“Wives” For Everyone?

September 29, 2010

So I’m preaching on ‘wives’ this Sunday (Ephesians 5:22-24).

Now….  How do I preach on the wife’s role in such a way that the sermon is not only helpful to wives but the whole congregation?

This question could arise with other topics as well. When our text addresses a narrow sub-group, how do we preach in such a way that everyone else doesn’t feel excluded?  In this case: how do we edify the men, single people, children or widows, without abandoning the primary meaning of the text?

Answers in the comments-box.



  1. How do you make it edifying to all? Preach Christ. As you unpack the text and speak about wives and their relationship to husbands, remind all that this is how we are to relate to Christ as the bride for whom He laid down His life.

  2. 1. By bringing it back to the gospel. To show how the glory of the wife’s role is rooted in the glory of the church’s relationship to Christ.
    2. More broadly, by reminding the congregation that sanctification is both an individual and a group effort; and to the degree we can pray for and encourage wives to obey God’s design for their role. And to show how such obedience reflects not only the gospel, but promotes godliness throughout Christian families and the church, and even as a witness to the world.
    3. See #1. =-)

  3. I haven’t got an answer, I just wanted to commend you for asking the question!

  4. Hi Colin, we met briefly at T4G in Kentucky.
    Here is how I concluded my sermon on Eph.5;22-24 (much of it was adapted from J.M. Boice’s commentary on Eph.)

    God has chosen the church to display His own character. He makes Himself known through His church because His Spirit is resident in Christ’s bride, and His Word has been entrusted to her.
    Here are two major objections to these verses:
    “I believe you, but I just can’t do it.” But obedience to God’s commands is never a matter of our ability or lack thereof. It’s simply a matter of obeying Him. The man with the crippled hand may not have felt that he could hold it out in front of him, but when Christ told him to do so he held it out and was cured. You never know what you can do until you step out in obedience to the clear commands of God.
    “But I won’t be happy,” is another major objection. But do you think you’ll be happy by following the world’s ungodly counsel? “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked . . . But his delight is in the law of the LORD [in which] he meditates day and night.”
    A woman was having marital difficulties. And everyone was anxious to give her advice about her marriage. She said, “I refuse to discuss it with people who hold an unbiblical viewpoint, or people who try to turn me against my husband, or people who make me feel sorry for myself and encourage weakness in me. I can’t afford to be around worldly friends anymore. . . . I want to be with people who will stand with me and support me when I falter.” That’s what we need in the evangelical church today—firm Bible-believers, not Bible-benders.
    What happens when a gal with a vision of George Clooney and a guy with a vision of Rachael Ray get married and begin to find out that the other person is not what they envisioned? One of two things! Either they center their minds on the difference between the ideal and (the real), and they try, either openly or subversively, to push the spouse into the image. Or by the grace of God they increasingly come to accept the other person as he or she is, including his or her standards of how they themselves should be, and then, under God, seek to conform to the best and most uplifting of those standards.
    In marriage there’s a mystical union where two become “one flesh.” It can be a blessing where two people feel safe, accepted and loved, or it can be a battle ground where two egos are locked in a lifelong struggle for supremacy. But no other relationship has the potential like marriage to show forth God’s Gospel by modeling Christ and the church. Rather than dragging your understanding of God’s love down to the level of your own weak love, let God draw up your love by the love and power of Christ to His standard. Then by God’s all-sufficient grace let our marriages manifest the Gospel. The mystery of marriage is great because of the eternal the relationship it is meant to reflect!

    • Amen

  5. The key to preaching verses 22-24 (and for that matter, the whole second half of chapter five) is found in verse 32:

    “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

  6. I just preached on Eph 5:21-6:9 yesterday. In order to make the message more broadly applicable, I effectively asked two things of our church:

    1. even if you are not a wife now, you may be later (so please listen!);

    2. if you are not, and do not plan to be a wife, you are – in God’s grace part of our church family, and God has put you here to encourage those of us who are wives. So please do encourage us, hold us accountable etc (so please listen!).

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