Original Research

‘For the husband is the head of the wife’: A contextual re-reading of Ephesians 5:22–33 among Nigerian Yoruba Christians

Solomon O. Ademiluka
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 1 | a2613 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i1.2613 | © 2021 Solomon O. Ademiluka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 March 2020 | Published: 04 February 2021

About the author(s)

Solomon O. Ademiluka, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

For many African readers, Ephesians 5:22–24 indeed reinforces the patriarchal view of marriage in which the wife is subjugated under her husband’s rule. Hence, with specific focus on the Yoruba, this article examines Ephesians 5:22–33 with a view to assessing its relevance for Christian marital relationship in Nigeria. The target population is those Nigerian Christians who have the notion that Ephesians 5:22–24 entrenches the patriarchal view of marital relationship. The article employs the exegetical and descriptive methods. It finds that, in Ephesians 5:22–6:9, Paul borrows the pattern of the Greek household codes, but mitigates the absolute authority of the male head of the house. Instead, he likens the authority of the Christian husband over his wife to Christ’s headship over the church. As Christ gave himself up for the church, the Christian husband should place greater value on the well-being of his wife over his own well-being. Understood in this way, the passage is relevant to Nigerian Christians in several ways. In the Nigerian context, the command to wives to be submissive to their husbands means that the wife should submit to her husband as one who has authority over her. In exercising his authority, the Nigerian Christian should seek his wife’s pleasure and comfort over his own. Finally, the church should be involved in getting husbands to understand their authority in the manner of Christ’s sacrificial love.

Keywords

household codes; marital relationship; headship; submission; Nigerian Christians

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