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.