Body-Building-Bride: A Theology of Church in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
A Biblical Theology Paper Submitted to Clinton Arnold, Ph.D.
In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements of the Course Exegesis in Ephesians TTNT 644
by Laura K. Springer, November 16, 2005
Description of the Images: Bride
Bride (gune; woman, wife) is used nine times in Ephesians (Eph. 5:22ff, 28, 31, 33). All nine instances refer to human wives directly and to the church by analogy.
In 5:22-33, the church is presented as a bride submitting to her husband. She is loved, sanctified, cleansed, and made glorious by him and for him. She is united as one flesh with him. While the body and building metaphors communicate the inherent connection of the church and Christ, it is the image of the bride that shows the intimacy of that connection. It is a connection of choice: Christ’s choice to love and the church’s choice to submit. Both choices are done willingly and not by force of habit or duty. Best remarks, “This picture of the Church as Wife of Christ has taken us, perhaps, further into the relationship of Christ and the Church than any other because it shows us both sides of that relationship; dependence and obedience on one side; love and unity on the other.” [i] There is a necessary mutuality between Christ and the church. This mutuality consists in the choice to be and to do for the good of the other. Christ’s love for the church is not mere emotion, but a willing choice of self-sacrifice. The church’s response is willing submission. [ii] Minear summarizes: “The image stresses the wife’s role of subjection and obedience and the husband’s role of self-sacrifice and authority. Their mutual interdependence is so intimate and so permanent that the two become one body.” [iii]
for Bibliography see introduction
i Best 179
ii Metzger 60
iii Minear 55
Summary and Theological Conclusions