Men, Do You Submit to Christ’s Headship?
“The head of every man is the Christ.”—1 COR. 11:3.
1. What shows that Jehovah is a God of order?
“YOU are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power,” states Revelation 4:11, “because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” By reason of his Creatorship, Jehovah God is the Supreme Sovereign of the universe and is above all of his creation. That Jehovah “is a God, not of disorder, but of peace” can be seen by the way in which his angelic family is organized.—1 Cor. 14:33; Isa. 6:1-3; Heb. 12:22, 23.
2, 3. (a) Who was Jehovah’s first creation? (b) What position does the firstborn Son have with respect to the Father?
2 Before anything was created, God existed by himself for countless ages of time. His very first creation was the spirit creature known as “the Word” because he was the Spokesman for Jehovah. The Word is the one through whom all other things came into existence. Later, he came to earth as a perfect human and became known as Jesus Christ.—Read John 1:1-3, 14.
3 What do the Scriptures say about the relative positions of God and his firstborn Son? Writing under inspiration, the apostle Paul tells us: “I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) The Christ is under the headship of his Father. Headship and subjection are essential for peace and order to prevail among intelligent creatures. Even the one ‘by means of whom all other things were created’ is required to submit to God’s headship.—Col. 1:16.
4, 5. How did Jesus feel about his position with respect to Jehovah?
4 How did Jesus feel about submitting to Jehovah’s headship and coming to earth? The Scriptures state: “Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Phil. 2:5-8.
5 At all times, Jesus humbly submitted to his Father’s will. He said: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; . . . the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30) “I always do the things pleasing to [my Father],” he declared. (John 8:29) Toward the end of his life on earth, Jesus said in prayer to his Father: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do.” (John 17:4) Evidently, Jesus had no problem with recognizing and accepting God’s headship over him.
Submission to the Father Brings Benefits to the Son
6. What wonderful qualities did Jesus display?
6 When on earth, Jesus demonstrated many wonderful qualities. Among them was the great love he displayed for his Father. “I love the Father,” he said. (John 14:31) He also demonstrated great love for people. (Read Matthew 22:35-40.) Jesus was kind and considerate, not harsh or overbearing. “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down,” he said, “and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) Sheeplike people of all ages, especially those who were downtrodden and oppressed, found great comfort in Jesus’ delightful personality and uplifting message.
7, 8. Under the Law, how was the woman with a flow of blood restricted, but how did Jesus deal with her?
7 Consider how Jesus dealt with women. Throughout history, many men have treated women very badly. That was true of the religious leaders in ancient Israel. But Jesus treated women with respect. This is made evident in his dealings with a woman who had been sick for 12 years with a flow of blood. “She had been put to many pains” by physicians and had spent all her resources trying to get well. Despite all that effort, she “had got worse.” Under the Law, she was considered unclean. Anyone touching her would also become unclean.—Lev. 15:19, 25.
8 When the woman heard that Jesus was healing the sick, she joined the crowd surrounding him, saying: “If I touch just his outer garments I shall get well.” She touched Jesus and immediately got well. Jesus knew that she should not have touched his garment. Nevertheless, he did not scold her. On the contrary, he was kind to her. He understood how she must have felt after all those years of illness and discerned that she was desperate for help. Compassionately, Jesus told her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be in good health.”—Mark 5:25-34.
9. When Jesus’ disciples tried to prevent children from coming to him, what was his response?
9 Even children could feel at ease in the presence of Jesus. When people brought children to him on one occasion, his disciples reprimanded them, evidently feeling that he would not want to be bothered with children. But that is not the way Jesus felt. The Scriptural account tells us: “At seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to [the disciples]: ‘Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.’” Further, “he took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” Jesus did not just tolerate children; he warmly welcomed them.—Mark 10:13-16.
10. How did Jesus come to possess the qualities that he displayed?
10 How did Jesus come to possess the qualities he displayed during his life on earth? In his prehuman existence, he observed his heavenly Father for aeons of time and absorbed his ways. (Read Proverbs 8:22, 23, 30.) In heaven, he had seen Jehovah’s loving way of exercising headship over all His creation and had made that way his own. Would Jesus have been able to do that had he not been submissive? It was a delight for him to be in subjection to his Father, and it was a pleasure for Jehovah to have such a Son. When on earth, Jesus reflected perfectly the marvelous qualities of his heavenly Father. What a privilege it is for us to be in subjection to Christ, God’s appointed Ruler of the heavenly Kingdom!
Imitate Christ’s Qualities
11. (a) Whom should we work hard to imitate? (b) Why should the men in the congregation especially strive to imitate Jesus?
