Submission is a complex concept that can stir up different emotions for different people. Some see it as negative and oppressive while others view it as positive and empowering. Regardless of personal beliefs about submission, the Bible contains several verses that talk about it.
These verses can offer guidance and insight for individuals seeking to understand what it means to submit to God, authority, or others.
Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, there are many verses that address submission in various contexts. Today, we will explore some of the most impactful Bible verses about submission that remain relevant in our lives today.
Bible Verses About Submission
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
This verse is nestled within a larger discourse on living a life of love, just as Christ loved us. In a broader context, it emphasizes the necessity for mutual respect and submission in all relationships, acknowledging that every person is a reflection of Christ. This submission is not about subjugation but rather about mutual respect and understanding, a demonstration of love that mirrors Christ’s love for us.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The verse underscores the idea of submitting to God as a means of attaining spiritual strength. This submission involves recognizing God’s sovereignty and entrusting our lives to His control. It brings with it the promise of resisting the devil, illustrating that submission to God inherently provides a shield against negative forces.
1 Peter 2:13
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority.”
This verse highlights the importance of respect for societal structures and authorities. The act of submission here is not just compliance with laws but also an acknowledgment of God’s hand in establishing these authorities. Thus, by submitting to these authorities, we indirectly submit to God’s wisdom and provision.
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“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Echoing the sentiments of 1 Peter 2:13, this verse reiterates that all authority comes from God. It encourages respect for and submission to societal structures, reminding us that such structures are tools through which God can work. It asks us to trust in God’s plan, even when it involves human authority.
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
The verse from Ephesians metaphorically likens the relationship of the church and Christ to that of a wife and her husband. The submission here is not indicative of inequality, but rather, it emphasizes a harmonious and respectful relationship, where the wife’s submission is a voluntary act of love, mirroring the church’s love for Christ.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
Colossians 3:18 reiterates the message from Ephesians 5:24, emphasizing the role of wives in maintaining harmony in the family. This submission is seen as “fitting in the Lord,” indicating that it is consistent with God’s design for family life. It is important to note that this submission should be seen in the context of mutual respect and love.
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.”
The verse provides a rationale for submission to spiritual leaders. It underscores the leaders’ responsibility to their followers and their accountability to God. The submission here is not blind obedience but rather an expression of trust in their leadership, understanding that they are guided by a higher authority—God.
1 Peter 5:5
“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'”
This verse emphasizes the importance of humility and respect for elders. Submission to elders is seen as a sign of humility and understanding, and it is this humility that God finds favor with. The call for mutual humility among all further underscores the concept of community and mutual respect.
“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”
Titus encourages submission to rulers and authorities, emphasizing not just obedience but also the readiness to do good. This verse highlights the connection between submission and active participation in societal good, reminding us that submission is not passive but involves active engagement in our communities.
1 Peter 3:1
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”
The verse reinforces the principle of wives submitting to their husbands, but with a specific purpose. Here, the act of submission is seen as a powerful testimony that could lead non-believing husbands to faith. It underscores the influence of actions over words, and the transformative power of a Christ-like attitude in relationships.
1 Corinthians 16:16
“Submit to such as these and to everyone else who joins in the work and labors at it.”
In this context, ‘such as these’ refers to fellow Christians who devote themselves to serving others. The verse urges believers to submit to such individuals, recognizing the value of their work. This submission is not one of inferiority, but rather of respect and acknowledgment of their commitment to the Lord’s work.
1 Peter 2:18
“Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”
This verse, written in a historical context where slavery was commonplace, encourages slaves to submit to their masters in reverence to God. Despite the harshness of some masters, the verse underscores the strength gained from submission in difficult circumstances, maintaining one’s integrity and faith in God.
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”
This verse parallels the previous one, urging slaves to obey their masters as they would Christ. This obedience, rooted in respect and sincerity, elevates the act of submission beyond earthly hierarchy, transforming it into an act of worship and faithfulness to Christ.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Ephesians 6:1 directs children to obey their parents, linking this obedience to divine decree. This verse is not just about familial harmony, but also about recognizing God’s plan for family structures. It teaches children the value of respect and obedience, principles that will guide their relationships throughout life.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
Echoing the sentiments of Ephesians 6:1, this verse reinforces the importance of children’s obedience to their parents. It adds a spiritual dimension by stating that such obedience pleases the Lord, thus teaching children that their actions have spiritual significance.
