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Ephesians 5:2 and 5:25 are normally taken to refer to Christ dying for the Assembly ("Church"):

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants]

Ephesians 5:2 καὶ περιπατεῖτε ἐν ἀγάπῃ, καθὼς καὶ ὁ χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ὑμᾶς / ἡμᾶς καὶ παρέδωκεν ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν / ἡμῶν προσφορὰν καὶ θυσίαν τῷ θεῷ εἰς ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας.

Ephesians 5:25 Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας, καθὼς καὶ ὁ χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς,

Young's Literal Translation

Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love, as also the Christ did love us, and did give himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell,

Ephesians 5:25 The husbands! love your own wives, as also the Christ did love the assembly, and did give himself for it,

Considered in isolation I certainly see how they could lead to that understanding but as I consider the context it appears to me that Paul isn't talking about dying at all but rather about "walking" (IE: "living"). There is exhortation after exhortation after exhortation about gracious behavior toward one's woman but nothing about dying:

KJV Eph 5:1  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  Eph 5:2  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.  Eph 5:3  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  Eph 5:4  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  Eph 5:5  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Eph 5:6  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Eph 5:7  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  Eph 5:8  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:  Eph 5:9  (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)  Eph 5:10  Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.  Eph 5:11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  Eph 5:12  For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  Eph 5:13  But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  Eph 5:14  Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.  Eph 5:15  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  Eph 5:16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Eph 5:17  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  Eph 5:18  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  Eph 5:19  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  Eph 5:20  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  Eph 5:21  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Eph 5:22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  Eph 5:24  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  Eph 5:26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  Eph 5:27  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.  Eph 5:28  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  Eph 5:29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:  Eph 5:30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  Eph 5:31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  Eph 5:32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Eph 5:33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Even in verse 26 he speaks of sanctifying, cleansing and washing "of water by the word". In John Jesus speaks also of sanctifying his Jewish "Church" by God's word:

Joh 17:6  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.  Joh 17:7  Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.  Joh 17:8  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.  Joh 17:9  I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.  Joh 17:10  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.  Joh 17:11  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  Joh 17:12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.  Joh 17:13  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  Joh 17:14  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Joh 17:15  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  Joh 17:16  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Joh 17:17  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  Joh 17:18  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  Joh 17:19  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  Joh 17:20  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  Joh 17:21  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

In the same chapter Jesus/John follows up with talking about presenting them to himself as a glorious assembly:

Joh 17:22  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  Joh 17:23  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  Joh 17:24  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.  Joh 17:25  O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.  Joh 17:26  And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Might Paul (and John) have in mind the earthly conduct of Jesus in preparing his disciples to be presented to himself in glory rather than a future bride that he did not know or interact with?

Also Hebrews speaks of a sweet smelling sacrifice in the form of "doing good and communicating":

Heb 13:15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.  Heb 13:16  But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

  • Are you a member of the Tau Lambda Delta Rho fraternity ? – Lucian May 28 '18 at 11:29
  • Just take the first of each word. :-) – Lucian May 28 '18 at 11:52
  • @Lucian Okay, "Too Long, Didn't Read". Lol. It is easy to skim. – Ruminator May 28 '18 at 11:55
  • Paul isn't talking about dying at all but rather about "walking" (IE: "living") - Death is part of life. Just ask this guy. :-) – Lucian May 28 '18 at 13:38
  • *****brilliant****** movie (at least the first one). My point is that giving oneself... to present is about Jesus' leadership, not sacrifice per se. – Ruminator May 28 '18 at 13:58
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Ephesians 5:1 Γίνεσθε οὖν μιμηταὶ τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητὰ (NA27) is a much stronger statement than “followers” (KJV). The masculine plural noun μιμηταὶ means “imitators.” It’s where we get the word mimic. How verse 2 relates to verse 1 depends on your Christology. Verse 2 does refer to Christ dying, but does not ask us unnecessarily to die physically. Paul asked us to live by Christ’s example of love. Note Eph. 5:25 that you quote in particular. Paul’s figurative speech related to Christ’s sacrificial death is similar to what he wrote in Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)

There are many more examples in Paul’s writings, such as:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20, ESV)

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phip. 2:1–8, ESV)

Also note in the Gospel of John:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1, ESV)

Immediately after this verse Jesus gave the example of washing the feet of his disciples. With this example Christ showed his love, but he continued to show his love all the way to his death on the cross. Note the verse:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:13–17, ESV)

Thus, Eph. 5:2 isn’t telling us to mimic Christ’s sacrificial death by physically dying on a cross, but is asking us to love with the degree of love that Christ showed in his sacrificial death.

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