11 All in the Christian congregation, especially the men, should continually work hard to imitate Christ’s qualities. As already noted, the Bible declares: “The head of every man is the Christ.” As Christ imitated his Head, the true God, Christian men should strive to imitate their head—the Christ. Upon becoming a Christian, the apostle Paul did just that. “Become imitators of me,” he exhorted fellow Christians, “even as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) And the apostle Peter said: “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Pet. 2:21) The admonition to imitate the Christ is of particular interest to men for still another reason. They are the ones who become elders and ministerial servants. As Jesus found joy in imitating Jehovah, Christian men should find joy in imitating Christ and his qualities.
12, 13. How should elders deal with the sheep in their care?
12 The elders in the Christian congregation are under obligation to learn to be like Christ. Peter gave the older men, or elders, this exhortation: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:1-3) Christian elders are not to be dictatorial, domineering, arbitrary, or harsh. Imitating Christ’s example, they endeavor to be loving, considerate, humble, and kind in their dealings with the sheep entrusted to their care.
13 Those taking the lead in the congregation are imperfect men, and they should constantly be aware of that limitation. (Rom. 3:23) So they must be eager to learn about Jesus and imitate his love. They need to ponder over the way that God and Christ deal with people and then strive to imitate them. Peter exhorts us: “All of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another, because God opposes the haughty ones, but he gives undeserved kindness to the humble ones.”—1 Pet. 5:5.
14. To what extent should elders show honor to others?
14 In their dealings with God’s flock, the appointed men in the congregation are to exhibit fine qualities. Romans 12:10 states: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.” Elders and ministerial servants show honor to others. Like Christians in general, these men are ‘to do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism but with lowliness of mind are to consider that the others are superior to them.’ (Phil. 2:3) Those taking the lead should certainly view others as being superior to them. By doing so, the appointed men will be following Paul’s counsel: “We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding. For even the Christ did not please himself.”—Rom. 15:1-3.
‘Assigning Wives Honor’
15. How should husbands deal with their wives?
15 Consider now Peter’s counsel to married men. He wrote: “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.” (1 Pet. 3:7) To honor someone means to hold that individual in high esteem. Thus, you would consider the opinions, needs, and wants of such a person and may defer to that one where there is no vital issue at stake. That is how a husband should deal with his wife.
16. What warning does God’s Word give to husbands in regard to honoring wives?
16 When telling husbands to honor their wives, Peter adds a warning: “In order for your prayers not to be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7) That clearly shows how seriously Jehovah views the way a man treats his wife. Failure to show honor to her could hinder his prayers. Moreover, do not wives generally respond positively to being treated honorably by their husbands?
17. To what extent should a husband love his wife?
17 On the matter of loving one’s wife, God’s Word counsels: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies. . . . For no man ever hated his own flesh; but he feeds and cherishes it, as the Christ also does the congregation . . . Let each one of you individually so love his wife as he does himself.” (Eph. 5:28, 29, 33) To what extent should husbands love their wives? “Husbands,” wrote Paul, “continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25) Yes, a husband should be willing even to lay down his life for his wife, just as Christ did for others. When the Christian husband deals with his wife tenderly, considerately, attentively, unselfishly, it is easier for his wife to submit to his headship.
18. What help do men have in caring for their responsibilities in marriage?
18 Is assigning honor to wives in this way too much to expect from husbands? No, Jehovah would never ask them to do something that is beyond their capabilities. Besides, Jehovah’s worshippers have access to the greatest force in the universe—God’s holy spirit. Jesus said: “If you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:13) In their prayers, husbands can ask that by means of his spirit, Jehovah will help them in their dealings with others, including their wives.—Read Acts 5:32.
19. What will our next study article consider?
19 Indeed, men bear a heavy responsibility to learn how to be submissive to Christ and imitate his headship. But what about women, wives in particular? The next article will discuss how they should view their role in Jehovah’s arrangement.
Women, Why Submit to Headship?
“The head of a woman is the man.”—1 COR. 11:3.
1, 2. (a) What did the apostle Paul write about Jehovah’s arrangement of headship and subjection? (b) What questions will be considered in this article?
JEHOVAH has established the orderly sequence that the apostle Paul mentioned when he wrote that “the head of every man is the Christ” and “the head of the Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3) The preceding article noted that Jesus considered it a privilege and a joy to be in subjection to his Head, Jehovah God, and that Christian men have Christ as their head. Christ was kind, gentle, compassionate, and unselfish when dealing with people. Men in the congregation need to be that way toward others, especially their wives.
2 What, though, about women? Who is their head? “The head of a woman is the man,” wrote Paul. How should women view this inspired statement? Does the principle still apply when the husband is an unbeliever? Does submission to man’s headship require that the wife be a silent partner in marriage, having no say when decisions are made? In what way does a woman procure praise for herself?
