“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:31-32
Four separate times this Old Testament passage from Genesis 2:24 is wielded in the New Testament.
It is the first principle revealed and first institution ordained by the LORD to Adam and Eve shortly after Eve was created from Adam. Jesus quoted it in his discussion with the Pharisees concerning the lawfulness of a man divorcing his wife as recorded in Matthew 19:5 and the parallel passage in Mark 10:7-8. Paul quoted it here in his letter to the Ephesians as well as a partial quote of the verse in his first letter to the Corinthian church which we will discuss more later. We know from the New Testament that God’s plan concerning the church (choosing us in Christ) was set in motion before the foundation of the earth. (Eph. 1:4) Since marriage was really designed to teach us about Christ and the church, we can see why the church is referred to as the Bride both in the Old Testament (Isa. 62:11-5) and New Testament (John 3:29; Rev. 19:7, 21:2, 21:9, 22:17). The redeeming of souls back to Himself through the Christ has always been a part of His eternal plan. What the LORD intended in physical marriage between a man and a woman-that the two would become one-is still His intention in a spiritual sense concerning Christ and the church. Unfortunately, some seem to miss that part of His eternal plan for His bride, the church. In reference to “the two shall become one flesh” statement the question has often been raised, “Which one?” Meaning who’s concept of how a couple of diverse people become one. The man’s or woman’s ideas? That’s the conflict we see in the world today among marriages not unified in faith in the divine guidebook given us, the Bible, as each tries to outmaneuver the other in attempt to gain control of where the “union” is going. Praise God that the principles necessary to integrate two individuals into one effectual unit are contained in the Scripture. The same is true for the bride of Christ, the individual Christian and the church as a whole. Through the principles of the New Creation concepts contained in the New Testament, if understood properly and implemented, we are guaranteed to be conformed into His image as the Spirit averred through Paul: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;” (Rom. 8:29) It’s good for us to be reminded of that since we’ve been united with the Lord in our immersion into Christ, right? So key was the melding of the two into one and remaining together to the glory of God, that Jesus appended to His quoting of the Genesis passage, “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matt 19:6) The only legitimate reason for divorce being adultery. That brings us to consider the other instance where the apostle Paul cited this Genesis passage, in his first letter to the Corinthian church. “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:16, 17) The Lord does not want His bride engaging in sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:18). More importantly though, the Lord doesn’t want His bride engaging in spiritual immorality. Evidence that you belong to Christ as his bride (Rom. 8:9) is the Spirit which is given to you once you’ve been united to Christ. Notice how the inspired apostle makes the correlation to the Corinthian church. One spirit with Him. Now hear brother James’ admonition to us: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’ “? (James 4:4, 5) The spirit that is now at work in the world produces disobedience, spiritual adultery. (Eph. 2:2) Jesus left heaven for the opportunity to cleave to His wife, the church. To be one with Christ means to spiritually appraise that we’ve been lifted out of this world to be with Him now in the heavenly places. Let no man separate your understanding of who you are as His bride!