• Elaine Kelly

Does Ephesians Even Teach Gender Roles?

Updated: Aug 7

Does the book of Ephesians teach that a wife must submit to her husband as her 'Lord/Master'? No. Does the Bible tell wives to be silent and not to teach their husbands? No. Does the Bible say that a husband is in authority over his wife? No.

What is the source of these ideas? I dug deeper into Ephesians 5, a chapter often used to promote women being subservient, and the whole book of Ephesians, which gives it context. Does Ephesians even teach gender roles? No - the book of Ephesians refers to the familiar gender roles of the patriarchal Roman society to contrast with the unfamiliar believers' roles to submit to one another. Paul uses the union of two people becoming one flesh in marriage to illustrate the union of Christ and the body of believers, the church. Christ is a title for Jesus; it is the Greek word for Messiah, the deliverer promised by the Jewish prophets.

Teaching about Unity in Christ

Paul writes his letter to the Ephesians while he is in prison in Rome, likely about AD 60-62. He spoke boldly there for two years (Acts 19:8-10) and is friends with many of them. While this letter is to the Ephesians, it is also addressed to us: the readers. Paul encourages them and us that Jesus is the source of our new eternal life. All history came to its climax in Jesus and the adoption of all creation into God's family. His main point is to reveal the Great Mystery or secret truth that God brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth, unity and peace between Jews and Gentiles, unity between Christ and the body of believers, making us all one body, co-heirs of God's promises. The letter is full of hope about God's love, peace, and unity.

Paul also refers to this Great Mystery in his letter to the Colossians. Colossae is a town about 120 miles east of Ephesus and Paul's letter to the Colossians was written around the same time as his letter to the Ephesians: while Paul was under arrest in Rome in AD 60-62. Paul tells Colossians that God commissioned him to reveal the secret truth that God gives Gentiles the same riches promised for Jews; Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory (Col. 1:25-27). The letters to Ephesians and Colossians give a picture of unity as you honour and love one another to imitate Christ.

Chapter 1: Adopted with an equal share in God's promised inheritance

In chapter 1:1-14, Paul praises God, the source of all spiritual blessings; God made us appear righteous and blameless and adopted us to the family of faith. In verse 5, Paul says we are adopted, using the legal term that makes us all co-heirs- Jews, Gentiles, women, men, slaves, citizens - Paul says we all have the same full legal standing as a male heir in the Roman culture. In verses 9-10 Paul talks about how God has revealed a Great Mystery to us that Jesus brings forgiveness and unity to all things and all people in heaven and on earth. Paul refers to the chosen people of Israel in verse 4 and completes the thought by saying in verses 11-12 that Gentiles who put their hope in Christ are also chosen. In verse 13, Paul states that you are included, adopted into God's family when you hear the message of truth and believe it. Then the Holy Spirit seals God's promise of your inheritance and your redemption.

In 1:15-23, Paul thanks God for them, their faith in Jesus, and their love for all God's people. He prays that God will give them wisdom and that they will see the hope and richness of God's inheritance and God's power. God's power raised Jesus from the dead and made him the head, which is a source of life and provider of forgiveness for the church. The church is Christ's body; the body of believers is filled with Christ.

The head-body illustration is very similar to the vine-branch illustration in John 15:5. When a branch is grafted onto a stem, the stem [Christ] is the source of water and minerals for the leaves and branches [the body of believers]; the leaves collect energy from the Sun and feed the stem. Jesus speaks of his food as doing God's will (John 4:34). As the energy is shared through vascular tissues in the stem, branches, and leaves, the branches live in the stem and the stem lives in the branches. The branches that stay connected to the stem, conveying and receiving energy, will live, grow and produce fruit. The whole united vine, including the stem and branches [Christ and the body of believers], grows as each branch and leaf does what it is equipped to do. Ephesians 1 introduces the topic of Jesus united with the body of believers, providing life and peace. (vineyard photo: Elaine Kelly)

Chapter 2: New Life and Unity in Christ

In chapter 2, Paul talks about how we have a new life, because of God’s great love and mercy. He credits God’s grace that we are saved, through faith; it is not through our own works. Paul addresses Gentiles, a word that denotes anyone who is not a Jew. Before, Gentiles were excluded from citizenship in Israel and from God’s promise, but now both Jews and Gentiles are united in Jesus Christ. Before, the Jewish Temple had a barrier or dividing wall that kept Gentiles out of the Temple Courts and the Holy of Holies, but Jesus destroyed the barrier, uniting them into one body of believers. Christ brought peace to the strife between Gentiles and Jews and opened the way for both to access the heart of God, the Holy of Holies. This chapter is about how Jesus brought about the unity of Jews and Gentiles, welcomed all as citizens of Israel, and adopted them as equal heirs in God's family.

