The following is a continuation of an excerpt from the newest volume in the Concordia Commentary series, Ephesians, in which Thomas Winger expounds on the biblical view of marriage and subordination to Christ as described by Paul in Ephesians 5. You can view the first part here.
Mutual Love and Service within the Christian Community
What, then, is the norm by which Paul challenges and redevelops the traditional elements of marriage for application to Christian lives? Surely it is the Gospel, for the sacrificial love of Christ for the church as his bride is the dominant theme of this pericope. The crucial question, however, is whether (or to what extent) the Gospel breaks down order in the Christian community. Some NT evidence might suggest that it does. Paul admonishes Christians in a similar context “not to think more highly of oneself than is necessary,” to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” and to “be thinking the same thing toward one another” (Rom 12:3, 10, 16; cf. Rom 15:5; Phil 2:2). Christians are to look not only to their own interests but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:4). Tracing the language of ἀλλήλων, “one another,” repeatedly turns up such admonitions. Paul calls for there to be no division in the body, but for the members to care equally for one another (1 Cor 12:25). He explains that Gospel freedom is not to be used to gratify the flesh, but to serve one another (Gal 5:13) and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). The Spirit leads Christians to bear “with one another in love” (Eph 4:2), to “ ‘speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph 4:25, quoting Zech 8:16), and likewise to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another (Eph 4:32). Paul prays that the Lord would make the Thessalonians “abound in love for one another” (1 Thess 3:12).