Submission and Authority


Matt Geib


I think it is important to understand just what the Scriptures say about submission and authority. I believe one can only gain this understanding by actually studying what the Bible says for themselves and not what one has been taught by most Pastors and Churches.


Having experienced several less than positive interactions with Churches and Pastors myself in regard to these issues I decided to be as those in Berea (Acts 17:10-11) whom the Scripture says “Were more Noble”, because they “Searched the Word out” and I began to study this Topic for myself to really conclude in my heart and mind what God has to say in His Word about these very important issues. This short article is a synopsis of my findings. The verse most often used by Pastors to support their idea of “obeying the pastor” is as follows:


Hebrews 13:17

Obey them that have the rule over you, & submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account , that they may do it with joy, & not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.


Of course, many Christians like myself are all to familiar with this verse and how it has been wielded over the years by Pastors and churches in an effort to get Christians to Submit to, & do as their Pastor says because He himself, believes that He is God’s man Placed over them to “Speak all Spiritual Guidance & direction into their lives”.


Here is an excerpt of my study in hope that you will come to the same understanding and freedom that I have in regard to these issues.


There are six words in the New Testament translated as “obey”. To make this easy to follow I will use only the Strong’s Concordance Dictionary numbers instead of including the actual Greek  words.


544- willfully disbelieve – unpersuadable


3980 – persuaded by ruler (a ruler is one in political rank or



3982 – persuade by argument 


5218 – compliance – submission


5219 – conform to command or authority


5255 – submissive – listen attentively


Hebrews 13:17 uses 3982 (persuade by argument) NOT 5219 (conform to command or authority), NOR is it 3980 (persuaded

By ruler), as many Pastors lead Christians to believe.


I have also included a short quote out of Vines Expository Dictionary in regard to the subject of “obey” in reference to Strong’s number 3982


 “2. peitho ^ 3982 ^ “to persuade, win over,” in the passive & 

  middle voices , “to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey” is used

  with this meaning in the middle voice, e.g., in (in, passive

  voice,” they agreed”);. The “obedience” suggested is not by

  submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion.”

 (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

 (Copyright© 1985 , Thomas Nelson Publishers)


I find it interesting that the negative aspect of obey (544 – “willfully disbelieve”)is not used. I think one could safely make the argument that to be as the “Bereans” & yet honestly be unpersuaded does not automatically qualify you as being unpersuadable ( # 544 “willfully disbelieving”). Yet there are only a few instances where this term is used & it refers to not being persuaded by, as actively disbelieving, the truth(of God).


To label someone as unpersuadable simply because they have not been convinced your arguments are correct (or line up with scripture) is wrong….& simply the most wrongful 

application of Hebrews 13:17 one could devise.


Hebrews 13:17 does NOT mean you must follow everything a Church or Pastor hands down as Doctrine or “God’s word’s Spoken into your Life”. It just means that you should rightly submit AFTER you have been “Berean” & been convinced they are correct.


I will add, that I quickly perused the Englishman’s Concordance & found that #3982 (Persuade by argument) was

More frequently translated as some tense of “persuade”. The translation to “obey” is by far the least used translation of this word in the King James.


Contrast most Pastors’ usage of Hebrews 13:17 to the following passage.


Mark 10:39-45


And they said unto Him, “we can.”  And Jesus said unto them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; & with the baptism that  I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand & on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”  And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James & John.


But Jesus called them to Him, & saith unto them, ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; & their great ones exercise authority upon them.


But so shall it not be among you; but whosoever will be great among you , shall be your minister:

And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.


For the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, & to give his life a ransom for many. (KJV)


Also a study of the following companion verse to Mark 10:42

Would shed further enlightenment on the subject.


Luke 22:25


And He said unto them, “The King of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; & they  that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” (KJV)


I believe a whole separate study could be done on “exercise authority” & “benefactors”


In summary, I believe that most Pastors’ interpretation of Hebrews 13:17 is summarily done away with by these passages in Mark & Luke all by themselves.    


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