When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt nor a fear, not a sigh not a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief not a loss, not a frown not a cross, But is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows and the joy He bestows Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, Or we'll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go -- Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, But to trust and obey.
By John H. Sammis
God knows the past and present circumstances of each individual, but He excuses no one from trusting and obeying Him (Romans 1:20 and 16:26). Our Creator knows a person can only be truly content within a loving relationship with Him. Though circumstance vary, He remains constant. "Blessed (happy) are all they that put their trust in him." (Psalm 2:12a)
Webster defines trust as "confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principle of another person or thing." A person who lacks integrity is not to be trusted. We all have a sin nature and can not be completely trusted. Jesus did not entrust Himself to people (John 2:23-25). Only God can be wholly trusted.
In Hebrew the word most often translated "trust" is batach. It is also translated felt secure, confident, and rely; but it is translated "trust" in the following verses.
Psalm 37:3-5 "Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."
Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and
lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy paths."
Heart is leb in Hebrew; meaning inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding; seat of appetites, emotions and passions and courage. As we rely on God inwardly, He directs and provides for us outwardly.
Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out
your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."
Refuge is machaceh in Hebrew; meaning shelter from storms, danger, or falsehood.
When lies assail me, I can fold within myself, rehearsing the lies to my detriment; or I can run into Jesus and tell Him the lies, and let Him overcome them with truth.
Psalm 119:42 "So shall I have wherewith to answer him that
reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word."
Reproacheth is charaph in Hebrew; meaning to taunt, blaspheme, defy, rail, jeopardize, or upbraid.
Word is dabar in Hebrew; meaning speech, saying, utterance, words, acts, or manner.
When society's guilt is thrown at me for not measuring up to its standards, I can reply with God's word. My only standard is Jesus, and God promises me that one day I "shall be like Him for I will see Him as He is". Until then God is changing me "from glory to glory into His image".
Psalm 118:8-9 "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes."
Though some governments are better than others at providing security, our true security is only in the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:4 "Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do
not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every
neighbor will walk with slanderers."
Neighbor is rea' in Hebrew, meaning a close associate; brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, or other.
Brother is 'ach in Hebrew, meaning another, kindred, like, or other.
Will [utterly] supplant is aqab in Hebrew, meaning literally to seize by the heel (as Jacob did to Esau in birth and in life); or stay.
Will walk [with] slanderers is halak rakiyl in Hebrew, meaning "carry tales"; a traveling gossip, a scandal-monger, or talebearer. Jesus so distrusted his siblings to care for his mother in a godly manner that He placed her in the care of His beloved disciple, John.
Jeremiah 17:5, 7 "Thus says the Lord, `Cursed is the man
who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from
the Lord. . . . Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope
is the Lord.'"
The man is geber in Hebrew, meaning a valiant man or warrior; or a person in general.
[In] man is 'adam in Hebrew, meaning ruddy; human being, another, or person.
Flesh is basar in Hebrew, meaning body, person, self, skin, kin, or mankind.
Departs is cuwr in Hebrew, meaning "to turn off"; decline, depart, go aside, rebel, or withdraw.
Hope is mibtach in Hebrew is a refuge, security, assurance; confidence, hope, sure, or trust. Man's strength is temporary; God's strength is everlasting.
Proverbs 11:28 "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch."
There is much more security in the saving righteousness of Christ, the Branch, than in wealth.
Hosea 10:13 "Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity;
ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in
the multitude of thy mighty men."
In the way is derek in Hebrew, meaning a road, a course of life or mode of action; custom, or manner.
[In the] multitude is rob in Hebrew, meaning abundance, common, great, or plenty.
Mighty men is gibbowr in Hebrew, meaning powerful; warrior, tyrant, champion, chief, or valiant man.
We reap the harmful results of following the common course of the successful, sometimes unaware that it is based in lies. The allure of wealth and power has caused many to plow wickedness in the world.
Proverbs 31:11 "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil."
Micah 7:5 "Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence
in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your
Trust is 'aman in Hebrew, meaning to build up or support; assurance, believe, or bring up.
Friend is rea' in Hebrew, meaning brother, companion, fellow, neighbor, husband, or lover.
Confidence is batach in Hebrew, meaning to hide for refuge; be secure, hope, or trust.
Companion is 'alluwph in Hebrew, meaning a friend, governor, guide, or ox.
