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[to be ranked under / to rank one's self under, and then to act accordingly]
Jesus Submitting / Obeying
General Category: People Submitting / Obeying [Or Not Doing So]
Specific Categories: People Submitting / Obeying [Or Not Doing So]
Obedience / Submission [Or Lack Thereof] Connected with the Gospel
[All] Things Obeying Jesus Christ / Submitting to Him
Misc. Things That Are [Or Are Not] in Submission / Obedience
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Obedience/Submission Title Page
1 Corinthians 15:28 - [After everything else is made subject to the Son (= placed under his authority)...] Then the Son himself will be made subject to the Father (the one who put everything under the Son), so that God may be all in all. [Note: This passage talks about the resurrected Christ. The primary focus here is on the submission of Jesus as a human (the "father" of a new humanity - see v. 47-49), rather than as deity. However, even as deity, the proper submission of Jesus as "Son" to his "Father" can be seen throughout the New Testament - especially in the gospels.]
Luke 2:51 - Jesus returned to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them.
Note: Some people try to use the 1 Corinthians passage in an attempt to deny Jesus' deity. They try to convince people that the idea of "submission" cannot apply, unless Jesus was not deity. Remember, however, that the N.T. concept of "submission" has to do with one's relationship to another (in the sense of "rank" or "order"). It has nothing to do with the definition of an individual's nature or being!
In what ways is Jesus' submission an example (or pattern) for us? Note that his submission is directed not only to God his Father, but also to his human parents - even to Joseph, who was only a step-father to him. [Note, also, that Jesus was fully aware that he had no human father. This is why, when Mary and Joseph found him in the temple, he was surprised that they didn't expect him to be there - in his Father's house!]
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1 Timothy 1:9 - Law is not made for righteous people, but for ... rebels [unsubmissive people], etc. [Note: Whether the apostle is talking about "law" in general terms, or specifically the Ten Commandments, his conclusion is the same: The ones who need to be shown what is right (= the law) are primarily the ones who aren't following it. The others already know what it is and are doing it!]
Titus 1:10 - There are many rebellious [unsubmissive] people ...
Read the context of these two verses. What does Scripture say about people who are unwilling to submit to those placed in authority over them (or to law that is over them)? How can these verses guide you in the way you respond to authority?
Hebrews 12:9 - [We respect human fathers who (properly) disciplined us.] How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits! [... so that we will live eternally!]
James - 4:7 - Submit yourselves to God.
Why should we submit to God? What are the consequences of doing so? Of not doing so?
Romans 13:1 - Everyone must obey/submit to the governing authorities. [They have been put there by God.]
Romans 13:5 - It is necessary that we submit to the authorities. [2 reasons given]
Titus 3:1 - Remind the people to submit to the authority of rulers and government leaders. [See the contrast in v. 3+ (about our past way of life, contrasted with the changes God has made in us).]
1 Peter 2:13 - Do this for the Lord's sake: Submit yourselves to every human authority who is over you.
Why should we submit to human authorities? Are there any exceptions to this rule? (This last question may require you to think about verses NOT mentioned in this study.)
1 Corinthians 16:16 - You should/must submit to people such as these (= Stephanas and his household) - people who devote themselves to serving others.
Little is known about Stephanas and his family, other than that they were distinguished by their willingness to serve other believers. (They are mentioned only here and in 1 Corinthians 1:16.) What can you learn from their example? There are two possible ways to interpret this passage - and both are acceptable interpretations that we can learn from:
Submitting to their authority: The Bible's concept of authority includes the idea of "serving" others (rather than "lording over" them - compare to 1 Peter 5:2-3). Stephanas and his household may have been leaders in the church. Why should we submit to such people - that is, why should we place ourselves under their authority?
Submitting to their example of serving others: It is also possible that Paul is telling us to follow their example of serving others. This view does not deal with the question of whether or not they were leaders, but focuses on their willingness to serve others - an obligation that all believers have. In this case, why should we submit to (= learn from) their example?
