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Excellent Study on the Biblical Role of a Wife

Understanding the Biblical role of a wife is a good thing since marriage and the family is God’s design. God created marriage, and with it, He gave specific marital roles to each partner. According to God’s design, husbands and wives have different roles, yet despite their differences, both the husband and wife are equal partners in their marital relationship.

It important for a woman to know her specific role in a marriage, and understanding the Bible verses about the biblical role of a wife will help a good wife to become an even better partner to her husband.

Marriage is the legal union of a man and a woman for life. The purpose of marriage, according to God through the writings of the Apostle Paul, is primarily to prevent sexual immorality. The verse 1 Corinthians 7:2 says, “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

beautiful bride looking at wedding bouquet

This concept of sexual relations to be enjoyed freely, but only within the confines of marriage, is repeated in Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (KJV)

The marriage bed is emphasized here with a stern warning against sexual relations outside of this holy institution. And though sex is an important aspect of marriage, there are so many more parts to the martial relationship than just the physical.

Biblical Role of a Wife — Old Testament

The Bible is for our instruction, both the Old and New Testaments, but in the Old Testament, stories often illustrate godly truths, whose principles relate to us today. Here are some examples of Old Testament wives who give timeless Biblical truth to married women today.

Biblical Role of a Wife — Rebekah and Ruth Left Home for Love

These two young women, separated by several centuries, have something important to say to women today. Both of these women illustrated an important part of a wife’s role in marriage, and both of them left their parents far behind to be with their respective husband.

Rebekah’s life changed drastically when a rich stranger appeared in her city one day, introduced himself, and asked her to accompany him on a far journey back to his master Abraham and become the wife of his master’s son, Isaac. Rebekah willingly went with him. Read the whole story in Genesis chapter 24.

Army man hugging his wife

Ruth was a young widow. Her late husband was an Israelite man who married her and then passed away. When her mother-in-law wanted to return home to Israel, Ruth left all that was familiar to her and moved to the land of Israel to become the wife of Boaz, who became a direct descendant of Jesus Christ.

Both of these women obeyed the instruction given by the first husband, Adam, when he said in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (KJV) This verse seems to be directed solely to husbands, but Rebekah and Ruth also set this example for women.

They left their parents far behind and left home to be with their husband. Both men and women are to leave their parents when they cleave to their spouse. Neither a husband nor a wife can grow properly in their marital role, or even cleave to each other, when they are heavily influenced by either set of in-laws.

Biblical Role of a Wife — The Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31

Perhaps the most famous wife of the Old Testament, who is aptly idealized by Christian wives today, even while Bible scholars debate whether she was an actual woman or rather a composite of the ideal wife, is the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31.

Bible open to Proverbs 31 with hand over the text

This biblical wife described by the mother of King Lemuel (Bible scholars believe that Lemuel is another name for King Solomon who wrote the Book of Proverbs) is known simply as the virtuous woman. This description of this wonderful lady clearly shows a wife’s role in both marriage and in her home.

Here are some highlights of this exemplary lady:

  • She will do her husband good all the days of her life (verse 12)
  • She is an industrious worker (verses 13-15)
  • She is a businesswoman (verse 16)
  • She has compassion on the poor (verse 20)
  • She dresses beautifully (verse 22)
  • She makes her husband look good (verse 23)
  • She speaks both wisely and kindly (verse 26)
  • She is praised by her family members (verse 28)

This ideal woman is an asset to her home, her family, and her society because she is a woman who fears the Lord God, according to verse 30. This woman knows her actions serves both God and her family, and is a shining example of servant leadership.

Biblical Role of a Wife — New Testament

There are many Bible verses in the New Testament that directly instruct the woman about the role of a wife in a Christian marriage.

Biblical Role of a Wife — Submission

Perhaps one of the most difficult, even misunderstood, aspects of a Christian marriage is the concept of a wife’s submission to her husband’s leadership. Women, like their male counterparts, are sinful individuals, and as such, are prideful. Prideful human beings don’t want to submit anything or anyone, especially a male peer. But God in His wisdom has a pattern for marriage, and tells women directly, and in six distinct verses, to submit to their husband, to be subject to him, and to be obedient to him.

Oriental man kissing his wife

Here are the verses about a wife’s submission to her husband:

Ephesians 5:22-24

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (KJV)

This Scripture passage both gives instruction and explanation. With the injunction for wives to be submissive to their husbands, the Apostle Paul shows the marital order of the home. The family is the physical unit that reflects the spiritual truth of Christ and His church.

The head of the family unit is the husband, who is a type of Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church. Just as a Christian woman should work to obey and please Christ in all things, so, too, should a wife obey her husband in all ways. A wife who is rebellious and not submissive to her husband is being disobedient to God.