Micah penned this verse in the midst of an unrighteous people in which no one could be trusted; whereas King Lemuel recounted the wisdom of his mother during the reign of King David, who sought after God's heart.
God-fearing husbands and wives should be able to trust one another, but there's always the possibility that a spouse will choose a life of unrepentant sin; thus breaking trust with God and believers. At such a time the remaining spouse must choose whether or not to separate from the unrepentant sinner.
Exodus 22:9 "For all manner of trespass, whether it be for
ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which
another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before
the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto
Trespass is pesha in Hebrew, which is also translated "breach of trust" (New American Standard) and "illegal possession" (NIV); a disregard for boundaries.
This is an encouraging verse for those seeking financial restitution from abusers in a court of law for the losses due to abuse. Trust and possession are intertwined in personal boundaries. Personal boundaries are individuality, personality, choice; and physical, sexual, emotional, mental, and spiritual privacy. They are the God-given means of identifying "self" as separate from "others". In a healthy (righteous) family boundaries are respected and encourage self-possession and trust of others; thus enabling development of oneness, and eliminating the need for barriers.
Barriers are ineffectual "self"-protecting mannerisms like sarcasm, silence, fantasy, manipulation, violence, or substance abuse. In an unhealthy (unrighteous) family there are personal barriers because of broken trust and possessiveness, and personal boundaries are obliterated. When a member of an unrighteous family demands respect of his personal boundaries, he will be attacked. He can either relinquish his "self" to absorption into the family "organism" again, or remain separate and unwelcome. When a member of a righteous family demands to live unrighteously in disregard of the personal boundaries of others, the family must exclude him until he repents, lest he destroy the individuals in the family.
I used legalism as a personal barrier because I had no personal boundaries, and therefore, had no idea how to relate in a healthy manner.
Christianity is about family relationships: our relationship to God as our Father, and our relationship with other believers as fellow siblings. When siblings feel abandoned by their parents, one (usually the eldest) will take on the parental role and authority in order for the siblings to survive. Today we have many traditional churches and cults who are "playing house" in this manner. But Jesus did not leave us as orphans, but is with us "always to the end of the age"; and He gave us His Holy Spirit to lead us. Those of us who are mature and gifted by the Father are not to usurp the Father's authority in a new believer's life, but to encourage the development of their own relationship with the Father and to equip them to minister to others. Even Jesus told His disciples, "At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God (John 16:26-27)." Jesus prayed the relational goal of Christianity, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:20-21)."
The believing Jews understood relationship with the Father and one another based upon relational rules of respect (the Law). In contrast, the Gentile believers had little or no personal boundaries upon which to establish healthy relationships. Jesus broke down the religious wall between them by requiring faith in Him alone as means of acceptance into the Family. Grace and forgiveness would be the basis of their oneness, but the Gentiles seldom recognized why they needed forgiveness. The Gentiles weren't "in denial" of the personal boundaries of others; they honestly didn't know what they were. Some Jews wanted the Gentiles to become Jews first and learn the relational rules of respect before they were accepted into the family (as is told in Galatians). The Jewish believers in Jerusalem boiled down the essentials of the relational rules for all believers to spiritual and sexual purity (no idolatry or sexual immorality in Acts 15:22-29). The particulars are given by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul's purpose was not to reinstitute the Law, but to give the Gentiles a framework for building healthy relationships with God and other believers. Paul also reiterated Christ's commands on procedures when someone has broken relationship with God or other believers by their words or actions (in the case of the "man who had his father's wife").
Your parents might have proclaimed, "While you live under our roof, you'll abide by our rules." God could say, "If you choose to live in My kingdom, you must abide by kingdom rules. If at any time you refuse to obey, you must be put outside the protection of My kingdom until you change your mind (repent) and choose to obey." The kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3) and the church (Matthew 18:17) are for believers. When the church tolerates willful sin in its midst, it begins to decay. We should take heed to the warnings Jesus gave the churches of Revelation to purify themselves.
We need to embrace God's commands of separation: "Come out from them and be separate" - the righteous separating from the unrighteous; and "do not be partners with them" - the unrighteous being excommunicated from the righteous until they repent and live righteously again. Separate yourselves from sin, and separate sin from yourselves.
