“Obedience” (Gk. “hupakoe”) is the fulfillment of a command, claim, or counsel – Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.
“Obey” (Gk. “hupakouo”) is to listen, attend (to pay attention to and apply), and so to submit to.
Lk. 6:46-49; Matt. 7:24 To what is the person likened who hears Christ’s words and acts upon them?
Are you acting upon (obeying) all of God’s words in the Bible that apply to you as a Christian, so as to lay a strong foundation for a growing/maturing spiritual life, and why?
If not, when will you, and why?
Lk. 11:28 What is said of the person who hears the word of God and observes it?
Are you blessed/happy because you’ve been listening to the word of God and obeying it?
Jn. 14:15, 23; 2 Jn. 1:6 How does our obedience to Christ relate to our love for Christ?
Are you demonstrating your love for Christ by obeying His words?
If so, how often?
2 Thes. 1:6-9 To whom will God deal out retribution (punishment)?
[“know” – here, means to believe in, honor, or worship and, here, refers to the heathen, idolatrous, non-God-believing Gentiles who knew about God, but never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ – see 1 Thes. 4:5; Gal. 4:8; Rom. 1:28, 18-21].
[“obey” means to believe in or personally accept or trust in” – see Jn. 3:36; Rom. 10:16; 1 Jn. 3:23; 1 Pet. 4:17; Heb. 5:9; Acts 6:7]. In 1 Pet. 4:17 “to not obey” (Gk. “apeitheo”) is “to not be persuaded and so not believe,” as is also the case in Heb. 3:18-19.
Will God be dealing retribution/punishment out to you?
Heb. 11:8 What did Abraham do by faith when he was called by God to go to the promised land that he didn’t know?
How did he obey?
Is this how you respond (being obedient) when God tells you, through the Bible, to do something?
If so, give an example of when you did this.
Rom. 6:16 To whom is a person a slave?
Being a slave to sin results in what?
Being a slave to God or obeying Him will result in what?
Whom are you obeying (or a slave to whom)?
Rom. 6:17 From where should the source of our obedience to God’s Word come?
From where is the source of your obedience to God’s Word, the Bible (e.g., your emotions, peer-pressure, family, ego, blind habit, inner being or will, mere mental acceptance, etc.), and why?
Is this the same source as that which God tells us to have?
If not, what can you do to change it, in order to have the right motivation?
To what were these Christians obedient?
[“that form of teaching” means the pattern or standard of apostolic teaching, sound/accurate teaching of God’s Word – gospel teaching – see 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1].
To what are you obedient: your feelings and emotions, your past experiences, people’s expectations of you, what’s popular, or to God’s Word, the Bible, and why?
Phil. 2:12-13 When did these believers obey God?
Should we be obedient to what we know is right only when a spiritual leader is watching over us, and why?
Do you tend to do things that you know you should more so when a spiritual person is with you than when you’re by yourself?
Eph. 6:5-8 How were slaves to relate to their masters?
Though not exactly the same, how do you relate to your employer, and why?
Rom. 6:11-13 What shouldn’t we obey?
What should we do instead?
Which are you doing, and why?
1 Pet. 1:22 What prompted these Christians to sincerely love other believers?
[“truth” – God’s Word, Psa. 119:160; Jn. 17:17].
What prompts you to sincerely love other Christians: their looks, their status, their material possessions, their personality, their abilities, their obedience to God, your obedience to God’s Word because you love God, or what?
Heb. 13:17 To whom should we obey and submit?
Why should we obey our (spiritual) leaders?
Why should we let them do this with joy rather than with grief?
In what ways would it be unprofitable to us?
What has been or is your attitude toward your spiritual leader(s), and why?
Rom. 13:1-7; Titus 3:1 To whom should every person be in subjection (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1)?
Why (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1)?
What is the penalty for resisting authority (Rom. 13:2)?
What is God’s purpose for rulers (Rom. 13:4)?
Why else should we be in subjection to governing authorities (Rom. 13:5)?
What is your attitude toward civil authorities, and why?
- When driving, do you obey the speed limits?
- As a pedestrian, do you walk across the street when a red light or “Do Not Walk” sign flashes?
- Do you carry auto insurance?
- Pay your income taxes?