“I Am Going to Make a Helper for Him”
3, 4. Why is the headship arrangement in marriage beneficial?
3 The headship arrangement is of divine origin. After Adam was created, Jehovah God went on to say: “It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.” Following Eve’s creation, Adam was so delighted at having a companion and helper that he said: “This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen. 2:18-24) Adam and Eve had the marvelous prospect of becoming the father and mother of an entire human race of perfect people, who would live forever in happiness in a global paradise.
4 Because of the rebellion of our first parents, the perfect situation in the garden of Eden was lost. (Read Romans 5:12.) But the headship arrangement remained in effect. When properly followed, it brings great benefit and happiness in marriage. The result becomes similar to how Jesus felt about being in subjection to his Head, Jehovah. In his prehuman existence, Jesus was “glad before [Jehovah] all the time.” (Prov. 8:30) Because of imperfection, men are no longer capable of being perfect heads, nor are women able to demonstrate perfect subjection. When husbands and wives continue to work at doing the best they can, however, the arrangement results in the greatest possible contentment in marriage at this time.
5. Why should marriage mates take to heart the counsel found at Romans 12:10?
5 Crucial to the success of a marriage is that the marriage mates apply this Scriptural counsel meant for all Christians: “In brotherly love have tender affection for one another. In showing honor to one another take the lead.” (Rom. 12:10) Also, both husband and wife should work hard to “become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.”—Eph. 4:32.
When the Mate Is Not a Believer
6, 7. What may be the result if a Christian wife is in subjection to an unbelieving husband?
6 What if your marriage mate is not a servant of Jehovah? Often, it is the husband who is not a believer. In this case, how should the wife treat him? The Bible answers: “You wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect.”—1 Pet. 3:1, 2.
7 God’s Word tells the wife to maintain a submissive attitude toward the unbelieving husband. Her good conduct can influence him to consider what it is that motivates her to behave in such a fine manner. As a result, the husband may look into the beliefs of his Christian wife and eventually accept the truth himself.
8, 9. What can a Christian wife do if her unbelieving husband does not respond favorably to her fine conduct?
8 What, though, if the unbelieving husband does not respond favorably? The Scriptures encourage the believing wife to display Christian qualities at all times, however difficult this may be. For example, we read at 1 Corinthians 13:4: “Love is long-suffering.” The Christian wife does well, then, to continue to behave “with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering,” putting up with the situation in love. (Eph. 4:2) With the help of God’s active force—his holy spirit—it is possible to maintain Christian qualities even under difficult circumstances.
9 “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me,” wrote Paul. (Phil. 4:13) God’s spirit enables the Christian mate to do many things that would not be possible otherwise. For example, harsh treatment by one’s spouse may make it tempting for one to retaliate. However, the Bible tells all Christians: “Return evil for evil to no one. . . . For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’” (Rom. 12:17-19) Similarly, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 counsels us: “See that no one renders injury for injury to anyone else, but always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” With the backing of Jehovah’s holy spirit, what is impossible in our own strength becomes possible. How appropriate that we pray for God’s holy spirit to provide what we lack!
10. How did Jesus handle the unkind words and actions of others?
10 Jesus set an outstanding example in dealing with those who said or did unpleasant things to him. “When he was being reviled,” states 1 Peter 2:23, “he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” We are exhorted to follow his fine example. Do not be provoked by the bad behavior of others. As all Christians are admonished, be “tenderly compassionate, humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling.”—1 Pet. 3:8, 9.
Only Silent Partners?
11. In what great privilege will some Christian women have a share?
11 Does submission to a husband’s headship mean that women are silent partners in marriage, having no voice in family matters or other subjects? Not at all. Women as well as men are given many privileges by Jehovah. Just think of the great honor that 144,000 individuals have in being kings and priests in heaven under Christ when he rules over this earth! That number includes women. (Gal. 3:26-29) Obviously, Jehovah has given women an active role in his arrangement of things.
12, 13. Give an example to show that women prophesied.
12 In Bible times, for example, women prophesied. Joel 2:28, 29 foretold: “I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy. . . . Even on the menservants and on the maidservants in those days I shall pour out my spirit.”
13 Some 120 disciples of Jesus who were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost in 33 C.E. included women as well as men. God’s spirit was poured out on this entire group. Peter could therefore quote what the prophet Joel had foretold and apply it to men and women alike. Peter stated: “This is what was said through the prophet Joel, ‘And in the last days,’ God says, ‘I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy . . . ; and even upon my men slaves and upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’”—Acts 2:16-18.
