1. Is it in the Bible?
Heb 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.
2. What do we believe it means?
God has appointed the pastor to "have the rule" over the local church.
3. What does it really mean?
there is a phrase translated only here in Hebrews which says "them that have the rule over". This phrase is one Greek word...
This word, in it's simplest term, means leadership, and it could possibly mean rulership or authority over others.
What is the meaning of Christian leadership?
Jesus defined this exact Greek word in Luke 22:25-26..
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise
lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them
are called benefactors.
26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief (hegeomai), as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:25-26)
Here, the word is translated as "chief"--is also the Greek (hegeomai). Jesus defined Christian leadership as a servant--and specifically NOT as one who exercises authority over others.
Jesus told His followers many times in the Gospels NOT to exercise authority one over another, among ourselves (Luke 22:25-29, Mark 10:42-44, Matthew 20:25-26--among others).
The phrase "them that have the rule over" in Hebrews is a serious mistranslation by the King James translators. (of course, one could hardly blame them, when they were translating a Bible for a king, who strongly believed he "had the rule" over all the people in England--from God-!)
Hebrews 13:17 actually tells us to listen to other believers, and cooperate with the Word of God which they serve to us. Certainly good advice--certainly NOT a proclamation of human government of a "ruler" over the church.
It is NOT telling us to "submit tot he rule"--there is no "rule" in the church--but God's.