Tuesday, January 08, 2013

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Happy 2013

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christian Submission - Hupotassomenoi

What does Christian submission entail? My understanding of our upotassMENOI (passive voice) submission with the Lord is one of non compelled freely aligning ourselves with His Life. We want to be one with Him like the prayer that Christ prayed we should all be one as they (Trinity) are One, a perfect unity, a cleaving together, a unity of purpose, a perfect mutually sacrificing love of one another. He gave us His life first, we give ours back to Him.

Some imply that Christ tells us what to do, or that we are to seek His permission daily as to what we do, but I don’t see that. Certainly, God will give us direction when we ask and since Christ is all wise we do well to ask frequently. Also as Creator Christ will speak to us TRUTH, which is directive by its nature. The Holy Spirit also warns us as Paul says the HS did not ‘permit’ him to go places. And the HS, using prophets warned Paul of danger. And we know that the HS offers us comfort, which we do well to receive, submit to (choice!). Christ is
not our boss, our director, our employer, etc. He is our Life. We do well to remain submitting our lives freely INTO Him. That is our submission with Christ. It is also part of remaining (cleaving) as a branch on the vine as Christ shows us in John 15.

Neither h
upotasso or hupotassomenoi (passive voice) is the same as hupakouo (obey). While a submission that is responding to requests (hupotasso) CAN look like obedience (hupakouo), the meaning of the word does not require it. It is just one of the possible applications. However, hupakouo definitely entails hearing and obeying as hearing is the main part of the word. Hupotasso OTOH has a primary meaning of arranging oneself under. When in the passive voice, that means that there is no need to do so in response to outside influences but rather we can choose deliberately to arrange oneself under others in some way. When Paul tells us to hupotassomai one another (allelon) that means our attitude is to be deliberately set to put others before ourselves. This would entail being supportive, respectful, honoring, helpful, and a slew of other things.

It is no small omission that wives are NOT commanded to be obedient to husbands in the original languages. As Christians we are to be obedient to Truth, the Word of God. As fallible humans we are not ever told to command, demand, exercise lordly authority over one another. Rather we are to serve one another following Christ’s example who came NOT to be served, but to serve and give His life for the benefit of others (matt. 20:26-).

With a proper understanding of what the Greek meaning of submission is in the passive voice in contrast to what obedience is we can then better determine what it means for everyone to hupotassomai each other as well as what it means for wives to hupotassomai toward their husbands in everything. If she were hupakouo in everything, that would entail responding positively to every request of her husband. But husbands have not been admonished in Scripture to instruct or lead their wives and wives have not been instructed to hupoakouo their husbands. Thus we can leave that aside. Since the passive is self instigated that means it doesn’t matter what the husband says or does or doesn’t do, the wife is still responsible to hupotassomai toward her husband. Her hupotassomai does not require anything from him. Rather she is to so arrange herself, her actions, her words so that they support him (under lifting up), encourage him, equip him, warn him, with Godly as well as good Christian love. As fellow Christians we should be doing this to all other Christians as we are led. In a marriage we want to do this in everything, so that our marriage is strengthened.


Since Scripture says “head of and body of”, the term “headship” in effect goes against Scripture. “Head of and body of” infer interdependent relationship. Add to this the foundation of “submitting one to another in the fear of the Lord” and you have a relationship of solid mutuality. We have perfect complementarity with the husband daily loving sacrificially, i.e. giving of his strengths to provide and protect. The wife gives of her strengths to be hupotassomai/submissive and at her own instigation to support, honor, assist, encourage and do everything to help him be all he can be in Christ. They are sacrificially loving (vs. 1-2) and being submissive to one another (vs. 21) differently as a man and a woman.

Headship on the other hand is unilateral and about authority, power, primacy and supremacy. This is a totally different concept than what Scripture paints.

What I see in general Christiandom are comp and egal men and women who want to do what I said above being sidetracked by the word ‘headship’. If that term (which is NOT in Scripture) were dropped, it would do a great deal to bring egals and non egals into unity and comparable understanding at least on the question of marriage relationships.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Meaning and Purpose of Ministry

Somehow the Christian community in general has lost the meaning of ministry and the purpose of having spiritual gifts.

1 Cor. 12: 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.

We have spiritual gifts so that we may share them for others benefits. Christians who believe in mutuality have always understood this and this is why we believe that ministry is not about worldly authority with its system of privileges and limitations. Rather ministry is about serving others using the spiritual gifts that God has given to you.

