, care for her as his own body, and direct her in their life together as the head does the body, exerts authority over her, as does Christ with the Church. Thus, the wife rightly fears or respects her husband as she recognizes each of their roles in their life in the flesh.

Don't Leave the Husband

But to the married I command—not I, but the Lord—that the wife not leave her husband (1 Corinthians 7:10)

Paul echoes the command of Jesus in the Gospels, that the wife should not depart from her husband. The verb (χωρισθηναι) comes from an adverb meaning "separately, apart from," which again ultimately comes from the noun χασμα, from which we get our English word "chasm." A chasm is a gaping opening or hole, a gulf, that separates two things from each other. The same word is used elsewhere in the Scriptures:

  • The disciples not "departing" from Jerusalem until they received the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4)
  • People "departing" from cities to go to others (Acts 18:1-2)
  • Nothing being able to "separate" us (believers) from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39)
  • A servant being "separated" from his master in order to serve Paul, after he had been born again (Philemon 1:15)
  • Lord Jesus, as High Priest, being "separated" from sinners, and thus holy, guiltless and undefiled (Hebrews 7:26)

This indicates what it means that the wife not "leave" her husband—just as the two have become one flesh through the joining together of marriage, so she should not separate herself or make a chasm between them. Obviously this ultimately speaks of divorce, but gives us insight into how it happens and what it does.

Anything that separates the wife from the husband begins this process of divorce, or her leaving. Because the word here is in the aorist, passive, infinitive form, and the preposition απο ("from" indicating separation) is used before "her husband," it means she should not allow herself to be separated from her husband: "the wife is not to be separated [as by a chasm] from her husband." Why does Paul say that this is not his command, but the Lord's?

So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don't let man tear apart." (Matthew 19:6)

Here the same word is used for "tear apart." Because God has joined them, no human should separate them. Yet, even in light of the clear command of God in Christ, and through His apostles, some women will still disobey (or perhaps already separated before coming to faith in Christ). What of that woman who does so?

(but if she departs, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband not leave his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:11)

The phrase is rendered in Greek to mean, "but and if," as though it is possible and thus if it does then happen, this is the next step. Here the word is in the aorist, passive form as well: if she becomes separated [at a point in time], in other words, she leaves the house, withdraws from daily life with him, etc. It is a single action that causes her to become separated.

What then? Paul switches to the common word for married with the negative prefix (αγαμος, "unwed, unmarried"). If the wife allows herself to be separated from her husband, either let her remain unmarried—in that state in which she resides—or else let her be reconciled to her husband. "To be reconciled" here means to have a thorough exchange, and the word had the meaning of exchanging coins of equal value. Here, as with "if she depart," the verb is in the aorist, passive form, meaning it is something done to her at a specific point. Just as she allows herself to become separated from her husband, so can she allow herself to be reconciled to him.

Paul gives no other option for her, just as he said he was giving the command of Christ:

If a woman herself divorces her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:12)

This simply echoes Paul's other testimony to the Corinthians and Romans, that:

A wife is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whoever she desires, only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39)

2For the woman that has a husband is bound by law to the husband while he lives, but if the husband dies, she is discharged from the law of the husband. 3So then if, while the husband lives, she is joined to another man, she would be called an adulteress. But if the husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she is joined to another man. (Romans 7:2-3)

So the woman must not become separated from her husband—but if she does, she must either remain in that state of being unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband.

As the Church toward Christ

The main teaching for the wife, in relation to her husband, is that she emulate the Church in its relationship with Christ. She may correlate the spiritual truths of how the Assembly deals with its Lord, Christ Jesus, to her natural, fleshly life with her husband. In the way that Christ leads her in the Spirit, so should her husband lead her in this natural world. She is his hand extended to accomplish God's purposes in both him and them as the new union; his very body, just as we, believers, are the Body of Christ.

Last Accessed: January 29th, 2023 - 7:53PM
Times Read: 2911
Other Articles in The Son
The Good Message

As you read this site, you will hopefully come to know Yahweh more fully.

But all of this continuing knowledge is useless unless and until you come into union with Him. I use the word union because it is truly a marriage. It is that deep connection we all seek, for which we most often look in other people. However, the truth is that our hearts will only be fulfilled when we enter that union in fullness with the One Who made us.

This is the grace of God, that He has not stayed distant for us only to worship as Creator. But He has come unto us, even become one of us—in His Son, Christ Jesus—in order to share an intimate union with us. He desires such closeness that it truly will envelope our entire life, transforming us into something new and wonderful.

You may have already entered this union with Him and only seek to know Him better through reading here. But if you have not, as you do read, let this Gospel sink into your heart as you read it now.

God loves you, and has cast your sins into the sea. He has sent His only Son as the Savior of the world—that includes you.

That Son, Jesus Christ, was born as a man through a virgin who had given her life to Yahweh; He lived without sin, reflected the glory of His Father, God, in all His words and deeds, and was persecuted even unto death because of it.

His death upon a cross was the powerful explosion that separated you from your life of death. It remains for you, now, to enter into that death with Him. As you die to the one you are now, a person separated from God from your many sins, you will be born anew, with a nature predisposed to live rightly. This gift is free to you, with nothing you can do to earn it. It is the mercy of God to offer it to you, as He loves you so much! All you must do is receive it by trusting Him to have delivered you. Simply place your life in His hands and embrace the freedom that came through that death on the cross.

The Gospel is that Jesus did not remain dead, but rose again on the third day after His crucifixion! Death could not hold Him, as He was without sin. And so death will not be able to hold you, as you identify with Him fully through your trust in Him. Let go of yourself and confess Him as Lord of your life. The power of His death and resurrection will work in you all that your Creator has destined for you. You will truly enter a new life and experience that intimate union you have been seeking all of your life.

So ponder these words as you read here of this great God—Yahweh—and all that He has revealed to His creation. Let His Spirit testify to your heart that these words are true, that God is Love, and that He sent His Son so that you might receive the life that is unbound by time and space. As you feel that witness in your heart, simply believe and receive what He is offering to you, even now, and begin your new life as a child of God.

Please write to me and let me know when you take this step, as I will be your brother in Christ—we will be one in Him!

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