If you are breaking any of these laws or any others, how do you feel about it now that you know that you are committing a sin because you’re going against God?
And if you are breaking any civil laws, what do you plan to do about it now?
What are some other civil laws that Christians don’t seem to think are wrong to break, and why?
What can we do to fix in our minds the seriousness of breaking civil laws?
1 Pet. 2:13-15 Why should Christians submit to every human/government institution, like kings/presidents, governors, etc.?
What is your attitude toward submission to every human institution, and why?
Acts 4:1, 18-20; 5:28-29, 32 [During Jesus’ time, some of the religious orders/groups were also part of the civil authority].
When it comes down to a choice of whether to obey your civil authorities or God (if they should conflict, because the civil authorities are over-stepping the bounds of their authority), which/whom should and would you obey, and why?
For example, if your government said to turn in all your Bibles, would you do it, and why?
Or, if your federal, state, or city government said it was against the law to evangelize anywhere, would you obey, and why?
What would you have done if you were in Peter and John’s place, and why?
Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20 Whom should children obey?
[The context (Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2) of both Eph. 6 and Col. 3 is that of a Christian home, as Paul’s writing to these two churches or Christian groups/assemblies. A child is to be obedient to his parents in all things, that is, all things that do not violate any other biblical command, principle, or teaching. With non-Christian or carnal Christian parents, the child should obey them unless what the parents ask is opposed to the will and/or Word of God – just as in the Acts 4:18-20 and 5:28-32 passages with civil/religious authorities. If parents over-step their God-given bounds of authority by telling a child to do something that the Bible says is wrong or to not do something that the Bible says we should do, then we should obey God first and foremost. In any case, the child is to honor or value his parents always regardless of their spiritual state.].
[The word “all” (Gk. “pas”) does not always mean “all inclusively”, but can mean “all in a limited sense”. For example, in Rom. 5:18 (i.e., all believers); Rom. 15:14 (i.e., all the truths just expounded by Paul in dealing with the Roman Christians’ situation); Prov. 28:5 (i.e., justice), the word “all” is used in a limited sense, meaning “all of a certain kind”, and in 1 Tim. 6:10 (i.e., all sorts of); Acts 10:12 (i.e., all kinds of); Acts 13:10 (i.e., all kinds of), the word “all” means “all kinds of” rather than “all inclusively”. It can also be used as a hyperbole, meaning “a lot of”, as in Acts 19:27 and Jn. 4:29.].
[The phrase “in the Lord” means in the sphere in which obedience is expected. Paul is addressing Christian families and is not discussing the problem of Christian children with non-Christian parents – Homer Kent’s book, Ephesians – The Glory of the Church. Therefore, children are to obey their parents unless the parents ask what is contrary to God’s biblical commands, principles, or instructions – His will, which is the sphere obedience is expected. There is a second consideration: when is a son or daughter no longer a child but rather an adult? In the Jewish culture it appears to be at the age of 20 (Num. 26:2; 32:11). In America it appears to be at age 18 (e.g., voting rights, car and marriage licenses obtained without parental consent, adult punishments for crimes committed, etc.). By age 18 then, a person is considered an adult and is responsible for making his own decisions as an independent, mature person. If living at home, the son or daughter should follow the parents’ rules or else move out if the parents’ demands are in opposition to what the son or daughter believes is God’s will for him/her. However, the young adult should first attempt to explain to his/her parents why he/she believes that what he/she desires to do is God’s will before rashly moving out. Therefore, he/she gives his/her parents an opportunity to reconsider their demands, with the hope that he/she can still stay at home, if doing so would not conflict with obeying God’s will for him/her.].
The following passages indicate that there may be times when a conflict of interests or commands would mean that you would have to obey God rather than your parents. Find the principle in each of the passages:
Luke 14:26 (“hate” means in comparison to your love for God.)
Judges 6:25 Was it honoring to tear down his father’s idols?
1 Kings 15:11-13 What did King Asa do to his mother, and why?
If either of your parents told you to lie, steal something, not read your Bible, not pray to God, not evangelize the spiritually lost, not talk about the Bible, not go to a Bible study group, not get religious/spiritual, or not get trained to go into full-time Christian work, what would you do, and why [Prov. 12:22; Eph. 4:28; (2 Tim. 3:16-17 with Col. 3:16 and 1 Pet. 2:2); Col. 4:2; Matt. 28:19-20; Heb. 5:12; 10:25; Eph. 4:15; 4:11-12]?
