Marriage: The Mystery Revealed
I, as any probably should, feel entirely insufficient to even present these things. Thankfully, God’s Word is sufficient and as the Lord keeps me faithful to it, I can present these things and pray that His Spirit will teach us.
There is a great mystery indeed to the covenant of marriage. It is both a real covenant between a man, woman and God as well as symbolism for Christ and His Bride. Earthly marriage is an imperfect union of imperfect people amidst an imperfect world. However, the beauty of God’s workings is that He can take something so imperfect and allow us to be used to show forth the beautiful perfect truth of Christ and His Bride! The first mention of this comes in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This is part of the creation account! God created the universe, all living things then marriage. And we note that this happened before the fall of man. It’s significant in that this was a perfect marriage! These were two perfect people. The first Adam and his bride, Eve. Thus, this was a perfect picture of what Christ would come to do — especially for His Bride!
The Creation of Marriage
Adam was made to realize that there was none among all the creatures of his nature, that was fit to be a companion of his; to him must this be referred and not to God. It’s not as if God looked for a help meet for him among the creatures, and could find none.
Adam was alone, round about set by wild animals. There were none fit for him. None according to his nature. This was the time before God has put the fear of man into the animals. Everything was perfect harmony. But the first Adam was alone. However, God had placed him here on this earth for a purpose. God instituted marriage to show forth Christ. But first, He had to create woman. Notice in verse 21 what the Lord did. There was a deep sleep; a supernatural sleep induced on Adam. God would use this first Adam to create his bride for him. His new bride was not made from the world. She was not to be compared with the animals or the earth or the dust. This was Adam’s own flesh! Thus, we see him proclaim, verse 23, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh! She would be called woman because she was taken out of man; she was part of man! (I hope you see what we’re getting at here. After this description, we had an interestingly placed statement in verse 24 which we will pick up in a bit more detail shortly.) Behold, the first marriage. Man and woman. At first, Adam was his own flesh, his own body. After the creation of woman, Adam declares, NOT GOD, take note of that men! Adam declares she is of him. And the Scriptures say they shall be one flesh.
Marriage As the Shadow of Christ
The first Adam was to be a picture of the Last Adam. And every piece bears so much resemblance. God is a God of detail.
The leaving of father and mother foretold of Christ's coming forth from the Father, and coming into this world in human nature, and His disregard to His earthly parents, in comparison with His people and service for them. The man cleaving to the wife very aptly expresses the strong affection of Christ to His church, and the close communion between them. Adam was before Eve, so Christ was before His church. Eve was made from him while he was asleep, which came from the Lord, and it was a supernatural sleep, a suffering of the removal of a rib and God awakening him. The physical suffering and death of Christ, which were from the Lord, and were not common; and are the redemption of His bride and people. He secured their comfort and happiness and wellbeing as well as the removal of loneliness, ushering in what Jesus calls life abundant. She was taken out of his side and made up of one of his ribs; Christ’s redeemed, those whom God makes fit for Him are in all senses from the water and the blood which issued out of his side, when on the cross. (John 19:34) It was God that brought Eve to Adam; made out of him and brought not against her will. It is God that draws souls to Christ, and further espouses them to Him, even the same that he has chosen in him, and Christ has redeemed by His blood; and to the same are they brought, who was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their sins; and they are made willing in the day of his power upon them, to come and give themselves to him. Adam’s beautiful proclamation of Eve to be his wife, foreshadows Christ's happiness and acknowledgment of the saints, as being of Him, and His, when they are brought unto Him under the power of His grace and Spirit.
The New Testament Mystery Revealed
Now let’s look at the New Testament’s exhortation by Paul on marriage.
Ephesians 5:22—properly, uniquely one's own, peculiar to the individual. 2398 /ídios ("uniquely one's own") is "stronger than the simple possessive pronoun ('own'). This emphatic adjective means 'private, personal’. Why? Verse 23. The husband is a picture of Christ as the head of the church AND savior of the body.
We misquote or forget this second part all too often.
Yes, we know Christ is the head of the church. But He is also the savior of the body.
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands because he emulates the Head of the church and the savior of the body. Therefore, as verse 24 says, be subject to him in all things. That is, both physically and spiritually. The husband is pictured as your spiritual head and the one who will save and protect your physical body.
What a calling, men!
But Paul, being equal and just, being inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these things now further addresses the men. See, the piece before also addresses the men. That’s how marvelous God’s Word is in working.
Look at V25: He gave Himself for it, that is, His kind of churches. She is a New Testament Baptist Bride…but more on that in a moment. Husbands, remember, in verse 23 we’re called to emulate and imitate Christ as the Head of the church. Now, Paul is expounding on what all that entails. Take note. This is for us. This is how we are to treat and live for our wives, men!
Then there's V26: Jesus gave Himself that He might sanctify and cleanse by the Word…husbands, are you doing that? Are you admonishing and teaching and strengthening your wife with the word that she might be sanctified and cleansed from this nasty flesh?