God's first boundary, or relational rule with mankind, was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This knowledge was a quality reserved for God alone, and would prove fatal in the minds of man (see Gen. 3:21-24). Mankind was to trust in God's standard of right and wrong, and not to seek to establish their own (see Romans 10:1-4). When Adam and Eve trespassed that boundary, God separated them from the tree of life so that they would not live forever in sin but die prematurely. It did not separate them from God's presence or communication, but it did bring His punishment (as is seen in Gen. 3 and 4).
God's grief grew as man's wickedness escalated, so He started over with Noah's family. God didn't rescind the command to be fruitful and rule the beasts, but He did rescind the vegetarian command, and makes it clear that meat is not to be eaten with the lifeblood (Gen. 1:28-30; 9:1-7). God also declared retribution against killing people, for God created people in His Image.
God is clearly jealous of His Name (Ex. 34:14), and He thwarted the people's attempt to build a great tower to deify their own name (Gen. 11:1-9). Then God chooses Abram to father a people who will honor His Name and His commands, and He demands a blood oath of sorts, circumcision, to confirm their trust and loyalty.
God's first declaration of Himself to Moses is His Name: His Name in relation to finite man, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;" and His Name in relation to His infinite self, "I AM THAT I AM (or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE)."
God chooses Moses to lead this people into fuller knowledge of Himself; therefore He allows Moses further revelations of Himself. During this encounter in Exodus 3, God requires Moses to honor His holiness by removing his sandals. In Exodus 17:6 God stands before Moses at the rock of Horeb in response to Israel's retort, "Is the Lord among us or not?" In Exodus 19 God declares His physical boundaries for Israel to interact with Him: no sex for three days, washed, consecrated, physical boundaries placed around the mountain lest any touch it and perish, and ready by the third day. In Exodus 20 God reveals Himself with a dense cloud of darkness with thunder and lightening on mount Sinai, and proclaims ten rules for relationship with Him (my paraphrase):
1. You will have only one bond to one God - Me!
2. You will not create an image of Me from your own mind with your own hand
but you will worship who I truly Am.
3. You will respect my Name, My Person, and My Authority.
4. You will rest every seventh day as I modeled for you during creation.
5. You will respect your parents (as I am your Creator and Father).
6. You will respect human life (as I created you all in My Image).
7. You will respect your marriage vows (as I will be a Husband to you).
8. You will respect each other's property and boundaries.
9. You will respect the truth.
10. You will respect God's good provision for you.
In Exodus 24:9-11 Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu see God with something like clear sapphire under His feet. In Exodus 33:9-11 God was viewed as a pillar of cloud by the people, while Moses spoke with Him "face to face" or "presence to presence"; for later in the chapter God allows Moses to see His back, but not His face. In Exodus 40:34-38 God enjoys the new Tent of Meeting by Himself, not even letting Moses enter. God's continued revelation of Himself to and through the people of Israel is vast. Previous to man's redemption, God's response to people who would not honor His Person was separation from the believing community, and sometimes separation from life itself. Sin violates personal boundaries. By sinning against God, we show our disrespect for Him as a Person, devaluing Him by ignoring or violating His boundaries; trying to make Him a mere extension of ourselves. But God will not allow our disrespect and unbelief to degrade His Person (2 Timothy 2:12-13).
Read Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus was very rude toward this non-Jew who was detaining Him from doing the work God had assigned Him to the Jews. Paul also refers to ministerial boundaries (Romans 15:19-20). We are only responsible to help those whom God tells us to minister to.
John 2:23-25 "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover,
in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles
which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew
all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what
was in man."
Commit is pisteuo in Greek; meaning believe, entrust, or put in trust with.
Jesus didn't even entrust Himself to believers; so if a Christian demands your trust, you can confidently refuse and point to this passage. An abusive leader might show you 1 Peter 5:3 in the NIV which says the flock is "entrusted" to the shepherds, but that word is kleros in Greek; meaning "lot, part, inheritance, or heritage." In the King James it reads: "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." The sheep are God's possession under His authority. Shepherds (pastors) and elders are to be examples of Christ, humble servants ministering to the needs of the saints (John 13:12-17).
The Bible never tells us to Trust One Another, but to "Love one another". Love can be unconditional, but trust demands someone to be trustworthy. None of us are completely trustworthy, only God is. So everything you allow to enter your mind, including this material, must be held up to the light of Scripture and receive a hearty Amen from the Holy Spirit within you before you can trust it.
In Exodus 34:6-7 God proclaims Himself to Moses, saying, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." In Ezekiel 18 God says the child will no longer be punished for the father's sins. God's character does not change, but how He interacts with mankind does change occasionally.
