Rebecca Groothuis – Biblical Submission within Marriage

Thought this might be of interest to a few. You can find the entire paper here.

1. The man is the head of the home, which means he is to run the home, and other family members are required to submit to his God-ordained leadership.

Response: The New Testament says that the man (or husband) is the head of the woman (or wife), not that the man is the head of the home. Moreover, when Paul says this (in two NT passages), he does not use “head” to mean the “boss,” or chief executive, whom underlings must obey. In modern English, “head” is used metaphorically primarily to refer to the person in charge, but in ancient Greek it was also used as a metaphorical reference to “origin” or “source of life.” We need to interpret this term in its cultural context, not according to some cultural pretext of our own.

In 1 Corinthians 11:3, the man is referred to as the head of the woman in the sense that the woman originated from him; this meaning for “head” is followed through in the rest of Paul’s argument in this passage (see verses 8 and 11).

In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul refers to the husband as the head of the wife in the sense that the husband is to give life to his wife by loving her and laying down his own life for her sake, even as Christ did for his body, the church. There is no mention in this passage of authority—either of Christ’s spiritual authority over the church or the civil authority that the husband had over his wife in ancient Greco-Roman society. An understanding of the head as the supplier of life to the body is clearly the sense in which Paul speaks of Christ as the head of the church in Ephesians 4:15-16 and Colossians 2:19

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