Appeal vs. Rebuke
Are Seriously Sinful
Personal Rebuke or Process of Appeal?
If a Christian husband continues in serious sin,
how should his Christian wife respond?
© 2001 Sid & Linda Galloway - Updated 2010
Past related workshop presentations:
(available through Sound Word Associates)
- Appeal vs. Rebuke: Responding to Sinful Authorities
* More topics listed on the GSI Media Audio page
Balanced biblical principles for appealing to - and when necessary above - a seriously sinful authority apply whenever a person is under rank (hypotasso) in any relationship. Sadly, the most distorted, unbalanced, and unbiblical extremes are often found in the marriage relationship. These extreme teachings range from claims that a wife is to passively tolerate any sin of her husband, to the other end of the spectrum where wives are encouraged to get in their husband's face and rebuke him when she feels he needs it.
Over the past two decades, it's become more and more obvious that much of modern Christianity has unwittingly absorbed and incorporated, like spiritual osmosis, some subtle elements of natural rebellion, thus reflecting an image that is less than the Way of God's Son. This biblical blind-spot is especially evident, when it comes to how a believer should respond to a continuously sinful Christian authority. Today we see Christian children rebuking their Christian parents, Christian employees rebuking their Christian bosses, and even Christian citizens rebuking police and government leaders who profess to be believers. In counseling, my wife and I see this character flaw most often manifested by assertive Christian wives toward their passive Christian husbands. The children then pick up this practice and feed it right back to Mom. This is not the only place it's manifested in the Body of Christ, but definitely one of the most frequent, and one of the most dishonoring to the Lord.
Titus 2:4-5 ". . . that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." [emphasis added]
Related examples of authority relationships include:
Employee to Boss, Child to Parent, Husband to Pastoral Elder, Elder to Police Officer, Police to a Judge, Judge to the President, Human to Angel, Angel to Archangel, Archangel to Cherub such as Lucifer - Isa 14; Eze 28; Jude 9, and yes, Slave to Master.
Please think prayerfully and biblically about the following questions.
When a Christian faces an out of control police officer, what should he do?
- Rebuke him or appeal with questions to him and over his head?
How should a Christian employee respond to an irresponsible boss?
- Rebuke him or appeal with questions to him and over his head?
What’s the biblical response for a wife toward an habitually sinful husband?
- Rebuke him or appeal with questions to him and over his head?
What should a child do if her mother is verbally abusive?
- Rebuke her or appeal with questions to her and over her head?
Does it make a difference if the authority is also a believer?
Biblical Examples of the Appeal Process
Child to Parent: Boy Jesus - The Way of the Son (Eph 6:1-4; Luk 2:39-52)
Wife to Husband: Sarah – Believing Husband (Eph 5:21 -32; Tit 2; 1 Pet 3)
Employee to Boss: Joseph - Yes even Slaves (Eph 6:5; 1 Pet 2:18 -23; Gen)
Member to Pastors: Elder” Brothers (1 Ti 3; Tit 1; Heb 13:7, 17)
All to Governors: Daniel – Citizenship Evangelism (Dan; Rom 13; 1 Pe 2)
Angelic Majesties: Michael to Lucifer, (modern revilers, Jude 9-11)
"Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil,
when he disputed about the body of Moses,
dared not bring against him a reviling accusation,
but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!"'
Jude 9 [Emphasis added]
Why this problem is so significant:
My wife, Linda, and I are convinced that this question of appeal vs. rebuke is extremely significant because it ultimately affects the reputation of God the Father. It can only be answered by Scripture, not pragmatism or majority opinion. I know there are many scholars who are better equipped for this task than I am. However, I am also a firm believer that God’s truths are simple enough for a little child, while remaining profound enough even for a genuine Ph.D. All people in rank above us represent God’s delegated authority, so how we respond to them (wives “as unto the Lord” Eph 5:22 ; children “in the Lord” 6:1; servants “as to Christ” 6:5) reveals how sincerely we respect our Heavenly Father and His Son. God’s created structure of authority is the backbone necessary for families, churches, and governments to function with order and harmony for His glory. Failure to maintain it God’s way results in a disordered, dysfunctional system that ultimately dishonors the Lord and unwittingly deceives others.