14. What part did women play in the spread of early Christianity?
14 In the first century, women played a significant part in spreading Christianity. They preached to others about God’s Kingdom and did things related to that preaching work. (Luke 8:1-3) For example, the apostle Paul called Phoebe “a minister of the congregation that is in Cenchreae.” And in sending greetings to fellow workers, Paul mentioned a number of faithful women, including “Tryphaena and Tryphosa, women who are working hard in the Lord.” He also noted “Persis our beloved one, for she performed many labors in the Lord.”—Rom. 16:1, 12.
15. What part do women play in the spread of Christianity in our time?
15 In our time, a large part of the more than seven million people preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom throughout the world are women of all ages. (Matt. 24:14) Many of them are full-time ministers, missionaries, and members of Bethel families. The psalmist David sang: “Jehovah himself gives the saying; the women telling the good news are a large army.” (Ps. 68:11) How true these words have proved to be! Jehovah values the part women play in declaring the good news and accomplishing his purposes. His requirement that Christian women be in submission surely does not mean silent subjection.
Two Women Who Spoke Up
16, 17. How does Sarah’s example show that women are not to be silent partners in marriage?
16 If Jehovah grants women many privileges, should not husbands consult their wives before making serious decisions? It would be wisdom on their part to do so. The Scriptures mention several incidents in which wives spoke or acted even without their views being solicited by their husbands. Consider two cases.
17 Sarah, the wife of the patriarch Abraham, kept on telling him to dismiss his secondary wife and her son because of their lack of respect. “The thing proved to be very displeasing to Abraham”—but not to God. Jehovah told Abraham: “Do not let anything that Sarah keeps saying to you be displeasing to you about the boy and about your slave girl. Listen to her voice.” (Gen. 21:8-12) Abraham obeyed Jehovah, listened to Sarah, and did what she requested.
18. What initiative did Abigail take?
18 Think also of Abigail, the wife of Nabal. When David was fleeing from jealous King Saul, he spent time encamped near Nabal’s flocks. Instead of taking any of this wealthy man’s many possessions, David and his men protected his property. However, Nabal “was harsh and bad in his practices,” and he “screamed rebukes” at David’s men. He was a “good-for-nothing man,” and ‘senselessness was with him.’ When David’s men respectfully asked for some provisions, Nabal refused. How did Abigail respond when she heard what had happened? Without telling Nabal, she “hastened and took two hundred loaves of bread and two large jars of wine and five sheep dressed and five seah measures of roasted grain and a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs” and gave them to David and his men. Did Abigail do what was right? “Jehovah struck Nabal,” states the Bible, “so that he died.” David later married Abigail.—1 Sam. 25:3, 14-19, 23-25, 38-42.
‘The Woman Who Procures Praise’
19, 20. What makes a woman truly praiseworthy?
19 The Scriptures commend the wife who does things Jehovah’s way. The Bible book of Proverbs praises “a capable wife,” saying: “Her value is far more than that of corals. In her the heart of her owner has put trust, and there is no gain lacking. She has rewarded him with good, and not bad, all the days of her life.” Moreover, “her mouth she has opened in wisdom, and the law of loving-kindness is upon her tongue. She is watching over the goings-on of her household, and the bread of laziness she does not eat. Her sons have risen up and proceeded to pronounce her happy; her owner rises up, and he praises her.”—Prov. 31:10-12, 26-28.
20 What makes a woman truly praiseworthy? “Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain,” states Proverbs 31:30, “but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” Included in the fear of Jehovah is the need to submit willingly to the divine arrangement of headship. “The head of a woman is the man,” just as “the head of every man is the Christ,” and “the head of the Christ is God.”—1 Cor. 11:3.
Be Grateful for God’s Gift
21, 22. (a) What reasons do wedded Christians have for being grateful for God’s gift of marriage? (b) Why should we show respect for Jehovah’s arrangements for authority and headship? (See box on page 17.)
21 Christians joined in wedlock have so many reasons to express gratitude to God! They can walk hand in hand as a happily married couple. Especially can they be thankful for God’s blessed gift of marriage because it affords them the opportunity to blend their lives and walk with Jehovah. (Ruth 1:9; Mic. 6:8) He—the Originator of marriage—knows exactly what is required for marital happiness. Always do things his way, and ‘the joy of Jehovah will be your stronghold,’ even in today’s troubled world.—Neh. 8:10.
22 A Christian husband who loves his wife as he does himself will exercise tender, considerate headship. His godly wife will be truly lovable, for she will be supportive and will show him deep respect. Most important of all, their exemplary marriage will honor our praiseworthy God, Jehovah.