Heading into my last section of my ETS paper on Ephesians 5:18 and the following household code. The focus of the paper is to build an exegetical foundation for church growth (the definition, outputs, and outcomes). For those interested and keeping up on my study, here is the introduction to the last section (or at what appears as the last section for now.
The Ephesians 5 household code passage is perhaps one of the more contentious texts concerning Christian approaches to marriage and, generally, for the inferences made from it regarding the “biblical” role of women in the church and in society. There are three general categories for how the Ephesians wives-husband passage (5:22-33 and other NT women/wives related texts) is classified in regards to Christian-related concepts of the “role of women.” There is the patriarchy view that leaves the man as the sole authority within the family and central to all social ordering in and outside the church. In regards to marriage, women exist to be wives for the purpose of serving the male. The complementarian view, on the other hand, understands that men and women are equals as image bearers of God and both, as Christians, are equal with respect to salvation and their position before God, equally valued in the sight of God. However, their roles and responsibilities within the church are not equal; women ought not to serve in positions of church lay-leadership (i.e., elders, under-shepherds, etc.) or in ordination as pastors. In marriage and within the household, women are to submit to their husband’s spiritual and decision-making leadership. Finally, the egalitarian (or mutuality) view promotes gender equality, viewing home-life as co-partners sharing equally in all aspects of married life and advocates for the inclusion of women in all leadership roles and offices within the Christian community and in the church.
In light of our contextual observations in the last section, however, we should consider another paradigm to determine Paul’s intentions for his use of the household code (5:22-6:9) following his command to be filled in Spirit (5:18). There is a strong and dynamic intra-textual relationship between the Ephesians 5 filling command, the following household code, and the church as temple (Eph 2:19-22; 5:18-6:9). This suggests that the relationship-trio (5:22-6:9) functions as the architecture of the temple-church, that is, at least in part, a manner in which the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in Spirit (Eph 2:21-22). In other words, Paul harnesses the concept of the well-established Roman household code or table for at least one answer to the questions How does the temple-church grow? and, in light of the command to be filled in Spirit, How is the temple-church being built together into a dwelling of God in Spirit? The Eph 5:15-6:9 pericope, then, should be considered a potential church growth text that presents potential trajectories that promote growth outputs and outcomes beyond numbers of people.
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