Does Scripture Tell Us to Obey Pastors and Submit to them?

As a Christ Follower that is only interested in the word of God over the opinions and wisdom of men, I found it amazing how we value our English translations over the original translations of the bible. That even after we find out something conflicts we train ourselves to be OK with the contradiction. For example, we have 1 John 2:27 says “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” Yet we have pastors preaching that you MUST obey your pastor and submit to them. (which is taken from Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.) Lets take a look at this scripture in Greek and see the difference from our English translations.

In Heb 13:17, believers are encouraged to “obey” church leaders. Interestingly, the Greek behind “obey” is not the regular Greek word for “obey.” Instead, peitho is used, which literally means “to persuade” or “to convince.” Thus, Heb 13:17 should be rendered “let yourselves be persuaded by.” This same verse also instructs believers to “submit” to the authority of their church leaders. As with “obey,” the common Greek word for “submit” is not used. Instead, hupeiko was chosen by the author, a word meaning “to give in, to yield” after a fight. It was used of combatants.

Thus, God’s flock is to be open to being “persuaded by” (peitho) elders. In the course of on-going discussion and teaching the flock is to be “convinced by” (peitho) its leaders. Mindless slave-like obedience is not the relationship pictured in the NT between elders and other Believers.

Much may be gleaned from the way that NT writers made appeals directly to entire churches. They went to great lengths to influence ordinary “rank and file” believers. The apostles did not simply bark orders and issue injunctions (as a military commander might do). Instead, they treated other believers as equals and appealed directly to them as such. No doubt local church leaders led in much the same way. The respect they were given was honestly earned. It was the opposite of military authority wherein soldiers respect the rank but not necessarily the man.

Heb 13:7 reflects the fact that the leadership “style” employed by elders is primarily one of direction by example: “Remember your leaders… Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Along this same line, 1 Th 5:12-13 reveals that godly elders are to be respected, not because of automatically inferred authority of rank, but because of the value of their service–“Hold them in highest regard in love because of their work.” Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Mt 20:25-28).

We cannot allow our doctrines to contradict other parts of the word. What we have done is, explain one scripture but ignored the others because it doesn’t make sense to us. We have to just be OK with not knowing sometimes and allow the holy spirit to reveal it. Remember that our ways are not his ways and that what we think or how we feel often comes from our deceitful hearts. Don’t be too prideful to think you can’t be deceived, remember Jesus warn his very disciples not to be deceived by false teachers. These people heard Jesus word from his mouth yet they even had to be careful not to be deceived.

PASTORS, DEACONS, ELDERS ARE GREAT according to the word of God but the way leadership works today vs. the early Christians life described in ACTS and many history books, it DOES NOT LOOK LIKE TODAY’S.

So brothers and sisters, submit to Christ not man, For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

DO NOT THINK THAT THIS MEANS TEACHERS AND ELDERS/PASTORS ARE BAD. That is not the point of this message. PLEASE DONT ACCUSE ME OF BEING AGAINST TEACHERS WHEN I QUOTED 1 JOHN 2:27; AS IF THE TEACHING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO TEACH US. DO YOU SEE WHAT OUR SINFUL NATURE IS TRYING TO DO, ITS TRYING TO LESSEN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FOR HUMAN TEACHERS. AND IF I BELIEVED TEACHERS WERE BAD… WHY WOULD I BOTHER TO WRITE THIS LETTER TO TEACH?

Are we equal?

Matthew 23
8″But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Or is this the display of the body? With elevated people who are HIGHER and MORE IMPORTANT than another.

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About Omar Carter

Hey Guys, My name is Omar and I'm just here to love through Christ teachings. View all posts by Omar Carter

25 responses to “Does Scripture Tell Us to Obey Pastors and Submit to them?

  • Chris

    You know better than I do, of the “slave” mentality at church. It’s disgusting to see the congregation follow the pastor like bees obey the queen in a hive. It’s a hive-mind system in today’s church.

    • Omar Carter

      Exactly. I was guilty of it because its so easy to make people believe what you want them to believe. Now i’m called a person who HATES authority. When I teach that God’s is enuff to rule my life

    • Dea

      AMEM to the bees following their pastor. i have seen many doing that in the past and present but i do not like it. I think we are to go to church to worship Christ and serve as our savior who died and shed his blood as a sacrifice that we might have eternal life and live with Him in heaven . sis Dea

  • Marlon

    good stuff bro, amen! very well written

  • Finding the best CNA School

    It’s posts like this that keep me coming back and checking this site regularly, thanks for the info!

  • Danny Mann

    Very annointed and concise writing my brother. Very well written and quick to the point and easy to understand. Keep thatgoing, and I love your messages.

  • Tam

    Your not suppose to obey the laws or rules that pastors make. you should submit and do the will of GOD. But ppl from slavery to the present have put all faith and honor in the pastor or the catholic priest. They are only servants of GOD they are not HOLY and pure as GOD.An that is where folk get it twisted.

