What Does It Mean To Submit?
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5.
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake […] 1 Peter 2:13.
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7.
We as Christians are to be submissive. In the above verses we are given some examples of who to submit to. We are to submit to our elders, to one another, to the institutions of authority, and to God.
I’m sure we all know that we are to submit. But what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to submit?
Wordnetweb says that it is to ‘yield to the control of another’ or ‘yield to another’s wish or opinion’. Wiktionary defines it as ‘to yield or give way to another’.
So we get the sense that to submit is an act of humility. We humble ourselves towards others. After saying to be submissive, Peter says to be humble:
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 1 Peter 5:6.
So being humble is a part of submitting, but the action we must take when submitting becomes clearer when we look at the Greek word for submit.
Hupotássō is the Greek word for submit. It has a military and non-military meaning - the latter of which is of interest to us. It is described in English as ‘a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, or carrying a burden’ (found in a commentary for 1 Peter 2:13 at preceptaustin.org).
So for us to submit we must cooperate. As submissive people, we must be humble and put those we are submitting to first, cooperating with them. Applying this to our earlier examples: we must cooperate with our elders, one another, the institutions of authority, and God.
-- John Thrower Jr.