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Volume 14, Issue 4: Husbandry

The Crown of Her Husband

Douglas Wilson

When Scripture teaches that a wife is the crown of her husband, far more is involved than the idea that a wife is a decorative add-on. The apostle teaches us that woman is the glory of man and teaches us further that this is a great mystery. Anyone who believes he has the concept down pat is simply demonstrating that he doesn't have the faintest idea.

As always, the ultimate pattern of this is Christ and the Church. If a woman is the crown of her husband, then the ultimate example of this is the Church considered as the crown of Christ. And this is exactly what we find Paul teaching us throughout the book of Ephesians. When he gets to the famous section on marriage in chapter five, he is not introducing a new subject.
The glory brought to Christ by the Church is not an incidental glory. The greatness of grace can be seen through how much God does in the mystery of redemption. Paul tells us in the first chapter that all things in heaven and on earth are brought together in Christ and united in Him (Eph. 1:10). The marriage of Christ to His bride has cosmic significance.
After his resurrection, Jesus Christ was granted universal dominion far above "all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:21). But it is not as frequently noticed that God has placed all things under His feet, and "gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Eph. 1:22). In plain language, Christ owns everything in heaven and on earth, and this wealth has ramifications for His wife. What He owns, she owns.
She in turn is His body, "the fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23). The Church is married to the One who fills the universe, and she fills Him. How is this possible? A woman is the crown of her husband, and not only is it no different with Christ and the Church, it is preeminently true with Christ and the Church.
Obviously, this is only possible by the infinite grace of the omnipotent God, and even with that proviso, it is still hard to see how it could happen. But Paul, like Moses, is hungry for glory, so long as it is the glory of the only-wise God. He prays that the Ephesians would be given this same hunger to know the glory of the Church.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph. 3:17-1)
Paul prays that they would come to know the unknowable. He wants them to grasp the ungraspable, to pick up the infinite. He wants them to be filled with all the fullness of God, which is like getting the Pacific Ocean into a coffee cup. Filled with all the fullness of God. This is how we can be the fullness of Christ who fills everything in every way. God fills us with His fullness, by grace through faith, and we are made the fullness of Christ.
But these superlative statements are still insufficient for Paul. He goes on to say that God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all this, beyond what we can ask or think. But whatever He does, it will be according to the power at work within us; it will be glory to Him in the Church. This is all possible because we are a habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:22).
When Christ first made His choice of a bride evident, it was the ultimate case of bystanders thinking that it was a crazy choice. But God had a greater purpose in mind, and He had this purpose in mind from before the foundation of the world. He wanted to show the principalities and powers the manifold nature of His wisdom, and He wanted to do it by the Church (Eph. 3:9-10).
So as I said before, when Paul begins teaching on marriage in chapter five, he is not changing the subject. Rather, he is assuming that the husbands have been listening to his teaching on the Church, and they want to know the unknowable, and they want to manifest the glory of Christ's bride throughout heaven and earth. How are husbands to make this declaration? They are to show that they understand through how they treat their own wives. Show what kind of crown the Church is to Christ by making your own wife your glory, your honor and your crown. Husbands, do what Christ did, and you will have what Christ has—a glorious crown. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27). This is far more than a marriage enrichment seminar. "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Eph. 5:32).

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