Mike & Pam's Married Devo!!

Do you know what Kephale – Hupotasso – Agapao mean?

A few Saturday nights ago, all the Married’s of the Central New York Church of Christ gathered in the Adams’ back-yard for food, fun and fellowship. Little did we know we were going to have such an awesome spiritual “dessert” from Mike and Pam, as their class on the famous Ephesians 5 passage dug deeper into why our first century brothers and sisters would have been inspired by Paul’s usage of the Greek words for: “Head,” “Submit” and “Love” . . . sadly, many people have misinterpreted these words and missed Paul’s heart about the marriage relationship. Even more reason why today’s modern-day married disciples must respect, trust and care for one another in a way that is completely distinct from the world–that bright light will help lead many into seeking their own relationship with Christ.

Click on the show more link to see the full outline! (No audio file to this one, unfortunately! But here’s the Word document.)
A Little Greek to Inspire a Lotta Love

Just a Little Bit of Greek

EPH 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

EPH 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

EPH 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

MIKE: Even in this English translation, one may note that the scope of this passage is limited to husbands and wives (except the first sentence, which is directed to all members of the church). Moreover, although this scripture is often lifted up in reference to women, more of it is written to husbands then to wives. In fact, in the Greek, 47 words are directed at wives while 143 are directed to husbands. Let’s look a little closer and do a little research together.

My wife found a great book entitled: What Paul Really Said About Women by John Bristow. We are going to pick apart this scripture tonight with a little more insight from Mr. Bristow.

To put things in order, we need to understand a little history. Paul wrote the original text of the book of Ephesians about 60 AD in the Greek language. As with Chinese, there are many dialects of Greek. The most common form in Paul’s time was called koine (coy-in-AY). This allowed his writings to be read by the greatest number of people.

Those who first quoted Paul and interpreted his writings were bearers of centuries of Greek philosophy. They understood Paul from the viewpoint of their culture and customs. Who influenced these cultures and customs? Socrates (470-399 B.C.) had a noted dislike for women. He often referred to women as “the weaker sex,” and argued that being born a woman is a divine punishment.

Socrates teaching came down through one of his star pupils, Plato (427-347 B.C.). Plato’s most distinguished student was Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). It was Aristotle that noted that a swarm of migrating bees was lead by “the King Bee” because he was thoroughly convinced that “the male is by nature fitter to command than the female.” Of course, we all know now, that it is really the Queen Bee that leads the swarm. Through this approach, Aristotle laid a lasting philosophical foundation for the notion that females are inferior to males.

This thought continued with Alexander the great. Seeing the Greek approach to women as a superior one, he sought to enlighten the countries he conquered by instilling its thoughts into them. As Alexander the great continues to expand his empire, this thought continued right into Egypt and Judea.

PAM –Just as those first century scholars interpreted Paul’s writings based on the teachings or culture of the day, don’t we do the same thing?

I grew up in the late 60’s and early 70’s in the Midwest. A fairly conservative culture for the most part, but the “women’s movement” of those decades affected me at a very young age. When I was in 13 years old, my history teacher, who was also my Methodist youth group leader, took six 8th grade girls to a conference in a nearby city to hear Betty Freidan speak. There are probably many people in this gathering that don’t know who she was. She was one of the strong advocates for the women’s movement. I remember very little of her entire speech, but the tone that it set was obvious. I walked away feeling empowered that I could do anything that a man could do, and probably a bit better than the man could. I felt that I could have a career, and be self sufficient, and probably only need a man to fulfill any physical needs that I might have. She encouraged women to feel that they had a role outside of marriage, and to pursue it at all costs. That was very much the culture of the time. Is it really any different now? Now that could easily sway the way I think when I read Paul’s writing, especially this passage. Thankfully, someone was able to sit down with me, help me see what the Bible has to say about marriage and the marital relationship. When we allow God’s plan to influence our lives the outcome is much different.

MIKE: So what does all of this have to do with this passage and our roles in marriage? Paul’s Gentile converts to the faith were heirs to the Greek philosophy with a great disdain for women. Because of this, many of the words that Paul originally used in the koine Greek were substituted with words that came from the Hebrew and other languages. This lead to many words being used that were not exact translations of what Paul actually wrote. A few examples:

#1 – HEAD
In Ephesians 5:23 it reads: “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” In English, the word head means literally the physical head of one’s own body and figuratively the leader of a body of people.

In the Greek, there are two words that can be translated as head. One of these is “arche.” It means leadership and the point of origin. It was used to denote the beginning in the sense of the first or point of inception. Arche was also used to denote “first” in terms of importance or power.

