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The Mystery of Christ and the Church
by Alex M Lindsay
Reference: Ephesians 5:14-33

Our Scripture reading calls us to be awake; to walk carefully (circumspectly); to redeem the time; to be understanding of God's will; to be filled with God's Spirit. Paul is not vague about how to be filled with God's Spirit. There are three things that invoke the filling of God's Spirit:

  • Worshipfully singing and meditating (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Prayerfully and verbally giving thanks to the Lord (Ephesians 5:20)
  • Humbly submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21)

Paul expands that last point and goes into detail about submission to others, as an act of worship to God. He discusses:

  • The relationship of the wife and husband (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • The relationship of children and their parents (Ephesians 6:1-4)
  • The relationship of servant [employee] and master [their employer] (Ephesians 6:5-9)

The relationship of man and wife is honored by comparing it to the relationship of Christ and the church. This is where the word "mystery" appears. "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5:32) Why is this a mystery? Consider the mystery of marriage. John Gray says, "Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars." The differences between the way men and women think is dramatically different. That point is used to give understanding and to help build marriages in the book Men are like Waffles - Women are like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel (Harvest House Publishers).

Yet, when God speaks of marriage, He says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto (cling to; be joined to) his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31) How do the two become one?

Despite the contrasts between men and women, over the years, a loving marriage causes a man and a woman to bond together and work in harmony. No one said it was easy, but if we believe and accept God's standard for marriage, the miracle takes place. To give us understanding and help build our marriages, God tells wives to look at their husbands the way the church should look to Christ. He tells husbands to love and labor for the good of their wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:22-33)

So, as Paul is explaining marriage, he says this is an example of what happens between believers (as a church) and Christ (as their redeemer, provider, and leader). See Ephesians 5:30; I Corinthians 6:15-17; Romans 12:1-5; Colossians 3:14-16. We are to seek intimacy and a working relationship with Christ, as well as each other. [Look up the definition of the word "intercourse" and you will find that it means much more than physical sex.] The theme of intimacy and a working relationship runs throughout the book of Ephesians (Ephesians 1:15-23; 2:11-22; 3:4-6, 14-19; 4:20-32).

The mystery of the intimacy of Christ and the church is discussed directly by Christ. (John 10:1-16, 27-30; 14:1-3, 15-20, 23; 15:1-8; 17:19-26)

God the Father (Jehovah) has a wife: Israel
See Jeremiah 3:1-22; Hosea 2:1-7, 19-20 (Please study Hosea, chapters 1 - 3); Isaiah 54:1-8.

God the Son has a wife: The Church
See II Corinthians 11:1-3; Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 21:1-9; 22:16-17.

Note: Don't confuse the two wives. Israel will be coming back to her husband. See Zechariah 12:9-10; Romans 11:25-27 (cp. Isaiah 59:20-21); Hebrews 8:7-12 (cp. Jeremiah 31:31-33). See also II Corinthians 3:12-16.

Unfaithfulness to the Lord is like unfaithfulness in marriage
See I Corinthians 6:9-20; II Corinthians 11:1-3; I John 2:26; James 4:4.

Originally delivered October 15, 2017
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