“Meaning of Marriage” By Timothy Keller 1 Page Summary

I would recommend this book to you if you are looking for a biblical view on marriage. Essentially this book is Timothy Keller’s sermon series on Ephesians 5 converted into a book (Those are real good sermons too). The main point of this book is God created marriage and thus the best form of marriage follows His instruction.

One of my top takeaways from this book is your marriage is your first ministry. The first person you are to serve is the person you are married to. If you are a doctor or social worker and you love helping people…but you are married, then the first person you need to make sure you help is your spouse. Help them with what?

Help them become, as Ephesians 5 puts it, “Holy and without blemish.” You are in the unique position of knowing your spouse so well that you get glimpses of who they could become. It’s almost as if Jesus gives you a vision of who your spouse is going to be when they get to heaven. Your job is to help them become that person in the same Spirit Jesus is helping them become that person.

With this in mind, it makes sense wedding vows are supposed to be about future love, not present affections. As your spouse changes and hopefully comes closer and closer to the person Jesus is making them, they will change. To the point, Keller joking says his wife has been married to five different men, and of them are me. Throughout the growth process, you are going to look up and feel like you are married to a completely different person than the one on your wedding day. Thus traditional wedding vows talk about going through sickness and health, wealth and poverty, and there is almost no hint of current feeling of love because those are not what you build a long-lasting marriage on.

One of my favorite chapters has a real clickbaity name but it reveals the apostle Paul was the original click-baiter. “The secret of marriage” is chapter one, but Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus talks about the “Mystery” of marriage, which could be translated “Secret” instead. The great mystery or secret being revealed by Paul is marriage explains the gospel of Jesus. The two are supposed to explain each other. This chapter alone is worth recommending this book for because it is the best theological description of marriage I have read. Keller says, “The gospel gives the power and pattern of marriage.”

The gospel gives the power of marriage to serve one another selflessly. Self-centeredness is a marriage killer. Jesus came not to be served but to serve and we ought to follow in His Spirit by serving our spouse. The only way to receive the power of His Spirit is by accepting what Jesus has done for us and receiving the Holy Spirit.

The gospel gives the pattern of marriage to serve one another selflessly. Christ sacrificed Himself for you and me the same way husbands are supposed to sacrifice themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for their wives. In turn, wives are supposed to submit (In a healthy way) to their husbands as Christ submits to God the father’s plan and will. Christ’s relationship with us gives us the pattern for how our relationship with our spouses should look.


I am a pastor who focuses on marriage and family.

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