Friday, April 5, 2013

John Locke on Ephesians 5

John Locke's paraphrase on 5:21-24:
Submit yourselves one to another, in the fear of God. As for example, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, or, as being members of the church, you submit yourselves to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ himself is the head of the church, and it is he, the head, that preserves that his body; so stands it between man and wife. therefore, as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their husbands, in everything.
His notes are quiet interesting. He draws the 'source' analogy that many have picked up on, stating, "it is from the head that the body receives its healthy and vigorous constitution of health and life." Locke does go on to explain the wife's reasonable subjection to her husband, and the duty of the husband to cherish and preserve his wife.

Interestingly, Locke links the paragraphs together, beginning with v21. He calls this "introductory to what follows in this section, and to be a general rule given to the Ephesians, to submit to those duties, which the several relationships they stood in, to one another, required of them." What is far more intriguing is that Locke viewed the model of Christ applying to both husbands and wives, in stating women submit like Jesus did, but also that this seems to have a purifying effect of men. Locke and Paul are careful to keep this balance.

Curiously, Locke never explicitly mentions authority, but draws the Christ analogy, and even compares this to the "one flesh" image found in Genesis 2. While one could argue that he seems to slightly favor a complementarian view of household relationships here, in other sections (1 Cor 11 and 14) Locke has a strongly egalitarian viewpoint. He even went on to support two women preachers after he heard them preach, calling himself a "partner" to them. He also mentions Junia as being "of note" among the apostles.


I think an issue that many miss is that Ephesians 5 is highly balanced in its portrayal of men and women, but the concept of submission and love gets sectioned off by authority, not as self-sacrifice in the model of Christ. Also, since there is no definite article in front of "savior" this is not a title, but is descriptive. Locke picks up hints of this, but doesn't fully explain.


Overall, a fascinating fellow.

--Nick

1 comment:

  1. I would have thought that Locke's paraphrase was the complementarian view, especially if his notes commend "the wife's reasonable subjection to her husband, and the duty of the husband to cherish and preserve his wife."

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