Saturday, April 26, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 15 and 16: Submission and Persecution

In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words/concepts of submission and persecution.


Submission or some variation of the word appears in the Bible a few dozen times. In the Old Testament, there are specific examples to people submitting to other people (e.g. all of Pharoah's people were to submit to Joseph when he was placed in charge-Genesis 41:40), and there are examples or commands for people to submit to God.

There is a lot of debate, especially in today's American culture, about the idea of "submission", especially in the context of a wife submitting to her husband. However, if you look at what the Hebrew and Greek words that are translate "submit" or some variation, it is clear that if someone is the one submitting, by definition, they are submitting of their own volition. They are choosing to submit; they are not being forces to submit. In Hebrew, the word raphac, often translated submit, means "to stamp oneself down; humble oneself". In Greek, the words "hypeikō" and "hypotassō" which mean to submit one's self. Again, the submissive person, by definition, is choosing to humble themselves. In the New Testament, there are many calls for submission to God or to others. Here are most of them:
  • To God (Hebrews 12:9)
  • To the political leaders (Romans 13:5, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 3:1)
  • To spiritual leadership (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:5)
  • Women in the church setting (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11)
  • Wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:1)
Warning: I'm going to get on my soapbox here for a minute. One of the "submit" references that I didn't note above is found in Ephesians 5:21 where it reads, " submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". This verse comes right before one of the verses about wives submitting to their husbands. I think that verse gets ignored far too often. I'm not married, so while I don't ignore the verses about marriage in the Bible, I tend to focus on applying the verses that are relevant to me currently. The Ephesians 5:21 verse will be relevant always. For those who poo poo the idea women are to submit their husbands look past the greater call for all of us to choose to submit to one another because of our reverence for Christ.At the same time, even in Christian circles, Ephesians 5:22 is emphasized at the expense of Ephesians 5:21. We are to show deference to others--to everyone. Submission is not confine to relationship of marriage, but our relationships with everyone because of our relationship with Christ. Submission is not about gender equality. We are all equal in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). It is our choice, but also our call, to submit to others, to be humble enough to look to serve others and put their needs before our own. It's not about being "subject" to a husband; it's about revering and loving Christ in such an overflowing way that we humble ourselves to serve and love others. OK, I'm off my soapbox.


Persecution is another concept that isn't discussed at length in the Old Testament, but it is interesting to note that the author of Hebrews, in the "hall of faith" chapter 11, notes that the great men and women of faith were persecuted. David and other psalmists pour out their hearts about persecution they faced  (9:13, 69:26, 119:157, 119:161),

Probably the most challenging verses on persecution is 2 Timothy 3:12 which says that everyone who wants to lead a godly life will be persecuted. I don't know that the reverse is then true too. If we aren't being persecuted, then does that mean we aren't leaving a godly life? I don't know if a lack of persecution means that I'm not living a godly life, or if it's more of a product of living in America where our spiritual lives are far  more comfortable than that of Christians in North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, etc.

Regardless, the Scriptures show that whatever persecution we face, good will come through it--we're blessed and rewarded (Matthew 5:11-12). There is also additional guidance for what to do when it comes:
  • pray for those who persecute (Matthew 5:44)
  • bless those who persecute you (Romans 12:14)
  • endure it (1 Corinthians 4:12)
  • be faithful unto death (Revelation 2: 10)
Our faith and the promise of the kingdom are eternal things, but persecution is temporary and earthly. What a challenge for us as we strive to live godly lives.

Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness

Words 9 and 10: Goodness and Pride

Words 11 and 12: Self-Control and Self-Discipline

Words 13 and 14: Joy and Gluttony

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