Mutual Subjection

Geoffrey Cox

READ : Ephesians 5:21-6:9

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (v. 21)

The controlling idea that dominates Paul’s teaching on social relationships is expressed in verse 21: “Be subject to one another.” Give precedence to each other, put the other first. This attitude seeks to recognize and respect the fact that as Christians we see Jesus living and at work in others. So we seek to serve them rather than lord it over them.

As Christians it really is Jesus himself, Christ and Lord, to whom we bow in submitting to each other—wife to husband as to Christ, husband to wife by giving himself as sacrificially for her as Jesus did for us. So too children submit to parents in the Lord, recognizing his authority and care; parents respect children because of their own experience of the discipline of the Lord; servants obey as they would Christ, masters submit as Christ’s servants with them.

On the one hand, says Paul, we are all equal in Christ. He is Savior and Lord, and lives in each of us. On the other hand we each have different roles in God’s social order. So we respect those who are over us and treat fairly and considerately those below us. Ultimately we are all working toward realizing our oneness in Christ, just as those who are married already experience oneness with their partner.


Lord, let me recognize you in others, and be subject to them. Amen.