Matt. 20: 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Ministry does not mean that one cannot help needs if it doesn’t mean using a spiritual gift. We are all called to help one another with our personal means. We are all to teach others (share) what we do know, evangelize and witness (share about Christ and the good news), share our personal means (finances, time, possessions) when we see others with needs. One doesn’t need a spiritual gift to help clean up at church, or bake some cookies, or help decorate for special functions, pull weeds and mow the lawn, hold a yard sale for raising money, etc. There is tons both men and women and families can join together in doing for the furthering of the kingdom.

But it does mean that we don’t seek to have ministries where we preach, teach, shepherd, organize, evangelize groups of people if God has not specifically anointed us with those spiritual gifts. These gifts are not distributed according to race, nationality, social status, gender, age, or physical prowess. They are distributed at God’s unction, God’s will. It does mean that if we seek to allow only certain people of our own choosing to participate in ministries, then we might be going against what God wants done. And frankly every church in every denomination I’m positive has done this from time to time, some more than others. In our efforts to over organize we constantly run the Holy Spirit right into the corner where He cannot function as He desires. We are constantly quenching the HS. And we are getting better at it.

This is the reason why churches become boring and some decide that going to church is often just an empty duty. It has become too much of human efforts and design and too little of God’s work and desires.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Violence of Opposite poles: Sin and Holiness

Sin is a horrible destructive element mere words can barely explain. It is drastically different than the Holiness that the Trinity contain. We barely understand the holiness, the purity, the perfect Love, the wisdom, the mercy that is contained in God. God is perfectly just, there is not one speck of injustice in Him. And He loves us, creating us in His image. I don't know how He was able to endure Adam and Eve's sinning, knowing the destruction their choices would reap. But He also knew that it was the only path that would produce a free willed choosing by some, of God's Way in the end. The pain God must endure constantly watching His most loved creation destroy itself of its own free choice, must be unbearable on human standards.

And then to heap pain upon pain, God had to do the unbelievable, and contain Himself in human flesh IN ORDER TO SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES of the sins brought upon humanity by Adam and Eve, and all those following who choose again and again to sin, turning from God and godly ways. By suffering the very presence of evil undeservedly, God was able to somehow make the sacrifice that would perfectly repel evil, that evil could not withstand, and then offer it to those willing to accept it. It was the first human's treacherous rebellion that brought sin into the rest of humanity and Christ’s perfect humanity that was able to repel it's consequences.

I sometimes wonder if we have the words to express what happened on the cross. Spiritually speaking it was likely something like the force of opposite magnetic poles. Evil and holiness cannot cohabit. It is not possible. They may stand near each other as they do in this world, but they cannot unite. When Christ somehow miraculously took upon Himself the heavy burdensome sin of humanity, for a moment He experienced the separation and cried out "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I cannot conceive how that whole thing is possible either physically or spiritually. God is a lot more powerful than we give Him credit for I think. But that moment must have been a violent moment spiritually when taking upon Himself the full burden of sin, holiness HAD to depart. Evil and holiness cannot unite. And then it was done. Something else was created from that action. We call it a spiritual bridge, a way back to God. By accepting Christ’s sacrifice we can come into the presence of God and God can come unite within our very being. Now that really doesn’t follow known physical or spiritual ‘rules of creation’.

Even the rest of it is difficult to fully comprehend. I know one cannot kill God, so to me it makes sense that He resurrected Himself. Yet, it is still difficult to grasp that that moment now enables us to come to God and repent of our sin which Christ has now destroyed the power of over us. But we don't have to fully understand it to believe it and act upon it.

Father forgive us.

The Question of Marital Submission: Who Does It and What does it Mean

Quote: from http://www.biblestudyproject.org/local-church-messianic.htm#Its_eldership_is_open_to_men_who_fulfill_the_qualifications

“As a wife must lovingly submit to her husband's leadership in the marriage, so must women lovingly submit to exclusive male eldership in the congregation”.


Yes, a wife is to lovingly submit and be of a submissive heart to her husband ( as he must be to her). However, the submission that a believer gives to the church leaders is not the same as a wife gives to her husband. Church leaders whether elders, pastors, teachers, deacons, etc. are not to think of themselves in a one flesh relationship with the congregants. Neither are church leaders to think of themselves as Fathers or Masters. Rather, following Christ’s exhortations in Matt. 20: 20-28, leaders are to consider themselves servants who did not come to be served but to serve and give their lives.

