x253......Undefined Rule

(Hebrews 13:17--part "A")..........

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:....."

"submit to authority"

"submit to them that have the rule"

"submit to the pastor"

This half of a verse is one of the most well-known and quoted (in it's various derivatives) scriptures in the Bible. Somehow--every Christian that I know of knows this verse--some who do not even know John 3:16 can quote this half of a verse and do so often. The longer a person sits in church, the longer they begin to quote this half-verse, and to stress the idea that this is the teaching that we all need to know and understand.

The problem that we have is that there is a word in this verse--"rule"--which is a very dangerous word. This word was translated thus by the King James translators--for a Bible that was designed for an earthly king--King James--who--like it or not--established his right to rule over others--to be king--absolute monarch over a "Christian nation"--his right to make laws and have them carried out by his subjects--and supposedly this king (and all the other kings of Europe at that time) attained to this "rule" from God. They established their right to rule with authority over others--their right to be absolute monarchs over a nation--supposedly through the Bible--the word of God. Wherever possible (and it is only possible in a handful of places) the translators of the Bible inserted the words ---rule--obey--submit--subject---etc.--in order to please the king for whom they were translating the Bible, and in order to fit their particular experience--their particular concept of what the "church" and ministry and authority were in their day and age.

Now here is the dangerous situation that we face in our churches of today. We are still carrying out this concept of "rule" that was handed down to us from the kings of Europe --(and before them from the Popes of the Roman church--and before that from the Roman emperors--emperors who were the originators of these misconceptions).

In a sense we have a very well-defined concept of what "rule" is within a church. We have a very well established set of rules that we observe about "respect for authority"--about who can and cannot speak within our churches--about who we should listen to and who we should not listen to--about who has the supposed right to make rules about the direction of the church--about what we should do when we gather together--about who has the "right" to teach within the church--about who has the right to "minister" within the church--even about what the church is --.All these concepts (and certainly many many more) come from the tradition of the "rule" of previously established churches and denominations and ultimately earthly kings and kingdoms.

"Tradition" is simply people following after people--and not following after God. When we follow after other people--when we base our operating principles on what we have seen other people do --(outside of the Bible example we have) we --(no matter how good or wonderful those people may have been) are following after the tradition of men--rather than the pure calling of God through His word.

And one of the central traditions that we have firmly in place in all or most Christian churches today--is the concept of what "rule" is within the church. But all these definitions are absolutely wrong--at least according to one person. In fact all of these concepts of "rule" are specifically NOT what this person said "rule" was supposed to be in the New Covenant church.--Who are we talking bout?--JESUS!

All of these definitions of "rule", which are handed down to us by tradition, are specifically what Jesus said NOT to have in the new covenant church. Jesus had His own definition of rule--

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, as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:25-26, KJV).

Jesus here describes 2 kingdoms. One of the Gentiles (certainly the Roman government--the Gentile kings that ruled Israel at the time!--Jesus specifically names out the Roman government as the system NOT to use within the new covenant church--and yet it is exactly the system that we utilize!). The Gentile kingdom operates in a certain specific way--"......they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors"---The Gentile kingdom operates in this manner according to Jesus (please note: this is NOT our own personal judgement!) Those who rule--those who are leaders--"exercise authority over" the rest--and those who are "under" that authority--those who "submit" to that authority"--are benefited by it. In other words it is considered beneficial for most to be ruled by one person who has authority over the rest--and the concept among these people is that if one submits to this "authority" it will benefit them,--it will be beneficial if a person submits to this authority.

This type of government is the worldly government that exists in every country and in every corporation that exists. We are very very familiar with this government--it is the way the world operates--leaders must convince those who are "under "them, that they should follow their commands--their "rule". The leadership has the right to make the rules and those "under their authority" must or should follow after this rule. In some way or fashion it is considered beneficial to submit to the rule of this type of authority. For example, in most businesses, there is someone who is "the boss" someone who "has authority" over the rest. If you submit to this authority we will benefit--by receiving a paycheck.

