Whenever I teach about wives submitting to their husbands, I inevitably have women bringing up Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” as if this teaches husbands that they must submit to their wives, too. But what does the very next verse state? “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” There is no addition here that states, “and husbands submit yourselves unto your own wives” as much as many women would love there to be.
The next verse reads, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” There is no addition that the wife is the head of the husband. Sorry, ladies. After this, we are told, “Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Nope, there’s NO verse that tells husband to submit to their own wives in everything. Many women just hate this so they try to pervert the Word of God and say something that it does not.
I looked up what the commentaries of old had to say about Ephesians 5:21 to see if any of them thought this verse meant that husbands are to submit to their wives. Ellicot’s Commentary said, “In grammatical construction this clause is connected with the preceding verses; in point of idea it leads on to the next section, which treats of the three-fold submission of wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters.”
Barnes’ Note reads, “Maintaining due subordination in the various relations of life. This general principle of religion, the apostle proceeds now to illustrate in reference to wives Ephesians 5:22-24; to children Ephesians 6:1-3; and to servants, Ephesians 6:5-8.”
Gill’s Exposition: “Which may be understood either in a political sense, of giving honour, obedience, and tribute, to civil magistrates, since they are set up by God for the good of men, and it is for the credit of religion for the saints to submit to them; or in an economical sense; thus the wife should be subject to the husband, children to their parents, and servants to their masters.”
There wasn’t one that I could find that commands that husbands submit to their wives. I have heard pastors distort the meaning of submit and use the word serve instead. Yes, husbands ought to love and serve their wives. Yes, parents ought to love and serve their children. Yes, masters ought to love and serve their servants. Loving and serving others is weaved all throughout the Word of God and should define believers in Jesus Christ but serve isn’t the same as submit.
The definition of submit: “to yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another.” Yes, a wife is to obey her husband as Sarah obeyed Abraham. “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (1 Peter 3:6). I won’t teach what a husband’s responsibility is in marriage since I am not commanded to do this. In fact, I am forbidden from teaching men (1 Timothy 2:12). I only teach women and women aren’t responsible for their husbands’ behavior. They are only responsible to God for their own obedience or disobedience.
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.