Are “husbands” authorities?

An discussion on "Better Bibles Blog", attempting to persuade that the submission of wives is not submission to an authority.
A quote from Scripture, minus man-made chapter and verse markings:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 1For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter, end of chapter 2, beginning of chapter 3)

The very first word in chapter 3 (and this is a letter, not a chapter book) is "likewise". "Likewise, wives, be subject..."

Likewise; equally; in the same way.

In the same way as what?

We need to go back - the (man-made) section heading is titled "submission to authority". What are the examples?

Submission to the emperor, governors, masters. Why? Because Christ was our example; He suffered unjustly, but was in submission, not only to His Father, but to the civil authorities, who reviled, tortured and put Him on the cross.

Likewise, wives...

Servants, be subject to your masters, wives, be subject to your husbands.

Other places I've addressed this issue: (note) I'm in the process of fixing the links)

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18 thoughts on “Are “husbands” authorities?

  1. Ellen,

    It seems that you left a "man-made" verse number in your citation. 1For this is the will of God

    Is this a recent rejection for you of chapter & verse conventions? For myself, I hadn't noticed this peculiar preference in your posts before.

    Just wanted to say that I think suzanne mccarthy makes some good points in her comments on the Better Bibles Blog. Not that I'm pretending to understand much of either side of this discussion.

  2. A rejection of the conventions? No - they are very useful in marking places, finding things and certainly in quoting and memorization.

    That said, the epistles are letters, and were meant to be read as letters. (

  3. Another point about Suzanne's argument is that she lumps all marriages in with all slavery and only some governments (totalitarian).

    You cannot do that and be true to your argument that submission within a marriage is (for today) unbiblical. Either that, or you must argue that submission to all governments is (for today) unbiblical.

  4. Suzanne

    I just noticed this and I most emphatically did not lump all marriages in with slavery. I referred specifically to hierarchy in marriage. Government today, in a democracy, is made responsible to the people. Responsible leadership in government and in marriage is not such a bad idea.

  5. But Suzanne, the Bible doesn't. It doesn't say, "all" slaves, "some" governments" and "some" wives.

    It stays, slaves submit to masters, all submit to government and wives submit to husbands.

    I don't see any "if" statements conditional on the type of slavery or government or marriage.

    So I believe that if the Bible doesn't specify WHAT marriages we are to submit in, WHAT governments and WHAT slavery, then we should not either.

    Maybe we have to define "hierarchy". In shorter terms, I'm using it to mean in any relationship, some lead and some follow. I believe that for Christians, the command is for men to be the "control structure" (head - even if you use the term metaphorically as head of a body) and for the wife to follow.

  6. Suzanne

    So you are saying we should submit to all slavery, all kinds of government and all marriage arrangements.

  7. Suzanne, it doesn't matter what I say - what does the Bible say?

    Does it say, "if it's convenient...and if you feel like it...go ahead and submit"?

    Or does it say, "Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution...?"

    I'm for confronting the sin that occurs, whether it's the slavery, whether it's in the government or whether it's in the marriage.

    You want to confront the institution, which God clearly tells us to submit to.

    I'm not going to categorically state that leadership in government is wrong, nor leadership in marriage.

    On the "slavery" thing, you like the Greek - what does Strong's define "oiket?s" as (that's a transliteration, I don't have Greek font on my wordpress)

    1)one who lives in the same house as another, spoken of all who are under the authority of one and the same householder
    ...a) a servant, a domestic

    It doesn't need to indicate ownership of another human being, a servant or domestic may easily be an employee.

    In fact, when Paul writes about being a slave to sin, or those who feared a lifetime of slavery, he used the word "douleia" - slavery, bondage, the condition of a slave (Strong's).

    "douleia" and "oiket?s" are not the same.

    If we can understand that "douleia" is slavery and "oiketes" is something else, then Paul was addressing the "something else" in this passage. Not a person in bondage of slavery, but rather a servant - an employee if you will. That is the Greek.

    So, we have submission to government, submission to empoyers and submission to husbands.

  8. Suzanne

    But Paul was addressing slaves ?????? in Eph. 6:5 and Col. 3:22.

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything;

    Slavery is a human institution and the Bible tells us to submit to that, but we don't and thank God for that. I do.

    Most people who live in a democracy have the grace to be thankful for those who confronted our institutions and made them more democratic.

  9. You are correct, we here in the States left England because of the sin of a tyrant, not the sin of a monarchy (which you cannot find in the Bible)

    Again, I address the sin within an institution, you address the institution.

  10. Suzanne

    But the Bible doesn't say "Obey, if your monarch is not a tyrant." In fact, the ruler at that time was a tyrant. George III would hardly rate in comparison!

    Is your post for today closed to comments?

  11. Suzanne, you are correct - we were dealing with the SIN - have you studied history?

    I don't think the post for today is closed to comments but I'll check

  12. Suzanne

    Are you saying that George III was sinful and the emperor Nero wasn't?

    Your post for today is closed for comments, I assume intentionally.

  13. I'm saying that if a political power had overthrown Nero, that would have been addressing the sin.

    The post for today says that it's open for comments. I've checked the post in IE, which I'm not logged in under.

    I'll have a friend who will check it.

  14. Suzanne

    The way that the sin of emperors and monarchs was finally dealt with by Christians was by making governments into democracies. That is what should happen to marriage.

    If you want today's post to be open to comments, try to post a comment and see if it works. Somehow the post-long link seems to be getting in the way.

  15. Suzanne, can you prove that Biblically? Please do.

    You are aware that there were Christians who opposed the American Revolution on Biblical ground?

  16. You are aware that there were Christians who opposed the American Revolution on Biblical ground?

    Yup, where do you think they went? Canada, of course! 🙂

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