Hebrews 7:12 "For the priesthood being changed, there is
made of necessity a change also of the law."
Changed is gar in Greek; it is a particle used to assign reason for an argument, like the words because, verily, so, etc.
Change is metathesis in Greek, meaning disestablishment of a law, or transferal to heaven.
God has definitely made changes in how He is to be worshipped and obeyed, but the fundamental laws of loving Him for who He is, and of loving others as yourself have remained constant.
Malachi 3:6 "I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants
of Jacob, are not destroyed."
Change is shanah in Hebrew, meaning alter.
Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day,
and for ever."
Same is autos in Greek (au carries the idea of a baffling wind or backward; tos is a personal pronoun), meaning to refer back to the subject.
Jesus is always Himself.
James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from
above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness,
neither shadow of turning."
Variableness is parallage (lit. change of locale) in Greek, meaning fickleness.
Shadow of turning aposkiasma trope in Greek, meaning no variableness which would obscure.
Our "Father of lights" remains spiritually visible to us. He does not move or block our ability to "see" Him; though our sin or denial of Him in the midst of trials might cause us to temporarily turn away from Him.
Genesis 6:5-8 "And God saw that the wickedness of man was
great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man
on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will
destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and
beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth
me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD."
Repent is nacham in Hebrew, meaning to be sorry, to console oneself, to regret, or to change.
Grieved is atsab in Hebrew, meaning to grieve self.
It was roughly 1600 years from the creation of Adam and Eve to the flood, so God certainly showed Himself to be slow to anger, long-suffering, and patient with mankind. He tells us the depth of His grief over mankind's wickedness. An abused person could easily hear God saying, "I wish I'd never made them." But we, like Noah and his family, find hope in God's grace; that God's heart is to rescue the righteous, even if they're the only family on earth who still love God in the midst of total depravity.
Jeremiah 7:31 "They have built the high places of Topeth in the valley of Ben Hinnom, to burn their sons and daughters in the fire -- something I did not command nor did it enter my mind."
The idea that parents would murder their own children as an act of 'worship' never occurred to God. Just as we learn and experience new things, so does God. As other people's lives broaden and enrich ours, or limit and hurt ours; so has God allowed our lives to make a difference to Him. Jesus has chosen to be scarred for eternity because of His love for us.
The Father answered His Son's first public act of obedience (baptism) with a public announcement of His pleasure in His Son (Matthew 3:14-17). The expectant joy of being exalted by His Father enabled Jesus to obey His Father's will and endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
Philippians 2:5-13 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Read Matthew 23. Before Jesus death and resurrection, He told a group of Jews to obey the Pharisees who sit in Moses' seat (i.e. teach the Law), but not to imitate them. Jesus eliminated the old spiritual system, and set up the new system which has one Father, one Teacher, and one Master, and all who do the Father's will were to be called brethren -- NO MORE RABBIS AND PRIESTS! The new leaders of the brethren devoted to Christ would be humble servants whom God would humble if they became exalted. Jesus hates spiritual abuse, and He lays into the spiritual abusers of His day with great wrath and many woes; we would be wise to do the same, because they are keeping themselves and others from entering into God's kingdom.
James 4:7 "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the
devil, and he will flee from you."
Submit is hupotasso in Greek; hupo means under, and tasso means to draw up in order or to arrange. The whole word basically means to rank under.
We are commanded to be "Submitting (hupotasso) yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord." Placing ourselves under the Lord's direct authority comes first ("Submitting . . . in the fear of the Lord.").
Acts 5:29 "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:32 "And we are his witnesses of these things; and
also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him."
Obey is peitharcheo (peitho meaning to persuade or to have confidence in; and archo meaning to rule or to begin) in Greek; meaning "to persuade to rule", or to obey authority.
John 14:23-24 "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man
love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will
come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth
not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's
which sent me."
Keep is tereo in the Greek; meaning to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard; reserve, observe, watch, preserve, or hold fast.
Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy
strength: this is the first commandment."
Heart is kardia in Greek; meaning heart; the center of all physical and spiritual life.
Soul is psuche in Greek; meaning breath, life; the seat of the feelings, desires, and affections.
Mind is dianoia in Greek; meaning the mind as a faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring; understanding, or imagination.
