Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.
This is one of the most abused New Testament verses in scripture.
Let's take a closer look at what it says... I ask you to read and be patient, this more than likely has some precepts never heard of or seen by most Christians.
"Obey THEM", "submit to THEM", "THEY watch for your souls", "THEY shall give account", "THEY may do it with joy".....
1 . notice: the plural, and also that it does not say "obey the pastor".
Do you see the words "them, they, they, they"?
Why is it plural?
Can we find ANY scripture for one man in sole authority over a church? Well, sort of, but in a negative way.
3John mentions "Diotrephes who loves to have the PRE-EMMINENCE" and refused the apostles. He was one who loved the position and control of an assembly.
Here is what the early church established for the "local" assemblies:
(notice: there is no "church Board" "General Board", "Arch-bishops", or other spurious and man made "offices".)
Acts 14:23 And when they had appointed for them elders in every church,
and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord....
Where is a Titled pastor appopinted?
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest
set in order the things that are wanting, and
ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
They ordained "elders", not titled "pastors".
Acts 15:6 And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this
matter. (where were the pastors at this "conference"?)
Acts 20:17 And from Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus, and called to him the elders of the church. (why didn't he say "pastors"???)
Church Government in Acts.
Acts 15:2 ... Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto
the apostles and elders about this question.
Acts 15:4 ... they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders,
and they declared all things that God had done with them.
Acts 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
(Notice: it does not say apostles and pastors..) Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church,
...chief men among the brethren:
Acts 15:23 ... The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto
the brethren of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
Acts 16:4 ...they delivered them the decrees for to keep,
that were ordained of the apostles and elders (plural)
which were at Jerusalem.
Acts 20:28 "feed the flock of God over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers" (plural)
and doctrine. (plural-plural)
Titus 1:5 .. that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders (PLURAL) in every city, as I had appointed you to do:
-Paul commanded, "elders in >>every<< city", i.e. with no mention of titled Pastors or a "Senior Pastor". You may see that this instruction is reflected in Paul and the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, and by the church epistles, because there are no specialized "Senior Pastors", Chief Rulers, Priests, Popes, Bishops, or the like even mentioned once as a Titled church official. (Except Diotrephes in 3John as a negative.
"elder Peter" , an apostle wrote in 1Peter 5:1
The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder (Peter),
and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory......
2 Tend the flock of God which is among you (not under you), exercising the oversight, not by force (i.e. not because it is your job obligation),
but willingly, according to the will of God; not for filthy lucre (not as a hierling) , but of a ready mind;
3 neither as lording it over the stewardship allotted to you, but making yourselves examples to
the flock. ("lording" means to subjugate, dominate, overcome)
The church/ pastor/ priest/ board/ elders/ bishop/ district/ denomination is not right when they are wrong, but if you have One Man, or one family "running" the local church, the door to error, sin, abuse, manipulation, and plundering of the sheep is wide open.
Having "the rule" over you does NOT give them authority to tell you where you can go, who you should marry, pay them an unscriptural tithe, what kind of clothes you can wear, or anything that "goes beyond that which is written" as Paul commanded. (1Cor 4:6), "less one become puffed up against the other".
11 For they (shepherds) have gone in the way of Cain and have run greedily after the error of Balaam for their reward ...
12 These are spots on your feasts of charity when they feast with you,
feeding themselves without fear.
Notice in 1Corinthians 12:28
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.
Have we "puffed up" the office of the pastor? Many churches turned him into either a king, or God's primary way to speak to us.
But the church is to have only ONE Head. His name is Pastor Jesus.1Corinthians 11:3
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
That is God's order and if a pastor takes headship-authority over an assembly, he is in danger of usurping God's authority, and many people will make an idol of him.
Which is also a good reason for following Jesus' instruction not to take titles and the "high seats" in the synagogues (churches).
-as it is written and may now make sense to you.
Mat. 23: 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even the Christ.
1st Timothy 3:1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
The "office of a bishop" is one word in the Greek, and simply means "overseer".
it is defined as:
investigation, inspection, visitation,
that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways, deeds character, of men,
in order to adjudge them their lot accordingly, whether joyous or sad.
oversight. overseership, office, charge, the office of an elder .
In Hebrews 13:17, to "obey" from the Greek, Strongs *3982 means :
to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject, put in subjection, to subject one's self,
obey to submit to one's control, to yield to one's admonition or advice, be subject.
We are to obey the scripture, and if a man goes "beyond that which is written", we are under no obligation to do what he orders. And if a man or woman goes beyond what is written, he or she is in danger of being in rebellion for corrupting the Word of God.
"Obey THEM", "submit to THEM", "THEY watch for your souls", "THEY shall give account", "THEY may do it with joy"..
Is it coincidence there are 5 plural nouns in the above verse?
Some call it the five gifts of ministry oversight that God freely gave His people, in Ephesians 4:11.
And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
The reason that many suffer, have been abused, discouraged, hurt, robbed,
and mis-led is because of many that have perverted Hebrews 13:17 into a "pastor-rules" one-man-show.
Loren Adkins stated:
What I find funny is the translators used the harshest wording here. -Using the word obey over other words that could have been used. I might not think to harsh about this had I not looked at other passages that use the word obey , such as “Children obey you parents”
Eph 6:1 Children, obey G5219 your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
These are two entirely different Greek words and meanings.*G5219 hupakouō: to hear (as a subordinate), to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority: - hearken, be obedient to, obey.
To further run this thought out I cannot find any passage of scripture where God directly commands his children at any point to follow a man. He gives and calls men to lead, but he does not command those even to dictate over his children.
Having come across the the definition of the word persuade in Heb 13, I realized I could not be in rebellion if I was not persuaded of something.
Therefore the teaching that so many preachers used that if I did not obey them I was in rebellion; and God hated rebellion, so I was hell bent. It did not apply to me or any one else for that matter as one could not be in rebellion to something they did not agree with.
What really bothers me is this idea built upon this verse (from my view anyway) that we must all be accountable to someone higher, ie saints, teachers, pastors and so on.
Paul teaches us in Ephesians God's plan for his kingdom and the accountability we are to have is to him.
Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
As we read this chapter nowhere does Paul teach we are to be accountable to anyone other than him.
Using Hebrews 13:17 as a rod to keep subjects in line is completely adding to the word of God. -LASummary:
Again, the Greek word harshly translated into "obey" by the KJV, is:G3982 πείθω peithō pi'-tho
A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false);
by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): - agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.
Again, compare that to "children obey your parents...
*G5219 hupakouō: to hear (as a subordinate), to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority: - hearken, be obedient to, obey.
We are not trying to offend pastors or church leaders, but those that are usurping command and control over others in the name of God do so at great harm to others (church abuse), and themselves.