The Question of Submission

The Grk. Word (hupotassoMENOI) translated ‘submission’ ( sometimes ‘subject’) in the NT is most often in the passive, thus it is not primarily about responding to requests from others, though it can be. The difference between obey (hupakou) and submit (hupotassomenoi) is that obey is always responding to another, while submit in the passive, is self instigated. We must be submissive to one another regardless of whether or not they ask for it. And our submission must be to their betterment. In this way kings, bosses, parents, and husbands also submit without having to wait for a request. They submit by giving something of themselves to support, assist, honor and improve the other. It is a way of placing oneself beneath another in order to lift them up. It may not always look so honorable. Sometimes, its just keeping the peace.

One of the first things we need to acknowledge about submission is that everyone is to be of a submissive heart. No one is excused from participation.

The following list was taken from Listening to the Spirit in the Text, written by Gordon Fee.

In the early church everything was done allelon ("one another").

They were members of one another (Rom 12:5;Eph 4:25),

who were to build up one another (1Thess 5:11;Rom 14:19),

care for one another (1Cor 12:25),

love one another (1Thess 3:12; 4:9; Rom 13:8; 1John passim),

bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2),

bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2),

be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another (Eph 4:32),

submit to one another (Eph 5:21),

consider one another better than themselves (Phil 2:3),

be devoted to one another in love(Rom 12:10),

and live in harmony with one another (Rom12:16).

Looking briefly at the gist of these Scriptures, we can see that they all entail a humble submissive attitude of mentally (at least) getting ‘under’ someone in order to lift them up. These are attitudes that everyone is to give toward others in the body of Christ; no one is to be left out.

A question was made in this discussion, about the uses of hupotage, hupakou, and hupotasso. So let’s take a look at where these are used regarding women in the NT epistles and in what forms. In the course of this discussion we will be viewing all of these verses, though not all in this article.

Hupotasso (submit) : Col. 3:18 (pres. Pl. Middle voice),

Huptassomenoi (submit - passive): 1 Cor. 14:34, Epe. 5:21, 24; Titus 2:5; 1 Pe. 3:1,5

Hupotage (subject) : 1 Tim. 2:11 (n.)

Hupakouo (obey/hear/heed): 1 Pe. 3:6

SUBMIT meanings in English:

English...... RandomHouse 1967 (fr. Latin submitt[ere])

7 definitions given:

1. to yield in surrender, compliance, obedience

2. to subject (esp. oneself) to imposed conditions, treatment

3. to refer or present for the approval or decision of another

4. to state or urge with deference;suggest or propose

5. to yield in surrender, compliance, obedience; to yeild to a conquerer

6. to allow oneself to be subjected to something imposed or to be undergone

7. to defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision

English ...... Websters 1915 ( fr. L., submittere; sub/under = mittere/to send)

1. to put or place under (obsolete)

2. to let down; to lower (obs.)

3. to yield, resign, or surrender to power, will, or authority (often with the reflexive

Greek is not English and has different ways of expressing things. But even in English we can see that submitting is not only about an inferior yielding to authority. One can yield, surrender, give in to another’s judgment or opinion without them being an authority over us. Submitting to someone does not confirm that they have authority over us. Therefore, any supposed authority must come from someplace else other than one’s choice to submit to them. However, submission can have an element of obedience in it depending on the context. Every word has a range of meanings that are determined by context. Context is always the determining factor.

OBEY meanings in Greek:

The word used to mean “obey” throughout the N.T. is (h)upakouo. It is also used to mean “listen, heed”. It’s a fairly precise word for those meanings: listen, obey, obedience, obedient. The verb is derived from akouo, was commonly used in secular Gr. from Homer on. The adj. hupekoos, obedient, is in the Greek O.T., in Deut. 20:11 of subject peoples and in Prov. 4:3, 13:1 of a son’s obedience to his father.

In Acts 12:13 hupakouo means to open in the sense of “answering the door”. Elsewhere the verb group is used extensively and predominantly by Paul denoting obedience. And sometimes this obedience includes submission to earthly authorities. As a side note some might find it interesting, that in the Greek translation of the O.T. this was the word used when Adam listened to Sarah and did what she asked of him. He listened and obeyed.

