home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > October 21st > WHO DOES THIS ‘EPHESIANS’ FELLA THINK HE IS?!#@%^!

2022 > October 21st > WHO DOES THIS 'EPHESIANS' FELLA THINK HE IS?!#@%^!
It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  


To say that the Tasmanian Archbishop, Julian Porteous DD, has been in the cross-hairs of those who object to the moral teaching of Christianity might be the biggest understatement you will hear today. He has faced opposition at every turn – from the media, the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, from unwitting Catholic school-girls (who drew the rainbow flag in chalk on the pavement outside their school as a demonstration against the Archbishop), and from those who salute the rainbow flag. He has faithfully defended what the Bible teaches about: the value of human life; human sexuality and gender; the sacredness of marriage between a husband and wife; and the liberty that everyone has to live out their religious convictions in the public square.

It is my suspicion that the particular text from Ephesians has been used many times previously in many other Catholic School assemblies and even graduations. So why now did it become so objectionable? It might also be my suspicion that this is yet another possible attempt to oppose Archbishop Porteous. To his credit, the Archbishop was quick to diffuse this furore by replacing this particular Scripture reading.



It is apparently a little known fact, at least here in Tasmania, that Ephesians was not a Roman philosopher. It is a similarly little known fact (again in Tasmania) that Ephesians was actually an epistle (a letter) written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians living in the Turkish city of Ephesus. 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
¶ To the saints [Christians] who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus
Ephesians Chapter 1, Verse 1.

Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians is one of the twenty-seven divinely inspired documents of what is called, The New Testament. When scholars begin to examine a New Testament Epistle they begin by asking, What was the occasion, the reason, for the epistle to have been written. In asking this question of Ephesians scholars point out that a believer’s relationship with Jesus the Christ effected every relationship they had with others.

In Ephesians chapter 1, The Christ has made a relationship with God the Father possible (eg. Eph. 1:3-4).

In Ephesians chapter 2, The Christ has made a relationship with people who are ethnically and culturally different possible  (eg. Eph. 2:12-13).

In Ephesians chapter 3, The Christ has made relationships within a church comprised of other previously unfamiliar Christians possible (eg. Eph. 3:6).

In Ephesians chapter 4, The Christ has made a relationship with those God has placed as leaders within the church possible (eg. Eph. 4:2-4, 12).

In Ephesians chapter 5, The Christ has made a loving and lasting relationship between a husband wife possible (Eph. 5:28).

In Ephesians chapter 6, The Christ enriches the relationship of a parent with child/ren (eg. Eph. 6:1-4).

Hopefully you can see from this quick survey of The Epistle to the Ephesians that it is built around our various relationship and how people can get along and serve others. And just to quell the furore over the one verse in Chapter 5, I would like to conclude by taking a look at its context and then explain why it would have been not just appropriate for the St. Mary’s Girls College for it to have been read during their October 25th graduation celebration, but actually quite profoundly helpful for every young girl to know.



To the credit of the ABC Tasmania journalist, Loretta Lohberger, she actually cited not just the contentious verse at the centre of the furore, but quite a bit of its context. Having already drawn attention to the overall context of this Epistle as dealing with how we relate with others, it important to note that before the Apostle Paul (under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit) tells wives to respect and submit to the husbands, he states this in the verse before it

¶ And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21

Paul then explains how his overall point (that a relationship with Jesus the Christ enhances all of our other relationships) applies to a marriage relationship. He states that marriage is actually given by God as a picture of the closeness that God the Son (Jesus) wants with all His followers (the Church, comprised of all believers). A Christian’s relationship with Jesus is likened to the relationship between a husband and a wife. This is a relationship of mutual surrender (submission).

