One of the side effects of the Protestant Reformation was a biblical appreciation of marriage. With the rediscovery of the pure gospel it stands to reason that a biblical way of living would follow. Many of the church Fathers, including Augustine and Jerome, taught that celibacy is a more spiritual way of life. This thinking, coming as it did from Greek philosophy, also coloured the church’s interpretation of the Song of Solomon. For fifteen hundred years the only interpretation countenanced by the church was the allegorical approach, which either denied or ignored the physical relation between Solomon and the Shulamite. The Reformation, however, brought a fresh biblical view of marriage. The “one-flesh” obviously refers to the body, but it also includes oneness of mind and heart—i.e. a mutual companionship, friendship, and enjoyment. George Swinnock, the English Puritan, put it well when he said that husband and wife “are partners in the nearest degree imaginable.”
Our relationship with Christ is illustrated in many different ways in the New Testament: as sons (1 John 3:1), fellow-heirs (Romans 8:17), adopted children (Ephesians 1:5), servants (Philippians 1:1), and as guests at His table (John 13:23; Revelation 3:20). But it is this “one-flesh” intimacy in marriage that the Scripture used to illustrate fellowship with our Saviour (Ephesians 5:25; Song of Solomon).
Paul’s words “For to me to live is Christ” meant that he believed in Christ as Saviour and he obeyed Christ as Lord. But these words also mean that Paul enjoyed Christ’s love and fellowship as a wife enjoys the security, nearness, and warm-heartedness of her husband. Paul enjoyed fellowship with God because he knew that God enjoyed fellowship with him—a mutual enjoyment. The prophet says, “He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love” (Zephaniah 3:17), and in Proverbs 8:31 we read of God “Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and
Reading: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”—Philippians 1:21