οὕτως ὀφείλουσιν καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες ἀγαπᾶν τὴν ἑαυτῶν γυναῖκας ὡς τὰ ἑαυτῶν σώματα. Thus also husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.
Having now discussed Christ’s love for the church, Paul commands the husbands to love their wives in a similar way. Husbands are morally obligated to love their wives. In what sense are they to love their wives? They are to love their wives as their own bodies. We have seen that Christ loved the church by caring for and tending to her through self-sacrifice. Husbands are morally obligated to love their wives with such sacrificial love.
Note the textual variant here. The conjunction καὶ is not found in several witnesses (א, Ψ, 1739, the Majority text, and Syriac Peshitta). However, καὶ is included by several witnesses (A, D, F, G, P, most of the latin tradition, and Clement), but in a different order, which is as follows: . . . καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες ὀφείλουσιν . . . Additionally, several witnesses include καὶ and provide the text as it appears in the quoted text above (Papyrus 46, B, 33, and Syriac Harklensis). Earlier in Eph. 5, we see a similar structure to what we have in v. 28a. In v. 24, following an analogy, we see this phrase: . . . οὕτως καὶ . . . Note that out of the four times οὕτως is used in Ephesians, only in v. 24 does it have καὶ immediately following. It is possible that the second set of witnesses (A, D, etc.) changed the location of the indicative verb ὀφείλουσιν for two reasons. First, by moving the verb to the end of the four word construction, καὶ becomes first in the word order, thus being immediately after οὕτως. This situation creates a direct parallel between v. 24 and 28a. These witnesses may have been editing the text for stylistic reasons, that is, to make the text easier to see the parallel structure between the two commands for wives and husbands. Second, by moving the verb to the end of the phrase, it is placed directly before the infinitive ἀγαπᾶν. This verb, ὀφείλουσιν, when it means “ought,” precedes an infinitive; by moving it to the end, it cleans up the text and highlights the connection between ὀφείλουσιν and ἀγαπᾶν. For stylistic reasons, it appears that the second set of witnesses were taking what was original and correcting it. The first set of witnesses may have been excluding καὶ for similar reason. Since οὕτως is not used with καὶ immediately following consistently in Ephesians, it is possible that the inclusion of καὶ after the indicative verb was seen to be problematic. Therefore, they could have edited the text to take out the syntactical anomaly. The inclusion of καὶ in the position of the third set of witnesses is odd, as it separates the subject from the verb, the verb separates it from its counterpart οὕτως, and the verb itself is placed farther from its infinitive counterpart. This inclusion seems to be original, because it is the more difficult reading, it has some of the earliest attestation, and from it both of the other two options can be explained. Therefore, we are including καὶ as original and in the order provided in the above quotation.
Thus also husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.
Wives are considered to be the bodies of the husbands. Husbands love their own bodies. They feed, care, clean, rest, and provide for their bodies. They seek to preserve their bodies, so that their bodies will not be harmed and will also have long life. They seek well-being for their bodies. But wives are, by way of analogy, considered to be the bodies of their husbands. Husbands, just as they do for their own bodies, should love their wives in a similar way, providing for them, caring for them, seeking the best for them, not harming them, but preserving them. The principle is simple, and it is not unlike the golden rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).
Physically speaking, husbands are called to provide and care for their wives. Husbands, you would not throw yourselves under a bus? You would not beat yourselves with bats, right? Likewise, as you love your wives, you should treat them as you would treat yourselves, protecting them from abuse, even from yourselves. It also involves provision. Husbands, you feed your bodies with nourishing food. So also should you be nourishing your wives. But this command goes beyond what is physical.
You stimulate your minds, you feed your brains intellectually, even if it is only with sports and television, you socialize with your friends, and you work and put your mind to task. These things are healthy for your body. But you should be loving your wives in a similar way. Communicate and socialize with your wives. Conversations are a good and healthy investment. Spend time alone with your wives without distractions. Participate in household chores. Demonstrate sincere interest in your wives’ daily affairs. Such mental stimulation is important to your wives. It helps the relationship to grow, and it is their mental food that nourishes their well-being, not to mention the mental benefits it gives you as well.
Physically and mentally you are to love your wives, but also emotionally. You do what you must to protect your heart, do you not? Men are emotional beings too. Husbands protect their emotions. Most people do not want to have their feelings hurt. Most people, including men and husbands, will feed their emotions in a way to make themselves be positive and pleasant. We want to feel loved, so we place ourselves into friendships and relationships. We want to be happy, so we listen to music or watch movies that we enjoy. We feed our emotions for our own well being. Likewise, husbands, you need to feed your wives’ emotions. If you are strapped for ideas, consider the following suggestions: love notes, cards, candy, flowers, or romantic weekend getaways or walks on the beach or under the stars; random calls at work or emails; coffee, dinner, or lunch dates; laughing or weeping together. And the list can go on. It is important to connect through all of those little things that become a huge thing, our wives’ emotional well being.
Finally, husbands must not neglect the spiritual well being of their wives. Husbands, just as you would go to church or go to men’s Bible studies, so also should you be investing in your wives’ spiritual well being. Encourage them to go to church conferences (and when possible go with them). Encourage them to sign up for women’s Bible studies, and if you are not already signed up for one, sign up for a men’s Bible study. If you both have the time, sign up for a small group Bible study that you both can participate in. Pray with your wives. Discuss spiritual things with your wives. Serve the church and your community with your wives. Notice the trend here? Not only should you be encouraging your wife to participate in these spiritual practices, but you should also be practicing them yourselves! Wives need not only to be getting fed through these practices, they also need to know that you are also being fed spiritually.
Husbands, simply put, your task is simple, love your wives as you love yourselves. You care for yourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So also should you love your wives.