The Body of Christ Part IV
The Book of Ephesians devotes every chapter to describe the Body of Christ. Paul develops other themes in this Epistle, but this is the overlying theme. The first several chapters present the mystery of the Body of Christ. God held this secret in His mind from before the foundation of the world. Chapter 5 is very exciting because it presents another mystery Jesus gave to the Apostle Paul. This mystery was also hidden from the foundations of the world in the mind of God the Father. God revealed it to Paul because it provides a more complete picture of the Body of Christ and how it must function in unity. The mystery is that human marriage between one man and his wife is to represent the magnificent union between Christ and His church—His body in this world.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it; just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband (Eph. 5:22-33).
What a powerful message! What a wonderful revelation! If God’s people could only grasp and apply this in their own lives, the world would be a much better place and the Body of Christ would have much greater influence in this world. But alas! Marriage is in dissolution in this world. The divorce rate among Christian marriages is the same as non-believers—at least 50%. Recent studies show this rate continues to creep higher. Evil forces controlling this world have successfully pushed for more liberal definitions of marriage. Satan knows the Scripture—including the ‘mysteries’ God has now revealed to His followers. If marriage is meant to reflect the union of Christ with His church—His body in this world—why not promote divorce and blur the definition of marriage? Satan clearly understands such a debacle would tarnish the testimony of the Body of Christ—especially if the divorce rate among Christian marriages is no different than marriages between non-believers. When we pull back the curtain and examine the worldly evidence, it becomes painfully apparent Satan has already accomplished this very thing. Who can undo this mess? The Body of Christ is currently on very shaky ground.
First of all, it is important to note that God is in control and will ultimately have the victory. Secondly, it is crucial that every believer—every member of the Body of Christ—have a clear understanding of this wondrous mystery. The remainder of the article will be devoted to this goal.
God introduced marriage into the world shortly after He created it. God spoke His intentions at that time, and there was no apparent mystery.
The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:22-24).
God established marriage as the first human institution. God’s command seems somewhat awkward, considering Adam and Eve had no parents to leave. However, creating the institution of marriage was foremost in God’s mind at that point. This command established the pattern for future marriages. The words ‘joined’ and ‘one flesh’ imply permanence in this relationship. God intended every marriage to last until death. Divorce was never meant to be an option. Furthermore, God emphasized two persons becoming one flesh to drive home a very important concept to His children. Two members become one organism—the sum becomes greater than its parts. This is a picture of the Godhead—the Trinity. The sum of its parts is more glorious than the individual components.
The marriage institution is very important to God, because He has repeated these same instructions elsewhere in Scripture, over the course of human history. His design has never changed—nor will it change until human history is consummated.
The Pharisees often challenged Jesus during His earthly ministry. One such interaction is described in Matthew 19:3-6:
Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered them and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate (Mt 19:5-6; Mark 10:8).
Jesus emphasized the importance of two becoming one flesh. He further noted that God joined them together. Woe to the man who would separate that union! God the Son has also stressed the importance of the marriage union. But why? Because marriage reflects the union between the Son and His Father. Jesus repeatedly told His followers and those who rejected Him: “I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30. Jesus also held the secret of the mysterious union between Himself and his Body—later to be revealed.
The Corinthian believers were influenced greatly by pagan culture around them. Prostitution, idol worship, drunkenness were the norm in that culture. The Apostle Paul established that church. He wrote several letters exhorting them to shun worldly influences and strive for purity and holiness in their fellowship. He encouraged the members of Christ’s body to align their behavior with that reality.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘the two shall become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him(1 Cor. 6:15-17).
Partaking with the world system is analogous to becoming one flesh with a prostitute. Adultery presents a terrible witness for a believer. Likewise, a worldly believer damages the testimony of Christ’s body to unbelievers. Christians who partake of fleshly desires appear no different than children of the devil. The presentation of a holy union between a man and his wife is a reflection of the oneness of Christ with His church. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” ( Heb. 13:4).
This article’s initial passage in Ephesians chapter 5 reveals the mystery of marriage as the reflection of a magnificent union between Christ and His church (vs. 32). The holy union of the marriage relationship presents a picture of the Body of Christ to the world. If the marriage is broken it cannot reflect the oneness of Christ with His body. This is the secret God held from the foundation of the world. Wives are subject to husbands, like church is subject to the Head of the Christ’s Body of Christ (vs 22-24). Believers willingly submit to their Master and operate within His will. This allows Jesus to do His work in a wicked world. Satan continues to corrupt this picture. He has pushed women to rise up and overthrow the bondage of marriage, usurping authority over their husbands. We have witnessed the results of this spiritual warfare. Marriages are broken—even among believers. The once cherished definition of the marriage union has been altered. Marriage no longer reflects the oneness of Christ with His church.
Alas, what can be done? Who will repair this damage? The permanence of marriage and the ‘oneness’ of Jesus with His Body on this earth seems a distant mirage.
We know the end of the story and it is glorious, indeed. God has revealed this mystery to the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation.
‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:9).
Somehow, someday, there will be a glorious eternal union between the Lamb and His bride—the Body of Christ. The above Scripture describes the bride clothed in fine, bright linen depicting the righteous acts of the believers. Jesus will consummate that union. God will make it happen, because He is omnipotent. The current path Christians walk until that time is unclear. But we now know God’s intention. God has established the marriage union between each man and his wife. This union reflects the permanent union between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The mystery reveals it also pictures the union between Jesus and His followers in this world—the Body of Christ. Marriage is a permanent covenant meant to last till death. This should admonish every Christian to consider the seriousness of entering that covenant and the need to keep it ‘until death do us part.’ Likewise, we, as members of Christ’s body, have been united with our Head at salvation. We are slaves to our Master. We are to submit to His will and obey His commands. Our obedience reflects our oneness with Him—a union that will last for eternity.