Submission And Obedience To Spiritual Leaders

The Bible has much to say about the role of spiritual leadership. Therefore, those who lead us spiritually are to be obeyed.

Submission And Obedience To Spiritual Leaders

What does the Bible say about Submission And Obedience To Spiritual Leaders?

As a Christian, you may have been taught to submit to your spiritual leaders. Submission is important because it’s an indicator that you trust and respect the person in charge. If you don’t submit or obey your leaders, then it means that they aren’t doing their job right.

Submission and obedience are often used interchangeably in the Bible. However, there is some difference between them:

  • Submission involves giving up your own desires for those of someone else; while obedience involves following orders given by someone else (even if they go against what you want).
  • Submission can be done willingly (as seen with God’s submission to Jesus), whereas obedience requires more force from another person; such as when Jesus tells Peter not to worry about how he will escape from prison (Matthew 26:53).

Ephesians 6:5-8

The Bible teaches that we are to submit to God, to Christ, and to spiritual leaders (verse 5). This submission is not coerced or forced but voluntary because it comes from a heart that has been changed by the love of Christ (verse 6).

Submission is the natural outcome of true conversion. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29-32 that the old self must die before we can be reborn into new life in Christ Jesus. As a result of this rebirth, our will becomes aligned with God’s will for us and we willingly submit ourselves to his lordship over our lives.

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The Apostle Peter echoes this teaching when he says: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as supreme or…to governors as sent by him for punishment of evildoers and praise of those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-14). We are therefore called upon not only submit ourselves voluntarily but also acknowledge our responsibility before God Almighty who rules over all things including governments at all levels populated by imperfect people like ourselves!

Hebrews 13:17

Verse 17 of Hebrews 13 is often used to support the notion that we should submit to our spiritual leaders. The NIV translation reads:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

However, the Greek word translated as “submit” in this verse is hupotasso, which means to “order under”, or “subject oneself,” not in a passive sense but rather in one of co-operation. This can be seen when looking at how the same word is used in other scriptures such as 1 Peter 5:5: “You younger men, likewise be subject [hupotasso] to your elders; and all of you gird yourselves with humility towards one another.”

Those who lead us spiritually are to be obeyed.

According to Ephesians 6:5-8, Paul writes, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly.”

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In Hebrews 13:17 he says this: “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account.”

The Bible’s message is clear in its emphasis on submission to Christ-followers who are called by Him to serve in leadership capacities. We need such godly leaders today—those who are willing to take responsibility for the lives of others because they have been chosen by God Himself.


It is not a coincidence that the Bible commands us to obey those who lead us spiritually. In fact, we are told that this is the only way we can please God (Hebrews 13:17). We must be obedient to those in authority over us, or else they will be able to lead us into temptation and sin (James 4:7). Since spiritual leaders are given authority over us through Jesus Christ, there should be no question about submitting our lives under their guidance.

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