All of us live with this type of rulership in our lives to some extent. Every society that I know of functions under this type of rulership authority system--whether or not they are a democracy or a dictatorship. Obviously a dictatorship "exercises authority "over the subjects in this type of nation. However, even in the most advanced democracies, when an official is elected into government, they have "authority" over others--they have the right to make the laws---to arrest people--to rule with power over others. The democratic way of thinking is just a way of limiting the time that a sinful person can hold authority over others. We know that most dictatorships end terribly for a nation, because the sin within a person who has absolute authority over others will eventually lead to corruption. Democracy only attempts to limit the damage that a leader can do by limiting the time one can "hold office" (interesting how the bible words for rulership --"office" is also used in the world).

We are very familiar with the "Gentile kingdom"--with the rule of leaders who have authority over us--and if we submit to this authority we will benefit--(in the case of a business we receive a paycheck--in the case of government we follow the laws and are not punished). We have none or very little concept of what the kingdom that Jesus is describing. We do not understand--we have never really seen the kingdom of God--the kingdom in which leadership serves all--the only real clear example that we have of this kingdom is the ministry of Jesus.

What we do have in most of our churches is undefined or rather misdefined "rule". We rather strictly follow after the concept of "submit to them that have the rule" and we clearly define "rule" as someone who has been "given authority" by God to rule over us--and if we submit to this authority, we will benefit from it. Since we just read this half verse--and have established our churches for centuries on this concept, we have undefined "rule within our churches.

We see the world "rule" in this verse--if we were to define this word by itself--

hegeomai hegeomai {hag-ee-om-ahee}; v

-----count 10, think 4, esteem 3, have rule over 3, be governor 2, misc 6; 28

1) to lead

1a) to go before

1b) to be a leader 1b1) to rule, command

1b2) to have authority over

1b3) a prince, of regal power, governor, viceroy, chief, leading as respects influence, controlling in counsel, overseers or leaders of the churches

1b4) used of any kind of leader, chief, commander

1b5) the leader in speech, chief, spokesman

2) to consider, deem, account, think

We see that this word seems to mean what we believe "rule" to be--authority over others--(although the clearest and simplest definition is simply "leadership").

We simply do not follow after Jesus' definition of what "rule" is. For this very same word "hegeomai" is used in Luke 22:26--

"...........he that is chief (hegeomai), as he that doth serve."

Jesus defines "rule" (hegeomai) as someone who serves--not someone who "has authority" over others. The perfect example of this type of leadership is Jesus Himself--and He says this of Himself in the next verse......

27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:27)

Jesus example of service to others--to "lay down His life" for others--is the example of what leadership is meant to be in he church. Jesus repeats this same message in Matthew 22--

25* But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26* But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27* And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28* Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Giving up your life--and serving others is what leadership is meant to be in the body of Christ--in the church.

Now some may think that this is simply advice that Jesus was giving to His disciples at the particular time that He spoke these words--but He goes on to say something very important in Luke 22:29--

29* And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;

Jesus here is saying that this way of operating Gods kingdom is part of the covenant--the new covenant. The word used here is only used about a half a dozen times in the new testament--and this is the only time that Jesus speaks this particular Greek word--

diatiyemai diatithemai {dee-at-ith'-em-ahee} v

-----make 3, testator 2, appoint 2; 7

1) to arrange, dispose of, one's own affairs

1a) of something that belongs to one

1b) to dispose of by will, make a testament

2) to make a covenant, enter into a covenant, with one

This is the word which means "to appoint the covenant"--and this is the only place that Jesus Himself speaks this particular Greek word in the entier Bible! These words which Jesus speaks are not just simple advice--not just a "life-enhancing teaching from the word of God"--they are rather the central theme that the church--the new covenant church is meant to base itself upon.

The questions we respectfully ask: Are we today in our Christian churches seeking after this high will of God? Are we operating our churches from the standpoint of human authority--of the rule of man--or is Christ truly the Head of the church? Are we truly seeking after Jesus' high example of leadership, of laying down one's life, that others might be free? Jesus made apostles. He made people who did everything that He did. He fully released His followers to serve God. This was His example of leadership----is it ours?