The Lutheran Study Bible in a footnote says that “Like the Ephesians, we are confronted every dayby a world rebelling against God’s way. In our struggle against its temptations, we can rely on Christ’s word and spirit to lead us. Lord, strengthen me to speak and act as You desire. Replace all the foul talk from my mouth with praise for You and encouragement for my brothers and sisters in Christ.” Paul was telling the people at that time that it was wrong to live the way that lots of people were living then. Today we face the same issues and need to be strong in Christ in order to resist the temptations of the world. It is quite remarkable how similar the people then were to the people today. You might think that when man was created, there was a faulty design! But Paul urges them and us to walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. When things are exposed to the light they are visible to all to see. This is how we need to lead our lives. We often have questioned how the scriptures help us today. These writings by Paul surely are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago.
The other major part of this chapter deals with the relationships between men and women as well as other relationships between people. Paul states that the husband should be the head of the household and wives should submit to their husbands, but that doesn’t mean that the husband should lord it over the wife. He says that husbands should love their wives and give himself up for her. That doesn’t sound like Paul expected the wife to be treated as a slave to the husband, but rather that they should be a loving couple each with different roles but equally responsible for making their relationship work. Husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The comparison with Christ and the church is very instructive. He wants the relationship between a husband and wife to be similar to the relationship between Christ and the church.
Peterson in the Message starts this chapter as follows: “Watch what God does and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us, but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Peterson makes a big point that we shouldn’t be doing useless work, as he calls it the barren pursuit of darkness. He says it is a shame when people waste their lives on things they must do in darkness. He says, Christ will show you the light.
Peterson in verses 22-24 says, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show you support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. :
and then in verses 25-28, he says, “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church — a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to being the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.”
So it is not a matter of who is in charge and should bully the other partner in a marriage, but rather, it should be mutual love between a husband and wife supporting and loving each other.