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“Obey” Your Leaders?

December 3, 2016


Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I believe that every member of The Body of Christ is a full and 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 the 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 over three years of Koine Greek in college, but that was over 25 years ago. Now with the Internet and computer tools we can all finally delve into real meanings that can be very 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 full 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 true 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 of power over us, we instead have the 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 always 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.  As Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  A true leader does not seek to lead, no they seek to follow Christ alone.  Leadership, true leadership, is merely a quite simple by-product of following and abiding in Jesus.

Love and ……

Kirk Out !






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  1. Reblogged this on Spiritual Abuse Sanctuary and commented:

    This is not a Game, it’s about the Kingdom

  2. Thank you so much for breaking this down for the brethren in a format that helps us understand the proper meaning of the words that so often have been misconstrued and misused by the clerical overlords, who with improper motives have sought to control the Lords own people. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve taken the liberty to re-blog this on my site and to add a prophecy sung by Jason Bellard that’s so true about worshiping the Lord Jesus in spirit and in truth, and that the “organized church” is not what it’s all about.
    Blessings in the love of Jesus,

    • Scarlett, you can re-blog or share anything from me anywhere. Thanks for your enthusiasm and affirmation.

  3. PS: “The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy” bu George Davis and Michael Clark goes into detail exposing the deliberate errors in the KJV in accord with the KJV translators because of King James desire to keep his own authority over the people. Eventually, the Lord ALWAYS makes His Truths evident for all to read and understand. Amen!

    • Scarlett, George and Michael are my dear friends and that is a great book. Thanks for sharing.

      • That’s good to know we are on the same page. The info you and they have shared on this subject if invaluable!

      • Thanks for your encouragement and affirmation Scarlett.

      • "BK" permalink

        Michael & George are special brothers for sure! (Everyone in the kingdom is, eh?). I have passed their writings and website on to many along the way. We don’t see them real often but they don’t live too far from us. Love, “BK”

      • Hey Captain! How have you been? Good to see you on here, my brother. This was a great job of expounding on Heb. 13:17. Another verse is much like it in Heb. 13:7 which the kings translators loaded it up to sound like hierarchic rule over the saints of God.

        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. (Heb 13:7, KJV)

        The Rotherham Emphasized Bible got it correctly:

        Be mindful of them who are guiding you, who, indeed, have spoken unto you, the word of God: the outgoing of whose behaviour, reviewing, be imitating, their faith. (Heb 13:7, EBR)

        Of this verse Adam Clarke’s Commentary says:

        Verse 7. Remember them which have the rule over you] This clause should be translated, Remember your guides, τωνηγουμενων, who have spoken unto you the doctrine of God. Theodoret’s note on this verse is very judicious: “He intends the saints who were dead, Stephen the first martyr, James the brother of John, and James called the Just. And there were many others who were taken off by the Jewish rage. ‘Consider these, (said he,) and, observing their example, imitate their faith.'”

        There is no Greek in either verse 7 or 14 that suggests obeying anyone who is “ruling over” us in the church. In fact Jesus spoke against this to the disciples,

        And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45, ESV2011)

        Servants and slaves don’t rule, they serve just as Jesus served and laid down His life for us all.

        As to why the KJV is so loaded up in the N.T. with authoritarianism? I just read this on Wikipedia today about the translation,

        “[King] James gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England.”

        You can read the rigid rules these men had to flow with most of them were aimed at furthering the power of king and his bishops and not about bringing forth a pure translation from the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts. The poor Puritans that got their name because they were lobbying the king for a pure translation of the Bible as opposed to the previous “Bishop’s Bible”… the lost out.

      • Today I am good Michael, thank you for adding to the conversation here today.

      • You are welcome, my brother! Although, it seems that BK already covered Heb. 13:7 for us. 🙂 It is just amazing how those rules the king gave his underling translators to follow are so obviously aimed at slanting the outcome of the “translation.” When people ask me which translation is best, I tell them “the Holy Spirit version,” the one that Jesus promised (see John 16:13-14).

