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Obey Your Leaders?

October 16, 2014


Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I believe that every member of The Body of Christ is an equal peer under ONLY Jesus.  I contend that all Christ followers are true siblings and that no believer ever has the “rule” over and above other believers.  Many in the traditional “church” believe in Ruling Elders and that only Clergy are to be in charge over the church.  I say that ONLY Jesus is The Head, Ruler and true Shepherd of His Church.

It seems that most traditional “church” Pastors disagree with my stance on church leadership.  I mention these Pastors here because they often quote Hebrews 13: 17 as a validation of having humans rule over others in the church.  Today I want to take an honest look at that verse and determine what it might really mean to all of us in His Church.

We are going to look at several English translations of that particular verse. However, there is no real good substitute for the Greek.  I took three years of Koine Greek in college, but that was 25 years ago. Now with the Internet and computer tools we can all finally delve into real meanings that can be eye opening. For example;

Hebrews 13:17a Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: – KJV

Hebrews 13:17a Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you] – Amplified

Hebrews 13:17a Keep constantly obeying your rulers, and constantly be
submitting to them – Wuest

The Amplified and Wuest both do a better job bringing in the concept of
continuing action that is only implied in the KJV

However, translators that want to appease the King and church (or today get endorsements that increase sales) do not want to “rock the traditional boat”.  King James would never endorse a translation that did not support hierarchy and men ruling over other men.  The King James translators were biased towards human leadership and rule in the church because they knew the King could have their heads if their words did not support Kings and Clergy.

Let us look at three Greek words that are prominent in this verse:

Peitho – persuasion
Hegeomai – chosen leader
Hupeiko – military term to stop fighting after a loss

Then taking the Greek into consideration the verse should read like this:

Hebrews 13:17a Stop resisting and allow yourself to be persuaded by
those you have chosen to follow.

Now that translation of the Greek seems to me, to better line up with what Jesus showed us about leadership in the church.  It also comes more into line with what Paul taught about authority in the church.  This translation makes the whole concept of leadership more relational, as it should be.  Instead of being ruled and made to obey someone in a position over us, we instead have freedom of choice to be persuaded by someone we want to follow because of the life we have seen them live before us.  This is not being commanded or told what to do by someone with a title or position.  This is us voluntarily wanting to follow someone we love, know and appreciate because we have a relationship with them.  In a free church submission is always voluntary and never forced.  We should never be forced to follow anyone’s lead, even if they are licensed, ordained and have a title that makes them sound important.  Jesus does not force us to follow Him, so why should we ever follow ANYone who tries to force us to submit, listen to and follow them because of position or title?  True submission occurs when we realize that someone has laid down their life for us and that they are acting in our best interest in any given situation.  It is always about relationship and never about power, manipulation and control.

In most traditional “churches” Leadership is top heavy and always top down.  That is not the way that it should be among us followers of Jesus.  Jesus led by example as did Paul and others.  In the church it should never be about edicts or commands from those in recognized Leadership.  The two main things I always look for in someone I might follow are love and humility.  The reason I follow any peer is that I see that they are following Christ Jesus.  A true leader does not seek to lead, no they seek to follow HIM.  Leadership is merely a by-product of following and abiding in Jesus.

Love and ……

Kirk Out !


From → Uncategorized

  1. well said, truth in Love and Mercy can’t be denied

  2. Imitate me as I imitate God[and no other way!]. BUT know this, Christ is the Head of every man.

    Submit to one another in love.

  3. 2trakmind permalink

    All my life, when I read verses like this, I would get this feeling inside of me, like two opposing magnets, pushing away from each other, or what Wayne Jacobsen calls “the yuck factor.” It just didn’t feel right. When I heard people teach on verses that seem underpin their authority, though, I learned that feeling was just my rebellious heart resisting God’s ultimate authority and the authority He had given them, as my pastor, Sunday school teacher, small group leader, etc.. I also learned that “grieving the Spirit” had to do with any sin that was in my life and, of course, not obeying my leaders was sin and I was grieving the Spirit if I didn’t conform. Now, I can think of nothing that must grieve the Spirit more than the practice that actively teaches people to resist Him, to not listen to Him, deny His teaching, mistrust Him. I have yet to set foot in a weekly gathering that encourages congregants to embrace the Spirit, listen for Him, learn from Him, and trust Him. Doing so undermines the structure of the institution and the authority of “church leaders.” Oh, pastors and teachers use the language, but what they teach is “obey me, listen to me, learn from me, trust me,” and they use verses like Hebrews 13:7 to back it up.

