April 8, 2021

What Do Colossians 3:18-19 Mean?

What Do Colossians 3:18-19 Mean?

Colossians 3:18-19 (NIV) 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.


Hey, welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth. 

In today’s verse from Colossians chapter 3 Paul begins a new section giving us specific instructions for working out our Christianity in everyday relationships. Today, Paul addresses the relationship between the wife and husband as he writes in verse 18, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.”

Now, to understand how radical Paul’s statement was here to the 1st Century Church, we need to look at the culture in which this letter was received. 

Within the Jewish law, a woman was simply a possession of her husband. She had no legal rights whatsoever. In ancient Greek society, a respectable woman would live her life in seclusion. She never appeared in public alone. She lived in apartments for women and would not even join with her husband at mealtime. Men were free to do whatever they wanted, including having as many extramarital affairs they desired without incurring any stigma from society. In both Jewish and Greek laws, the husband had all the privileges and the duties belonged to the wife. The wife’s whole purpose was to take care of her husband’s needs. End of story. 

Which makes these two verses completely radical because Paul is rewriting the relationship between a husband and his wife. So, the women would hear this first line from Paul that says Wives submit to your husbands, and they’d say, “no kidding Paul. We know that.” 

BUT then Paul says, you men, you are to love your wives. And the men would’ve said, “woah, Paul. That’s not how this works. That woman is there to take care of me. I don’t have to love her.”

Plutarch, an ancient Greek philosopher and biographer wrote of Roman men who “rage bitterly against their wives.” Men of this time were instructed to rule over their wives.

And Paul comes in and says, “That’s not going to cut it anymore. Men, you are to love your wives with the same kind of love that our Lord Jesus modeled for us.And this wasn’t your romantic sappy kinda love either. This word here for love is agape love. Meaning you are willing to practice self-denial, without expecting anything in return. 

This was absolutely scandalous AND life-changing. 

So your Simple Truth for today: In our marriage, both wife AND husband are to imitate Christ who modeled servanthood, submission, and love.


Have a blessed day. I’ll see you again tomorrow.