Submission and Discipleship


June 17, 2007


Submission is not a one-way street and Discipleship is not a lecture hall.

The scripture says that we should not be many masters and that we should not lord it over the flock. James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

Granted there are times when leadership has to make tough decisions and the flock will either follow or rebel.

One must consider Paul's attitude though in being careful how he commanded the flock. At one point he stated that he was saying it not the Lord. But, that he felt he had the mind of the Lord on a matter. 1 Corinthians 7:12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. What seems right to an elder is not always The Holy Spirit speaking!

It is far too easy for leaders to demand allegiance and submission in the name of discipleship with a carefully placed "Thus saith The Lord!"

What is scriptural submission?

I suppose the highest example is when Paul told wives to submit to their husbands and then followed up with Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. And, then here in Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

In so saying, I strongly believe that Paul was laying a foundation that until you love the person you wish submission from enough to die for them, you do not have the right to ask, much less demand submission.

Consider this, even today, though He is Lord of Lord's and King of King's Christ is still issuing an invitation to submit to Himself, not a demand. True there are consequences for not submitting to Christ. But, until then, bowing the knee to Christ is entirely voluntary. (Every knee *shall* bow!)

The Greek Word for Submission used in the KJV is hoop-ot-as'-so meaning to subordinate; reflexively to obey: - be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

It is used a total of 49 times in the KJV. Here are a few.

(Romans 10:3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

(1 Corinthians 16:16) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

(Ephesians 5:22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

(Colossians 3:18) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

(Hebrews 13:17) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

(James 4:7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(1 Peter 2:13) Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

(1 Peter 5:5) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

(Ephesians 5:21) Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Note the voluntary nature of the request. There is no submit to me or else. It is, you make it a practice to humble yourselves.

And, Ephesians 5:21 shows that it is a two way street. "to one another".

Thayer Definition:
1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject oneís self, obey
4) to submit to oneís control
5) to yield to oneís admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject
Part of Speech: verb
A Related Word by Thayerís/Strongís Number: from G5259 and G5021
Citing in TDNT: 8:39, 1156


As an afterthought, as we see even The Supreme Court (equivalent to The Sanhedrin of Paulís day) starts corrupting both Biblical truth and The U.S. Constitution Christians need to make a decision as to how far to obey 1 Peter 2:13. Consider carefully Peters response to the highest court of the land in his day: Acts 5:29† Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!