Prince | | 5:55 p.m.
It’s important, of course, to keep in mind the world in which Paul and his audience lived. The structure of that world centered around the pater familias [father of the family] as the ruler and authority over an economic/familial unit— the household, which consisted of the ruling patriarch, his wife, children and slaves. Paul doesn’t try to fight against the cultural structure, but counsels the Ephesian church on how Christian marriage can work within it.
The husbands were the ones with control in that society. Wives were not in a position to be able to make any substantive changes to turn marriage as it was understood, into marriage as the Lord wanted it in the church. It was husbands who had that power. So husbands are instructed to imitate Christ’s love for the church. But the specific picture/illustration given them to imitate is not one of authority and leadership, but of giving and sacrifice. Husbands were told to love their wives the way Christ loved the church when He gave Himself up for her—gave up His power and position to come down to the level of a servant— so that He could raise the church up to His holiness.
And the purpose of the emptying was glorification. What Christ does for the church, in this illustration that marriages are to emulate, is raise the church up to be glorious! How could husbands in that culture, understanding the chiastic sandwich structure and thus grasping Paul‘s true message, have understood anything other than that they were to raise their wives out of their lowly position into a glorious one?