Ephesians 5:21 - Submit to [= place yourselves under the authority of] one another, out of [an attitude of] fear/reverence for Christ. [Note: The context that follows defines this submission. The verb "submit" in this verse is connected directly to the relationship described in the verse that follows. (Verse 22 has no verb.)]
1 Peter 5:5 - <only in KJV-type translations; many N.T. Greek manuscripts do not have this phrase> [Submission of younger men to elders/older men is mentioned - in all translations. Then the KJV says: ...] Yea, all of you be subject one to another,...
Examine the contexts of these verses. (For 1 Peter 5:5, focus on the last half of the verse.) Specific examples of submission (found within the context of the above verses) will be examined below. At this point, focus on general principles. What do these passages tell us about the basic reasons that people should submit to those who have authority over them?
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Ephesians 5:24 - The church submits to Christ.
Is this verse a command, or a statement of fact? In your opinion, does this seem to be occurring among the churches you have seen or heard about? If not, why the contrast? [If this issue seems troubling to you, it might be beneficial if you study the Bible's concept of "church" - which, sometimes, is almost synonymous to the idea of "a group of Christians" - and contrast it to the modern-day concept of "church" - which is more like a human "institution." (The closest N.T. word to this modern "institutional" concept of "church" would probably be "synagogue"!)] If a "church" (using the modern-day concept of the word) does not submit to Christ, what does the lack of submission (also known as "rebellion") tell you about that "church"?
Romans 10:3 - The Jews were unwilling to submit to God's righteousness. [They wanted to make their own "righteousness" and rely on that, instead.]
What is the significance of this fact - especially to those who are non-Jews? Romans 11 has much to say about this issue, and its relationship to the Gentiles (non-Jews) being saved. What attitude should we have about the Jew's condition? (Look at Paul's attitude in Romans 9:1-5; 10:1; and the warnings he gives us in Romans 11:11-36.)
1 Corinthians 14:34 - Women ... must be in submission (in the church) [i.e., silent - in the context of teaching men?], as the Law says.
Ephesians 5:22 - Wives... (submit) to your husbands. How? - as to the Lord. [The verb "submit" is not found in most manuscripts; the verb is carried over from v.21. (See Section 5, above, for further information.)]
Ephesians 5:24 Wives should submit to their husbands in everything. How? - as the church submits to Christ
Colossians 3:18 - Wives: submit to your husbands. How? - in a manner that is fitting/appropriate in the Lord.
1 Timothy 2:11- Women should learn [in contrast to teaching / having authority over men - v. 12]. How? - quietly and with full submission. [reason given in verses that follow] Compare with 3:14-15, which gives the reason for Paul's instructions.
Titus 2:5 - [What the older women are to teach the younger women.] ... to submit to their husbands [etc.]. Why? - so that no one will speak evil against the word of God.
1 Peter 3:1 - Wives are to submit to their own husbands. How? - "in the same way" [i.e., like the way described in ch. 2]
1 Peter 3:5 - The holy women of the past (= the women who put their hope in God): they were submissive to their own husbands. Example: Sarah - she obeyed Abraham and called him her master (Gen. 18:12). [The focus is on her attitude, not the fact that she uttered the word, "Master."]
[Since, in recent years, this specific issue has become a very "explosive" topic (though in times past, it was once generally accepted as "the way God intended it to be"), a greater focus will be placed on understanding these verses. The comments and questions are intended for the purpose of exploring what the Bible says about the issue, when accepted "as is." Each person, however, is accountable to God for his own final conclusions. (Many people will most likely dismiss the entire group of verses as "culturally bound and not relevant in modern society" - even though nothing in the contexts makes a distinction between these commands and the others found in nearby passages.)]
In some of these passages, the phrase "submit to" could also be translated as "place yourselves under the authority of..." You may wish to take another look at these verses and read them this way.
Submission is associated with the concept of fear/reverence. It not only includes "obedience" (compare to 1 Peter 3:6, which uses the word "obedience" after mentioning "submission" in the previous verses) but also the attitude of the heart, that should be present (compare to Ephesians 5:33, which mentions "fear" or "reverence" - depending on translation - after mentioning "submission" in the previous verses). If the proper attitude is present, the proper actions will also be present.