The conclusion one cannot help but reach is that if Paul had meant obey or obedience in the places he used (h)upotasso or more specifically (h)upotassoMAI, then Paul would have used hupakouo instead. Fact is he did not.

SUBMIT meanings in Greek:

The Greek words (h)upotasso and (h)upotassoMENOI are more complicated. Vines Bible Dictionary made the mistake of saying that hupotasso is primarily a military term, which is truly inaccurate. It's usage in a military setting was about arranging oneself in the team to do their job. Military terms are such that are peculiar to the military and are somewhat out of place when used elsewhere. But submissive attitudes really permeate all of life including the military. And it’s good to remember that neither church relationships nor marital relationships are military in nature.

The base word hupotasso means to arrange oneself under more similar to our word subject perhaps. It is usually used of one commanding another to “submit”, yield, come under them in some manner. Most hierarchalists interpret submission as always to be compliance to another's commands/demands/requests. Their idea of voluntary and the voluntary inherent in hupotassoMENOI are entirely different. The voluntary in hupotassoMENOI means that a person is not in sin if she does not volunteer herself in the instances she doesn't believe appropriate. It is her decision, her "offering" to give.

In the N.T. Paul uses submit primarily in the form of hupotassomenoi , in the sense of a humble attitude, and arranging oneself in unity, conformity, and respect (summarized in Ephe. 5:33). Ephesians 5:21 and 1 Pe. 5:5 show it best.

Epe. 5: 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

1 Pe. 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 resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.

Inserting the error of upotassomai meaning obey would make these two verses read that in Ephesians we are all to obey one another, and in Peter we are to first obey our elders and then obey everyone. Just doesn’t work does it. That is because upotassomai does not mean obey.

The way Paul uses the word most often throughout the N.T. is in the middle passive voice form. This way he is requesting that we all voluntarily, willingly, actively arrange ourselves to yield, fit in to one another at our own instigation. When Paul uses the verb in verse 21 and then omits the verb in verse 22 to the wives he is effectively carrying over this attitude and saying of a sort, “wives you too”.

In addition, those who think hupotassomenoi means submit to authority of another, there are much better and more precise words available that say exactly that, which Paul did NOT use. That would have been a form of archo (ruler, one in front, primary one, etc.) or despotes (master ).


Ephe. 5: 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

In order to understand this excerpt from Ephesians it is important for us to do at least two things: 1) search for some info on the Greek words used, which we just did 2) read the excerpt in the full context of chapter 5.

One of Paul's purposes in writing to the Ephesians was to admonish them to live in unity. Ephesians 4 starts with:

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Chapter 4 through 6 tells us how we should live as coheirs of the grace of God, that we should be at peace with one another understanding that we are all equal under Christ.

Chapter five, vs. 1-2, admonishes all to love sacrificially. This is sandwiched with vs. 21 where Paul admonishes all to submit one to another. These are the same two points that Paul pointedly reminds first wives and then husbands in vv. 22-33.

In between these sandwiched verses are more “unity in the Spirit“ verses. We are to live spiritually clean lives and walk in the light. We are to live wisely, redeeming the days , and be filled with the Spirit. The thought structure is such that walking in love as pure children, being filled with the Spirit, will naturally enable us to be submissive toward one another. And that is what husbands and wives are to carry into ALL their marital and family relationships.

but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.


In Ephesians 5 Paul pictures the marital relationship as two becoming as one flesh. He shows this by picturing the husband as ‘head of’ (not over) the wife and the wife as ‘body of’ (not under) the husband. If each views the other as necessary in a similar way that a body must stay connected to the head, and the head must stay connected to the body in order to maintain life, then there is hope that they together may attain what Adam exulted about in Genesis: two becoming as one flesh. It is important that we stick to the metaphor that Paul provides instead of modernizing it. Paul was speaking to the first century Christians in terminology that they understood.

The wife’s submission is to be patterned after the conceptual sandwich that Paul spoke of in the preceding verses 1-21. She is to carry all of that into her attitude toward her husband in everything, in the same way all Christians are to express that tenderness and respect toward one another. The added thing for the wife is the intimacy of living as if one flesh and possibly trusting the husband as believers trust the Lord. We submit to the Lord because we trust his intentions for us.

