“To Make Her Holy” (Ephesians 5:26): Are Husbands Responsible For The Spiritual Maturation Of Their Wives? -- By: David A. Croteau

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 021:1 (Spring 2016)
Article: “To Make Her Holy” (Ephesians 5:26): Are Husbands Responsible For The Spiritual Maturation Of Their Wives?
Author: David A. Croteau


“To Make Her Holy” (Ephesians 5:26):
Are Husbands Responsible For The Spiritual Maturation Of Their Wives?

David Croteau

Professor of New Testament and Greek
Columbia International University
Columbia, South Carolina

I. Introduction

Many pulpits have proclaimed that husbands are responsible for overseeing the spiritual maturity of their wives based upon Eph 5:26. However, reading this passage in context, examining the Greek words used, understanding the Old Testament background to the passage, and thinking through the issue theologically will help clarify Paul’s meaning and provide a proper exegesis and application of the passage.

There are three main categories of interpretation for this passage. The first category I’ve called “Sanctification is the Husband’s Responsibility.” The following authors/pastors have been specifically chosen as examples because they are known for being careful expositors and have ministries that I particularly appreciate. The use of these men should not be seen as an indictment against them, but calling into question their particular use of Eph 5:26-27. “The man is responsible for the spiritual well-being of his wife. Her sanctification is his responsibility. There is probably no male task that has been more neglected in our society than this one.”1 And, “In seeking the sanctification of the church, there is a sense in which Christ seeks to change his wife. So the husband is called to change his wife. But that change is not supposed to ruin her. The change is to be toward a higher conformity to the image of Christ. We should seek to present our wives to Christ as holy and blameless, being without spot or wrinkle!”2 Finally, in discussing Ephesians 5, one author says that “The man who sanctifies his wife understands that this is his divinely ordained responsibility. Men …, do you realize it is your responsibility

to seek your wife’s sanctification?”3 These authors appear to be declaring that Eph 5:26 describes the husband as being responsible for his wife’s progressive sanctification, her growth in holiness.

The second category is a little more fuzzy, where it seems like the husband is responsible but the connection to Eph 5:26 is more ambiguous: “By Implicat...

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