Strength is ischus in Greek; meaning power, ability, force, or might. There is a clear relationship between love and obedience, and abiding in and with God. God commands us to love Him with all our being; not someone else's. I have often allowed myself to become proud or disheartened because I compared my love and obedience to God with someone else's. Whether my heart is broken or full to overflowing, whether my soul is bruised or healthy, whether my mind is slow or quick, whether my strength is feeble or great; I can love God with all my being, and know I am graciously accepted. Then from that fulfilling relationship I can share the overflow of love with my neighbor.
Regardless of the state of your entire being, you can love Him and be accepted by Him as you are right now. Whether or not your emotional, mental, or physical states ever become balanced or healthy in the eyes of the world, God receives your love for Him. And we should receive and accept each other as believers in Jesus with this in mind (see Romans 14 and 15).
Romans 14:1 "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations."
Romans 15:7 "Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ
also received us to the glory of God."
Receive is proslambano in Greek; meaning "receive unto", or to take to, or to welcome.
Doubtful is dialogismos in Greek; meaning thought, reasoning, disputing, or a deliberating.
Disputations is diakrisis in Greek; meaning a distinguishing, discerning, or judging.
We are accepted in Christ because we have repented of our sins and received Christ's forgiveness and His righteousness, and we should welcome other believers based upon the same criteria, and tolerate differences of non-foundational doctrines.
A wife is to honor the authority God has given to her own husband as the final decision-maker and director of family affairs.
Ephesians 5:21-24 "Submitting yourselves one to another in
the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto
the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the
head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the
church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands
in every thing."
Submit and Subject are hupotasso in Greek; it basically means to rank under. Elders are not to be insubordinate in this way (See Titus 1:6).
Head is kephale (the root kapto meaning seizing or laying hold) in Greek; meaning head.
Notice that before wives are commanded to submit to husbands, all believers are commanded to submit to one another under God's headship. There is a mutual give and take in submitting to one another, but when agreement can not be reached, God has appointed headship to the husband (1 Corinthians 11:3). Headship and leadership do not equal dictatorship and tyranny, but responsibility and sacrificial service.
1 Peter 2:13 "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man
for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme . . ."
Submit is hupotasso in Greek; it basically means to rank under.
Rome was not a very kind landlord, yet Jesus encouraged paying taxes and giving honor to whom it was due. The Jews were relatively free to worship God, so I believe it is when government obstructs freedom of worship that a people may seek to overthrow it, as in the American Revolution (1 Cor. 7:20-24).
Ephesians 6:1-4 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord:
for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment
with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long
on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but
bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Children is teknon in Greek; meaning child, as one produced or offspring.
Obey is hupakouo in Greek; meaning "to hear under", to listen attentively, or to subordinate.
Honour is timao in Greek; meaning to prize or to fix a value upon.
The command for children to obey and to honor their parents presupposes the parents are obeying God. This command was given to the saints, to parents who were commanded to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The original command was given to the Jews followed by laws to kill different types of sinners: intentional murderers, kidnappers, sorceresses, those who have sex with animals, those who sacrifice to another god, and those who take advantage of widows and orphans (Ex. 21:12-14, 22-25, 16; and Ex. 22:18-20, 22-24). It was God's will that a Jewish child would not be put in the situation of honoring a parent who wickedly disobeyed God by permanently removing that parent. If God allowed divorce when marriage vows were sexually violated, how much more so would He allow children to separate from parents who sexually violate them.
It was also God's will that Jewish parents would not have to raise wickedly disobedient (cursing and violent) children by allowing them to put their own wicked children to death (Ex. 21:15,17; also see Deut. 21:18-21).
Our American judicial system will sometimes place criminal parents or criminal children in jail, but many criminals put on their Sunday smiles and attend church regularly. To command a Christian child to honor so-called "Christian" parents who are idolaters, adulterers, pedophiles, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, or extortioners, is to require them to sin, since God's word commands them not to have fellowship with such people (1 Cor. 5:9-6:11).
When children become Christians, they are born anew into God's family, being adopted by the heavenly Father. Earthly parental bonds must take second place to the child's new spiritual bond of primary obedience to Parent God, which subjects parental commands to the supreme authority of God and His Word. This is the goal of Christian parents: to raise children who will honor and obey them so they can transfer that honor and obedience to God as supreme Parent. Afterwards, the children's honor and obedience to their earthly parents will be in response to their love and obedience to their heavenly Parent.