Paul actually has more to say to the husbands than the wives: ten verses versus two. Husbands are reminded of the point of sacrificial love (fr. verses 1-2). We are all to emulate Christ in that respect. Husbands are reminded that admonition applies to their wives as well. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Christ did this (washed and cleansed believers) so that He could have a bride. This is a likely a reference to a story in Eze. 16 in which God finds Israel as an abandoned infant laying in her own blood (sin). He washes her and makes her His own. This is a redemptive story about removing the shame of uncleanness and dishonor. The early Christians would have recognized Paul was making an appeal to the men to confront the system of shame that surrounded women, where the presence of women were considered a defilement. Christ gave His Life to remove our shame. Husbands should give their lives so that the one who is now part of their life could live in honor, nurtured, protected and loved.

Ephesians is probably the fullest description of marital relationships of the NT Scriptures . It is built on the mutual authority in 1 Cor. 7 (written in 56 AD) and Galatians magna carte of Christian liberty and freedom from bondage to the law (written in 49 AD). Colossians was written about the same time as Ephesians, but likely shortly afterward (60-62 AD) since the reference to interpersonal relationships in 3:18-23 is a brief summarization of Ephesians 5:21-6:9. Titus and 1 Peter were both written afterwards, 63AD and 64AD respectively. So understanding Ephesians helps tremendously to clarify what Paul thought a Christian marriage should look like.

What About Headship?

This is the second response to the question of the subjection of women to men.

Quote: from http://www.biblestudyproject.org/local-church-messianic.htm#Its_eldership_is_open_to_men_who_fulfill_the_qualifications

“The underlying principles that are given for the headship of the man in the home and the congregation are the same, and are all theological, meaning that they must apply in all homes and congregations everywhere throughout the Church Age.”
And “The principle of the subjection of women to the men in the local congregation may also be found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, which deals with the requirement of women, perhaps only married women (mbs 106, p. 42. See endnotes), to wear a headcovering in honor of male headship. The passages dealing directly with congregational eldership are consistent with these, and must logically be viewed as relevant to the general requirement of the subjection of the women to the men.”

A. English Definitions –

Origin: 1575–85; head + ship
1. the position of head or chief; chief authority; leadership; supremacy.

2. The position or office of a head or leader; primacy or command.

3. Chiefly British : The position of a headmaster or headmistress

4. Authority or dignity; chief place.

B. Headship in English is a relatively new word.

The question might be, what was a Greek word that would indicate the English equivalent of headship, meaning chief authority, first or chief place, etc. and where was it used in Scripture.
1. Arche - beginning, origin, principal part; first place, or power, or sovereignty. Magistry, office, an authority. (fr. Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon)
Peitarcheo – to obey one in authority.
2. Authentia – absolute sway, authority.

3. Prostatis – (fr. proistemi) , presiding officer, Prominent leader.

4. Proistemi - to lead, guard

5. prOteuO - to be first, or have first place (only used in 1 Col. 1:18)

6. despotis – master, ruler

Regarding the Greek word , kephale, that was used in the passages that hierarchalists use to glean the concept of headship from, the following quote disputes its use as meaning authority or power over, and lists several other words that can and were sometimes used to indicate various authorities.

