The apostle Paul continues the theme of Christ’s preeminence by noting His relation to the church and His power over death. The headship of Christ over His church immediately draws our attention to the authority of Christ and His prerogative to oversee and direct His church (Matt. 16:18; 28:18). All things concerning the church are “under His feet,” subservient to Him (Eph. 1:22). The church does not belong to us; it belongs to Jesus. The church is composed of Christians; each one is a member of His body (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 26-27). The church of Christ is His body and is valuable because Jesus loved it and died for it (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-29). To devalue the church is to devalue Jesus Christ. Christ also has power over death. He is the beginning (the origin, the source) of resurrection. Without Him, there would be no power over death. As the “firstborn from the dead,” His resurrection attests to His power and superiority over death (Acts 2:24, 30-32; Rom. 1:4). “Alive forevermore,” Jesus has “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18). With just a few sentences, the Holy Spirit has made the case that Jesus Christ is King, Redeemer, Creator, Firstborn over all creation, Sustainer, Head of the church, and Supreme Victor over death (Col. 1:13-18). Jesus has preeminence in all things. Our faith is secure, our salvation is sure, and our hope is complete in Christ.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24, NKJV)
Secular feminists think this is sexism, male chauvinism, and bigotry. This is a gross misunderstanding and misrepresentation. The relationships of every organization or institution include roles and assignments that enable it to function successfully. Without such structure, relationships fray and falter. So it is with marriage. God-given roles in marriage accomplish their God-given purposes (Gen. 2:18-25). The husband’s role in marriage is to be a servant-leader. He is “head of the wife” like Christ is to His church. The wife’s response to his role is submission. She willingly puts herself under his leadership, not as a fearful slave to an overbearing tyrant, but as a respectful helper who respects and trusts his leadership. Husbands strengthen their marriages when they step up and become spiritual leaders in their marriages. Wives strengthen their marriages when they respect and help their husbands do so. These divine assignments are not about superiority and inferiority. They are about mutual love and respect with Christ at the center of the marital relationship. Unselfish service is at the heart of successful marriage.
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3, NKJV)
One of the apostolic traditions (teachings) we follow as we imitate Christ is respect for and compliance with God’s arrangement of headship. Headship refers to leadership. Whether God, Christ, man or woman, each have a role that is definable and distinguishable. The apostle wanted them to know (perceive, grasp, understand) the orderliness of the headship, for it will lay a foundation for what he will say concerning certain women wearing an artificial covering in the following verses (4-16). Headship is not tyranny, and, following the leadership of one’s head does not make you a slave. Different roles do not mean one is more valuable than another. Headship describes the authority to lead, while implying one’s willing submission to that leadership. Christ willingly follows the will of God the Father. Man serves under Christ and also leads at His direction. Women are to respect to leadership role God gave men, not usurp it. When understood, this principle solves rivalry and produces solidarity with God and Christ, and between men and women. The dereliction of headship, the refusal to respect headship, and the usurping of headship are affronts to God and His order of headship. Once we understand (“know”) headship, we are ready to hear Paul apply this truth to the question of women wearing a covering when praying or prophesying (v. 5).