Parents who attend church or call themselves Christian might actually lead very wicked lives devoid of Christ. I became a Christian when I was 12. Though my mother called herself a Christian, she was not; she was an alcoholic who was into spiritism and performed seances in our home. I would walk out of the room when she would read horoscopes and Tarot cards to me; but my youth pastors preached that all children had to honor and obey all parents, so I tried my best to do so and left at 19.
I was sexually abused as a child, and offer my experience regarding reporting to authorities. I began counseling in July 1990, and I remembered my first episodes of incest four months later. Laws changed in 1993 to require counselors to report incestuous siblings who were five or more years older than the victim, and who still have access to children. I had two older brothers who abused me, and the counselor confused the details of the two brothers in reporting the oldest one who met the new law's criteria. I was not shown the report before it was sent. I was assured case loads were so huge, that nothing would probably be done. The social workers investigated my oldest brother two days later with the mixed-up information which he could easily dismiss, and children remain at risk. Would you want your parent or child removed from your home by counselors and social workers who are not held accountable for relaying faulty information?
To Christian children of ungodly parents, I would say try to live peaceably with your parents in the way a Christian wife submits herself to a husband who does not obey God (see 1 Peter 3:1-2); and possibly through your godly behavior they will come to Jesus. But if your parents commit crimes against you or others, you have the right to call the police in an attempt to have them permanently removed from you. Our "justice" system wrongly removes the innocent children from their homes instead of removing the criminal parent. Foster homes aren't always a step up either, so you might want to seek wise Christian counsel before making such a decision. If the crimes are violent, causing injuries like broken bones or welts, or sexual in nature towards you or your siblings, or if you have been neglected (no food or supervision for a couple days), God gives you the freedom to leave immediately and to seek help. Try your church first. There are listings for abuse hot-lines and shelters in the front pages of most phone books.
Removing the child is not the answer. The current system still punishes the victims of sexual abuse, the children, by sending them to strangers. I suggest that the perpetrators be removed from the home and given extensive counseling, and that a screened (non-abusive) relative or friend of the family (upon the children's requests, or as is noted in a will as legal guardian upon the parents' demise) be allowed to care for the children until one or both parents can safely reenter the home. If only one parent is abusive, the other should still be given counseling along with the children. But all efforts should be made to keep as much of the family safely together as possible and to restore it to normal relationships.
To adult Christians of abusive, non-repentant parents (after exposure of their sins to them): disassociate from them (Eph. 5:3-14). They might try to deceive you about their "spirituality" or "Christianity", but their lack of "goodness, righteousness and truth" (often expressed through obscenities) will be apparent. You may even bring lawsuits against them for their crimes against you. The statute of limitations in most states is 3 years from the date of discovery. God will vindicate you if they don't repent, but maybe legal proceedings will wake them from denial into repentance (see Leviticus 19:15-18).
To adult Christians of formerly abusive parents who have repented of the sins they committed against you and have sought your forgiveness: forgive them. You are no longer children who need to obey your parents, but you'll need to determine what kind of relationship you will now have with them. Are the other sins in their lives threatening to you or your children emotionally, physically or spiritually? Are they willing to respect the rules of your home and your personal boundaries?
To Christian parents of ungodly children who commit crimes, you have the right to call the police. Being arrested and/or incarcerated might be the best opportunity to bring about their repentance. If they are being physically violent towards you, you can seek to have them permanently removed from you through prison and/or court injunctions, or mental institutions. For sins which are not crimes, families would do well to follow the instructions in Matthew 18:15-20. Jesus said families would be divided over Him (Mat. 10:36-37), but as believers we should attempt to save whole households when possible (Acts 11:14;16:15-34; 18:8; and 1 Cor. 1:16).
Jesus respected children as people of worth and value. Adults should not devaluate them because of their immaturity. Their newly forming personal boundaries should be respected when possible. Example: If a parent or Sunday school teacher wants to demonstrate the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, and asks a child to allow himself/herself to be bound and laid on an altar, the child has every right to refuse. Use a doll or stuffed animal instead of forcing a child into a vulnerable and frightening situation. I also think young children should not be asked to portray wicked people in skits or plays; let an adult read the part instead.
Example: If a teacher is talking to others in the staff lounge about the awful time she had with little Johnny and all his antics, that is gossip. The teacher should first talk to Johnny privately in hopes of his repentance.
