Great Expectations

My name is Mark Smith. I'm a guy who loves Jesus, His Word, and His Church. I am filled with Great Expectations for what the future will ultimately bring - Matthew 24:14.

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Location: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

My favourite verse is Psalm 16:11, my other favourite verse is Acts 20:24, my other favourite verse is Habakkuk 3:17-19, and my other favourite verse is Matthew 24:14.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Meaning of Obey and Submit

A while back the elders here at Lansing had planned a sermon series on the local church, with the first particularly tricky/sensitive message dealing with submission in verses like Hebrews 13:17. That sermon has led to a number of questions about just what it means to submit and obey. If one example is given, it naturally leads to thinking of another example and wondering about this, that, or the other possible situation. And it becomes a little tricky.

John Piper is the best. I listened to a couple sermons by him on Monday that were preached on Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." They were very good and in the second one when he talks about what obey and submit actually means, he takes a while to develop biblically and practically that leaders/elders can be very fallible and there needs to be safeguards in place.

Then at the end he asks:

What then does "Obey your leaders and submit to them" mean? The word for "obey" (peith) is a very broad word and means "be persuaded by" (Hebrews 6:9), "trust" (Hebrews 2:13), "rely on" (Luke 11:22), and comes to mean "obey" because that is what you do when you trust somebody. So you might say it is a "soft" word for obey. It encourages a good relationship of trust, but still calls for the people to be swayed by leaders.

The word for "submit" (hupeik) occurs only here in the New Testament. It's the more narrow word, and means "make room for by retiring from a seat," or "yield to" or "submit to."

So with all this background, what I would try to distill as the meaning would be something like this: Hebrews 13:17 means that a church should have a bent toward trusting its leaders; you should have a disposition to be supportive in your attitudes and actions toward their goals and directions; you should want to imitate their faith; and you should have a happy inclination to comply with their instructions.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mark,

Would you say this kind of definition would work for wives toward their husbands? Is it the same word?

Love you,

Thursday, September 23, 2010 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Mark D. Smith said...

While it is not the same Greek word, a similar definition does work, I think.

Here is a definition from Piper from the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

Submission is an inclination of the will to say yes to the husband's leadership and a disposition of the spirit to support his initiatives. The reason I say it's a disposition and an inclination, is because there will be times when the most submissive wife will hesitate at a husband's decision. It may look unwise to her. Suppose it's Noel and I. I am about to decide something foolish for the family. At that moment Noel could express her submission like something like this: "Johnny, I know you've thought a lot about this, and I love it when you take the initiative to plan for us and take the responsibility like this, but I really don't have peace about this decision and I think we need to talk about it some more. Could we? Maybe tonight sometime?"

The reason that is a kind of Biblical submission is because 1)Husbands, unlike Christ, are fallible and ought to admit it. 2)Husbands ought to want their wives to be excited about the family decisions, because Christ wants us to be excited about following his decisions and not just follow begrudgingly. 3)The way Noel expressed her misgivings communicated clearly that she endorses my leadership and affirms me in my role as head.


Friday, September 24, 2010 12:03:00 PM  

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