Ephesians 5:21-6:9 is one of the most misinterpreted texts and has caused some of the deep destruction.
- It has been used to marginalize women
- To advocate for a hierarchy between men and women
- To inflict upon men an unhealthy pressure to “perform strength” that should never have been put on them
- It has been used to justify slavery
The sad thing is that a deeper understanding of this passage actually does the opposite in many ways:
- This passage advocates for significant moves away from the marginalization of women (especially in the 1st century context)
- I believe this passage elevates both women AND men to equality and mutuality
- I believe this passage shows that service is true strength not might and power.
- I believe this passage speaks about the 1st century cultural practice of slavery in a way that likely led towards early ancient abolitionist movements.
Here are the slides from the sermon on this topic: Sermon Slides
There are many resources on interpreting this passage, but some of the best work at making high level scholarship accessible is from Joy and Bruce Fleming. Dr. Joy Fleming has done significant research and her husband Bruce has written short books and recorded podcasts as resources. You can them all here at their website: https://tru316.com/
- The podcasts can be found on their site or here: Beyond Eden Apple Podcasts
- Bruce’s book specifically on Ephesians 5:15-6:9 – The Great Mystery Revealed
- For a scholar level book with various writers on mutuality and gender equality.
- For exegesis on Paul’s letters looking at this subject.