The unbelieving world has a skewed, cynical view of submission. In fact, humility and submissiveness are not generally seen as character qualities, but condemned as weaknesses. It’s one of the many ways the world distorts and inverts God’s design.
Scripture frequently calls Christians to be humble and submissive people. In Ephesians 5, Paul suggests that the Spirit-filled life is not a fight for the top; it’s a fight for the bottom. That’s exactly what Jesus taught too: “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
In a community of believers, then, the principle of submission governs all relationships. Every individual submits to all others. That is the very situation Paul described in Ephesians 5:21: “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Peter said the same thing in 1 Peter 5:5–6:
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but give grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.
Throughout the New Testament, the Greek word often translated as “submit” is hupotasso (from two words: hupo, “under,” and tasso, “to line up, to get in order, or to be arranged”). It speaks of ranking oneself beneath another. As Christians, this is the mentality that should govern all our relationships: “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4).