  4. Ramma permalink

    This and the thought of a “5 fold ministry” sticks in my craw too often. They were used, like you’re all saying to lord over, divide the people and make you believe that you are never good enough. And that you keep sinning, etc…..when all along the Holy Spirit is giving you the “yuk factor” to nudge you that this is wrong…..”come out of her my people”! Blessings

  5. I don’t think it has much to do with “traditional” or “non-traditional.” In my experience, the sort of men who are qualified by character to lead in the Church of the living God will not demand obedience in the first place. They will persuade and lead by example rather than demand. They know from experience that if they have to resort to commands, they’ve already lost the battle.

    By the same token, people who are not qualified to lead are far more likely to resort to heavy-handed authoritarian behaviors as a first resort.

    So the question is not whether one is in a traditional church or not; it’s whether the leaders in that church have the character of the Christ or not.

    • "BK" permalink

      If we are truely a ‘kingdom of kings & priests’ with Christ (the anointing) dwelling within us, then the very nature of ‘the Leader’ resides in each member of the body; not a few qualified men by character. Amen it is when it is because of ‘character’ and ‘qualification’ leadership is determined that the heavy hand appears. And, Ramma, I still remember the first time the Spirit pointed out ‘there is no such term as ‘five fold ministry’…that is a catchy phrase coined by man to justify his doctrine’….whew, He can sure be blunt when those chains fall off! 🙂 Love, “BK”

  6. I understand what you are saying Phil, but I also think that the environment influences what type of leadership you end up with. If you fellowship is free, open, mutual and given to conversation over monologue it will by nature be more relational than rigid.

    • "BK" permalink

      Wow, Christopher! I think this line just BEGS repeating so here it is! ” Instead of being ruled and made to obey someone in a position over us, we instead have freedom of choice to be persuaded by someone we want to follow because of the life we have seen them live before us. ” That is
      SWEEEEEEET! and packed with Life! Thanks, “BK”

  7. Ramma permalink

    Amen “BK” and Chris. It’s interesting the translations also. The CLV it goes like this…….Heb 13:7 Be remembering those of your leaders who speak to you the word of God, contemplating the sequel of their behavior, whose faith be imitating.” First they are “leaders” (by example, not lording) and then it says to observe their behavior in the faith and imitate it. It does NOT say to follow them. Interesting huh? Much love.

  8. Ramma, What is the CLV? Concordant Literal Version?

    • Ramma permalink

      Yes, Chris. Concordant Literal Version. It at times is hard to understand, but many times puts a clearer picture of things. It comes from 3 Codexes.

  9. "BK" permalink

    What is 3 codexes?????

  10. Ramma permalink

    Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I hope this helps. It’s great to have in Esword ( ) and compare side by side with your translation.

    The concordant method of studying the Scriptures uses a concordance to discover the meaning of a word, not in any version, but in the original Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek, and discovers its usage and fixes its signification by its inspired associations, according to the laws of language, and turns it into English. To do this the three great witnesses to the text of Holy Writ, have been used–the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus, and the Codex Alexandrinus–by which a restored Greek Text has been effected, conforming as closely as possible to the inspired autographs.
    A concordance of every form of every Greek word was made and systematized and turned into English. The whole Greek vocabulary was analyzed and translated, using a STANDARD English equivalent for each Greek element. The Greek grammar was entirely revised in accord with the findings made in this task of transcribing into English precisely what God has really revealed in the sacred original. The result of this arduous and exhaustive work is the Concordant Version of the Sacred Scriptures, which is at once scientific, systematic, uniform and consistent–a standard by which all other translations may be tested–truly the most valuable work ever printed. Never before has such earnest endeavor been made to give the people the revelation of God with the unvarying uniformity, consistency, and purity found in the Concordant Version, enabling the reader to establish his faith on divine verities rather than human authority

    Here’s the link to Concordant Publishing Concern which brought about this translation.


    • "BK" permalink

      Thanks! I have the Concordant Literal and it is one of my favorite references. Had e-sword years ago but somehow lost track of it….have it as a favorite again. So simply put 3 codex is the chosen translation was comprised of all three Greek references (for lack of a better word)? Thanks, “BK”

  11. Ramma permalink

    Here’s the Wikipedia history on them and then there are additional links that come up and give even more background on them. We find them to be as close as we can find to the most accurate.

  12. love this post!

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