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Ephesians 5:21

Whosoever Will Be Great

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

There are some scholars who believe that this verse should be translated as an imperative, "Submit yourselves..," and that it is merely an introduction to what follows. That would be a grammatically legitimate translation, but the one that we have in the KJV is better, because it continues the thought of what came before it, and the following verses then serve as a more detailed explanation.

We have been talking about being filled with the Spirit by encouraging one another with spiritual songs and hymns of worship, being forever grateful for God's love, and now submitting ourselves to one another in the fear of God. Such a concept is also necessary for the unity of the church and the order of society.

What does it mean to submit one to another? It literally means to place yourself in subjection to others. Consider the ideas, the needs, the emotions and even misconceptions of other people as at least equal or superior in importance to your own.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" (Philippians 2:3-5)

Jesus thought nothing of sacrificing Himself for others. It was the focal point of His eternal plan for his people. He abandoned the glory and majesty of His heavenly throne to come here as a man and to suffer every temptation imaginable so that He could die for us. He was Master and Servant in one package.

Then, if everyone becomes subject to his brother or sister in Christ, what happens to leadership? Who will lead our people? "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)

Servant leadership is one of the greatest gifts a person can have. It is the ability to help others, to place their interests before your own, to respect their ideas, to build up their confidence and to increase their self-esteem, while at the same time you hold on to their loyalty and to their willingness to follow you. Obviously, you cannot submit yourself and assert your leadership role at the same time. The first part has to be done by you. Be subject to all of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Then, God will exalt you and mold you into a leader, giving you the flock that He wants you to have.

We are to submit to one another and to do it in the "fear of God." In other words, submission is not optional. Submission is the will of God for each and every one of His children. You must submit, because you respect the power of God to punish wickedness; and you must submit, because you trust God to exalt those who humble themselves and obey Him.

The majority of the ancient manuscripts say, "Submitting... in the fear of Christ." Perhaps the KJV sticks to the reading of the Textus Receptus because the phrase "in the fear of Christ" just does not sound right. I can find it nowhere else in the Bible, but "the fear of God" is frequently used. Christ came to save and not to condemn. I have never feared Him. I have only loved Him and stand in awe of Him. On the other hand, Christ and the Father are One, and I stand in fear of His mighty power and wrath. It is just a matter of how we think of Him.

Be filled with the Spirit, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Before The Throne:

It is not easy for most of us to be submissive servants. It takes a Spirit filled Christian to do it. Ask God to fill you beyond capacity. Pray that you will be able to follow your heart and be the servant that He wants you to be. Ask Him for the faith to trust in Him, knowing that He will raise you up. Pray that others will follow your example and that this will maintain peace and unity in the church.

For Further Study:

** submitting: Eph 5:22, 24; Gen 16:9; 1Ch 29:24; Rom 13:1-5; 1Co 16:16; Phi 2:3; 1Ti 2:11; 1Ti 3:4; Heb 13:17; 1Pe 2:13; 5:5; ** in: 2Ch 19:7; Neh 5:9, 15; Pro 24:21; 2Co 7:1; 1Pe 2:17;


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