Women, Authority and the Bible
Page 101-104
" Those who, like Bauer, insist that kephale means “superior rank” say that since kephale is used with that meaning in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, that meaning must have been familiar to Greek-speaking people of the Old Testament. The facts do not support this assumption.
The Septuagint was prepared by a large group of Hebrew-Greek scholars for the thousands of Jewish people who lived outside of Palestine. For these Jews, Greek was their first and sometimes only language, and they could not have read a Hebrew Old Testament even if one had been available. They used the Septuagint in their synagogues. For all the early churches outside Palestine, the Septuagint translation was the Old Testament, for it was written in the only language they knew.
We studied all the instances in which the Hebrew word ro’sh (meaning “head”) appears in the Old Testament and how it was translated in the Septuagint. Ro’sh occurs approximately 600 times and the Aramaic word re’sh occurs 14 times. Usually ro’sh or re’sh simply means the physical head of a person or animal, the same meaning that the Greek word kephale usually has in the New Testament. In the 239 instances when Ro’sh refers to a physical head, the Septuagint translators nearly always translated it with kephale. But like our English word head, ro’sh sometimes had metaphorical or figurative meanings, including leader or someone in authority, or beginning, as in ro’sh hashshanah (Ezek. 40:1 , “at the beginning of the year”).
At 180 times, the Hebrew word ro’sh, meaning “head,” clearly refers to a “chief something”-a chief man, chief city, chief nation, chief priest, that is, the leader or authority figure in the group. Apparently, this meaning for ro’sh was as common in ancient Hebrew as it is in English today. But as we have seen from the Liddell, Scott, Jones and McKenzie lexicon, that was not a common meaning in the Greek language of New Testament times. The findings of these lexicographers are confirmed when we examine the Greek words that the translators of the Septuagint used when the Hebrew word ro’sh means leader or chief. In the 180 instances when ro’sh means leader or chief, the Septuagint translators rarely used kephale. Archon, meaning ruler, commander or leader, was used 109 times (about 60 percent). Apparently the translators believed that archon rather than kephale more accurately conveyed the meaning of the Hebrew ro’sh when it meant ruler or leader.
Translators today face similar problems. In an English writer says, “he was hotheaded,” translators to another language probably could not use the literal words for hot and head and still convey the author’s meaning of “violent temper.” In the same way, Septuagint translators of ro’sh knew that the literal kepahle (head) might not give the correct idea because kephale did not mean “leader” or “authority” to ordinary Greek readers. For example, Joshua 23:2 reads, “Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders and heads [ro’sh] their judges and officers…” But the Septuagint translators did not use kephale for “heads” in this passage. They used a form of archon, “their elders and leaders (or rulers).” The word ro’sh also appears in 1 Chronicles 8:10 , 13 and 28 in the phrase of “heads of fathers’ houses.” In each instance, the Septuagint translators used a form of archon rather than kephale.
Although archon was the most common word used for ro’sh when it meant chief or authority, it was not the only one. The translators occasionally used thirteen other words……."

Septuagint translators used fourteen different Greek words to translate ro’sh:
1. Archon (meaning ruler, commander, leader________________109 times
2. Archegos (captain, leader, chief, prince) ____________________10 times
3. Arche (authority, magistrate, officer) ________________________9 times
4. Hegeomai (to be a leader, to rule, have dominion) _____________9 times
5. Protos (first, foremost) ___________________________________6 times
6. Patriarches_____________________________________________3 times
7. Chiliarches (commander)__________________________________3 times
8. Archipules (chief of a tribe) ________________________________2 times
9. Archipatriotes (head of a family)____________________________1 time
10. Archo (verb; ruler, be ruler of)______________________________1 time
11. Megas, emgale, mega (great, mighty, important)_______________1 time
12. Proegeomai (take the lead, go first, lead the way)______________1 time
13. Prototokos (firstborn or first in rank)_________________________1 time
14. Kephale (where head can mean top or crown)_________________¬_8 times
Kephale (in head-tail metaphor)______________________________4 times
Kephale (where manuscripts have variant readings) ______________6 times

Ro’sh (not translated)_______________________________________6 times

End Quote ...

Those are some of the main words that could be used to describe the modern term headship in the Scriptures, except for kephale which the study disputes using it for authority over or superior rank. So, the next question is, especially in the NT, are these words ever used to describe a gender headship of men over women, or a marital headship of husbands over wives? In fact is the English word “headship” ever used in Scripture? No, it isn’t.

And then, of course, the big question is how IS kephale (the word translated as “head”) used in the NT Scriptures? None of the Greek words I’ve listed thus far, that can be used to describe a ‘headship’ of authority, leadership, primacy in the sense of command, etc. has been used in the NT to describe a relationship of men over women or women in subjection to men. This is an important point. Only kephale (meaning literally the head on one’s shoulders) has been used metaphorically in a sense of interdependent relationship.

Arche as beginning, first, pre-eminent….

1 John 1:11 The Word of Life ] That which was from the beginning (arche), which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

Colossians 1:18 
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

In Colossians 1:18 both kephale (literal head) arche (beginning, original, authority), and proteuO (first) are used. We know that they do not all mean the same thing. Here we have Jesus in a head-body metaphor, also as the arche (the first one, the one carrying the power-hence concept of authority) and the one having pre-eminance. And head (kephale) does not in this place convey the equivalent of the English “headship”. Rather it links a metaphorical relationship between head and body. Arche is used to convey the 'point person', the one who comes first, representative of authority. And proteuo is used to convey pre-eminence.

Kephale in metaphors ...

Kephale has the meaning of literal head. There is no one use in metaphor. The primary uses of kephale in metaphor, when used in a metaphor of head of and body of, in the NT are one of relational interdependency.