Ephesians 6:5-9 "5 Servants, be obedient to them
that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling,
in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice,
as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from
the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and
not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth,
the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening:
knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of
persons with him."
Obedient are hupakouo in Greek; meaning "to hear under", to listen attentively, or to subordinate.
An employee has every right to refuse to perform illegal or immoral acts for an employer. Sometimes you might lose your job over it, but your integrity will be intact.
1 Peter 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."
Submit and subject are the same word, hupotasso - to rank under. Neither the elder or the younger are to be proud, but to humbly accept God's ministration to them regardless of age; yet there exists an order of headship, like husband to wife, for elder to younger when disagreements arise. As God commands the husband to love and nourish his wife, He commands the elders ('overseers') to be examples to the flock without 'overlording' them (1 Peter 5:1-4).
We are to think about the faith and conduct of those who teach the Word; and, if warranted, confidently follow their suggestions. Some Bible teachers and elders take so much satisfaction in the power and honor of leading and teaching others, that they try to keep people from maturing in the Lord. They try to keep people as babes in Christ so that they can wield "parental" authority. John discusses the natural maturation of believers from children to young men to fathers (1 John 2:12-14). Elementary and mature teachings are discussed in Hebrews 5:13-6:3.
Beware of a church in which one person demands the obedience of all. Within the Body of Christ we are all to yield to the order the Head has given. No one or two people (or a group of real elders -- old saints) are to dictate what the rest of the members do. They may provide direction and leadership, but the only one who can rightly demand obedience is the Lord Jesus. The members are free to lovingly serve God and the brethren without manipulation or pressure from those who have become "overseers". Each body part is important and necessary for the working of the Body. Read 1 Corinthians 12-14 for further instructions, and notice how service and judgment is given by "all", not a select few.
Elders oversee and care for God's sheep, but they do not own them or rule them.
Hebrews 13:7 "Remember them which have the rule over you,
who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering
the end of their conversation."
Remember is mnemoneuo in Greek; meaning to keep in mind, to think of or make mention.
Rule over is hegeomai in Greek; meaning lead, give account, command, influence, or have authority over (as governor, chief, overseer).
Whose is hos in Greek; meaning who, which, what, or that.
Follow is mimeomai in Greek; meaning imitate. The root mimos means "mimic".
Considering is anatheoreo in Greek; meaning to look at again.
End is ekbasis in Greek; meaning "to walk out", way of escape, an egress, way out, exit; applied figuratively to the way of escape from temptation; or the issue referring to the end of one's life.
Conversation is anastrophe in Greek; meaning manner of life, conduct, or behavior. The root anastrepho means to turn upside down, overturn, overthrow, to turn back, or to conduct one's self, behave one's self, or live.
Hegeomai denotes a governor in Matt. 2:6, Luke 2:2, and Acts 7:10. "Those who rule over you" could be the Jewish governor(s) appointed by Rome, who would have to give a report back to Rome (Heb. 13:17); therefore it would be wise for the Hebrews to appease them. "Hegeomai, to lead the way, to preside, rule, be the chief," is used of the ambition "to be chief" among the disciples of Christ, <Luke 22:26>; of Paul as the "chief" speaker in gospel testimony at Lystra, <Acts 14:12>; of Judas and Silas, as chief (or rather, "leading") men among the brethren at Jerusalem, <Acts 15:22>." Hebrews' author may be sarcastically referring to "those who rule over you" as ambitious men who desire to distinguish themselves from the rest of the brethren; who must be appeased to keep peace, and who receive their separate greeting at the end of the letter. Neither option makes sense in light of Hebrews 13:24 "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints;" especially since 'salute' means to embrace or welcome.
Hegeomai primarily means "to lead the way" or "to go first", and would better be translated "those who lead you". In Hebrews 11:11 and Philippians 2:3, 6, 25 and 3:7-8 hegeomai means "to lead before the mind" or to influence. Jesus explicitly told His disciples to not rule over the people or "exercise lordship over them", so if "those who rule over you" refers to the apostles and 'overseers' in Jerusalem, the following verse would be translated, "Have confidence in your leaders and yield to their guidance." God requires a stricter 'accounting' of teachers (James 3:1).
Hebrews 13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and
submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give
account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is
unprofitable for you."
Obey is peitho in Greek; meaning to persuade or to have confidence in.
