Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 5:31

ἀντὶ τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν παρέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν. For this reason a man will leave the father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will be into one flesh.

After having stated that a husband should love his wife in the same way that he loves his body, just as Christ does for the church, Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 from the Septuagint. He quotes, “For this reason . . .” Husbands do not hate their wives but nourish and care for them. Instead, they love their wives, because they are joined together with their wives as one person. The quote continues, “. . . a man will leave his father and mother . . .” The word “his” is not in this portion of the text. In fact, there are two similar variants that should be addressed. A handful of witnesses do not have the articles preceding “father” and “mother” (B, F, G, and the original hand of D). However, the rest of the witnesses include the article (Papyrus 46, א, Origen, 1739, al). Since the article is not disputed preceding “wife” later in the sentence, it is at least possible that the aforementioned articles were inserted at a later date for stylistic reasons. Although it is plausible that the articles were added later, it seems less probable, for the original text being quoted has the articles. Then again, the Septuagint also includes αὐτοῦ after “father.” Without αὐτοῦ, the articles seem to be necessary to bring a sense of definiteness. Since the Septuagint included the articles, because the article does precede “wife” later in the sentence, and since the overwhelming majority of the witnesses include the articles, we are concluding that they were probably the original reading. As a result, based on the phrase τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, we can supply “his” in regards to the “father” and the “mother.” The quotation in full thus far is, “A man will leave his father and his mother and will be joined to his wife.” A man leaves and then is joined. “He will leave,” καταλείψει, bears the idea of desertion and separation. He is leaving his parents behind for his wife. “He will be joined,” προσκολληθήσεται, bears the idea of being glued or stuck to something. A man becomes glued to his wife. He leaves and then cleaves. This cleaving results in a union in which the man and the woman are joined together, so that the two become one. The preposition εἰς + accusative here seems to be the result of a Semitic influence, so instead of translating it as “and the two will be into one flesh,” we should change it to read “and the two will become one flesh.”

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Husbands, you have been joined to your wives. You have been glued to them. You have been united with your wives into new persons. You and your wives are one. Treat them as you would treat yourselves, for you are no longer two separate individuals, but rather you are one person! How do you want to be treated? You should treat your wives in the same way. You would want to have food and clothing for yourselves, so also provide food and clothing for your wives. You might want provision for your mental well-being, such as time to sit in front of the television. But your wives might want provision for their own mental well-being, such as spending time with you talking without any sort of distractions. It is important that you make provisions for both. Remember, to love your wives is to love your own bodies. It is to your benefit to love your wives, for after all the two of you are no longer separate individuals but two halves to the whole. To care for your wives is to care for the whole. You simply cannot go wrong when you love your wives.

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