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Love and Respect? Eph. 5:33

The term PHOBEO is used expressly of the wife toward husband.  Eph 5:33 “wife that she fear [her] husband”. (Yes, I know that moderns like to read that as “respect” but the Greek is phobeo and all 90 other occurrences in the AV are translated “fear” and “be afraid” (see BLB)

I noticed that the Ephesians 5-6 periscope uses the word “fear”/phobeo/phobos in two other instances:

Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (phobos) of God.

Eph 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear (phobos) and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Does the latter sound like what one thinks of as “respect”? I don’t think so! This phobos/phobeo TREMBLES. That sounds like FEAR not “respect” to me!

Husbands are not always Christlike and do not always render “perfect love which casts out fear”.  I could write a book on that, but I’ll refrain and leave it at that.

I find this validating. This passage is not about God setting up some impossible bar for wives, a hoop we need to jump through, a brick wall against which we must dutifully bash our heads or else we have “failed”.  Quite the contrary, the instruction to wives to phobeo captures what being in a wife’s skin feels like.

The passage nowhere tells the wife to “love”. Yes, every Christian has a duty to love even our enemies as ourselves, but WHY does GOD leave out agape “love” when talking to wives about marriage? I think GOD does that because HE is merciful. HE knows that I cannot MAKE my husband love me and lay down his life for me. I cannot MAKE him obey God’s commands to him. When he isn’t submitting to GOD’s word and will, then he is dangerous and God knows it. I am designed by God to be insecure and FEAR when married to a man who is living for himself and that is OK, just as it was OK for the slave to fear and tremble. GOD UNDERSTANDS! It is also OK that my heart is hidden from my husband. 1 Peter says it will be. A wife cannot expose the deepest treasures of her heart; she cannot trust her pearls to one who will turn and rend her and trample them underfoot. She is not safe being vulnerable like that with a man who is living for himself. Its OK to be afraid, to fear him and the damage he is capable of inflicting.

Meanwhile the treasures of her heart are very precious to GOD. GOD says the hidden person of her heart is of great value to HIM (1 Peter 3:4). GOD says “daughter of Sarah, do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (1 Peter 3:6). GOD says “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your GOD”. GOD says “perfect love casts out fear”. I am imperfect, HE is perfect. I press in to HIM that I may be comforted and feel HIS perfect love, that He would grant me, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner woman, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3)

So, what about “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear (phobos) of God.” Eph 5:21??? A couple does not just get away with doing marriage the Gen 3:16 way. The consequences are painful, the cost is high. Be afraid, be very afraid!


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