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Ephesians 5:29-32 NIV

29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

In this passage, Paul is confusing. He changes gears talking about marriage then says he is really talking about Christ and the church. Why?

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Oct 25, 2023 at 14:32
  • @ David the Lessor - One of the ways a person illustrates an important statement is to use an metaphor (or imagery, or allegory). This is typical communication in writing; and "to change gears" is not an accurate way of stating what is going on here in Ephesians 5. Both the statement and the metaphor are in the same gear, said different ways. Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Oct 30, 2023 at 22:53

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The "changing of gears" actually results from a need to avoid confusion, although it apparently has not done that for the OP. It is meant to clarify which type of marriage is a mystery. Both types of marriage - between man and woman and between Christ and the church - are the subjects under discussion beginning with 5:23a:

The husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church...

The statement "this is a great mystery" refers to the marriage of Christ and the church. However, it immediately follows the saying that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is no mystery, for it pertains to a normal physical marriage. So the phrase "but I am talking about Christ and the church" serves to clarify that the "great mystery" refers to the marriage of Christ and the church, not man and woman.

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At the beginning of the quotation, Paul makes a comparison between a man's treatment of his own body and the way Christ treats "his body", the church. The same thing is happening at the end of the quotation. Paul is inviting us to consider the similarity between the marriage relationship and the relation between Christ and the church.

This should be compared with the extensive O.T. tradition of treating the Lord as "husband" of his people Israel. In many people's opinion, including mine, that is the message of the Song of Solomon. Ezekiel ch16 describes how the Lord protected Israel and brought her up to be his bride. The first three chapters of Hosea complain about Israel as an adulterous wife. And so on.

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Baptism/wedding. A time to celebrate commitment. A time to ask the community to hold us accountable to our commitment. Understand either commitment we understand both.

There is no way out of either commitment (no matter what people say)

1 Corinthians 7:39 KJV

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

Hebrews 6:4-8 NIV

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Oct 25, 2023 at 16:28

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