All Subject to the Lord
Christopher B. Harbin
Obedience and submission are not words we really like to hear, especially when we are the ones being asked to submit and obey. We much prefer to use position and authority or strategy to force others to bow to our whims and desires. We are called, however, to submission. Why is that so hard?
There are places where the chapter divisions in the Bible make some sort of sense. There are other times when they interrupt the flow of thought so much they cause great harm to the church in regard to our interpreting the text before us. The joke in academic circles is that the monk who divided the Bible into chapters was an itinerant preacher who worked while riding from town to town, and his pen often slipped. We know that the division of the Bible into chapters and verses is often haphazard, especially since they are external to the text written by the likes of Paul. In passages like the text at hand, however, they often cause us to believe that verse one of this chapter is the beginning of a whole new thought. Reading it like that, however, we miss Paul’s focus and his very purpose in writing.
Paul had been developing one theme for four chapters in this letter. He had been writing of the essential unity among gentile and Jewish believers. He had addressed the fact that we all should seek the very same degree of maturity, following and growing into the example of Christ Jesus. In chapter five, we saw how the verb, “submit to one another” appeared only in verse 21, referring to various groupings or categories with which Paul would then deal. We saw this apply to women and men, and now we see Paul applying the same principle of submission to children, parents, slaves, and masters. We must apply the principle of submission equally among all of these categories of people, for as we apply them to women and men, so they must also apply to slaves, masters, parents, and children, since Paul’s thought continues ...
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