HEIRS TOGETHER OF THE GRACE OF LIFE
BY: KENNETH GREATOREX
Headship and submission, are big and often misunderstood words! Prior to marriage, I had a tremendous “revelation” of how marriage worked. Wives were to be in “subjection” (KJV). My wife Dale, will tell you she tried, but sometimes failed. She also learned that she was to OBEY me. I assumed this authority based upon Ephesians 5:22-24. This is the view that many of us Christian husbands tend to hold.
It was a shock when I read Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” He gave His life for the church! It was love to the death. Then, I read onto verse 28. “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” This “fresh revelation” cut like a sword into my former thinking.
What some thinks of as a chain of command in 1 Corinthians 11:3, clearly places women at the bottom. This teaching has resulted in much bondage, rebellion, heartache, even sin, and condemnation. Ponder the positioning of Christ, If God occupied a rank superior to Christ, then we have a restoration of the ancient heresy of subordinationism. Since Jesus Christ has received ALL POWER AND AUTHORITY, He cannot now be in an inferior position to God the Father, not that He ever was.
Consider what Lawrence O. Richards said, “- and the head of Christ is God (v3). This defines the flow of the creation order: Christ flowed from God the Father, man came into being by Christ’s activity as Creator, and the woman was taken from the side of man. In this verse, then, the order of creation is established. There is no suggestion here of inferiority, for Jesus has always been the complete equal of the Father.”
We tend to interpret the word head, as one having AUTHORITY OVER others, which is sometimes so. The word HEAD, Greek kephale, Strong’s #2776, is used 55 times in the New Testament. It is generally used in a metaphorical sense. The beginning, or source of a river is called it’s “head.” Richard’s says, “— it would appear that “head” is used in its well established sense of source and nourisher of life.”
“The most exhausting Greek-English Lexicon covering Greek literature from about 900 B.C. to A.D. 600 does not give a single definition to indicate – “superior rank” or “supreme over” or “leader” or “authority.” – However among the range of meanings which kephale had in ordinary Greek were “origin” or “source” or “starting point” and “crown” or “completion” or “consummation.”
To properly understand Scripture, it helps to learn the meaning of the words in the original Hebrew or Greek, at the time they were written. It is also imperative to accept that our English language is constantly changing. My 1986 edition of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, lists 625 selected words considered obsolete in the KJV Bible, last revised in 1769. (This is not the NKJV) There are no doubt more obsolete words since 1986.
We do face difficulties going from the POSITIONAL view, to a proper FUNCTIONAL position that may be challenging. Some quote, “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28), as if we had been desexed, and thus no problem. The verse started with, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free.” There were Jews, Greeks, slaves and free men who were Christians when this was written, males and females too. Our POSITION IN CHRIST is how we learn to FUNCTION IN THE NATURAL PROPERLY.
The word submission is greatly misunderstood. Preachers, husbands and parents have used it, to induce the compliance of others. The word SUBMISSION/SUBJECTION from the Greek hupotasso, Strong’s # 5293 is primarily a military term meaning “to rank under.” The word hupotasso, comes from the word hupo – to rank, and tasso – to arrange, or place in an orderly fashion.
As a young man I served in the military. When called to march we (raw recruits) lined up in columns of three with the tallest in front. At times we had one of our own giving the orders. We ALL held the SAME RANK. We were arranged in an order, but no one was superior to another, even though one was sometimes called upon to command the rest. Like rows of bricks in a wall, we all functioned in our place.
The first usage of the word hupotasso, concerns Jesus as a child, the One who was Lord of Glory, “Then He went down with them – and was SUBJECT to them.” (Luke 5:21) This is an example of willingly submitting to His earthly parents.
When conducting a marriage ceremony, I never start reading Ephesians Five at Verse Twenty-two, but always with verse 21, “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” This balances the call for wives to submit. Ultimately, the command to husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,” and “to love their own wives as their own bodies” is more demanding than the command to wives to “fit in,” “be arranged,” or placed an order.”
Biblical SUBMISSION does NOT imply INFERIORITY, or superiority of a person, but rather a fitting into the placing that God has desired. Christ is the HEAD of His Body the Church, and we are members of His Body. Do we feel INFERIOR because we are only members of the Body and not the Head? Certainly not! Even as Christ the Head of man is the source, origin, crown and completion of the man in the natural order, so is such true of the man’s role to the woman. We speak of love, responsibility and care. NOT domination or superiority! We “through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)
In our interpersonal relationships we NEVER function as an AUTHORITY OVER ANOTHER. Instead WE MUTUALLY SUBMIT TO EACH OTHER, with each fitting into their God ordained place. Alfred Edersheim quoted this from rabbinical writings, “A certain wise woman said to her daughter before marriage: My child, stand before thy husband and minister to him. If thou wilt act as his maiden, he will be thy slave, and honour thee as his mistress; but if thou wilt exalt thyself against him, he will be thy master, and though shalt become vile in his eyes, like one of the maidservants.”
Perhaps it is fitting to end with this Scripture passage which can be applied to marriage, family, church and many other areas. “But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Matthew 20:26-28
HEIRS TOGETHER OF THE GRACE OF LIFE [Kenneth Greatorex] 1