Chapter 3: the Great Mystery that we are members of one body

In chapter 3, Paul reveals to the readers the Great Mystery that God revealed to Paul: the secret truth that through Christ, the Gentiles are co-heirs with Jews, members together of one body. Paul reveals the Good News that Gentiles and Jews will share in God's blessings and the promise made through Christ Jesus. Paul tells his friends not to be discouraged about his imprisonment or suffering because Paul is fulfilled using his gift from God to tell Gentiles about Jesus. Paul prays that God will strengthen them with power through the spirit, that they will be rooted and established in love, and that they will understand the breadth, length, depth and height of Christ's love. This chapter reinforces the idea that all humans are equal, regardless of race or heritage, and that they can be unified in Jesus, the Christ, and grow in love. God's power can work in all of us to do more than we can imagine, for God's glory.

Chapter 4: Our response to Live Worthy of God's Call

In Chapter 4 Paul challenges us to respond to God's love and blessings. In 4:1-3, Paul refers to God's glorious plan to adopt us and give us the full inheritance as described in the first half of the letter. Paul says 'therefore/ then/ so/because of this', he 'calls/ urges/ begs/ beseeches/ appeals' to us from his position as a prisoner for the Lord Jesus to live in a worthy of God's call. To live in a way that is loving, providing food and drink as Jesus did, being humble, gentle, patient, and loving, eagerly keeping unity in the bond of peace.

Photo: wikimedia

In 4:4-16, Paul repeats that we are united because there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. While we are all different, with different gifts, talents, or passions, we are united by being empowered by the one Holy Spirit. Once we become believers, we begin a new life. God gives each one of us a special gift: some to be apostles, some prophets, some to preach or proclaim God's word, and some to shepherd, pastor, minister, serve, teach, or care for God’s people. Paul says we receive gifts by God's grace; he does not specify any particular gifts for any particular gender or race. Paul does not set limitations or terms that women only exercise their gifts for the building up of other women. On the contrary, God gives the gifts for the purpose of building up the whole body of Christ until all believers are united in faith and attain mature adulthood. Women would grow to mature womanhood or become full-grown women, but Paul writes to all believers, and since some male readers might feel upset seeing female terms, I use the more accurate term, 'mature adulthood'.

The application of gifts to be used by both men and women to build up the whole body of believers is very consistent with Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 14:26 'When you [brothers and sisters] come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up." This indicates no restrictions on men and women sharing instruction, revelations, tongues or interpretations. Paul also instructs women on how to pray or prophesy in the hearing of the mixed assembly of believers (1 Corinthians 11:5). Paul clearly states the purpose of the gifts given to believers is to build up the body of believers, which means the gifts are not to be either misused or hidden. Any gift God gave a man or woman is not to be used to silence others, dominate them, cut them off, or weaken them, but to build them up. Any gift God gives you is not to be hidden, but to be shared publicly, for the good of the body of believers. If we all employ God's gifts to us, Paul says we will no longer be children, tossed about by various ideas, but instead speaking truth with love. We will grow up to be like Christ in every way.

Paul uses the metaphor of a body with Christ as the head and the assembly of believers as the body. Christ is the source of life and power for all the parts of the body of believers, the church. The head may refer to the unity of the body, since the head supports every joint, ligament, nerve, and muscle, conveying and receiving information from the body. The head makes the whole body work together, united through the central nervous system. We are empowered by the one Holy Spirit. From Christ, all the parts of the body of believers are centralized, joined and held together. The body of believers grows stronger and builds up as each part draws closer to Christ and does what God equipped him or her to do. As we imitate Christ and love one another, the whole body is united by Christ.

