Q: #547. What does the Bible say about submitting ourselves to others?
A: Submission is an act of humility. We humble ourselves and give up what we may want or desire, in order to do what someone else asks us to do. We are to submit out of love and respect for that person, but more importantly, we are to submit because God has commanded it.
Some reasons that the Bible says that one is to submit is:
So that the word of God will not be blasphemed (Titus 2:5)
To do it as unto the Lord (Eph 5:22)
So that we may live long on the earth (Eph 6:3).
God has set up a hierarchy of authority so that there would be order and so that one person has the final authority in decision making. It is always best to come to a consensual decision, and we should always work towards this, but agreement is not always possible, and this is where submission comes in.
It should always be remembered that the person in submission is not inferior in ANY way to the person they submit to: all humans are equal (Col 3:10-11)(Rom 10:12)(1 Cor 12:13). Jesus gives us the perfect example of submission. Jesus is equal to the Father, and is God, but He also submits to the Father (1 Cor 11:3)(1 Cor 3:23). Men and women are equal (Gal 3:28), but the wife is to submit to the husband. We are also to submit to our elders and to Christian leaders (verses below). Children are to submit to their parents (see: Children’s Responsibilities To Parents). If we do not follow God’s commands in this, we are not submitting to God as we are told to in (James 4:7,10)(1 Pet 5:6)(Rom 10:3)(Ps 81:15).
Submitting to God should ALWAYS be first in our life. If we are asked to do something by a person in authority over us that would cause us to sin or go against God in some way, then our responsibility to God comes first. This may cause serious problems depending on the circumstance and we must be willing to bear the consequences. However, God honors those who honor Him and He will help us. Both Peter and Peter and John together give us an example of loyalty to God first:
(Acts 5:29) Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
(Acts 4:19-20) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
Some examples of submission in the Bible are:
Sarai to Abraham (1 Pet 3:6)
Hagar to Sarai (Gen 16:9)
Paul to Jewish customs (Acts 21:18-26)
Our acts of submission are a testimony to others of Christ in us. Let your light shine before men, and humble yourself.
Verses dealing with different types of submission:
Wives to husbands:
(Col 3:18) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
(Eph 5:22-24) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
(1 Cor 11:3) But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
(1 Pet 3:5-6) For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: (6) Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
(Titus 2:5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Also see: (1 Cor 7:4)(Gen 3:16)(1 Cor 11:8-9)
To Christian leaders:
(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.
(1 Th 5:12-13) And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
(1 Cor 16:15-16) I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) (16) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
(1 Pet 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.