Paul actually used the word kephale which also means the head of one’s own body. It was never used to denote a “boss,” “leader,” or “chief.” It means the one who leads, but not in the sense of a director. A kephale was one who went before the troops, the leader in the sense of being in the lead, the first one into battle.

While Aristotle would argue that the man is the arche of his wife, Paul actually wrote that the man is the kephale of his wife.

PAM – The first into battle, the first to sacrifice, isn’t that exactly what Jesus was for the church, and for all of us? He died first for our sake, so that we had an opportunity to have a relationship with God. I love that God wrote it down in just that way, for us to be able to draw the analogy. I know that my husband does sacrifice for me, and for our family. I appreciate Mike’s imitation of Christ in that way. It calls me higher, to sacrifice as well, as I follow Mike, who is following Christ. So the sacrifice doesn’t end with the husband.

I know a married sister who had decided with her husband that her family was complete. They really desired no more children. For her, there was really no great method of birth control, the hormones did not agree with her body. So, in order to protect their family, her husband had a vasectomy. He sacrificed first for the sake of his family. That is a great example of kephale.

The next verse reads: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. ”

The term submit appears three times in this passage. This may cause a mental picture of being subjects to a king or unfair rulers. When referring to wives, Paul uses the term hupotasso (hoop-o-TASS-o).

We need a little lesson on the Greek language here. In English, we have two verb forms – active and passive. As an example, you may teach someone – the active voice, or you may be taught – the passive voice. The same is true in Greek. You may teach someone, or you may be taught. But Greek also has a third, or middle voice, that expresses a voluntary action on behalf of the subject. So in order, in the Greek, you may teach, you may teach yourself, or you may be taught.

The word hupotasso has these three forms. In the active voice, it might be used of a conqueror concerning the vanquished. Alexander the Great hupotasso the nations he conquered. In the passive voice, it is used in the sense of servants being subject to their masters.

But Paul used the middle voice hupotassomy. Used in this way, Paul is giving instruction to wives to voluntarily subject themselves to their husband’s kephale. More accurately translated, it would mean, “give allegiance to,” “tend to the needs of,” “be supportive of,” or “be responsive to.”

There is also a military meaning to this term, referring to taking a position in a line of soldiers. In this sense, there is no reference to rank or status – it was an equal sharing of the task for which the soldiers were ordered.

PAM—I love the way the words “submit to” are explained in the Greek. Yes it is a command of God, but it has to be from the heart, otherwise it is a totally empty action. Just like our kids can obey our instruction, but if they obey without understanding, or obey to stay out of trouble, it is not a heart-felt obedience, and we have to go back over it again and again. My submission must be a voluntary action of the heart, to think about my husband’s needs, to be supportive of him. My submission has to come for a heart that is reverent. 1 Peter 3 tells us as wives that our reverence for Christ is of great worth to God. My reverence and my submission have to come from a grateful heart, a heart that has a healthy fear of God, then it will be real, my husband will feel that I am giving my allegiance to him.

When Mike was explaining the military definition of this word, I saw this picture in my mind of husband and wife moving together as one, just as we see a line of militia do in the movies. And that was really God’s plan that we come together as one in marriage.

In this short passage, Paul commands husbands to love their wives no less than three times. In English, the meaning of the word “love” has become somewhat scattered meaning everything from enjoyment of something to sexual intercourse. Because of this, the translation of Paul’s “husband love your wives” can be hard to interpret.

Paul’s word of choice in this passage is agapao (ah-ga-PAH-o), which is an active verb. We recognize the more popular noun form AGAPE. But the verb form is not so much a matter of emotion as it is an attitude and action. Paul’s use of the word parallels hupotasso. Both involve giving up your own self-interest to serve or care for another’s.

In Mark 10:42-45 it reads: 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers (archea) of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Christ’s aim was not to boss the church, but to purify it and sanctify it. In this sense, husbands are to be head (kephale) of their wives, not to lord it over them, but to love them and serve them, just as wives are to be supportive of and serve their husbands.

So, after learning all of this, let’s look at Ephesians 5:21-33 in its new translation:

Be supportive of one another. Wives, be supportive of your husbands, as of the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife-that is, going ahead of her-in the same way that Christ is head of the church by being Savior of the body. But as the church is supportive of Christ, so let wives also be supportive of their husbands in everything. Husbands, be responsive to the needs of your wives as Christ has been to the church and gave himself up for her, in order that he might make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in all glory, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she should be holy and unblemished. So husbands ought also respond to the need of their wives as to their own bodies. He who responds to the need of his own wife is responding to his own needs. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.” This mystery is great, but I say it in reference to Christ and the church. However, let each and everyone of you respond to the needs of his wife as to his own needs, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Just a bit of research, and little bit of Greek, can radically change our marriages!