In 4:17-32, Paul instructs believers to live differently, not like unbelievers. Put off your old self, with its deceitful desires, and put on your new self, becoming like God in your attitudes and actions. Stop telling lies because we are all parts of the same body. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Stop stealing and go to work so that you will have something to share with the poor. Stop saying critical or hurtful things, but say things that will build others up so what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. Do not be bitter, vengeful, or evil, but be kind, compassionate and loving. Forgive each other as God forgives you.

Chapter 5: Because we are One Body, Love one another as you Love your own Body

Ephesians 5:1-2 concludes the description of the unity of the body and how believers may live differently. We are to imitate God, just as dearly loved children imitate their father. Paul instructs both men and women to follow the example of Christ, who loved us sacrificially.

In Ephesians 5: 3-14 Paul reminds readers to avoid prostitution, impurity, jealousy, greed, obscene language, or vulgar jokes because that serves a false god and cuts you off from God's inheritance. Believers are full of light in the Lord, and the light produces every kind of goodness and shows what is wrong and shameful. In verse 14, Paul quotes Isaiah 26:19, 51:17, 52:1 and 60:1: 'Wake up! For the Light has come!' This is a reference to Jesus as the light of the world, showing us how to live (John 8:12). To be 'woke' means that you have seen the light, been awakened to the truth, and you are alert to injustice and wrongs around you.

Starting at Ephesians 5:15, Paul says that since the light exposes us, we should be loving and good, and live wisely and not foolishly. Instead of being filled with liquor spirits, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul says you show you are filled with the Spirit by (1) speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (2) singing and making melody to the Lord (3) giving thanks (4) submitting to one another out of respect for Christ's rule. Submitting to one another is listed as a consequence of being filled by the Holy Spirit.

Paul echoes these instructions in Colossians 3:15-16. Paul says that since we are members of one body, we are to (1) be ruled by Christ's peace, (2) be thankful, (3) teach and admonish one another through psalms, hymns, and songs, and (4) sing and make melody to the Lord in your hearts. This means women and men teaching and admonishing one another, using their gifts to build up the body of believers. Paul gives no indication of women only teaching and admonishing women.

Live as One Body: Submit to One Another

The discussion of teaching and encouraging one another in Ephesians 5:15-20 leads to verse 21:

  • and submit to each other out of respect for Christ. CEB

  • being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. AMP

While we don't talk often of submitting to one another as equals, there are many examples of those in authority who are also in submission, leaders who serve their people, employers who listen to employees and adjust according to their needs. We each play a variety of roles, sometimes as the vendor, other times as the client. All of the verses ending in 'one another', such as 'love one another', and 'serve one another', point to mutuality. The phrase 'one another' is used about 100 times in the New Testament, and a third of these concern unity. I speak more about mutuality here.

Dr. Cynthia L. Westfall, the author of Paul and Gender, points out that the original says: 'submit to one another in reverence to the Lord, wives to husbands' (Eph. 5:21-22). She explains in an interview there was no verb in 'wives to husbands'. It is implicit from the previous phrase that wives are submitting to husbands. Readers were familiar with the relationship of wives and husbands in the household codes designed by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle and Paul uses the familiar to describe the unfamiliar.

Ephesians 5:22 is not a command that wives submit to their husbands. It is a reference to the familiar pagan household codes to explain the unfamiliar concept of submitting to one another:

'for example, as wives to husbands'.

Paul also does not tell wives to treat their husbands as their Lord in Eph 5:22. Paul repeatedly says there is one Lord: Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:5, 1 Cor. 8:6, Romans 10:12). In contrast, Paul is saying that the wife is acting out of reverence to the Lord God, similar to: “Whatever work you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23), ‘it is the Lord Christ you are serving’ [not human masters] (Col 3:24) and ‘there is no favouritism’ (Col. 3:25).

In Ephesians 5:23 Paul uses the unity of the wife and husband to illustrate the unity of Christ and the church. Paul points out that just as the husband is the source of life and provides food, shelter, and protection for his wife, Christ is the source of life for the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. While only Christ is our Lord and Saviour, making us holy, Paul points out that the church is subject to Christ, as a wife is subject to her husband. Young's Literal Translation puts Eph. 5:24 this way, "even as the assembly is subject to Christ, so also [are] the wives to their own husbands in everything."

