Tuesday, February 12, 2013

husbands, submit to your wives/pulling down the verb

Good post from Jesus Dust:

Should Wives Submit?

A colleague of mine was recently engaged. And the question arose, as it often does: "How are we going to resolve conflict? Who gets the final say? Who has to submit?"

The linguistic structure of Ephesians 5 yields a helpful insight.

Under the overarching missional heartbeat of this passage (v.15-16 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil) is the reality that before we ever get to instructions for husbands, wives, children, slaves and masters, we get another instruction for all that follow:

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

In the Greek it is unmistakable that submission applies to all who follow, because the word "submit" in "Wives, submit to your husbands" is actually absent. In ancient Greek when a verb is missing from a statement, you pull down the previous verb ("Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ"). This is grammatically true for wives, but structurally true for the rest of them as well. The verb 'submit' is intended to be pulled down on not only wives, but also husbands, children, slaves and masters. So you might interpret it:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, (submit) to your husbands....
Husbands, (submit and) love your wives...
Children, (submit and) obey your parents...
Slaves, (submit and) obey your masters...
Masters, (submit) to your slaves...  CONTINUED

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