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Colossians 3:19

The Husband's Duties

19 Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them.


While wives are instructed to submit themselves to their husbands (v.18), the husbands are given a much stronger responsibility toward their wives. The Greek word that is rendered "love" in our English versions is "agape," a word that we have studied in verse 14 where it is translated as "charity." It is a wholehearted, unconditional, and devoted kind of love

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25) Christ gave Himself for the church, while every member of it was still a sinner, still living in opposition to everything that He cherished. What excuse does a husband then have to turn against his wife or to put her away by divorce or outright abandonment? What right does he have to treat her abusively or as an inferior?

Such unconditional love requires a special kind of understanding. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." (1 Peter 3:7) Husbands should live with their wives according to their knowledge of what the gospel teaches and of what Christ would expect from them. They should also get to know their wives and live with them accordingly... what pleases them, what upsets them, what their life aspirations are and what they expect from their husbands. Men are to honor their wives and not treat them as a lesser person, but should recognize that they are physically weaker and not overburden them. Furthermore, the husbands should understand that their wives are joint heirs to the kingdom of heaven, equally loved and provided for by God. In God's kingdom all are equal. There is neither male nor female.

Lastly, husbands are not to be bitter against their wives. This verb in the Greek text is in the passive voice. They should not allow themselves to be made bitter against their wives. This could indicate that Paul recognized the possibility that wives will not always be perfectly submissive or will not always agree with their husbands. They might even do things that their husbands do not like. It is the husband's task to overcome any resentment, feelings of anger or bitterness toward his wife. This stands to reason, if his love for her is truly the unconditional kind of love that is represented in the word "agape."

If husbands and wives put the advice of Paul into their daily practice, there would be no such thing as a divorce. Christ must be the center of their relationship. He was God the Creator of all things and our Savior, yet He never treated anyone as an inferior person. The respect and love that He demonstrated toward everyone is the example that we are to follow, especially in our own homes.

Before The Throne:

Husbands, pray for your wives and give thanks for them. Wives, do the same for your husbands. Single men and women pray for your future spouse. Ask God to instill the right kind of love, honor and respect in your relationship. Thank Him for caring about your family and for sending His Son to die for their salvation.

For Further Study:

(v.19)
** love. Gen 2:23-24; Gen 24:67; Prov 5:18-19; Eccl 9:9; Mal 2:14-16; Luke 14:26; Eph 5:25, 28-29, 33; 1Pet 3:7; ** bitter. Col 3:21; Rom 3:14; Eph 4:31; Jas 3:14;

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