Ephesians 5:24 is not a command that wives be subject to husbands.

It is a statement of fact that they are; that is the position of wives in the Greco-Roman culture. Paul tells the body of believers to be subject to Christ, the way that wives of the time were subject to their husbands.

Eph. 5:24 and 5:25 are two separate ideas. Paul is not giving instruction to wives in v. 24 and husbands in 25. Paul discusses mutual or reciprocal submission from 5:15-24 and describes Christ's love for the church in 5:25-30.

Jesus Demonstrates Mutual Submission

Beginning with verse 25, Paul flattens the hierarchal marriage structure in the first century, upsetting the balance of power by bringing husbands down to the level of serving their wives. Paul presents an 'upside-down kingdom' where men are told to act like women. Paul tells husbands to love their wives 'in the same way that Christ loved the church body'. Paul explains in 5:26-30 how husbands can imitate the way Christ loved the body of believers:

  • gave up his privileges for her sake

  • gave up his human life to serve the church body

  • Washed her in a bath of clean water

  • Laundered her clothing

  • Clothed her without stains or wrinkles

  • Love her as you love your own body

  • Feed her

  • Nurture and take care of her the way that Christ takes care of the church body

Husbands reduce the power imbalance by treating wives' bodies as well as their own (effectively lowering themselves and lifting up their wives). We have another picture of how Jesus loved the church body in John 13:12-17:

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Photo: wikimedia

Paul Preaches Mutual Submission

Paul tells a husband to honour his wife as Christ loved the church in Eph. 5:25-30, yet back in Eph. 5:2 Paul tells both women and men to love one another 'just as Christ loved us'. Both John 13 and Ephesians 5:2 say that all believers, men and women, should love one another as Christ loved us, serve and attend to one another. And Ephesians 5:21 says to submit to one another or yield to one another's needs. Why is Paul distinguishing husbands, saying they should love sacrificially, just as Christ did? By making a separate statement to the husband, Paul affirms that even though the wife is subject to her husband in that society, the command to serve one another applies to men serving women as well as women serving men. We should love one another because we are parts of one body. Paul emphasizes love, unity, and mutual submission.

The Bible encourages us to yield to one another: it is reciprocal. In Colossians 3:18-19, Paul writes that wives submit to husbands in a way that honour God and husbands are to love their wives in ways that honour God. Both wives and husbands should display the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Main Idea: Marriage Illustrates the Great Mystery of the Union of Christ and the Church

Paul sums up the use of marriage as an illustration of the union of Christ and the church in 5:31-32. This is the climax and main point of the chapter: the way that two people become one in marriage is an allegory representing the Great Mystery of how Christ and the church are united. The way wives yield to their husbands is an example showing the body of believers how to yield to one another in Christ. The way husbands love their wives is an example showing how Christ loves the body of believers. There is no household code in Ephesians 5 at all. This passage describes the love of Christ and the church and builds to reveal the Great Mystery that we are united in Christ.

Paul does not provide a picture of Jesus and the body of believers as a model for marriage or say anything about why marriage was created. On the contrary, the marriage union of two persons becoming one flesh illustrates the Great Mystery of the unity of Jesus and the body of believers.

Ephesians 5 concludes with Paul exhorting each husband to love his wife so that his wife will respect him (v. 33). Paul tells a husband to love his wife as himself in order that she may reciprocate in gratitude, honour, and respect for him.

Dr. Cynthia Westfall reveals that this was written in Greek as a cause-and-effect phrase. Young's Literal Translation puts it this way "but ye also, every one in particular--let each his own wife so love as himself, and the wife -- that she may reverence the husband."

This exhortation to love his wife as himself echoes the second and greatest commandment for all believers: "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:29-31) and "Treat others in the same way that you want them to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

Ephesians 5:33 is not a command that a wife respects her husband; it is revealing a truth that when a husband loves his wife, she will respect him. The secular world has also discovered this biblical truth: when you give respect to others, you earn respect in return. Being loving, kind, considerate, listening, helping, responsible for your actions and open to change, are all ways of earning respect. More about love and respect here.

