Ephesians 5:21 Submitting To One Another

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Ephesians, New Testament

Ephesians 5:21 “…submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

I. Why Mutual Submission Is Important

A. What Lack Of Mutual Submission Looks Like

1. F.B.I.– A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the U.S. Result of a self focused man.

a. 50% of women killed in U.S. is because of domestic violence.

2. ABC News– Each week, nearly 60,000 children in the U.S. are reported as abused or neglected, with nearly 900,000 confirmed abuse victims in 2004.

a. About 520,000 of those children end up in foster care each year — double the number 25 years ago. Approximately 800,000 children every year come in contact with the foster care system. (Shows the pervasiveness of self focus in the American family)
b. Taxpayers spend $22 billion a year — or $40,000 a child — on foster care programs.

3. M. Tummillo– 3800 U.S. churches close yearly. Only 43% of Believers trust their church.

a. The faith of many Christians is deeply damaged by church splits. Self serving
b. Church splits bring deserved criticism from unbelievers. Dishonoring to God.

B. Mutual Submission Benefits All Relationships

1. Families are happier.
2. Marriages are stronger, and people wouldn’t divorce one another.
3. Employer/employee relationships would improve.
4. Civic and global violence would end. (How much money is spent, hearts broken?)
5. The Church Universal and local would be unified- no church splits, no shaken faith.
6. Friendships would be for life.

II. Mutual Submission: What It Is And Isn’t

A. What Mutual Submission Isn’t

1. Paul is not exhorting Christians to submit to everyone, everywhere, for any reason.
2. We are not to submit to lies.
3. We are not to submit to false doctrine or a one world religion.
4. We are not to submit to sinful behavior in ourselves or in others.
5. We are not to remain passive when lies are being spoken of as being true.
6. This verse certainly does not teach universal submission on every level.
7. That would contradict much of the Bible, which exhorts standing against sin, lies, etc.
8. We must stand for fundamental, non-negotiable truths of the Bible.

B. What Mutual Submission Is

1. Hypotasso- to arrange under, to subordinate, to yield to one’s admonition or advice.
2. “To arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”.
3. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. Thinking not of self, but of the whole.
4. It is a realization that each Christian man or woman is not just an individual, but is a part of a larger whole.
5. A realization that none of us can live only for ourselves, but that we live for obedience to God, and for the sake of the Body of Christ.
6. It does not negate positions of authority in the marriage, family, church, or community.
7. “Superiors” can, and at times, ought to submit to their peers or subordinates.
8. Being a “superior” doesn’t release a Christian from submitting to peers or subordinates
9. The overriding fact is that Christians are arranged under Christ. We submit as He leads.

III. The Submissive & Non Submissive Person

A. The Non Submissive Person (Profile)

1. Vs. 15-17 People are thoughtless and don’t consider God’s will.

a. A thoughtless man doesn’t stop to consider or try to understand the will of God.
b. They react at a very instinctual level.
c. They get an idea, or a desire, and just run with it.
d. They don’t stop to consider how it might affect others.
e. Thoughtless people don’t submit themselves to others, because they never stop to consider God’s will, how much less other people?

2. V. 18– Drunk people are not clear headed, and are influenced by alcohol.

a. Instead of being influenced by the Holy Spirit, they are influenced by alcohol.
b. They think primarily about themselves. This is animalistic, instinctual and base.
c. This kind of person isn’t interested in mutual submission.

3. V. 19– Non worshipping Christians are generally carnal in their thinking.

a. Not motivated enough to even praise God, much less be led to submit to others
b. They are more earthly minded than heavenly minded. They do not mutually submit.

4. V. 20- Thankless people aren’t soft hearted people, but complainers.

a. They don’t even thank God for life, food, provision, salvation.
b. If they aren’t moved to thank God, they certainly won’t be submissive to others.

B. The Submissive Person (Profile)

1. Starting at verse 18, we read about the Spirit filled life.
2. A submissive person is…

a. V. 18- Is not someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

i. The drunk/stoned man is self motivated, and not under submission to Christ
ii. Like the Prodigal Son, they damage relationships instead of strengthening them.

b. V. 19- Is someone who is a worshipper of God.
c. “Christ led submission” to one another is found in one who loves Christ.
d. V. 20Is someone who recognizes the blessings of God, and is actively thankful.

i. They are not a complainer or grumbler, but verbalize their thanks to God.
ii. They have a grateful heart, not a complaining heart.

3. Ephesians 5:21 is not independent of these other verses, but is part of the whole of the passage, and flows forth from the passage.

4. A person who follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit found in verses 18-20 will also be a person who is able to submit themselves to others.
5. The reverse is true as well. A person unwilling to obey verses 18-20, will be a person who is unable and unwilling to submit themselves to another person in the way that God would have them to. Bad marriage, bad family life, bad work environment.
6. We cannot compartmentalize our lives.

a. We cannot try to have a better Christian marriage while being drunk or stoned.
b. We will not have better friendships if we are unthankful and complaining.
c. We cannot have better familial relationships if we are not worshippers of God.

7. We start by being convinced of and believing Ephesians 2:1-10.

a. The Gospel reduces us all to the same level. No room for self exaltation.

8. 2 Peter 1:2-11 describes the Christian who forgets all that God has done for them.