Two passages make reference to a woman's attitude in the church - that is, when believers are gathered together for the purpose of instruction. In some passages, such as 1 Corinthians 11, a woman's participation in the activities is assumed to be right and proper. But within the specific context of the passages found in this section, the mention of "silence" and "quiet attitude" seems to make reference to the issue of teaching and having authority over men.
The other passages make reference to a woman's attitude in the home - specifically in reference to her own (Col. 3:18) husband. Of course, most of these passages also place obligations upon the husband.
In some passages, the reasons for this submission are also stated. Some passages point out the consequences of submission (or lack thereof) - even eternal consequences. Even things that some people might consider unrelated to a woman's attitude may be influenced. (Example: The attitude people have toward the Word will be influenced by the woman's conduct.) And in some contexts, the issue of "silence" is also addressed. (See the context for the reasons for the command.)
Some of the passages link this submission to other events or authority situations. One passage makes reference to "holy women of the past," who submitted to their husbands (including having the proper attitude). Another passage points out that the relationship of husband/wife is to reflect that of Christ/church.
Three passages make reference to the events that happened in the Garden in Eden - the creation of man and woman, as well as their fall into sin (Genesis 3, esp. v. 16). Paul does not treat those events as a mere "story," but as "what really happened back then." The human race is viewed not only as a large number of individuals, but also as a unit. There is a "solidarity" to the human race: in many ways, we are seen in our original parents and our original parents can be seen in us. What they did back then (when we were part of them) affects us today.
Just for the record (in case someone forgot!), there are situations in which men also have to submit to someone. Younger men are told to submit to those who are older (1 Peter 5:5). And in any situation in which they would be working for ("serving") someone else, they would be under obligation to submit to the person they were working for. (The commands given to servants and masters apply to any such situation - even employer/employee relationships.). And all people (men and women) must submit to governing authorities and to the leaders of the church.
What does the Bible say about a woman's submission? (This may include not only what the Bible says, but why it is said, what the consequences are, etc. Make every attempt possible to distinguish between what the Bible says, and the world's distortion of what the Bible says. (Some people may try to make it sound more compatible with the world, to make it more acceptable; others may try to make it sound very horrible and brutal, so as to turn people against the Bible.)
How important is attitude, in this matter?
In these passages, what examples are given for women to follow? [Example: What does the phrase "in the same way" (1 Peter 3:1) connect to?]
Regarding the issue of submitting "in everything" (Ephesians 5:24), are there any exceptions? [You may wish to examine the concept of "Civil Disobedience," before you answer this question.]
In what ways are the requirements given to women/wives complemented by the requirements given to men/husbands? (God is not one-sided!) What happens when either men or women neglect to fulfill their obligations? [Notes: 1) A look at the sad condition of the "typical" family might be a good indicator of what happens when obligations are neglected. 2) Don't forget that men and women sometimes sin in different ways. Many of the sins that women tend to commit are more "politically correct" and socially acceptable (in our modern, unregenerate society) than many of the sins that men tend to commit. But in God's sight, both are just as sinful. And sometimes, less obvious "non-physical" sins can cause greater long term harm than "physical" sins, because their attack goes beyond just the physical body - penetrating to the very depths of one's soul.]
1 Peter 5:5 - Young men must submit to those who are older [i.e., the "elders"/leaders of the church]. How? In the same way [as the previous examples given in 1 Peter].
In what way(s) must the younger men submit to the older ones? Why? [Generally speaking, the older men (who were more experienced, and hopefully wiser) were the leaders (or "elders").]
1 Timothy 3:4 - An elder must ... manage his own family well. He must have/maintain a family in which his children obey him and have a right/proper respect for him. (See also v. 5.)
Titus 1:6 - An elder's children must not have lives that leave them open to accusations of being wild and rebellious [not submissive].
NOTE: Other passages, which make a general reference to children (Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20), use the word "obedience," rather than "submission." Children are to "obey" even when that obedience is nothing more than mere compliance. An elder's children, however, must have grown beyond that point - to the point that their obedience is becoming a willing expression of the heart (in contrast to a heart filled with rebellion/unsubmissiveness).