Chapter 6: Upsetting Power Structures By Changing the Heart

In Ephesians 6:1-9, Paul addresses a list of people who are subject to other people in the familiar structures of the Greco-Roman society. First-century wives, children, and slaves have less power, but Paul recognizes and addresses each group with respect and dignity, acknowledging that they each have their own minds and ability to act. Paul upsets this hierarchal structure for Christians, telling those in dominant or powerful positions to serve those in lower positions. This instruction is consistent with many places where the Bible tells us God brings down the powerful and uplifts the lowly or those in humble positions (Psalms 138:6, Proverbs 3:34, Matt 23:12, Luke 1:52, James 4:6). Jesus himself taught that those who were in authority should serve others (Luke 22:24-26). Women of the Bible also said that God would uplift the humble: Mary (Luke 1:51-52) and Hannah (1 Samuel 2:7-8). The words the prophetess Huldah spoke to the king of Judah are recorded in Scripture and authoritative for men and women. Huldah says the king will die in peace because he humbled himself before God (2 Chronicles 34:27).

In 6:1-4, children are told to obey their parents, both father and mother, and reminded that the commandment to honour both father and mother comes with a promise that things will go well for them. Then Paul flattens the hierarchy by telling parents not to provoke their children.

In 6:5-9, Paul instructs Slavemasters to follow the same instructions he gave to the slaves. Paul told slaves to serve their human masters, show goodwill, and work as if they were working for the Lord and not for human masters. Then he flattens the hierarchy telling Slavemasters to serve their slaves with goodwill, and stop threatening or abusing enslaved people. Paul asserts that all people, whether they are slaves or masters on earth, are equal before God. He tells them God will reward them for whatever they do, good or bad, and God does not show favouritism based on your earthly position. This passage parallels Paul's letter to the Colossians where he addresses children and parents, slaves and masters (Col 3:20-24) and says God shows no favouritism (Col. 3:25). God will see your good works and your mistakes and not show favouritism, preference or partiality based on gender, race, or any other characteristic. Paul reiterates God's impartiality in his other letters, stating that we are all equals: there is no longer Gentile or Jew, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 12:13). Peter also states God shows no partiality (Acts 10:34).

Paul's apparent acceptance of the pagan hierarchal structures and slavery of his day have led some to think patriarchy or slavery are acceptable to God. Paul does not address the institution of slavery or slave-related laws in society. On the other hand, he does not endorse the Greco-Roman household structures or slavery. In fact, he calls slaveholders to 'do the same things' to slaves that slaves do for masters. Paul undermines the hierarchy by talking about mutual submission. By telling those in powerful positions to humble themselves in service to others, he is undermining the pagan power structures, flattening the un-Christlike hierarchies. He tells husbands to serve like women, parents to honour their children, and masters to serve their slaves. Instead of imposing external controls to change unjust power structures, Paul calls us to change our hearts, to love one another as we love ourselves. This is exactly the way Jesus set out to change the world: by changing our hearts.

Peter Preaches Mutual Submission

In the same way, Peter talks about mutual submission. In 1 Peter 3:6-7, Peter says that a wife accepts her husband's authority and 'in the same way' her husband accepts his wife's authority and treats her with respect. He is to show her honour because women are co-heirs receiving the same blessings of new life that men receive. In effect, Peter says a wife submits to her husband, and likewise, a husband submits to his wife. Wives earn respect by honouring their husbands, and husbands earn respect by honouring their wives. Loving one another results in mutual respect. Look at how the instructions are written in the Expanded Bible:

In the same way [same as in 2:18 where slaves yield to masters and same as in 3:1 where wives yield to husbands], you husbands should live with your wives in an understanding [considerate] way [Eph. 5:25–33; Col. 3:19] since they are weaker than you [the weaker sex; the less empowered one; the weaker vessel; women are typically physically weaker, but in Greco-Roman and Jewish society, they also had less power and authority]. But show them [respect, pay/give them honour], because God gives them the same blessing he gives you—[ they are co-heirs of] the grace that gives true life [God’s gift of life;  the grace of life]. Do this so that nothing will stop [hinder] your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7 EXB (Expanded Bible)

Peter instructs all people to be submissive: to governors (1 Peter 2:13-16), to everyone, brothers and Sisters (1 Peter 2:17), and to slave masters (1 Peter 2:18). I should mention that 1 Peter is talking about Christians bearing up under unjust suffering or being persecuted for Jesus's sake (Matthew 5:11-12). He does not encourage continuing to suffer at the hands of an abusive or harsh person. Peter then continues his list of how to be submissive to one another: wives to serve husbands (1 Peter 3:1), husbands to serve wives (1 Peter 3:7), shepherds to serve the flock (1 Peter 5:1-3), youth submit to elders (1 Peter 5:5), and all people serving one another with humility (1 Peter 5:5).