* I strongly urge you to read the article/chapter below:
by Wayne Grudem PhD - renowned biblical scholar
Dr. Grudem became Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in 2001 after teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years. He has served as the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as President of the Evangelical Theological Society (1999), and as a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He also served as the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Here is the BOOK from which the chapter was taken:
Why this problem is so personal to me and to Linda:
For us to write about the importance of responding to authority with respectful appeal instead of rebuke is ironic, to say the least. While all people are born rebellious sinners, some are more obvious than others, and I left no doubt in anybody's mind. As a little boy, I challenged [not merely questioned] my parents. I was every teacher's nightmare, and as a teenager, a police officer once told my father that I was a hardened-heart delinquent. My rebellion reached its apex as a young man, when I embraced the new age and stepped out onto the road most traveled (the egotistic path to self-deification). But God in His mercy and grace allowed me to create enough pain and emptiness in my own life to finally bring me to my knees in submissive faith under the authority of Jesus His Son. My wife, Linda, similarly went from being a feminist to reflecting the “beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 3:4).
Titus 2:4-5 ". . . that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed." [Emphasis added]
1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.”
[Note: Some authors (see below) mistakenly say this only applies to wives of non-believers, because the phrase “not obey the word” can refer to unbelief. But, Peter’s primary example is Sarah, the wife of the father of faith, Abraham, so it clearly is meant to apply to both.]
Linda and I believe that the most Christ honoring, biblical response for any person under the authority of a continuously sinful person is the process of appeal, first directly to and then if necessary above that authority, but not personal rebuke.
Why? . . .
1. . . . Because it shows respect upward through that human "authority" to our God who sovereignly allows all that occurs in our lives, including who is above us in position. (Romans 12-13)
2. . . . Because it is the most effective, practical response. If you find yourself in a lion's den, it's not wise to rebuke the lion. As a former carnivore zookeeper, I speak from personal experience.The lion has the power and therefore the authority. By the way, remember that the New Testament term for authority is exousia which means both power and authority.
When a rebuke is needed, it should come from those of equal rank or above, not below. Most people recognize this principle when a Christian child tries to "rebuke" a Christian parent. Parents and children are of equal value, but not of equal rank, role, or responsibility. Therefore, biblical passages about accountability between people of equal rank (Prov 9:8; 27:5; Mat 7:1-5; 18:15-20, Gal 6:1; Eph 4:15, etc.) must be carefully qualified by other passages that specifically modify interaction between those of unequal rank.
All of us who teach about relationships are fallible and in danger of presenting imperfect interpretations and applications, especially when it comes to the issue of authority and submission. No author is totally unbiased. Each tends to see Scripture and life from his or her own "natural" perceptual filter. So, we all must beware of unbiblical extremes derived from our own personality or culture. Please remember, simply having a humble respectful tone does not legitimize rebuking an authority, since the Bible teaches a respectful process of appeal instead.
A Primary Picture of
God’s Kind of Relationships
Designed for the Socialization of Our Children
A waltz is a beautiful portrait of Christ and His Bride, if and only if the bride follows the man's lead. The couple flow together as one, in harmony with the music. But, when both try to lead, they stumble and fall - too often on top of the children. Maybe that's why some "modern" dances involve two divided people jerking and flinging their bodies around in isolation, or crashing together as in “smash” dancing.
Please think about it. A wife rebuking her husband is not a pretty picture in God’s sight either. In fact, it is the opposite of the image designed into His creation to reflect the relational character of His triune nature:
1 Timothy 2:12-14
"But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man,
but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived,
but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."
* Note that in the following descriptive heading in Eph 5:21 ("submissive to one another"), Paul uses three examples to illustrate who should be submissive to whom (wives to husbands, children to parents, servants to masters). Then, each is told to respond to authorities as unto the Lord. (see Dr. Grudem's article on "Myth of Mutual Submission" for detailed exegesis of this often misunderstood passage.)
* Regarding the example I shared in the workshop of respect toward government authorities such as President Clinton, with whom we as biblical Christians disagree (abortion, sexual immorality, homosexual promotion):
* Example of my daughter Amy and I, when harassed by an irate and out of control police officer:
Many Christian authors are friends and colleagues in the biblical counseling community, whom we love and respect. We have taught at many of the same conferences around the country for many years. However, we strongly disagree with the belief that a Christian wife of a Christian husband is to be his active accountability partner and personally "rebuke" him when he sins, especially rebukes that assume heart motives (that is judgment of the heart). We simply believe that this foundational flaw in teaching seriously undermines the value of otherwise excellent ministry materials. We are convinced that this problem area in these teachings is not just a matter of degree, but of principle, and therefore very significant. We believe it is wrong to apply biblical passages regarding rebuke, such as Prov 9:8; 27:5; Mat 7:1-5; 18:15-20, Gal 6:1; Eph 4:15 to the wife/husband relationship. These passages speak to believers of equal rank, and require taking into account the numerous passages that qualify, if, when, and how, a believer under authority is to respond to a believing authority.
