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Obedience and Submission to Authority - Part 3

A Look at the Greek Words


These definitions are based on two ENGLISH-GREEK LEXICONS (with the Greek alphabet transliterated into English alphabet characters), and VINE'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS. They are not exact word-for-word quotes, because these sources often intersperse many verse references into the definitions, and the two lexicons include many Greek words and phrases.



In Column 1:

"A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature" by W. Baur, trans. and ed. by W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich

In Column 2:

"Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grimm's Wilke's Clavis Novi Testamenti)" by Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D.

In Column 3:

"Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words" by W. E. Vine, M.A.


SUBMIT - related to the basic idea of "to arrange"



a)ACTIVE: bring someone to subjection / subject oneself to someone;

b)PASSIVE: i) become subject; ii) subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey

2) to attach/append (literary documents attached to others) [this usage not found in the N.T.]


(active) to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject, put in subjection

(middle) to subject one's self, to obey

(passive) to obey

(imperative) obey, be subject


primarily a military term, to rank under (hupo, under, tasso, to arrange), denotes:

(a) to put in subjection, to subject

(b) (in the Middle or Passive Voice) to subject oneself, to obey, be subject to


ACTIVE - subjecting [this usage not found in the N.T.]

PASSIVE - subjection, subordination, obedience


1) the act of subjecting,

2) obedience, subjection


subjection (hupo, under, tasso, to order)


1) not made subject, independent

2) undisciplined, disobedient, rebellious


1) (passively) not made subject, unsubjected

2) (actively) that cannot be subjected to control, disobedient, unruly, refractory


not subject to rule, insubordinate, unsubjected (a, negative, n, euphonic, hupotasso, to put in subjection <hupo, under, tasso, to order>), is used (a), of things, (b) of persons

One additional word translated "submit" (in some translations) focuses on "yielding" to a person's authority. This word is found in Heb. 13:17.


OBEY - related to the basic idea of "to hear"


listen to

1) obey, follow, be subject to

2) hear, grant one's request

3) open/answer (the door)

[technically, of the door-keeper, whose duty it is to listen for the signals of those who wish to enter, and then to admit them if they are entitled to do so]


to listen, hearken

1) prop., of one who on a knock at the door comes to listen who it is (the duty of a porter)

2) to hearken to a command, i.e. to obey, be obedient unto, submit to


to listen, attend (as in Acts 12:13 - see below), and so, to submit, to obey; is used of obedience...

(a) to God, (b) to Christ, by natural elements, (c) to disciples of Christ, (d) to the faith, to Christian doctrine (as to a form or mold of teaching), (e) to apostolic injunctions, (f) to Abraham by Sarah, (g) to parents by children, (h) to masters by servants, (i) to sin, (j) in general.

In Acts 12:13, hupakouo, lit., to hearken, with the idea of stillness, or attention (hupo, under, akouo, to hear), signifies to answer a knock at a door.


1) obedience

a) generally the obedience which every slave owes his master,

b) predom. of obedience to God and his commands

2) (obedient) answer


obedience, compliance, submission

(opposite to parakoe - unwillingness to hear, disobedience)


obedience (hupo, under, akouo, to hear), is used

(a) in general, (b) of the fulfilment of apostolic counsels, (c) of the fulfilment of God's claims or commands, (d) of obedience to Christ (objective), (e) of Christ's obedience, (Rom. 5:19 referring to His death; cp. Phil. 2:8; and Heb. 5:8, referring to His delighted experience in constant obedience to the Father's will - not to be understood in the sense that He learned to obey).




giving ear, obedient


obedient, giving ear, subject


unwillingness to hear, disobedience


1) prop. a hearing amiss [this usage not found in the N.T.]

2) unwillingness to hear, i.e., disobedience


primarily, hearing amiss (para, aside, akouo, to hear), hence signifies a refusal to hear; hence, an act of disobedience

A few other Greek words are occasionally translated as "obey," but they generally have a somewhat different focus, than the above word group. 1) One group of words focuses on "paying attention" to someone (whether or not that person is an authority). 2) Another group focuses on "being persuaded" that someone/something can be trusted and therefore is worthy of being followed or obeyed. (The end result would be that you would "obey" him/it.)

Dennis Hinks © 1999

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