“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
In this verse, Paul contrasts the mind governed by fleshly desires versus the mind controlled by the Spirit. The fleshly mind refuses to submit to God’s laws and is hostile to God, highlighting the importance of spiritual submission for harmony with God’s will. It underlines the need for us to submit not just our actions, but also our thoughts and attitudes to God.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
This verse emphasizes the transformation that comes with belonging to Christ. Crucifying the flesh signifies the submission of our earthly desires in favor of pursuing the will of God. This level of submission is a symbol of true discipleship, demonstrating the profound shift that takes place when we fully commit to following Christ.
“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus emphasizes that true discipleship involves the submission of one’s own will and desires. The metaphor of carrying one’s cross signifies a willingness to endure hardship and sacrifice for the sake of following Jesus. This verse underscores the depth of submission required to truly follow Christ.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'”
This verse echoes the sentiment in Luke 14:27, reiterating the call for self-denial and submission as prerequisites for discipleship. The act of taking up one’s cross is symbolic of accepting the struggles, sacrifices, and submission that come with following Christ.
“Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
Paul criticizes those who, in their ignorance of God’s righteousness, sought to establish their own, refusing to submit to God’s righteousness. This verse highlights the futility of human efforts apart from God and the necessity of submission to God’s righteous standards.
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2 Chronicles 30:8
“Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the LORD. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.”
The verse serves as an admonition to the Israelites, urging them not to repeat the stubbornness of their ancestors. It calls for submission to God, serving Him, and acknowledging His sanctuaries. This submission is seen as a way to avert God’s wrath, emphasizing the connection between our actions and God’s response.
“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”
Job’s friend Eliphaz suggests that submission to God leads to peace and prosperity. Though his understanding of God’s ways was flawed, the verse does capture a profound truth: that submission to God, aligning our lives with His will, brings a deep sense of peace and genuine prosperity.
What does the Bible say About Submission?
The concept of submission is a recurring theme in the Bible, particularly in the context of relationships, authority, and faith. Here are some key points:
- Submission to God: The Bible emphasizes the need for humans to submit to the authority of God. This involves acknowledging His sovereignty, seeking His will, and obeying His commandments.
- Wives Submitting to Husbands: Ephesians 5:22 instructs wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. This is often interpreted as a call for wives to respect and support their husbands’ leadership within the marriage.
- Husbands’ Love and Sacrifice: In the same passage, husbands are urged to love their wives as Christ loved the church, which implies a sacrificial, selfless love. This counters any notion of authoritarianism and emphasizes mutual respect.
- Children and Parents: Ephesians 6:1-4 calls for children to obey and honor their parents. Parents are, in turn, encouraged not to provoke their children but to nurture and instruct them in the ways of the Lord.
- Submission to Authority: Romans 13:1-7 teaches about submitting to governing authorities, as they are established by God. This principle extends to civic, social, and church leadership.
- Church Leadership and Congregation: Hebrews 13:17 emphasizes the need for members of a church to submit to their spiritual leaders, who are entrusted with the responsibility of guiding and shepherding the congregation.
- Employer-Employee Relationships: Colossians 3:22-24 and Ephesians 6:5-9 discuss the attitude of submission in the workplace, with employees working diligently as unto the Lord and employers treating their employees fairly and justly.
- Mutual Submission: Ephesians 5:21 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This sets the tone for mutual submission within the body of Christ, emphasizing humility, respect, and deference for others.
It’s important to note that the concept of submission does not imply oppression or abuse. Instead, it’s meant to foster an environment of love, respect, and order within various spheres of life.
Submission is a vital concept found in the Bible, especially in the New Testament. Although complying with this idea may be difficult for some, the Bible emphasizes that submission indicates humility and respect for authority.
Whether we are submitting to earthly authorities like employers or government, or surrendering to God and His will for our lives, there are several verses across the Bible that help us cultivate a submissive spirit.
By studying and applying these verses to our lives, we gain a more profound comprehension of submission and its significance in developing closer relationships with God and others.