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.

Many times we have heard this scripture--or at least the first half of this verse--"submit to them who have the rule over over you"---as the central doctrine that leads us to believe that in the church--there is a person--or a group of people-- who "have rule over others in the church"--to whom we must "submit"

Now in other studies we have seen that this verse, when taken in context says that we should "believe those who lead us in the word"--those who "must give account" (logos)---that this verse is really saying that we should listen to someone who is teaching us the word of God--important to note that it does not specify that only the leader of the church can teach the word (as is strong church tradition)-- the very same book of Hebrews makes the statement that "all ought to be teachers" (Hebrews 5:12).

In another study we have seen that "rule" in the body of Christ is not to be done using authority over one another--nor is it the right of one person to "make up the rules" in a church. Jesus warned the apostles that "whoever would be chief among you let him be the servant of all" (Luke 22:25-26)--and that we are not to use the system of the Gentile leadership which is to use authority or power over one another. Jesus was given all power by the Father--He released that authority to His apostles--and to all them that believe--which is all of us. But that authority is specifically directed to be used against the works of the devil in the earth--to cast out demons--to heal the sick--to preach he Gospel tot he lost--this "authority" which all Christians have is never to be used over one another in the body of Christ.

In other words, the authority that minsitry has, is commanded to be used 100% against the enemy, and NOT ONE OVER ANOTHER!!

But leads now take a look at this word "submit"--

hupotasso {hoop-ot-as'-so} v

--- put under 6, be subject unto 6, be subject to 5, submit (one's) self unto 5, submit (one's) self to 3, be in subjection unto 2, put in subjection under 1, misc 12; 40

1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, put in subjection 3) to subject one's self, obey 4) to submit to one's control 5) to yield to one's admonition or advice 6) to obey, be subject

++++ A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

The last part of this definition is very important. The type of "submission" that we are very often experiencing within the church is the military type---yet this word in the Greek has two connotations to it. Yes it does have the military sense of submission to leaders---but it also has the non-military use--

"a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden"

This last is certainly the one that is meant within a church--the key here is that we are at war with he devil--not against ourselves! This is the type of submission that the very earliest church had after the days of Pentecost--

44* And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46* And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47* Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:44-47)

They operated their ministry all on a common level---do we in our churches today?

But now lets look at this word to "submit" in context with other teachings in the Bible and within the church. If, as we are lead to believe very often, we are to submit to our leaders (meaning to give over our will to the will of the leaders) very important to note that the Bible never tells us to give over our will to another person at all--it is always telling us to submit to another when they are doing something else for us. Also something to consider--the Greek word "archon" is used in some places in the Bible. This is a word which means "rule with authority over others"---but that word archon, is not used in these verses, nor in any area that describes church behavior. It is only used in regard to worldy rulership, of an emperor, or king.

Let's look at the word "hupatosso" as it is used in relationship to a Christian marriage--

Col 3:18* Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

This verse-- when taken out of context could be used to give the mistaken idea that husbands have authority over their wives--that wives must submit to the will of a husband without question as a command from God. Many wives have suffered unhappy or near abusive marriages from this misunderstanding of scripture. But when we read these verse in context we see the "two-way street" that is being described--

18* ¶ Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19* Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

Each time the Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands it also tells us that they are to submit to the love of the husband--not to the will or authority of the husband--but rather submission to the love of God coming through the Christian husband (Much as we are to submit to the leaders in the church who give us the word--not to submit to the leaders of the church who lord it over us--not to submit to rules that they have created that are outside the word of God in any way. As we can see it is in fact the husband and the church leaders who have the tougher job in the matter--submission to the love of husband--or submission to the church leader how truly serves with a pure heart and is feeding us the word of God properly is certainly an easy thing to do and certainly will benefit us. Again, bear in mind the second meaning of hupotasso--"a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden"---a good marriage is all about bearing one anothers burdens in love---amen!

1Pe 2:13* Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

The bible tells us to obey the laws of our country. Of course this makes perfect sense when taken with all the other admonitions in the Bible---most law actually comes from the Bible in most countries. Even the apostles of the Bible who were killed by rulers never openly disobeyed the laws of the land--they preached the Gospel which cannot be forbidden by man--although they may have payed a price for their obedience in these things. The word "supreme" in this verse, here used in regard to worldly kings, is the Greek "huperecho"--a word which means someone who is first in authority by rank an power. Once again, this word is NOT used in reference to any church leaders---rulership with authority over others is ONLY IN THE WORLD, AND NOT IN THE CHURCH!! (at least that is what the Bible says--if anyone cares!)

1Pe 5:5* Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Now, here is the"submission" scripture that you probably have never heard--but it in fact gives the two-way street of submitting. The first half says that "younger should submit to the elder" The word used here "elder" is

presbuteros {pres-boo'-ter-os} adj

--- elder 64, old man 1, eldest 1, elder woman 1; 67

1) elder, of age, 1a) the elder of two people 1b) advanced in life, an elder, a senior 1b1) forefathers 2) a term of rank or office 2a) among the Jews 2a1) members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men) 2a2) of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice 2b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably 2c) the twenty four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God

These were the "elders" who were often the leaders of the early church. We say "often", because the Bible does not lay down a law about who is qualified to be a leader---expereince does not matter--the gift and the annoiting are what counts. It is always interesting to note that the one book of the Bible which speaks most about church leadership is 1& 2Timothy---and it is clear that Timothy, a leader of the church, was a young man! Peter had just before given the command to "feed the flock"--

1* ¶ The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2* Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3* Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4* And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 5* ¶ Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6* Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7* Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Peter 5:1-7)

Now when we see these verses in context we see that these elders--these leaders how are have been given the "oversight of the flock" (remember, Biblically, it's a "flock" of ministers!!)--are being given a crown for their leadership by the "chief shepherd" (important to note that they are never refered to as "pastors"--only Jesus is the shepherd in the Bible!).

Absolutely there is an annointing and gift of leadership within the church---but is that leadership due our complete and total submission? The submission of our will, (you can't talk back to it) our ministry (you can't serve God in any way that competes with it) and our money (you have to pay tithe for it's service)?

but when it comes to submitting--those who are younger are told to submit to the elders--but at the same time the Bible tells us the other side of this--

"Yea, all of you be subject one to another,"

The word "subject" use here is the same word--"hupotasso" that is used between the younger and the elder--and the same word that is used in Hebrews 13:17 with regard to submitting.

Now it all fits together about submitting. In the serving body of Christ we are to submit to leaders--to those who serve us--to those who teach the word (which can be any of us at any time--as the Spirit wills!!)--but they are also to submit to us--since we all are servants before God!

The church described in the Bible operates in equality--on a common level.

Does your church work this way??