Summary: Describes Biblical Submission and what it is.
Ephesians 5:21 Biblical Submission Aug 03
Thesis: Biblical submission.
Introduction: When we hear verses like 5:21 and 22, which deal with subjection to one another in the church and in the home, it often brings up negatives thoughts and feelings. It is a part of our culture to resist and disdain submissiveness. We think of someone who is submissive as being weak and ineffective and as somebody who cant or wont stand up for themselves.
When we think of submissiveness, we often think only in terms of marriage and of the wife being submissive to her husband.
That, however is not the Biblical teaching on submissiveness or being subject to one another. There is a wide variety of teaching on this subject in the NT.
I. Biblical Submission– What It Means.
What does the Scripture mean here in verses 21 and 22 when it speaks of being submissive or subject. The Bible says in verse 21 ‘be subject to one another in the fear of Christ’, and then in verse 22 the Bible says ‘wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.’ These two verses deal with two different areas where submissiveness is to be displayed. These two areas are in the church and in the home.
A. What it does not mean. It does not mean being subservient. It does not mean inequality. When we speak of Biblical submission we are not speaking of spiritual or physical superiority, but rather a respect of roles.
Through out the Ephesian epistle we are taught that Christ has made every believer a part of His body and the members of a new race with a new home in heaven. We are members of one body. All the parts have equal value but they do not share the same roles.
B. What does Biblical subject mean? The word submission comes from the word ‘hupotasso’ which speaks of a soldier under the military command of an officer. It was also used to mean ‘to subordinate, to subject, to subject one’s self, obey, to submit to one’s control, to yield to one’s admonition or advice, to obey, be subject.’ Someone has remarked that ‘it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".
1. The Bible here speaks of being submissive one to another. What does it mean to be submissive to one another.
a. To be submissive to one another is not natural. We are taught in our culture to be self assertive. Biblical submission is the opposite of self-assertiveness, it is a ‘sweet reasonableness of attitude’. It is a disposition that is brought into our lives because of our union with Christ.
b. Biblical submissiveness is a voluntary action. It is an attitude that is assumed by the one doing the submission. Here in Ephesians 5:21 the word submit is in the middle voice in the original language. This emphasizes that we are responsible for adopting this kind of attitude because it is not natural to us but is a learned discipline.
While Biblical submissiveness is not servitude, it does require a servants attitude and a servants heart.
II. Biblical Submission- Where It is to Occur
Where is Biblical submission to happen?
A. It is to happen in the church. That is the basis of Ephesians 5:21. In 1 Peter 5:5 tells us to be submissive to one another. This is in the worship and work of the church. In what ways are we to be submissive to one another. This means that we are line up in the church where God has put us.
1. We are to submit to one another’s gifts. The Bible tells us in 1 Cor. 12:7, ‘But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.’ In each believers life the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in various ways. These are the gifts of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit may manifest Himself in one believers life through enabling that believer to exercise great faith and He may manifest Himself in another’s life by gifting that person to teach the word of God. In whatever way the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in our lives, that manifestation is given to us for the benefit of the body of Christ.
For example, the Bible tells us in the book of Ephesians that God has given to the church certain ones who serve the church as evangelist. The Bible also says that we are to do the work of an evangelist, meaning that we should seek to win the lost. However, I am not called to be an evangelist that travels from church to church sharing the gospel with the lost. I am called to be a pastor and to teach and preach to the same people week by week. It would not do for me to try to become a traveling evangelist because God has not gifted me nor has He called me to be an evangelist. Yet at the same time in the place where I pastor, I am to seek to do the work of an evangelist by seeking to win some to Christ. When it comes to being an evangelist by the gifting and manifestation of the Holy Spirit, I submit or give place to the evangelist, and likewise the evangelist gives place to the pastor. That is what Biblical submission is about in the work of the church when it concerns what we are gifted to do.