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21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.


This verse transitions from our orientation to God to orientation to Christians. Although it is an effect of being filled with the Spirit, Paul expanded this result of the Spirit-filled life into a number of submission categories: husband/wife relationships and relation to children and bondservants/masters.

submitting to one another

The fourth result of being filled with the Spirit is mutual deference to other believers out of an awe of God.

“Submitting” is a military term that means to rank under. If there is anything important in the military, it is the idea of authority and following lines of authority. The central idea is to accept the authority of the person over you. An army cannot function without authority. The idea behind authority is order rather than anarchy. A disorderly army is an army that is in disarray. A church that does not accept the authority of its leaders will be a church in disarray (He 13:17).

in the fear of God.

The word “fear” here carries the idea of reverence. Reverence for God affects how we relate to other Christians.

Older manuscripts have the name “Christ” rather than “God” in this phrase. Our reverence is for who and what Jesus is; He is the basis for our reverence. Also, our awe for what He did causes us to show deference for Christians.

1 Sa 12:24, Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.

Ps 25:12, Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.

Mal 3:16, Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name.

Mal 4:2, But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves.

Fearing God means that we have an awesome respect for who God is. We have no debate with the God of the universe.


The motive for giving deference to other Christians is our Lord.


Giving deference to others rests in reverence for God. God designed the believer as one for whom Christ died. That person deserves respect because of Christ. The Spirit-filled believer holds deference toward the child of God.

Php 2:3, Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Do we ever give in to others? “You first. Go ahead; it’s alright.” Some of us have the attitude of “this way or else; this way or I quit.” This is not a humble spirit.