  • Tonya

    Well mines wasnt like that sauy I should submit under his authority!LOL!!Its not even biblical No body can control my mind.Since I left no1 talks 2 me anymore cause I’m probaly labeled as rebellious witch!!

  • Quay

    My Pastor says da only 1 were posed obey & submit 2 is God as long as we trust in him everythin will work out no matta how bad things r or look

  • Hakiel Brown

    Omar, I am really happy to be your friend, you’re sharing most of the things I’ve been sharing with “church people” in my country.

  • Kenneth Lyle

    Omar this is on point.. pastors and saints are co laborers and servants together. and also we only obey in light of the Word and when they don’t follow the Word. we don’t follow them.

    • Omar Carter

      In fact… pastors/elders are even more of a servant than the rest

      • Charlene

        right! but too many have attempted to become “masters” in order to have their fleshly lusts served. kind of off topic for a moment… I have had several conversations w/a friend lately and we were discussing the “sowing of seeds” and the subtle deceptions of preachers in leading spiritual infants to believe that their blessings are directly tied to a monetary contribution to their local church. then I posed the follow-up question/statement: “what about those who have no tangible donation to give?” I understand that spiritual seeds come in the form of time, talent AND tithes, not just 1 or the other but not enough spiritual babies know that so they blindly obey every single word that comes from the pulpit. I’m also reminded that God doesn’t NEED our $ because a) it’s His anyway and b) His desire is an intimate relationship between us & Him & not things. as soon as we start placing a higher value on it above Him, the message has already been lost
        Back on topic… God wants us to become more educated & enlightened about and NOT blind followers of Him. so, it is our responsibility to stay in His word and, as you stated, (respectfully) challenge & correct the inconsistencies that might arise w/in a preacher’s message. in this way, we’ve protected both our own and our spiritual sibling’s souls

  • Guy

    I like that you did not diminish or put down the ministry of the pastor but said that the respect had to be earned. I think mindless obedience is wrong as well. If I may add though, there has to be a captain of the ship and though sometimes decisions are not always the best, the best of them act in faith for the benefit of the church. As Paul said that these ministries were put into place to bring the church to maturity.

    Thanks for your thoughts brother. Truly appreciate your candor

    Pastor Guy

  • 2010 in review « Omar's Refining Process

    […] Does Scripture Tell Us to Obey Pastors and Submit to them? March 2010 17 comments 5 […]

  • marlon lewis

    You are just being rebellious. Yu’all need to get yourself a Pastor and submit to him. end of the story.

    • Omar Carter

      Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” (Mt 20:25-28).

      I have many pastors… and leaders in the body of Christ. Perhaps you could be in the future but your idea of pastor is something not biblical and something im staying far away from.

      I pray that you allow God to be your head in the future. Love you Mr. Lewis.

  • Confused

    Wow, so many opinions that I get confused. Can someone tell me if I should obey God or my pastor? In my church all we hear is you must submit, submit, submit or you are rebellious. Also there is the constant reference to the oil comming down from the head down, as if you are not obedient to the apostle or pastor you will not get the annointing. Help, this is driving me nuts! I thought that God would annoint us, and that he is the one that commisioned us to go unto the world and preach, and he is the one that tells us that we must be ready to answer when they question our beliefs, that is what i am trying to do now, trying to learn, read the bible, go to bible study class….but when is it that we are ready to go on our own? after our elders tells us? or when the Holy Spirit?

  • Gregory Harris

    Im new to this forum. I thought the reading slightly controversial however there were several points I do agree with. I dont believe we should have mindless obedience to the pastor because that would suggest that we didnt have out own relationship with God. However i also understand that sheep need direction, guidance, protection, provision and correction. Since as sheep we need those things then there has to be someone to do it!! If we can trust them and their judgement to pray for us, if we can trust them to teach us then why not submit? God is a God of order!!! Even in the etymological foundation given the basis still is submission to the pastor! Let him persuade you, and then give in as if in a contest!!. I agree that their judgements and fruit ought to be examined but I also believe that we need to submit or give in to the pastor. The bible says that God will give us pastors after His own heart!!! So pray and ask God to show you the integrity and character of the pastor!! Keep your pastor covered in prayer!!!

    • Omar Carter

      He already has brother… Praise God and thank you so much for reading. =)

      I want you to look up a man named Tek-Na-Cious… who is the reason we think of God’s order the way we do today. He changed things with a good heart in attempt to keep false doctrines that were rising up out of the body but of course the things he changed caused this order of KING=PASTOR that we have today. Its quite remarkable. Love you Mr. Greg

  • leo

    there’s no one-pill-cure-all.
    in one case, a believer/pastor should leave the congregation but in another’s case he/she must remain.

    christian life, church, leadership, submission, fellowship, etc. are all complex in nature/reality. pastors are not perfect and so are members. it would take grace from both sides to observe equilibrium.

    i have experienced being a member and subordinate and now i am a pastor. i can say, i am blessed to wear different shoes.

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