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:32-33

Jesus demonstrated the ultimate surrender by willingly dying the death that we all deserve. At the heart of what it means to love is the word surrender and serve the other. There is simply no greater example of this in all of human history than what Christ did on the cross of His crucifixion nearly 2,000 years ago! Thus, when the next verse instructs wives –

¶ Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22

In its context it is saying, wives love your own husbands just as Christ has taught you what love really is. It goes on to speak to husbands with the even greater challenge –

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Ephesians 5:25, 28

Husbands are instructed to love their wives by their complete surrender to them! This is the kind of love that protects, treasures, listens to, seeks to understand, selflessly serves, and prioritises his wife’s highest good and best interests. What woman would not want a husband like that? The injunction to wives to submit to their husbands presupposes that their husband has already demonstrated his submission and love for her. And when it comes to a young lady preparing to embark on what she should rightfully expect to be a lifelong journey of marital happiness, she should never commit her life to any man who has not already demonstrated his preparedness to love her like Christ has, and continues to, love His bride: the Church.

So let’s sum what we’ve learned. Ephesians was not an ancient Roman philosopher. Ephesians is the name of an Epistle in the New Testament of the Bible. Most wars were not the fault of the Bible passages such as Ephesians 5:22. The verse at the centre of the St. Mary’s College furore is far from demeaning to women — it is in fact the basis for a happy, fulfilling, lifelong marriage with a husband who commits to love his wife as Christ loves all those who are part of His Church, His bride.

And, if you are someone who would like to become familiar with and understand the Bible, I invite you to join me in a short daily YouTube video where I read through a portion of the Bible and give some background to it [VIEW].  

Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. LYDIA

    Thank you Andrew. Let this information and clarity above be a blessing to all…

    • Liz

      A good clarification. Thank you Andrew. It seems then that this passage is actually encouraging young women not to settle for second best, but to look for a future husband who will love, honour and sacrifice for them above themselves- a very empowering message and would be very suitable for a graduating cohort of young women who are soon to embark in finding life partners.

  2. Mike Sladden

    Thanks Pastor Andrew for this excellent clarification.

    It is always disappointing when the Bible is taken out of context, misquoted or misinterpreted (as has been done with this reading from Ephesians) so I appreciate your public correction of this error.

    May God convict the people who oppose His Word and may they come to salvation through the Spirit of God

    Many blessings


  3. Ali

    Thanks Andrew. Hope this gets read by many. It’s disappointing how people take a portion of the Bible out of context and run with it…

    • Andrew

      Thanks Andrew, excellent and timely article. But will modern Australians take time to read it in a sound bite era of activism and anti Christian bigotry.

  4. Rob Quinn

    For 16 years,1962 – 1978 I worked as a Laboratory Technician at the Sydney based research facility of a large Australian company. One very important area of our work was maintaining and checking the calibration to accepted standards of measurement to a wide variety of instrumentation. At no time during my time there do I recall the research staff question these standards, we frequently had our calibrated standards checked against known national standards, such was their importance.
    We, the human race have been given a well documented set of standards, GOD’s WORD, the BIBLE. It is the reference book, the road-map to life as GOD designed. Billy Graham would frequently say, holding up the Bible, “The Bible says”.
    GOD’s WORD is the reference book for the Christian Church, it is still relevant today as it was yesterday.
    However, today there are many in our society that consider this text to be outdated such that Christians should be more progressive in their thinking. And how is that working?
    My observation is of chaos, unrest, confussion and disruption by generally lowering standards, but then we also read about that in the scriptures.


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For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.


The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better. 


Today, “Jesus Christ is Lord” sounds like a bumper sticker or part of an ancient church liturgy but when Christianity was founded if someone uttered these words it could literally mean death! ’o christos ’o kurios “Christ is Lord” was a risky thing to declare when the only safe thing to declare was ’o kaiser ’o kurios “Caesar is Lord”! Yet it was upon these words that the earliest confession of the Church was founded. For the early Christians, this was not a glib, throw-away line uttered during a church service or something stuck on the backside of your donkey (or chariot if you were wealthy).  