    • Hi BK! Good to see you on here. Yes, it has been a while, I hope you and Ken are staying warm in he big old house out there in the Washington flats where the wind blows 12 foot high snow drifts! Give each other a big hug for us.

  4. Amy j permalink

    Yes & Amen, submit yourselves one to another. Take up your cross and follow Me, our beloved Lord was so clear. As we abide in Him, this will cause us to maintain the unity of the Spirit. Oh how we all need to see Jesus & abide in His love. I so agree when we see others abiding in His love & humility, it causes us to run with them as we see their example! May we emanate His fragrance where ever we go!

  5. Kirk, I think another way of looking at this is in regards to “your leaders.” These early Christians were essentially meeting in homes. It was in these homes that deep relationships must have been built up, and such “leadership” was something “grown into,” but it wasn’t something “official.” One would recognize such leadership from close quarters, from living together eye to eye and heart to heart. The problem I think with many notions of “official” leaders, is that this organic connection does not exist. In Ephesians 5:21, we are told to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Such “leadership” could be very fluid. The Spirit could speak to me through one brother one day and another brother (or sister) on another day. I did read “The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy” some time back. Very good. Another great read I would recommend is from my friend, Jack Fortenberry. Jack passed on to his reward last year, but he left us a little book entitled, “Corinthian Elders.” I had the honor of offering a few suggestions in Jack’s revised edition, and if memory serves me correctly, it was in regard to the “Nicolaitans.” You can order it at Amawon or read a free version of it here

    • Is that you Clark? Thank you for adding this perspective. In essence the Body of Christ is a family and should act with love accordingly. All submission should be voluntary and NOT forced and mutual and NOT top down.

    • "BK" permalink

      Hebrews 13:7 in my own words….“Obey [consent to evidence] them that have the rule [leaders, guides] over you, considering the end [origin] of their conversation [walk].” Amen, Paul was not talking domination here. We are hearing good admonishment to take a look at the FRUIT, or EVIDENCE, in someone’s walk that’s been at it a long time and if it bears witness to the “origin” [Christ], then give assent. Follow them as they follow HIM. I know this is the same as you said…just in my own words of AMEN!

      • I hear you BK, but the HUGE problem is that the words obey and rule do NOT appear in the original text at all.

      • "BK" permalink

        Amen to ‘obey’ being glaringly missing! It was the portion in the brackets that was my ‘own words’. 🙂

      • Thanks for the clarification BK.

  6. nessa3 permalink

    I left a church that was always using this scripture…on anyone who questioned something a leader said. As if they heard perfectly and acted perfectly upon hearing from God on your behalf.

    • That is terrible Nessa. Glad you escaped that toxic “church” when you did.

    • "BK" permalink

      Nessa, I spent 14 years in such a group. I can still remember when I began hearing the Spirit point out something a ‘leader’ said or did that was contrary to Him, cringing and waiting for the ax to fall for daring to have such thoughts. Took some time to unravel from it all but praise God now we can reach out a steadying hand for those in that place on their journey out. I agree with Christopher….I am glad you escaped. Love, “BK”

      • BK, you are abundant living proof that there is LIFE after Babylon. I praise Jesus for your testimony.

  7. When I first read your blog, Chris, I thought immediately of “The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy By George Davis and Michael Clark”, and I then saw it mentioned in the comments. Here is the URL link to it in case anyone wanted to read it: — Scott

  8. Sue heumann permalink

    How beautiful is Gods way……Jesus……expressing himself thru us……equals……varying gifts……encouraging, up,if ting, comforting, etc etc… another. Allowing ourselves to be persuaded, pride lessening, Jesus exalting……

    • Yes Sue, God’s way is beautiful and in it no one gets stepped on or neglected like in institutions of religion.

  9. Sue heumann permalink

    Exactly…..,seeing it more clearly all the time, thanks to you, for sure.

    • You are more than kind Sue. I am humbled. You learn from the Christ in me and I learn from the Christ in you.

  10. Sue heumann permalink

    Scarlett thx for the song👍

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