Submit is hupeiko in Greek; meaning "to yield under" or to withdraw. It is the only time this word for submit is used in the Bible.
As is hos in Greek; meaning as soon, like, even as.
Unprofitable is alusiteles in Greek; meaning "not final freedom", hurtful or pernicious. It is only used once in Scripture. It is a negation of the roots lusis (to be loosed, deliverance, setting free, esp. of a prisoner's release, or of liquidating a debt) and telos (uttermost, finally, ending; end, the last in any succession; termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be, that by which a thing is finished, its close, issue).
Abusive leaders often use Hebrews 13:7 and 17 to demand obedience from their followers, but they rarely teach these verses in context. The letter is written to Jewish believers to not forsake salvation of the new covenant in Jesus for the traditions of the old covenant. The writer presents the new covenant as fulfilling and surpassing the old covenant; and he presents Jesus, the supreme High Priest and Sacrifice, perfecting what current priests and sacrifices could not. He reminds them that Jerusalem is not a "continuing city", but tells them to look forward to the city to come (New Jerusalem). These Hebrew believers had received the new covenant, but were living within the jurisdiction of the spiritual authority of the old covenant still demanding their obedience. The temple in Jerusalem wasn't destroyed until 70 A.D. With this in mind, now read the intervening verses in which the writer pleads for the believers to choose to worship with Jesus outside of the temple system (note verse ten).
Hebrews 13:8-16 "8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. 9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. 10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
Our altar is the Lord's table (communion) in which we remember His sacrifice. Instead of sacrificing animals, we sacrifice thanksgiving and praise. We no longer have a temple where we must go to meet with God, for He has made our bodies temples He indwells. The priests are just going through the motions of faith whether or not they truly possess it, but Christ never changes. Within their lifetime God did bring a complete end to the old covenant, its priesthood, and its sacrificial system.
Christians have no intermediary except Christ. Their is no hierarchy outside of Father and children, Master and servants, Teacher and disciples. Jesus warned us to place no other between us and Him by giving mere men these titles. That does not mean there are not great people with amazing gifts and abilities given for the growth and encouragement of the Church. In the body of Christ, no one can demand obedience except King Jesus.
Luke 22:25-26 "And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles
exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them
are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest
among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that
Exercise lordship is kurieuo in Greek; meaning have dominion over, to be lord of, to rule, have dominion over, to have power over; supreme rulers and kings, or to exercise influence upon.
Exercise authority is exousiazo in Greek; meaning to have power or use power: to be master of any one, to have full and entire authority over the body, or to hold the body subject to one's will.
Chief is hegeomai in Greek; meaning count, esteem, to lead, to go before; to be a leader; to rule, command; to have authority over; overseers of the churches; used of any kind of leader, chief, or spokesman.
Serve is diakoneo in Greek; meaning to be a servant, attendant, domestic; to serve or wait upon (used of women preparing food); to minister necessities of life; to take care of the poor and the sick; in Christian churches to serve as deacons.
Jesus explicitly told His disciples to not rule over the people or "exercise lordship over them". If they wanted to be leaders (hegeomai), they were to take care of the needs of the believers. Jesus said His greatest disciples would be servants (diakonos -"deacons" Mat. 23:11). All through the last days of Jesus' life on earth, the Twelve badgered Him with questions of leadership and position. After His resurrection, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for His Father's gift. Their last question for Jesus on earth was not about Christ's kingdom, but Israel's kingdom. Jesus commissioned the Eleven to be "witnesses" of Christ's life, death, and resurrection; not just in Israel, but throughout the earth. After they added a twelfth and received God's gift, "with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all (Acts 4:33)." But in the very next verses, the apostles allowed believers to make them an 'honored distribution center' (keeping notes of who gave), instead of relaying Jesus' teaching on giving in secret (Matt 6:1-4)." Eventually there are ethnic squabbles over the public distribution, and the Twelve decide, "It is not reason (arestos means pleasing) that we should leave the word of God, and serve (diakoneo) tables. (Acts 6:2)" Though Jesus taught and preached the gospel to the crowds, He thought it was very pleasing to serve, not to be served (Mat. 20:28). When leaders do not obey Jesus' commands or follow His example, then they are not leading you where you want to go regardless of their knowledge or power. Trust and obey Jesus.
 Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, deluxe second edition. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1983, p. 1963.
 Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers
© 1997 L. Eve Engelbrite