What are the implications of these passages? How important is this to an elder's qualification as a leader?
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2 Corinthians 9:13 - [The Corinthians'] obedience went right along with their confession/acknowledgment of the gospel (message or good news) about Christ.
Galatians 2:5 - We did not give in [submit] to the false brothers - not even for a moment - so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you [preserved & without compromise].
How is submission (willing obedience) connected with "confessing" the good news (message) about Christ? (You may also want to consider passages that are mentioned in the "obedience" outline.)
How is "submission" to the teaching of false teachers incompatible with the "submission" mentioned in the 2 Corinthians 9:13 passage?
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1 Corinthians 15:27-28 - [concept mentioned 4 times in these verses] God has put ("submitted") everything under Christ's feet / under Christ / etc. [Also mentioned: the submission of Christ to God, as being the first resurrected man (who is Lord over all else).]
Ephesians 1:22 - God put ("submitted") all things under Christ's feet... [= He is Lord over all.]
Philippians 3:21 - Christ's power enables him to bring everything into submission to him [= under his control / authority]. (That same power will transform our bodies at the resurrection.)
1 Peter 3:22 - Angels, authorities and powers are in submission to Christ (= are under his authority).
As you consider what these verses say, where do you fit in? [Example: Do you (or will you in the future) submit to him?] What is your reaction to that?
Two passages mention God placing ("submitting") things under Christ's feet; one passage mentions Christ as having the power to make everything submit to him. How do these passages complement each other?
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1 Corinthians 14:32 - The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. [Those who have the ability to speak what God has revealed also have the ability to control themselves... (and they must do so).]
Consider the context (especially the verse that follows). How must they be in submission? Compare this to the general concept of "self control" - which is applicable to all.
Luke 10:17 - The demons submit to us [the 72 disciples] in your name [that is, when, on your behalf, we command them to leave]."
Luke 10:20 - The focus of your joy should not be on the fact that the spirits submit to you, but rather on the fact that your names are written in heaven.
[Within this context, the words "demon" (v. 17) and "spirit" (v. 20) are referring to the same creatures/beings.] Why (according to the context) did these spirit beings submit to the apostles? What attitude were the apostles to have, regarding this fact? What can we learn about our own attitude (that is, what it should be), when God accomplishes something great through us?
Romans 8:7 - the sinful mind (or, the mind set on the flesh, the mind controlled by the corrupt nature) is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law [to the law's authority]. In fact, it cannot do so!
Explore the context. Describe these two ways of living. How incompatible are they? (In other words, to what extent (if any) does Scripture say they can co-exist within a person?)
Romans 8:20 - Creation was subjected to frustration (wearing out, becoming useless, decaying, etc.), not because it chose to be that way, but because God chose to subject it, ... [so that there could be a future hope for it...]
Hebrews 2:5 - God did not subject the world to come to angels. (He did not place the future world under their authority.) [See the verses that follow.]
Hebrews 2:8 - "God put everything under him [man] (= under his authority)." [Quote from Psalm 8.] In saying this, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at the present time, we do not see everything subject to him (= under his authority). [But we do see Christ... (who has everything under his authority).]
The present world is well described by the word "frustration." Things wear down and decay; things get old and deteriorate. Things never seem to be quite as good as they are "supposed" to be. Perfection remains always beyond our reach. Yet the fact that God did not utterly destroy it, on the day sin entered the world, means there is hope. Someday there will be a restoration of things to the way they were intended to be. According to the context in Romans, how is this restoration linked to our own restoration (salvation)?
The Hebrews passage makes reference to Psalm 8, which describes the dominion (rule) that God intended humanity to have over creation. Sin (and its effects on creation) has partially destroyed this relationship between people and creation. All is not lost, however, because there is a prophetic (future) dimension to this passage. At present, we see only a glimpse of its fulfillment - in Christ. But the day will come, in which its fulfillment will be made complete - because of Christ. Again, there is a connection between the future restoration of the world and us (that is, we who are truly saved), as well as a connection between our own future restoration and Christ. What are these connections? In what ways do they interrelate?
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Dennis Hinks © 1990, 1999