The section from Ephesians 5:15 to 6:9 provides examples of unity and mutual submission in love, climaxes in the Great Mystery of the unity of Christ and the church and concludes with a reminder for believers to submit to one another, as is honourable to God and gives Christians a good reputation in the community.

Any biblical interpretation that puts one group above another group is inconsistent with Jesus's words to lift up the humble, Paul's instructions to those in higher positions to serve those in lower positions, and Peter and Paul's words about God's impartiality.

Chapter 6: Be Strong in the Lord

In Ephesians 6:10-20, after describing how believers might submit to one another, Paul tells the brothers and sisters to be strong in the Lord and his great power. He explains how to be strong by referring to the familiar Roman armour to teach new believers the unfamiliar Hebrew scriptures that show how God will defend you against the devil’s tricks and spiritual powers.

  • Belt of truth at your waist (Isaiah 11:1-5 describes a descendant of Jesse will come with righteousness and justice, the Messiah will be a righteous warrior bringing justice to the oppressed; wearing a belt of righteousness and faithfulness)

  • Breastplate of righteousness (Isaiah 59:17 says the coming Messiah will wear the breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation)

  • Boots carrying the good news of peace to help you stand strong (In Isaiah 52:7 the redeemer's feet bring good news, proclaim peace and salvation)

  • Shield of Faith to extinguish the arrows of the evil one (In Psalm 91:4-5, God is defending his people against enemies; shielding you against the arrows against you)

  • Helmet of God’s salvation (Isaiah 59:17 says the coming Messiah will wear the helmet of salvation)

  • Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (John calls Jesus the Word of God, and Isaiah 49:2 says the saviour will have words like a sharp sword; Hebrews 4:12 calls God's word sharper than any sword)

In other words, if we allow the Messiah to live in us, God's power will defend and protect us against temptation and evil. We will be equipped to build up the body of believers (Eph 4:12), be held together by the unity that comes from Christ (Eph 4:13), and reach mature stature in the fullness of Christ (4:13). Paul reminds them to pray at all times, to persevere, and to pray for all the believers, and for Paul himself to be able to speak fearlessly and reveal the Great Mystery of the good news that Christ unites us in peace (Eph. 2:14, 4:3, 6:15).

Be Encouraged

Paul's final words in Ephesians 6:21-24 explain his reason for writing is to encourage them. Paul sends peace to the brothers and sisters and love and grace to all the believers. Paul sends the letter with “Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, [who] will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing”. This echoes Paul’s sentiment in Colossians 4:7 “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.”

The letter to the Ephesians is one of joy, gratitude and encouragement. It uses the pagan household codes and the unity of marriage to illustrate the unity of Christ and the body of believers. Paul calls all believers to be united in peace by yielding to one another: Jews and Gentiles, Masters and Slaves, Men and women. He calls believers to build each other up and stand strong and unified against the attacks of the evil one, and above all, to love other people as they love themselves.


My study of Ephesians shows that we are all equals, for Jesus broke the barriers and brought peace between Jew and Gentile. All of us, men and women, are given gifts by the Holy Spirit to use to build up the body of believers. We are all called to love one another sacrificially, as Christ loves the church, his body. The union of two people becoming one flesh in marriage is an illustration showing the union of Christ and the church body of believers. As wives were subject to husbands in the first century, the church is subject to Christ, the source of our life and sustenance. Both men and women are called to submit to one another, teach and admonish one another. Jesus is the light that shows us right from wrong, and we will be rewarded for our actions, for God shows no favouritism. We are called to change our hearts, and to live in love. I hope this review of the book of Ephesians builds you up, encourages you, and makes you feel united as a valuable part of Christ's body of believers.