Ephesians 5:21-33: Marriage

I am excited to get back into the book of Ephesians!

As we move into the end of chapter 5 and start chapter 6, Paul shifts to showing how the gospel works itself out in marriages, parenting, and work.

Ephesians 5:21-33 is the longest and one of the most profound texts on marriage in the whole Bible.

And I feel somewhat pastorally negligent only spending one sermon on this text. So, to help alleviate my conscience a bit, here are some of my favorite resources on marriage:

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller. This my favorite book on marriage. Cynthia and I assign it in all of the pre-marital counseling we do, and have led multiple groups through the small group curriculum. (We would love to work this into the regular rhythm of Trinity’s community groups in the future, so contact me if you are interested.) We say we should re-read it every year as a marriage “tune-up.” There are of course thousands of books on marriage, and a handful of them are really good, but this one is my current favorite.

Love Speaks Many Languages Fluently.  One of the most popular books on Marriage is The 5 Love Languages. The five love languages are: affirming wordsquality time, gift givingphysical affection, and acts of service. This book can be very helpful, but this excellent article by David Powlison offers balance and perspective as he shows how healthy relationships speak all of those languages.

Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Ray Ortlund. I read this book this week in preparing for this sermon, and it was excellent. It is my favorite kind of book: short, biblical, and beautiful. It is part of a great series that Crossway is doing on biblical theology. (For an explanation of Biblical Theology click here.)

I found this passage from Orlund’s book helpful and convicting. He is asking why Paul ends this section of marriage with a call for Husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands.

For the husband, remember that God made Eve from Adam, as his dear partner in life to help him follow the divine call. But now, in our broken world of today, deep in the heart of every wife is the self-doubt that wonders, 

“Do I please him? Am I the one he dreamed of and longed for? Will he love me to the end? Am I safe with this man I married? Will he cast me off? Even if we go the distance, will he get tired of me?” 

A wise husband will understand that that uncertainty, that question, is way down deep in his wife’s heart. And he will spend his life speaking into it, gently and tenderly communicating to her in many ways, “Darling, you’re the one I want. I cherish you. I rejoice over you, as no other. The thought of living without you is horrible to me. I love the thought of growing old together with you, and in hand all the way. I will hold you close to my heart until my dying day.” 

A wise husband prizes and praises his wife above all others. 

That is why the word love is in verse 33. 

Love breaths life into a woman.”

For the wife, remember that God made Adam first and put him in the garden with a job to do, a mission to fulfill, a mountain to climb. And in our broken world of today, deep in the heart of every man is the self-doubt that wonders, 

“Am I mad enough to meet the challenge God has called me to? Can I fulfill my destiny? Won’t I end up failing? Is there any point in even trying?” 

That question is way down deep in the heart of every husband. And a wise wife will understand that. And she will spend her life speaking into it, communicating to her husband in many ways, “Honey, I believe in you. I know you can follow God’s call, by God’s grace and for God’s glory. The Lord is with you, and so am I. Let’s go for it!” 

A wise wife will never put her husband down or laugh at him but will greatly strengthen him and build him up, for God’s glory. He will accomplish more by the power of her respect than he ever could on his own. 

That is why the word respect appears in verse 33. 

Respect breathes life into the man. (101-02) 

Sermon Outline:

Ephesians 5:21-33    


  • Marriage’s Prerequisite


    1. The power: The Spirit
    2. The pattern: The Church


  • Marriage’s Purpose



  • Marriage’s Passion



  • Marriage’s Place



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