Submission is a fundamental concept deeply rooted in the teachings of the Bible, offering profound insights into our relationship with God and each other. In this exploration, we delve into what submission means in the biblical context, how it applies to various aspects of life, and the challenges associated with its interpretation.
What Does Submission Mean?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, submission is the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
Submission, in the biblical context, signifies willingly yielding or surrendering one’s will to God or those in authority. It is an act of humility, obedience, and reverence that acknowledges God’s sovereignty over our lives. This involves recognizing our role as created beings and aligning ourselves with God’s divine order and purpose.
Bible Verses on What It Means to Submit
Submission is a recurring and vital theme woven throughout the fabric of the Bible, touching upon various aspects of life. It can be seen as an act of Godly respect to the head. Let’s explore ten Bible verses that shine a light on the profound significance of submission:
1. Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV):
Wives, respect and support your husbands just as you do for the Lord. Just as the Church submits to Christ, wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
2. 1 Peter 2:13-14 (NIV):
Submit to every human authority for the Lord’s sake, whether it’s the emperor or governors. This submission contributes to social order and stability.
3. Hebrews 13:17 (NIV):
Have confidence in your church leaders and submit to their authority. This ensures joy in their work and promotes accountability and spiritual growth.
4. James 4:7 (NIV):
Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. This involves humbling oneself before God and rejecting evil influences.
5. Romans 13:1 (NIV):
Obey governing authorities, as they are established by God for social order and justice.
6. Colossians 3:18 (NIV):
Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord, highlighting the biblical teaching on relational roles.
7. 1 Corinthians 16:15-16 (NIV):
Acknowledge and submit to those who serve the Lord and the church. This submission is rooted in love, service, and cooperation.
8. 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV):
Younger members, submit to your elders, and all should clothe themselves with humility, fostering unity and respect.
9. Titus 3:1 (NIV):
Be subject to rulers and authorities, obedient, and ready to do good, exemplifying the Christian faith.
10. Philippians 2:3 (NIV): > Do nothing out of selfish ambition; instead, in humility, value others above yourselves, fostering a spirit of mutual submission.
These verses collectively reveal the diverse nature of submission within the Christian faith, emphasizing humility, respect, and a commitment to serving God and one another in love and harmony.
The Human Problem with Submission
As human beings, we often struggle with the concept of submission. Our innate desire for independence and self-determination can make it challenging to submit ourselves to God’s will or to the authority of others. This struggle with submission can be traced back to the fall of humanity, where the desire to be “like God” led to disobedience and rebellion.
It is crucial to recognize that this struggle is not a new phenomenon but a part of our human nature. However, understanding the biblical perspective on submission can provide guidance and clarity in navigating this inherent challenge. Through humility, trust, and faith, individuals can overcome the human struggle with submission and align themselves with God’s divine order.
What Submission Is Not
It’s important to clarify what submission is not. Submission does not imply inferiority or the loss of personal identity. It does not justify abuse or oppression. Instead, biblical submission is a voluntary act that operates within the framework of love, respect, and mutual submission.
It is not about suppressing individuality but embracing a harmonious and collaborative approach within the framework of God’s divine order. Understanding what submission is not dispels misconceptions and emphasizes the importance of approaching this concept with the values of equality, dignity, and shared responsibility.
What Submission Looks Like in Different Areas of Life
In various aspects of life, submission takes on different forms, each rooted in humility and acknowledgment of authority.
1. Submission to God
The Bible underscores the significance of humbling oneself under the mighty hand of God. 1 Peter 5:6 (NIV) encourages believers with the words, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” This act of submission involves recognizing God’s sovereignty and surrendering to His divine will. It’s a voluntary acknowledgment of dependence on God’s guidance, seeking His exaltation in due time.
2. Submission to Authority
Scripture emphasizes the principle of submitting to earthly authorities. Romans 13:1 (NIV) states, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Whether it’s government leaders, employers, or other figures in positions of authority, believers are called to submit to them. This submission contributes to social order, stability, and reflects obedience to God’s overarching plan for authority structures in society.
3. Submission in Marriage
In the context of marriage, the Bible instructs wives to submit to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22 (NIV) says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” However, this submission is not about blind obedience. Instead, it involves willingly supporting and respecting one’s spouse. Husbands, in turn, are called to love their wives sacrificially, mirroring Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:25). This mutual submission creates a harmonious partnership where both spouses prioritize each other’s needs, fostering a relationship that aligns with God’s design for marriage.