What are some other Scriptures where the words ‘head of’ are used. Is there a place where ‘head over’ is used in the NT?

A. Relational metaphors:

John 15:5-8
5“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

This is not a head-body metaphor, but it is similar in that the branches rely upon the vine for their sustenance. Thus Christ is source for life and growth. One of the differences is that the branches in this type of metaphor bring nothing to the relationship. They are not as needed as the vine is. They can be removed and the vine still grows. In the head-body metaphors, the believers are viewed as a whole, one group, such as husband and wife. If husband does not stay connected and do his part, the whole entity, the marriage, suffers. If the wife does not stay connected and do her part, the whole entity, the marriage, suffers. It is not more about the body or more about the head. It is their connectedness that matters.

This is not about Christ being an authority figure. It is about Him being The Way, The Truth and The Life; in other words, the source of everything that we need.


Ephesians 1: 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 
22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

In my estimation, Christ is the source of all authority, as well as pre-eminent above all authority of all things including earthly and heavenly principalities and powers. Fact is that Christ created authorities and powers. Thus any concept of Christ being an authority over is rather demeaning His real place in the scheme of creation.

When it is saying that He gave Him to be head (kephale) over all things to the church, I still see that as a source/pre-eminence/primacy issue. Jesus is the first born, out of His side we were born. He is the source of our life in His body, like the vine and the branches. I don't see it as a worldly concept of authority over, since He is so far beyond that in being our creator and creator of all life as we know it. He created us as human beings, and now by suffering death for us, He is our source of life as part of His body, and thus pre-eminent in our midst. From Him come all things that matter.


Col. 1: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

He is the firstborn, the Creator of all things including dominion, principalities or powers. He is pre-eminent and all powerful since He holds all this together since all things ‘consist’ IN Him. IN ADDITION: Christ is the ‘head of’, kephale, the body. In this sense, in a head-body relational metaphor, Christ is source of life to the body, the upholder of its life, the one from whose side the body was born. Thus in EVERY area Christ is pre-eminent.

Through Christ we have reconciliation. Through Christ we can make peace with our enemies as we both yield to His life giving sustenance, if we continue in the faith staying attached to the ‘vine’ of Life.

Col. 2: 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power..

Colossians 2 continues in the same vein as chapter one, reminding us that we gain our sustenance, our completeness in Christ, for in Him all fullness of God dwells, who is the source of (of not over) all sovereignty (arche) and power. Christ does not direct all sovereignties (angelic beings, fallen angels) or powers, but He is their creator.

Co. 2: 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

Further down in Colossians 2, we see an expanded explanation of how Paul is using the head-body metaphor. Clearly, the relationship to the head (kephale) is one from in which the body is nourished, receives life, and is able to grow, as long as the body is firmly attached to it’s head.

Eph. 4: 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

In Eph. 4, we have Paul again repeating the head-body metaphor as a relationship of nourishment, in which the body relies upon the head as source for its life. As we the body, rely upon Christ, He is able to make us mature to be like Christ, and thus edify each other in love.

Eph. 5 :23, 25, 28-30
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body of His flesh and of His bones.

Further on in Ephesians, chapter 5, We have Paul again building a head-body metaphor. Since we already have the foundation laid in several places (John 15, Colossians twice, Eph. Once before) a Berean reader will note the similarities. The husband’s preeminence to the wife is to be like Christs preeminence to the body in that he is to provide for and nurture his wife in a similar manner as Christ does for the church. The husband is to give himself and his strengths to the task of sacrificially loving his wife for her benefit. In so doing, he will benefit himself for they are to live as if they are one (vs. 5:31). For the interesting thing about the head-body metaphor is the unmistakable fact that as much as the body cannot survive without the head, the head also cannot survive without the body.

These are not pictures of modern ‘headship’ (authority, leadership, supremacy) but of cleaving to one another to benefit the other. The stronger gives sustenance to the weaker so that their relationship may thrive. For those men who may think that they need authority over their wives in order to bring something different and valuable to contribute to the marriage, may I point out that friends do not need differentiate themselves by authority and submission. Men and women are different enough thanks to God’s creativity. We need only add in our own uniqueness and skills, along with devotion and respect.

Next, I will look at hupotage and hupotassomai, the submission of wives, and Ephesians 5 in detail.