Colossians 3:18

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” (KJV) This verse gives an important distinction: “as it is fit in the Lord.”

When a wife has an unbelieving husband (Or even a believing one!), and he asks her to do something that is directly against God’s command, in this instance only, she needs to disobey her husband and obey God instead. This principle is initially shown in Acts 5:29b “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (KJV)

Titus 2:3-5

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (KJV)

happy senior couple

The Apostle Paul says in the Epistle to Titus that it is the role and the responsibility of older women to teach the younger woman how to love their husband, and even their children. The older women are to teach the younger women to have discretion, to be pure, to have homemaking skills, and to obey the authority of their husband.

A wife, no matter how young or old she may be, who does not meet the qualifications listed here, not only shows a lack of self-control, but is also a bad public testimony, and with her unwise actions makes God’s Word open to blasphemy. A wife’s conduct is a very important thing to the public testimony of Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 11:3

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (KJV) When a woman submits to her husband, she is conforming herself to the pattern of Jesus Christ. Jesus was submissive to God His Father, even to the agonizing death on the cross, and He and His submission is our perfect example to be followed willingly by a Christian wife.

Just as a woman is to submit to her husband, her husband is to submit himself to God. There is mutual submission in a marriage as the wife submits to her husband, and as the godly husband submits himself to obey God.

The position of being submissive can be a scary thing for a woman, because in some situations the wife is more knowledgeable than her husband. The good husband realizes his wife’s intellect and strengths, and therefore, he seeks and accepts her input into his decisions.

smiling woman pointing to plate of food

In situations when the husband is wrong, and the wife knows that he is indeed making a wrong decision, she has the duty to point out his error lovingly and tactfully. If he insists on proceeding with his bad choices, it is the wife’s responsibility to follow and support him, while she trusts God to make things right. A submissive woman is a woman who trusts God even more than she trusts her husband.

With the injunction to wives to obey their husband, is the command of God for a husband to love his wife, even as he loves himself. This command is found in Ephesians 5:28. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” (KJV)

When a husband loves his wife just like he loves himself, it makes his wife’s submission both easy and even joyful, since she can trust her husband not to ask her to do anything that would be harmful to her or that would cause her grief. A good husband understands the God-given roles of both he and his wife.

Biblical Role of a Wife — Mutual Respect

The wife is commanded by God to obey her husband. But a good husband understands the God-given roles of both he and his wife, and has kindly respect for her as she honors him. God tells husbands several times to love their wives, but He never tells a wife to love her husband. Perhaps women, by their very nature, are loving, especially when they are enveloped with their husband’s love.

But God does say in Ephesians 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.” (KJV) The wife is commanded by God to reverence, that is, to respect her husband. When a husband loves his wife, it makes it very easy for her to both obey and revere him. When a wife feels her husband’s love for her, she responds by loving him back, even while she reverences him.

Biblical Role of a Wife — Her Powerful Influence

Being a submissive woman is not being a weak woman. On the contrary, a submissive wife is a strong wife. She has to conquer her sinful human pride while she trusts God to take care of her, in spite what her husband may choose to do. This powerful attitude of the heart, of a wife submitting herself to God through obedience to her husband, is both a good testimony and also a powerful witness, especially when the husband is an unbeliever.

This is explained in 1 Peter 3:1-4 “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (KJV)

wife giving husband surprise birthday gift

The word “conversation” used in these verses doesn’t not exclusively mean words and what a woman may talk about. Rather, this word is from the Greek word anastrophe, which means “behavior.” When a husband, especially an unbelieving one, sees the submissive, respectful, and peaceful conduct of their wives, this action points them to God.

The Apostle Peter is not saying in these verses that a woman should not wear jewelry or clothing, “putting of apparel,” but rather, just as woman uses accessories to make herself beautiful on the outside, she should also adorn herself with the lasting ornaments of inner beauty, which he says is a meek and quite spirt. A woman who knows how to “fix herself up,” both inwardly and outwardly, is truly a beautiful woman.

This description and the emphasis on a wife’s inner beauty, which expresses itself in respect and peaceful conduct, including, but not limited to, the things that she says, gives truth to the statement that although the husband is the head of the home, the wife is the heart of the home.

A Christian wife with a good heart, who wants to please God first and her husband second, is fulfilling the biblical role of a wife. This wise woman makes her home a peaceful refuge for her family, while her husband provides for and protects their home.

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This Biblical role of a wife, a helper who is suitable to her husband, was what God had in mind according to Genesis 2:18 “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

Check out the counterpart to this article and read about the role of a Biblical husband.

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