Authority? Obey? Submit?

The human condition is to rebel against authority.  It’s in our fleshly nature.  Our desire is to seek self and when someone tells us what to do that generally goes against our own self interest.  If you had a negative thought when you read the title of this post, maybe I’ve already made my case.

Scripture calls Believer’s to be under authority.  You can’t miss this theme unless you just don’t want to hear it.  Many people will find ways to justify certain passages, take them out of context or categorize them as, “well, that was only relevant to first century Christianity” let’s look at a few and see if it has any relevance to our lives today.


Matthew 8:8-10 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.  But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

Here is a man that understood what it meant to be under authority.  He’s a military man.  A man when given an order obeys.  When he gives an order he expects it will be obeyed.  No questions asked.  This kind of obedience caused the Lord to marvel…  Does the Lord marvel at your faith?  Do you desire to have Biblical authority in your life?


Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Do you obey those who rule over you?  Who rules over you?  The writer of Hebrews is speaking of elders and pastors, those who speak the word of God to us as it states in 13:7.  If you walk into many bible believing churches today and start talking about authority, obedience and submission to the attendees of those places you will be met with much resistance.  Do your pastors and elders know you well enough to shepherd you?  Do they call you to obey?  I don’t believe most that call themselves Christians would debate whether they should murder someone or not.  That’s pretty straightforward; it’s one of the big ten right?  What if you were asked to quit your job because the elders see that it causes sin in your life?  For most that would be stepping over the line.


1 Peter 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.  Yes, all of you be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

The Greek word is hupotasso – to subordinate; reflexively to obey: – be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.  Believers are to willingly put themselves under the elders.

This is a choice.  You can be submissive or prideful.  We are also called to submit to rulers and authorities in government (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13).  Slaves are to submit to their masters, or in today’s vernacular employees to their employers (1 Peter 2:18), wives to husbands (1 Peter 3:1, Ephesians 5:24, Colossians 3:18), and children to their parents (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20).  Many rebel and reject these teachings because they just don’t like them.

This post will not explore that elders are required to rule well (1 Timothy 5:17), husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) and to not be harsh with their children (Ephesians 6:4).  Our Lord is not a cruel task master and neither should husbands, rulers or anyone in authority.  We are all held accountable by God for how we act and there are no exceptions.  If God has placed you in a position of authority you are required to rule well and you will answer to God for how well you performed.

God has poured His grace into my life over and above what I could ever think or ask.  He has placed elders in my life that know me and my family, they shepherd us and concern themselves with our lives.  They pour themselves into matters of holiness and labor in the word.  In modern day North American, evangelicalism this is mostly a foreign concept.  To willingly be under the authority, to obey, and to submit to those God has placed in your life to watch out for your souls, so it’s profitable for you, not for them.

Many dislike this and I would argue they are either ignorant or unregenerate.  Today you are no longer ignorant.  I hope you’re not unregenerate.  If you are not under authority go speak with your elders.  If they are not shepherding you to this level challenge them.  There is much grace that God desires to pour into your life by living radically obedient lives.


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