In V27 He does so and it comes back on Him. In other words, husbands if you think your wife has spot or blemish or wrinkle - that is, something in her life that is less than savory - it is your responsibility from verse 26 to be used of God that He might work in her!!! DO NOT MISS THIS.
The wife, being submitted to the husband, is representation of him and how he lives. The husband that loves his wife, loves his own body. But why? Verses 28 through 30 give us a clear understanding. Adam proclaimed, she is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones! In turn, what you do and how you treat and how you lead her, you do unto yourself. That’s why Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 in verse 31. There it is. There’s the creation of woman and marriage in the New Testament, in reference ultimately to Christ and His Bride!
How do we know that? Well, we just read on. He says this is a great mystery. The joining of two people as one flesh. But here’s the answer and revealing of that mystery: Marriage is for the glory of God to display a picture of Christ and his kind of church; moreover, a particular picture of Christ and His bride! And just to make sure we don’t lose sight of the earthly realm we’re called in, Paul yet reminds us again in verse 33. Do love your wife as yourself. And wife, show respect unto your husband. In doing so, the husband pictures the beauty of Christ’s intimacy and love for His church that He built and the wife pictures the utmost reverence we should have for Christ and especially His church.
What Does It Mean to Love Like This?
This is a hotly debated and misunderstood topic.
Here’s what happens in most marriages. We all know. We see it. We do it. We’re guilty. Take heed. We think that our spouse is there for us. Woman was taken from man as a helper fit for him, yes. But what is the kind of love that Christ displayed? It is nothing less than complete sacrificial and humble love. This displays the deepest of intimacies experienced by Christ and His Bride. Christ loved so much that He gave Himself—all of Himself.
Are we loving like that men? Women, are you allowing your husband to love you like that?
What does that mean exactly? I Corinthians 7:1—5 answers it best.
Lest we seem to take it out of context, let’s be clear. Here, in particular, Paul is being very precise about the marriage bed. That’s obviously why he says what he does in verse 1. The text due benevolence can be rendered what is due to her or the her due love. This is very important because of the next sentence.
The wife has not power over her own body nor does the husband. Still speaking of the marriage bed, Paul goes on to say “Don’t defraud or deprive one another of what is due unto each other, in this context, the marriage bed. Unless, it’s together for prayer and fasting…in order that Satan wouldn’t tempt the other spouse.” I think that’s pretty clear why and how the adversary would do that. Yet, this due benevolence extends far past this instance. It is the love due unto one another. It is not to get something. It is to give all to the other. Your body is not your own but now their property, if you will, and vice versa. Thus, all you do must be for their good first. In this way you are treating yourself well because they are yours.
Marriage, according to the Bible, is a calling to be a helper fit for one another. It’s not that God has brought you a helper…of course and obviously, He has, if you’re married. But the thought we need to see is that WE’RE that helper! Christ came as the Servant of Servants. He asked nothing of anyone. He came to die for His people and doubly so to redeem His Bride. Marriage is not about being served. It's goal is to serve.
Let me give some examples:
The Bible says to do all things preferring another over yourself. He says that to the house of faith; how much more should that apply to our spouse whom we’ve covenanted with before God? Think about the implications here. God gives us talents, blessings, energy, wisdom not to keep to ourselves. He has given these things that we might glorify Him.
Marriage is the direct symbol of Christ and His church and namely His Bride. That couldn’t be any stronger of words. Do our marriages look like Christ and His love for His church? If not, we need to take an account of what’s going on. Marriage must be worked through Galatians 5:22, 23.
You Are Bought With A Price
You are your spouse’s. As Song of Solomon says, “I am my beloved’s and He is mine.”
You were bought with a price even in marriage. Your spouse has said, I am giving you my life for the help and comfort and wellbeing of your life. You must devote the same manner of love and commitment to the marriage.
I Corinthians 6:20,
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
If we are to imitate and be a picture of Christ in marriage we must understand that we are one another’s and we must glorify God as such. I must glorify God as the servant of my wife in my body and my spirit. The same applies to her. And it applies to both of us because Christ bought us with a price and we are now one flesh. We honor one another, preferring each other over ourselves because that is the picture of Christ and His love for His church; and especially His bride.
So who is His Bride? We hear a lot of discussion about this. Much ink has been spent on the topic. Clearly, she is a Baptist bride and a very particular one.
See it this way: As the bridegroom, I chose a very particular woman. She had to be of my faith, who I deemed beautiful, faithful and true - strictly by my own choosing. No one told me to marry her. No one made me. I chose her freely. I took her as my bride and have given my life to her in service and love.
Christ has done the same thing. His Bride must come from His church (from Him). She is beautiful because of His righteousness on her, she must be faithful and true. And it’s up to Him to choose out who that is within His churches. He loves her so much that He has given His very life for her!
If Christ has done this and marriage is the picture of that, how are we displaying that?
The mystery of marriage is to teach us how important the Lord's churches are to Christ. The revealing of that mystery is through our marriage here on Earth. By us living out the marriage according to Scripture, we are able to look into our own lives and see a fleeting glimpse of just how glorious it will be one day when the Lord comes back to take His bride!