I really dislike the expression ‘moving forward’. So many people say, ‘moving forward’ from the meeting, the experience, the…. whatever! Has anyone stopped to think that time continues. We can’t go back. Even if we are reflecting, or for that matter mulling, we are in the continuum of time, and unless we have a mythical time machine, we just can’t go backwards in time. Our only option is to ‘move forward’.


I have long said that my primary role as a shepherd-pastor is to help people to die well. To do this, as I have often said, requires that we learn how to live life well. Of all the normally uncomfortable subjects that Christians find it difficult to talk about, death should not be one of them. But it is. This is because, of all the world religions, only Christianity has a positive view of death. After all, we have a divine Saviour who confronted and conquered death. As a result the original apostles mocked death.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
¶ The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.”
(First Corinthians 15:55-56)
These apostles refused to be intimidated by death which was ultimately evidenced by their martyrdoms. The apostle Paul could look forward to his death with the obvious lament that he would no longer be available to help those he had led to the Lord (Phil. 1:23-25). But he could face his impending death with the assurance that it would mean that he would immediately be in the presence of his Lord — and so should we! And like Paul, we too should be be able to talk about death in a very different way to those who do not know what we know.


A suburban home in Australia is shrinking in land size even though the average house size is headed in the opposite direction. What hasn’t changed is fencing around the block of land in order to separate it from a neighbour’s property. Broken fences, overgrown hedges and pets jumping fences are a known source of conflicts. We value our privacy. Those fences are boundaries. To go over them without permission will be trespassing. Renting, owning or owned outright – our home is our safe haven. When we chat with neighbours across the fence, there is a sense of security that comes with standing on our own patch of land. A little piece of Australia over which we have custody, albeit temporal.


Each of these uncomfortable topics in this brief series of articles are uncomfortable because there they carry a sense of embarrassment or even shame attached to them. But this particular topic also carries a good deal of pain associated with it – in addition to any feelings of embarrassment or shame. This pain may involve a sense of failure, betrayal, rejection, and humiliation. Divorce rarely effects just the two people involved in ending a marriage. Divorce can scar people like little else can. It can scar socially, financially, emotionally, relationally, and even a person’s physical health – and sometimes do so permanently.


All of us feel sad at some point – even people who are usually happy most of the time. Usually though for most people there will be some understandable reason for it. This might include the loss of a loved one, a certain disappointment, an accident, or sympathy for someone. This kind of sadness is temporary. But there is a kindness of sadness that lingers which leaves a person drained, teary, thinking dark thoughts, and feeling desperately lonely. This is usually when we consider someone is experiencing ‘depression’ and it is one of those things that Christians find difficult to admit to or even talk about.


There are some things that Christians can’t and don’t talk about – but probably should. So, I would like to pastorally share some thoughts about this taboo topic of doubt in what will be part 1 in this short series of pastor’s desk articles of four taboo topics that Christians can’t talk about.


Resilience was one of the predominant character traits of the early Christians. They called it being steadfast. For these early Christians being ‘resilient’ meant being able to keep going despite set backs, discouragements, betrayals, unforeseen circumstances, lack of energy, motivation, and resources. Like a weary hiker looking down a long road that leads to the mountain range they must walk over, being resilient in life means putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again, and again, and again, and so on. God knows that today, in what many are describing as “Post-Christendom” (and the resilient among us prefer to think of as Pre-Christendom) to be resilient is to live with a purpose, to stay focused, to live for others, and to strive toward a good, honourable, goal. With so many reasons to lose sight of the true purpose of life the tendency is to be tricked into believing that life right now is too hard. But the truth be told – people need to know how to be more resilient. Leaders especially need to be resilient right now. Churches assuredly need to be resilient at this time. With the recent interference into churches by government through the measures they said was “to keep people safe” — it has actually depleted people’s ability and willingness to be resilient! Here’s what leaders, people, and churches can do about it.