That he might sanctify and cleanse it - The Church is represented as the spouse of Christ, as the woman is the spouse of the man; and, to prepare this Church for himself, he washes, cleanses, and sanctifies it. There is certainly an allusion here to the ancient method of purifying women, who were appointed to be consorts to kings; twelve months, it appears, were in some instances spent in this purification: Six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors and with other things, for the purifying of women. See the case of Esther, Esther 2:12; see also Psalm 45:13, Psalm 45:14; Ezekiel 16:7-14.
With the washing of water - Baptism, accompanied by the purifying influences of the Holy Spirit.
By the word - The doctrine of Christ crucified, through which baptism is administered, sin canceled, and the soul purified from all unrighteousness; the death of Christ giving efficacy to all.
That he might sanctify - The great object of the Redeemer was to purify and save the church. The meaning here is, that a husband is to manifest similar love toward his wife, and a similar desire that she should be prepared to “walk before him in white”.
And cleanse it with the washing of water - In all this there is an allusion doubtless to the various methods of purifying and cleansing those who were about to be married, and who were to be united to monarchs as their brides. In some instances this previous preparation continued for twelve months. The means of purification were various, but consisted usually in the use of costly unguents; see Esther 2:12. “Six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with other things for the purifying of women;” compare Psalm 45:13-14; Ezekiel 16:7-14. As such a virgin was purified and prepared for her husband by washing and by anointing, so the church is to be prepared for Christ. It is to be made pure and holy. Outwardly there is to be the application of water - the symbol of purity; and within there is to be holiness of heart; see the notes on 2 Corinthians 11:2, where Paul says of the Corinthians, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
By the word - There has been much diversity of opinion respecting the meaning of this. Probably the sense of the expression is, that all this was to be accomplished by the instrumentality of the truth - the Word of God. By that truth they were to be sanctified John 17:17; and in accordance with that the whole work from the commencement to the close was to be accomplished. It was not by external ceremonies, and not by any miraculous power on the heart, but by the faithful application of truth to the heart.
Religion Ensures Family Happiness—Family religion is a wonderful power. The conduct of the husband toward the wife and of the wife toward the husband may be such that it will make the home life a preparation for entrance to the family above.1 AH 94.1
Hearts that are filled with the love of Christ can never get very far apart. Religion is love, and a Christian home is one where love reigns and finds expression in words and acts of thoughtful kindness and gentle courtesy.2 AH 94.2Read in context »
Each Has Individual Responsibilities—The two who unite their interest in life will have distinct characteristics and individual responsibilities. Each one will have his or her work, but women are not to be valued by the amount of work they can do as are beasts of burden. The wife is to grace the family circle as a wife and companion to a wise husband. At every step she should inquire, “Is this the standard of true womanhood?” and, “How shall I make my influence Christlike in my home?” The husband should let his wife know that he appreciates her work.1 AH 114.1
The wife is to respect her husband. The husband is to love and cherish his wife; and as their marriage vow unites them as one, so their belief in Christ should make them one in Him. What can be more pleasing to God than to see those who enter into the marriage relation seek together to learn of Jesus and to become more and more imbued with His Spirit?2 AH 114.2Read in context »
Affection may be as clear as crystal and beauteous in its purity, yet it may be shallow because it has not been tested and tried. Make Christ first and last and best in everything. Constantly behold Him, and your love for Him will daily become deeper and stronger as it is submitted to the test of trial. And as your love for Him increases, your love for each other will grow deeper and stronger. “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. 7T 46.1
You now have duties to perform that before your marriage you did not have. “Put on therefore, ... kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering.” Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” Give careful study to the following instruction: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.... Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 5:2, 22-25. 7T 46.2
Marriage, a union for life, is a symbol of the union between Christ and His church. The spirit that Christ manifests toward the church is the spirit that husband and wife are to manifest toward each other. 7T 46.3Read in context »
Like every other one of God's good gifts entrusted to the keeping of humanity, marriage has been perverted by sin; but it is the purpose of the gospel to restore its purity and beauty. In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people, the redeemed ones whom He has purchased at the cost of Calvary. “Fear not,” He says; “thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.” Isaiah 54:4, 5; Jeremiah 3:14. In the “Song of Songs” we hear the bride's voice saying, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His.” And He who is to her “the chiefest among ten thousand,” speaks to His chosen one, “Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.” Song of Solomon 2:16; 5:10; 4:7. MB 64.1
In later times Paul the apostle, writing to the Ephesian Christians, declares that the Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife, to be her protector, the house-band, binding the members of the family together, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Saviour of the mystical body. Therefore he says, “As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 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. So ought men to love their wives.” Ephesians 5:24-28. MB 64.2
The grace of Christ, and this alone, can make this institution what God designed it should be—an agent for the blessing and uplifting of humanity. And thus the families of earth, in their unity and peace and love, may represent the family of heaven. MB 65.1Read in context »