Theological Motivations: Eph 5.33 Compared to Other NT Household Code Subsection Interpretations

This paper extends and deepens the interpretation of Eph 5.33 proposed by Walsh and Miller (forthcoming, 2023) by comparing Eph 5.33 to the other NT household code subsection endings with a ἵνα+subjunctive or similar combination. Scholars such as Andrew Lincoln have discerned that the dominant structure of these early Christian codes includes the address to the social group, an imperative followed by an amplification of the imperative, and lastly a reason clause providing theological warrant, sanction, or motivation. Of the twenty separate times groups are addressed in NT household codes, ten of these subsections finish with such a dependent purpose or result clause (Eph 6.3b, Col 3.21b, 1 Tim 6.1b, Titus 2.4, 2.5b, 2.8b, 2.10b; 1 Pet 2.24b, 3.1b, 3.7)—eleven if Eph 5.33b is included in this list. Nine of the ten do this by including a ἵνα+subjunctive clause at the end of the subsection. Eph 5.33 offers the same format, adding the reward of the wife’s respect; thus, Walsh and Miller propose the translation: “Indeed, as for you individually, each husband among you must love his own wife as himself so that the wife may respect her husband.” Therefore, in this passage the Ephesians author links Gen 2.24 (5.31) with Lev 19.18b (5.28, 33) and Jesus’ Second Commandment—now applied to the marital relationship—with the motivation or reward of the wife’s respect. Going further, comparing this motivational phrase to the other NT household code subsections’ interpretations suggests a fuller interpretation of Eph 5.33: another way for the husband and wife to move towards the creational intent for humanity as created in the image of God and the husband/wife relational unity characterized in Gen 2.24 is for the husband to apply Jesus’ Second Commandment in his interactions with his wife.


Walsh, Julie and Jeffery D. Miller. “Translating Ephesians 5.33.” The Bible Translator (2023), (forthcoming).

3 thoughts on “Theological Motivations: Eph 5.33 Compared to Other NT Household Code Subsection Interpretations”

  1. Theological Motivations: Eph 5:33
    This paper develops a thesis that has seemingly been already accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Thus the thesis must have some cogency. Additionally, having a woman presenter in the line up is benefit. Finally, the topic of the household codes can be controversial and controversy generally creates interest.


Leave a Comment