Archive for October 26th, 2010

Loving Submission  is a Two-Way Process

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another…”  ( 1 Thess. 4:9)

Text to be discussed: Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ , etc” (Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-9 )

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In writing to you about today’s topic, I am seemingly going against the Apostle  Paul’s injunction to the Thessalonians cited in the header. However, I feel impelled by the Holy Spirit to present to you an aspect of  “loving one another “ that may have been missed or misunderstood and which has thus impaired many Christian relationships. This aspect of “loving one another” is that which occurs in an authority-based relationship when one of the persons in the relationship has some degree of authority over the other.

In reading several commentaries on the subject, the main emphasis usually given is mainly that the obligation of those under recognized authority to submit to the one in authority out of reverence to the Lord. However, the Apostle Paul makes it explicitly clear in his letter to the Ephesians that he considers submission of this type to be reciprocal and is to be accomplished as an act of mutual agape Love, that is, that in an authority-based relationship the submission of the parties involved must be mutual for the grace of God to fully function in the relationship.

Paul enunciates the reciprocity of this submission in love when he begins his exhortation with the statement: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph.5:21), thus implying that the ceding of ourselves to each other is reciprocal and is done out of selfless love so that it brings Glory to Christ.

What is usually lacking in most commentaries on this segment of Paul’s letter (cf., Eph.5:21-33; 6:1-9), however, is a clear insight into the reciprocity of the submission that Paul presents his teaching.  If one reads this segment from  the letter to the Ephesians carefully it becomes clear that the apostle is not only indicating how wives are to submit to husbands, children to parents, and servants to masters but that the obligation of submission extends to those in authority as well, that is, the husbands, the parents, and the masters. It is just, that the mode of manifesting that submission depends on the roles between the participants in an authority-based relationship.

For instance, in the marriage relationship, the wife is instructed to obey the husband as unto Christ as her mode of submission, the husband’s mode of submission is by giving of himself to his bride just as Christ gave himself to His Church, the spirit of submission in each instance being an act of agape, self-denying love.

What Paul is outlining here, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the Lord’s intent as to the ideal manner with which authority-based relationships are to operate as mutual love expressed through the mutual submission of the parties in the relationship. When the one in authority submits to those under him/her by giving of themselves totally for the benefit of their charges, they open themselves to serve as instruments of God’s Love in the relationship. The one under authority also dies to self out of agape love in obeying or submitting himself/herself to the one with authority, thus permitting the full benefit of God’s love and grace to flow between them.

It is this principle or paradigm of mutual submission in self-less, agape love that permits the Lord to work through our interpersonal relationships thus not only building and strengthening or relationships and our spiritual lives but also to the building up of the community. It is for this reason that Paul stressed this process in several of his other letters in order to instruct his apostolic communities to have the spiritually healthy relationships required in community-building for the Glory of God the Father.

[Rom. 12:10] Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

[Rom. 13:8] Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

[Rom. 14:19] Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

[Heb. 13:1] Let mutual love continue.

Now, in order to help you logically visualize the concept of mutual submission in agape Love expressed in the segment from the letter to the Ephesians under discussion, I present for your discernment the following outline:

Submit one to another out of reverence for Christ (in the following authority based relationships. The symbol “<=>” represents mutual or two-way submission)

Wives <=> Husbands

Children <=> Parents

Servants <=> Masters

• To this we might presumptuously add –

Parishioners <=> Pastors

Students  <=> Teachers

Etc. (anyway, you get the idea)

Now, this analysis brings us face to face with our own shortcomings, especially we husbands. For while it is easy for us to accept the concept of our wives submitting to us – it becomes clear that, if we are not submitting to our wives by giving totally of ourselves for them, we are NOT fulfilling the Lord’s will in how he designed this mutual submission process to work in our marriage.  The fact that many of us husbands are failing at this is evidenced by the divorce rates among Christian couples.  Listen with your heart to what the scriptural mandate for husbands states ….

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

(Eph. 5: 25-33)

It is clear from this and the scripture segment cited as the text under discussion, that those in authority are those with the most responsibility for the initiation and enactment of this process of submission in mutual love. However, ironically, it is usually the ones in authority that use the other “submission” verses to impose the full weight of the process of submission on those under them, when, in reality, the greater responsibility is theirs. If we husbands, for example, were to fulfill our part as the Lord intended, you would find that our wives would comply with their part not only with ease, but with a joy and energizing love that would transform the marriage relationship to what the Lord intended (cf., Husbands Love Your Wives).

[At this point please read and meditate through the entirety of the cited scriptures for yourselves so that the Holy Spirit may speak to your hearts, making sure that you make a decision in response to His leading.]

Having read and meditated on the segment from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we turn now to the Gospel of John where the Lord Jesus himself originates the divine injunction to “Love one another as I have Loved you” (John 13:34). This  is the commandment which He magnificently demonstrated the principle of “submit to one another as I have submitted to you” by His actions when He washed His disciples feet at the Last Supper  (cf., John 13:3-11).

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.” (John 13:12-17)

Now, there are many lessons to learn from this event but which I cannot address in this article.  What I wish to emphasize here, is that Jesus, the Master, The Teacher, submitted himself to His disciples out of the Love he had for them and He enjoined them to do likewise to each other (and by implication, to their disciples) thus majestically setting the example for all of us in the matter of the principle of  mutual submission through agape Love.

“For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3: 11)

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” (1John 3:14-17)

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. (Eph. 4:32, Eph.:5:2, Eph. 8:9)

In conclusion dear family of God, let me attempt to summarize the foregoing discussion in a manner that you may easily bring to mind the principle of mutual submission in agape Love.  Always remember that in submitting to one another in Love, you are really not submitting to the person whom you relate to – no, when you submit in agape Love, the one you are really submitting to is God the Father! And each of you parties in the relationship, by mutually and willingly submitting to God and His Love are enabling God to work through the relationship for His Glory and for His purposes!

Always remember, your submission is “… as unto the Lord!”, in this way your relationship cannot fail to grow in Love in fulfillment of God’s purpose for you! Amen and Amen!

I pray brethren, that what I have shared with you, has enlightened and empowered you to let the Word of God bring a refreshing change to your lives as it has brought to mine, May the Spirit of Love abide in you as you submit your selves to one another in Love!

Your fellow pilgrim and brother in Christ,


(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])

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>>Husbands Love Your Wives

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