4. Submission in Interpersonal Relationships
Submission is not confined to the marital relationship; it extends to all interpersonal connections. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) captures the essence of this mutual submission: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Believers are encouraged to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This mutual submission fosters an atmosphere of humility, cooperation, and respect in various relationships. It includes actively considering the needs and interests of others, prioritizing harmony, and striving for unity within the broader body of Christ.
Jesus Himself provided a profound example of humility and servanthood. In Matthew 18:3-4 (NIV), He said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Additionally, in Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV), Jesus declared, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” These teachings underscore the transformative power of humility and submission in the life of a believer.
Challenges and Misconceptions Surrounding Submission
Some may perceive submission as a sign of weakness or passivity. However, biblical submission is not about surrendering our power or losing our voice. It is a deliberate choice to align our will with God’s and to exercise strength in obedience. True submission requires courage, faith, and a deep trust in God’s faithfulness.
While submission is a biblical principle, it is important to note that it should never be used to justify abuse or manipulation. God’s design for submission is rooted in love, respect, and mutual submission. If submission in any context becomes harmful or oppressive, it is crucial to seek guidance and support to address the issue and ensure safety.
How Should Christians Submit?
To understand how Christians should submit, we must look to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the ultimate example of submission, willingly submitted to God’s will, even to the point of death on the cross. As followers of Christ, we are called to emulate His humility and obedience. Our submission should reflect a heart transformed by God’s love, characterized by selflessness, and guided by His Word.
The role of prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit
Submitting to God’s will requires a deepening relationship with Him. Through prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit, we can seek guidance, discern His will, and find strength to submit when faced with challenges or difficult decisions. Prayer cultivates intimacy with God, aligns our desires with His, and helps us surrender our will to His perfect plan.
What’s Required of You?
1. Trusting in God’s wisdom and guidance
When we submit ourselves to God, we acknowledge His wisdom and sovereignty over our lives. We trust that His plans are better than our own, and we surrender our desires and ambitions to His divine purposes. In doing so, we find peace and assurance in knowing that God is in control and that He works all things together for our good.
2. Cultivating humility and selflessness: Submission requires humility, as it acknowledges that we are not the ultimate authority. By humbling ourselves before God and others, we learn to prioritize the needs and interests of others above our own. It cultivates selflessness and fosters an environment of love, compassion, and service.
3. Strengthening relationships and promoting unity: Submission plays a crucial role in building strong relationships and promoting unity within the body of Christ. When we submit to one another, we create an atmosphere of mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation. It allows us to work together harmoniously, embracing our differences and focusing on our shared purpose of glorifying God.
Scriptural References on the Word “Submit”
The word “submit” in the Bible comes from the Greek word “hupotasso” which means to put oneself under the authority of another. In the biblical context, submit is used to describe the act of willingly submitting to the authority of God, as well as to the authority of other human beings. Key scriptures that demonstrate the meaning of submit in the Bible include Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18-20, and 1 Peter 2:13-17. In these verses, the Bible instructs Christians to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ and to live in peace and unity.
Submit in the Bible refers to yielding to the authority or control of another. In a biblical context, this means submitting to God and to those in positions of authority, such as husbands, leaders, and elders.
To get a better understanding of submit, let’s look at some key scriptures that demonstrate its meaning. For example, Ephesians 5:22-24 instructs wives to submit to their husbands, while 1 Peter 5:5 instructs all believers to submit to those in authority.
Examples of Submission in the Bible
Submission is a common theme in the Bible, and it can be found in various contexts, including the family structure and the church. In the family structure, the Bible instructs wives to submit to their husbands as the head of the household (Ephesians 5:22-24), and children to submit to their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3).
In the church, the Bible instructs elders to submit to their leaders (Hebrews 13:17) and members to submit to the church (1 Corinthians 16:15-16). These examples show how submission is not just about submitting to authority, but also about living in harmony and obedience to God’s will.
The Purpose of Submission in the Bible
The purpose of submission in the Bible is two-fold. First, it is meant to promote peace and unity among Christians. By submitting to one another, Christians can live in harmony and avoid conflicts that can arise from disunity and disobedience. Second, submission is meant to foster personal growth and spiritual development.
By submitting to God’s will and to the authority of others, Christians can learn to trust in God’s plan for their lives and grow in their faith. In addition, submission plays a key role in furthering God’s will and kingdom by allowing Christians to serve and obey God in all aspects of their lives.
To summarize, submit is a central concept in the Bible that plays a key role in promoting peace and unity, personal growth and spiritual development, and furthering God’s will and kingdom. Reflecting on the importance of submitting to God and others highlights just how significant this biblical principle is in our lives. By having a proper understanding and application of submit, we can live lives that honor God and reflect His will.