What We Learn from Christ pt 2

Feb 6, 2022 // By:Dave // No Comment

21 and be subject (submit) to one another in the fear of Christ.

what does it mean to be subject ?

subject (25x)  G5293 (43x)

[NIV Greek]  

5718   [5293]   ὑποτάσσω, hypotassō, v.  [5679 + 5435]. to put in subjection, subject, subordinate; (pass.) to submit, be subject to

[Bible Words]  


This theme is an extremely sensitive one and much misunderstood. What is the Bible’s teaching on submission—in marriage and in other relationships?

1. The Greek words

2. The biblical concept

1. The Greek words. In most occurrences of the words “submit,” “subject,” and “submission” in the NIV and NASB, the Greek word is hypotasso. This is a word of subjection, implying that one subjects or subordinates himself or herself to someone or something else. They imply a responsive obedience to whoever or whatever one is subject to. Thus, citizens were subject to governing authorities, and slaves to masters.

These two words occur only three times in the Gospels but forty-one times in the Epistles. Hypotage (“subjection”) appears only four times in the NT (2 Co 9:13; Gal 2:5; 1 Ti 2:11; 3:4), whereas hypotasso (“to subject”) verb appears forty times (Lk 2:51; 10:17,20; Ro 8:7,20; 10:3; 13:1, 5; 1 Co 14:32,34; 15:27,28; 16:16; Eph 1:22; 5:21,22,24; Php 3:21; Col 3:18; Tit 2:5,9; 3:1; Heb 2:5, 8; 12:9; Jas 4:7; 1 Pe 2:13,18; 3:1, 5,22; 5:5).

One other word, hypeiko occurs only once in the NT (Heb 13:17). The sense of the main clause of the verse is “Remain open to the persuasion of your leaders and be responsive to them.” (See OBEY/DISOBEY) In other passages where the NIV has “submit” or “subject,” the concept is supplied by the translators to give English readers the sense of the Greek construction.

2. The biblical concept. The literal meaning of words, even those well defined in their culture, cannot tell us how these words are used to develop or express a biblical perspective. Perhaps this is particularly true with the concept of submission. 

submission may be forced (“Even the demons submit to us” [Lk 10:17]) 

or voluntary (“Submit yourselves, then, to God” [Jam 4:7]). There is no question that the emphasis in the NT is on voluntary submission by believers.

The voluntary submission of believers involves existing social structures. 

Christians are to “submit . . . to the governing authorities” (Ro 13:1), 

to “every authority instituted among men” (1 Pe 2:13). 

slaves are to submit and provide good service, even to harsh masters (Tit 2:9; 1 Pe 2:18). 

This calls for voluntary submission in roles defined by one’s culture and makes no judgment at all on the justice or validity of particular institutions. It simply calls on the believer to live in the world as it is and in one’s own culture to do what is expected of a good citizen or a good slave. 

  1. situational submission—a voluntary choice by the believer to do what is deemed right according to the norms of his or her own culture. 

(Of course, Scripture also deals the exceptional case in which the culture calls “right” what God calls “wrong.”) Peter and John refusing to submit to the rule of the sanhedrin when told to stop preaching Christ.

Acts 4:18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;

Acts 4:20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Another area in which believers are called on to submit voluntarily is that of Christian 

  1. relational submission… In their (various roles in the body of Christ), 

Christians are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21). 

This responsiveness and willingness to yield to one another out of love should be extended not only by younger to older (1 Pe 5:5) but also by everyone to those who devote themselves “to the service of the saints” (1 Co 16:15-16). 

1Cor. 16:15 ¶ Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints),

1Cor. 16:16 that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.

1Pet. 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

This subjection is the surrender of one’s own interests to those of others.

love, serve, devote, subject

Rom. 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Phil. 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Phil. 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Phil. 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Phil. 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

Phil. 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Phil. 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Phil. 2:8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Matt. 20:26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,

Matt. 20:27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;

Matt. 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

we can now clearly see that submitting to one another is “loving one another”

loving/submitting to another is bringing your A game to the relationship/situation.

don’t forget that this entire passage comes under an  imperative provided back in chapt 4

Eph. 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

Eph. 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Eph. 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

“walk in love” … everything we have been reading and talking about since 4:1-3 has been providing details and examples of walking in love.

Eph 5:21 poses a conundrum: Paul commends Spirit-filled Christians for “submitting to one another.” Isolate the verse from its context, and it almost sounds as if the Apostle teaches a kind of mutual, universal submission, without regard to any structured leadership, hierarchy, or chain of command—as if he means to declare all authority void.

his following verses provide the structure

What is important for us to realize is that however we understand “submission” in such passages, 

it does not imply an inferiority of person. Submission is not a confession of inferiority but a demonstration of the fact that personal significance does not depend on one’s role in society. 

The Christian is responsive to God, fulfilling his or her highest destiny in choosing to obey the Lord in the matter of submission.

Luke 2:51, the first NT use of hypotasso. Luke states that after Jesus’ visit to the temple at age twelve, he returned with his parents to Nazareth and was “obedient” to them; literally, and in such other versions as KJV, the Greek word is “subject.” 

God himself entered our world in the person of Christ, and he himself willingly chose to submit to a parental authority that was appropriate to his condition as a child. 

Did submission make him inferior? 

Hardly, for he always remained who he was—God. Nor can submission make us inferior as persons, for we too remain who we are, children of God now, deeply loved and accepted by the Lord.

submission to another does not mean you are inferior to that person (the submissive one may well have higher intelligence, physical strength, or cultural prowess)

submission is a sign of our understanding of two things:

  1. authority of the kingdom over us
  2. our trust for Him to control the results of aligning with His authority

the overarching idea is that we need to love and submit within the definition provided by the relationship (or the situation)

Let’s take three passages together that deal with each others topics

Eph 5:22-6:9

1 Pet 3:1-9

Coll 3:17-24

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.


Eph 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Col. 3:18 ¶ Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

Eph 5:24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

1Pet. 3:1 ¶ In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,

1Pet. 3:2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

1Pet. 3:3 Your adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;

1Pet. 3:4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

1Pet. 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;

1Pet. 3:6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

1 Pet3:3 does not say “don’t have any external adornment” (no jewelry or makeup or nice clothes)

if the house needs a paint job, then paint it

(but the inside of the house should not be a dump while the outside is all cleaned up)

most of us know someone who is totally hung up on appearance

(and their security hangs on the attention they get, the validation of the attention)

what is inside of you is more important than outside (see verse 4)

mature men find a modestly dressed lady far more attractive than someone in tight revealing clothes.

(because of the character it reflects from the inside)

Eph 5:22, Coll 3:18 1 Pet 3:1 do not say “husbands, put your wives in subjection to your authority

this is a voluntary choice for the wife to make (as often as she needs to , or is capable of doing LOL)

what reasons might a wife give to excuse herself from submitting ?


  • are called to submit to their husbands 
  • let their adornment (how they show their beauty) be of greater focus on their gentle spirit which is far more precious to the Lord 
  • their gentle presentation can even win over a husband who is disobedient to the Lord’s word

what happens when the wife is not submitting to the husband ?

  • who is leading?
  • who is taking responsibility ?
  • who does God have to deal with to correct the bad leadership ?

“submitting to my husband is the learned art of ducking”

i.e. getting out of the way so God can deal directly with my husband



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