Or, if either of your parents told you to go to or stay in a false teaching church/cult (e.g., Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic non-denominational, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.), what should you do, and why (2 Cor. 6:14-17; Rom. 16:17; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:3-5, 11; 2 Tim. 3:5)?
1 Pet. 1:14-15 As obedient children of God, what shouldn’t and what should we do?
In what are some specific examples of “former lusts” that non-Christians are involved?
Are any of these things still true of you?
If so, what do you plan to do about it/them, and how soon?
1 Pet. 3:1-2 What are wives commanded by God to do?
Jn. 15:14 Would you qualify as a friend of Christ on the basis of this verse, and why?
1 Jn. 3:22 How does obedience to God affect our results in prayer?
Could this be affecting answers to your prayers?
If so, what do you plan to do about it?
1 Jn. 5:3 What will a person do who loves God?
And how will he view obedience to God’s commands?
How do you view obedience to God’s commands, and why?
AUTHORITY and SUBMISSION
The following excerpts are taken from the Discipleship Journal, Issue 8, 1982.
In the Bible we find seven authority-submission relationships that involve mankind:
God and man – James 4:7
Man and nature – Genesis 1:28
Husband and wife – Eph. 5:22-23; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1
Parents and children – Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20
Governors and the governed – 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1-7
Employers and employees – Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22 – 4:1; 1 Pet. 2:18-20 (though specifically referring to slaves, the principle holds, for today.)
Spiritual leaders and the spiritually led – Heb. 13:17
All human and angelic authorities are limited, and one way in which they are limited is by God’s moral law, the Bible.
A father has no right to tell his children or his wife to do something morally wrong, that the Bible says is wrong. That is beyond the limits of his authority. This is true as well for an employer, a government official, or a spiritual leader.
Authorities can also have defined, agreed-upon limits, such as the job description for your work/employment, which indicates what responsibilities and what decision-making authority you have, and where these begin and end.
For example, in the Navigator Christian organization they have what are known as Navigator homes, in which Navigator staff members have young single adults living with them for the purpose of training. When a Navigator married couple had several young men living in their home, the married couple had to work out a refrigerator use policy. Otherwise, all the leftovers the wife was counting on for future meals would be gone. So they decided that anything on the second shelf was okay for these young men to eat, but everything else was off limits to them.
The limits of authority in a given relationship can change with time. In raising children, you must keep in constant communication with them because the limits of your authority are always changing. When the children are small, you are autocratic. You don’t sit down with them and take a vote on whether they should play in the street. But later they can make more and more decisions themselves, and you need to check with them at times to be sure you’ve communicated what the rules are at this particular stage.
Authorities are also limited by other authorities. If a woman’s husband told her to drive 70 mph in a 65 mph zone, the wife has the right to decline because the government, and not her husband, has authority for setting speed limits. The government’s authority limited the husband’s authority in that situation.
On the other hand, of course, the government does not have the right to preempt the legitimate authority which the man has in his family as a husband and father.
The trouble comes when these limits are violated.
Submission simply means surrendering to the will or control of another, and this sometimes comes only after resistance or conflict. It doesn’t always come easily. If it were totally easy, what virtue would there be in submitting?
We must first of all surrender to the will of God. The problem with human beings is not our lack of information, but our rebellion. We substitute one authority with another – namely, our own in the place of God’s. We must therefore surrender – yielding and giving way to God’s will. God expects this kind of submission in the other relationships as well. Spiritual followers are to surrender to spiritual leaders.
Our authority must be exercised in a biblical way. Spiritual leaders are to serve as examples to the flock – 1 Pet. 5:3; Husbands to wives – Col. 3:19; Fathers to children – Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21; Governors to those governed – 2 Sam. 23:3; Employers to employees – e.g., Eph. 6:9.
Biblical authority must be exercised even though it is challenged – and it will be challenged. Anyone with authority will at some point be challenged. Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul’s authority were all challenged by various people. All leaders are challenged. But leaders must exercise the authority God has biblically given them in spite of these challenges.