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11 September 2012 by Daniel

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. - Paul of Tarsus (Ephesians 5:31-32) [ESV]

Paul is quoting from Genesis 2:24 where two significant things should be addressed: [1] man was to "hold fast" to his wife - meaning that he was to stick with her no matter what.  And [2] the two thus united became one flesh.  Adam and Eve already shared one flesh (she was formed from his rib), becoming one flesh meant to share in the same life together.

When Paul tells us that the marriage of a man to a woman pictures Christ and the church he is telling us [1] that just as the man clings to his wife, so Christ clings to the church - pursuing her, overtaking her, and clinging to her.  He is also telling us that [2] believers and Christ partake of the same life (i.e. the life of Christ).

The union that Christ has with the elect is a spiritual one - we become partakers of Christ's (eternal) life - and this not because we have overtaken Christ but because He has overtaken those he has loved.