Marriage in the Lord - Colossians 3:18-19

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As we read the first two chapters of Genesis we learn things about creation (and ourselves) that is necessary if we are going to rightly understand the rest of the Bible. Many of the truth claims and commands in the Bible only make sense if we have a proper understanding of God’s work and His plan for creation as it’s laid out in Genesis 1-2.

This is especially true as we consider the relationship between men and women, the distinctions of our roles and the institution of marriage. If we understand the creation of the first man and woman rightly there are at least four things that we learn that significantly inform later teachings on these relationships and the institution of marriage. 

  • Men and women are created equal in standing and position before God and in the ability to bring Him glory (Genesis 1:26-27).
  • Men and women are created with distinct roles and responsibilities, especially as they relate to one another (Genesis 2:18-25).
  • Marriage is God’s plan, created by His design (Genesis 2:24-25; Matthew 19:4-6).
  • Like everything else in creation, the relationship between men and women and the harmony of marriage was marred and distorted by the entrance of sin into the world (Genesis 3:16).

Context of Colossians 3

In Colossians 3 Paul is helping Christians understand what it looks like to live as those who are ‘in Christ.’ Part of living in Him is learning how to live in the different institutions and relationships that He created in the way that He intends. The first relationship that Paul wants us to consider is the relationship between husbands and wives.

The Harmony of the Roles of Husbands and Wives

What’s clear as we consider the roles of husbands and wives is that they were created by God to compliment one another. When a husband is fulfilling His role and responsibilities in the way God intended, the call of the wife becomes more natural and easier to fulfill. The same is true in reverse. As wives fulfill their calling rightly, the calling of their husband is more natural and easier to fulfill.

The Call for Wives: Humble Submission to Their Husbands (3:18)

  • The mere mention of the word submission makes many people in our culture (and even in churches) bristle, but the fact that it is often accompanied by negative connotations shouldn’t surprise us. In fact, Genesis 3:16 makes it clear that one result of the fall is that men and women will rebel against the God-designed order.
  • Defining Submission- Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts (John Piper)
  • The Origin of the Command - It is Rooted in Creation, By God’s Design, For His Glory(Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6).
  • The Scope of the Command - To Your Husband– The scope of this command is very specific. Women aren’t called to live in submission to all men; they are called to submit to their own husbands.
  • The Motivation of the Command - In the Lord– The call to submission is appropriate because it is consistent with God’s design. It makes sense that those who are ‘in the Lord’ would live in a way that is honoring ‘to the Lord.’

The Call for Husbands: Selfless, Sacrificial Love for Their Wives that Leads to Servant-Leadership and Care (3:19)

  • The Nature of this Love – The love that Paul is calling husbands to have for their wives isn’t based on passion or emotion. This love (Agape) is self-giving, self-sacrificing love.
  • The Command to Love (Like Christ Loves) – The fullest explanation for how a husband is to love his wife is found in Ephesians 5:25-33. It’s a love that mirrors and images the love of Christ for His Church.
  • A Selfless, Sacrificial Love (Ephesians 5:25; Philippians 2:5-8)
  • A Love that Cares for Her Spiritual Growth (Ephesians 5:26-27)
  • The Command to Not Be Harsh – Husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves and to care for them as their own body. This love should motivate husbands to be patient and kind and to resist the sinful inclination to be harsh or bitter or unkind.
  • Defining Headship - Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home (John Piper).


Marriage in the Lord