“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:31 NIV
Earlier in this letter to the Ephesians, Paul talked about a mystery that had been revealed. This mystery was that Jews and Gentiles had been united together into one body in Christ. But here, amid his instructions to wives and husbands, Paul mentions another mystery. A profound mystery.
Paul references Christ and his Church throughout this discussion of wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. The Church’s submission to Christ is the model for wives. And Christ’s love for the Church is the model for husbands. At the heart of this is the idea that husband and wife are one body, as Christ and his Church are one.
Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 to provide a Scriptural basis for this union of two into one. And then expressed what he called a profound mystery. Genesis 2:24 is in some way tied to Christ and his Church. I do not pretend to understand this mystery fully. But it does relate to the intimate relationship that exists between them.
Marriage as a Model
No human relationship better mirrors the relationship between Jesus and his Church than marriage. Not all marriages approach the idea Paul lays out here. And some bear no resemblance to it. But this biblical model of marriage gives us insight into the intimacy between Jesus and his Church. And that should serve as a model for us in our marriages.