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“Obey” Your Leaders?

December 12, 2019


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 !

P.s.  I am been praying and have decided to take the Holidays off from Blogging to focus even more on family, friends and fellowship.  However, I hope some good discussion is prompted by this current blogpost before we all tend to things we need to do this Christmas season?


From → Uncategorized

  1. This subject shouldn’t even have to be discussed. It’s a slam dunk….but…..then man being what he is, has to try and run things his way.

    Back in the day as a new spirit filled Christian going to one of those bird cages…the first thing the Holy Spirit told me was, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”…..ROFL! That’s right!

    Have a good time out with your loved ones and friends…..

    • Slam dunk? That is groovy, even though I am more of 3 point shot kind of guy. You sure are right about Liberty and Freedom. Thank you Scarlett.

  2. Loved the translation you arrived at and it resonated in the Spirit. Thank you. Great post. Enjoy your family time over the holidays.

  3. I to have covered this subject check it out

  4. Judy permalink

    Jesus is and always will be my only leader .
    My teacher . My Savior . I follow him in all things. He is perfect as the only one His Father created by himself. He is God’s Only Begotten Son willing to be sent to earth as a baby to grow n learn n teach others about his Father in Heaven be a ransom sacrifice for all people so we could have life forever … in heaven or on earth . What a precious gift our Heavenly Father could give us !! God Almighty is LOVE to do this for all of us while we were yet sinners. Jesus and His Father were one in all their thinking & actions. His Father was well pleased when He said “ THIS IS MY SON, the BELOVED, WHOM I Have APPROVED.”

    • Thank you for sharing your portion Judy. Jesus is also my ALL IN ALL. I turn to HIM for everything.

  5. Dan permalink

    So…everywhere today we see top-down leadership. Top-down implies pressure or force in a downward direction. Sucks to be the one underneath the ton of bricks. However, the leadership in Heb 13 and in Paul’s example of following him as we follow Christ is different. It is linear vs top-down. We are aware of someone whose life in the Spirit we emulate and CHOOSE to follow them LINEARLY. We can choose to fall out of line anytime. However, there is a responsibility on our part to not be stubborn but allow the Holy Spirit speaking through them to persuade us when we are challenged in the relationship. It’s like a baby brother following around an older venerated sibling. More of a family model than corporation. Thanks for the thought-provoking article, bro!!

    • Excellent comment Dan, thanks for sharing

    • Yes, Dan. Love this. I often think of Jesus as my older bro. Somewhere he gives us that picture but can’t remember where. And how it really does portray our relationship so well. Thanks for this.

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