Domestic Nutrition, Part 1
If you look up the word nutrition in the dictionary, you'll find that its primary and most popular meaning is, "the act or process of nourishing." A closer examination of the word reveals a much more complex meaning: "the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances."¹ We'll leave that latter definition to the professional physicians. They understand those processes and are able to explain and apply the science of nutrition much better than you or I could. To keep things on a much simpler basis, let's go back to the former and more popular meaning as we focus our attention on the root term, nourish.
As you may remember, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. If you were to do a word search in the New Testament, looking for the word that is translated "nourish" in English, you would find the original Greek term, ektrepho . . . and if you're like me, you would find it interesting that it appears only twice, both times in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. To make it even more interesting, you'd discover that each time it is used in a context addressed only to men. The first time, it's in a series of statements Paul wrote to all husbands—and in this particular verse (Ephesians 5:29), he exhorted each husband to love and cherish his wife. The second time, it's in a brief verse (6:4) where Paul wrote to all fathers—as he exhorted each father to treat his children with tenderness, being faithful to encourage them, discipline them, and teach them well. Each time, Paul chose ektrepho as the key term, which could be rendered "clothe" (when addressed to husbands) and it could also be rendered "rear tenderly" (when he wrote to fathers). Let's go further by observing each example more in depth—the first one today, and the second one tomorrow.
First, all who are husbands are strongly urged by the apostle, "love your wives" (5:25)! Paul then illustrated the extent of that love by using two analogies. First, husbands are to love their wives "as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (5:25), and second, husbands are to love their wives "as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it" (5:28–29). See the word rendered "nourishes"? That's ektrepho. As we learned earlier, it conveys the idea of clothing—just as a man clothes himself, feeds himself, and takes care of himself, he ought also, with equal diligence and commitment, "nourish" his wife.
1. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2003), see "nutrition."
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