Pastors BLOG
September 19, 2018, 12:46 PM

The Adventure Begins 56: Lessons From the Early Church - Acts 21:15-26

In our culture we do not like the word submission/ submit.


The term is used at least 7 times in the New Testament in relationship to each other (Eph. 5, 1 Pet. 5:5), to our spouses (Eph. 5, Col. 3) to our leaders in the church (1 Cor. 16:16, Heb. 13:17, 1 Pet. 5:5), to the government and its laws (1 Pet. 2:13) and to God (Jas. 4:7) – this does not include times when synonymous terms were used to invoke this same value upon the church.


I think that the reason we do not like this term is because we do not fully understand it. I think that we think of submission, as something we are forced into doing – it is a last resort born out of desperation from the afflictions of a tyrant upon us.


True submission is quite the opposite. When we are forced to do something, it is not true submission at all.


The Greek word submit used in the NT is hypotasso (hoop-ot-as-so) and it means to become obedient, to put one’s self under, to submit oneself or subject oneself to something.


It is an act of our will – a choice that we make.


Marriage for instance is a covenant relationship that we choose – we submit ourselves to its rights and responsibilities and to upholding the other person.

Paul is an amazing example of submission. In the previous message we talked about his willing choice to follow God’s plans - Paul submits to the will of God. He was warned multiple times of the danger that awaited him in Jerusalem, but He also knows that God called him to go there so despite the dangers, rather than go somewhere else, he submits to God’s call and His will and goes.


In following Christ – You choose to submit to God’s will.


James 4:4-10 (NIV)
4 …friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Paul illustrates further the type of submission necessary to carry out this life for Christ as we read further in Acts 21 today…

Acts 21:15-40 (NIV)
15 After this, we got ready and went up to Jerusalem.
16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea accompanied us and brought us to the home of Mnason, where we were to stay. He was a man from Cyprus and one of the early disciples.
17 When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly.
18 The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present.
19 Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.
21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.
22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come,
23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow.
24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.
25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."
26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

From this passage I would like to point out further ways that Paul chose to submit in following Christ…

Paul submits to the authority that God has placed over him. When he addresses James and shares with him his testimony of what he has been doing on his missionary journeys he was submitting his work for review before James. When James asked Paul to follow Jewish rites in the temple to validate his commitment to these things before the believers, He submitted to James authority over his life.


In following Christ – You choose to submit to the authority/ leadership that God has placed in your life.


Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
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.

1 Peter 5:5 (NRSV)
5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

1 Peter 2:13-15 (NRSV)
13 For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme,
14 or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.
15 For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish.

As I mentioned earlier Paul submitted to the plans created for him, by James. This is sometimes difficult, but we will be called from time to time to carry out plans that were not designed in our own hearts, but in honoring Christ we choose to submit…


In following Christ – You choose to submit to the plans created for you. Not necessarily plans created by you.


Proverbs 19:21 (NRSV)
21 The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (or he will direct your paths)

In his commitment to reach people Paul was willing to change and adapt to whatever culture he found himself in. He was exceptionally sensitive to people and their needs. Paul submitted himself to understanding whatever culture that he is called to reach.

  1. following Christ – You choose to submit to understanding people and being sensitive to their needs.


1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (AMP)
19 For although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ].
20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to men under the Law, [I became] as one under the Law, though not myself being under the Law, that I might win those under the Law.
21 To those without (outside) law I became as one without law, not that I am without the law of God and lawless toward Him, but that I am [especially keeping] within and committed to the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.
22 To the weak (wanting in discernment) I have become weak (wanting in discernment) that I might win the weak and overscrupulous. I have [in short] become all things to all men, that I might by all means (at all costs and in any and every way) save some [by winning them to faith in Jesus Christ].

23 And I do this for the sake of the good news (the Gospel), in order that I may become a participator in it and share in its [blessings along with you].


By Pastor Carl Friedel

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