My wife, Linda, and I discovered years ago that in order for a married couple to dance really close, someone has to lead. Failure to fully understand this biblical truth has caused many couples to stumble and fall, too often on top of their children. Our main concern is about the subtle, usually unintentional ways in which modern, "submissive" Christian wives are functionally taking the lead over their husbands. When this occurs, the portrait of the marriage becomes distorted and no longer points upward through God's appointed chain of delegated authority to the pinnacle, male authority, God the Father (Eph 5:21-32; 1 Cor 11:7).
All marriage books are fallible and contain imperfect interpretations and applications, especially when it comes to the issue of authority and submission. We all must avoid unbiblical extremes, so please remember that no author is totally unbiased. Each tends to see Scripture and life from their own "natural" perceptual filter. Some authors may be tempted to portray the role of a wife as weak rather than meek. The book might fail to acknowledge the biblical process for a wife to respectfully, yet boldly, sharing her heart with her husband, appealing to him as her authority, and if necessary, appealing to the authorities above him in both the church and the government. For example, a woman should never blindly tolerate a situation in which her husband is physically abusive to her or the children.
In contrast, a different author may be tempted to paint a picture of the wife's role that falls short of the hard sayings commanded in Scripture. The book might fail to emphasize the often repeated, central biblical characteristic for a godly wife to have a genuinely "submissive, "gentle and quiet spirit". Similarly, the book might present biblical passages, that actually refer to confrontation between believers of equal rank, as applicable to conflict between believers of unequal rank. Such an error fails to take into account the various passages that clearly modify when, if, and how a person under authority should respond to a sinful person over her or him.
W hen it comes to a Christian wife with a Christian husband, we are convinced by the biblical evidence that such a wife is never to personally rebuke her sinful husband. For a wife to do so is to step out of rank, and try to replace the Holy Spirit, the other men in her husband's church, and the church elders as his source of accountability. In doing so, she has in essence become his spiritual leader. He functionally must answer to her.
Instead, she is to appeal, first directly to her husband, then if he continues in serious sin she can appeal to the men above him (pastoral elders and/or government officials, Titus1-3). Please note that many minor issues should be overlooked ("love covers"), and do not even warrant an appeal.
One of the reasons that wives are tempted to step out of rank and rebuke their husbands is because their churches are not functioning as true ekklesias, with real accountability. What makes a group of believers a true church socializing one another into Christ's image, & not just a Bible study or prayer group? The answer is disciplined discipleship! (Prov 18:13, 17; Mat 18:15-20; John 13:34-35; 1 Co 5:9-13; Gal 2:20; 4:19; 5:16-25; 6:1-3; 1 Ti 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11) The big question for today's modern churches is, "Where are the real men (2 Tim 2:1-4) who will rebuke one another toward the image of Christ, for God's glory?".
A local "church" is not a biblical church family unless those believers are submitted to the LORD, and committed to one
another practicing all four dimensions of an ekklesia that will
© L.E.A.D. to Restoration & Maturity in Christ (Mat 18:15-20; 28:18-20)
- Loving - Equipping - Accountability - Discipline
Below are seven suggested levels for a full process of appeal, that we believe is the biblical response, and is applicable for any person under a sinful authority figure. (* A separate, companion article will be online soon, providing numerous practical examples for applying this biblical process of appeal.)
1. Prayerful submission under God's hand of authority (1 Pet 5:5-9), which includes all God-ordained human authorities. This means the person's purpose and goal in life is holiness for God's glory, not just happiness for self-gratification. Someone thought up the acronym J.O.Y., which is the fruit that follows right priorities (J-Jesus 1st, O-Others 2nd, Y-Yourself 3rd.
2. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). Many minor sin issues do not warrant even a direct appeal.
3. Prayerfully self-examine: get the log out of our own eye. It is easy to judge our spouse, because we accutely aware of the sins of someone we live so closely with, yet blind to our own. The first self-examining question to ask (according to Linda) is:
"How well am I following God's command to wives to show respect/admiration for my husband's God-given position, before I begin to judge how well my husband is living out his role, rank, and responsibility.
3. If a sin pattern appears to exist and to be serious in nature, it is best to humbly ask questions of the authority to clarify and make sure of the facts. (See Jesus as a boy in Luke 2 respectfully questioning the religious leaders and his mother)
4. If the facts verify serious sin, then a direct and humble appeal is appropriate. And the best approach is that of humble questions, not accusatory statements.
For example a wife could say: "I know I could be wrong about what I'm thinking and feeling, sweetheart, yet I can't get rid of the concern, so could you please help me understand."
If that level of appeal does not illicit an opening with the authority, then a further level of appeal is biblically appropriate such as, "Honey, I'm concerned that this situation is not the best thing, so could we get some advice from our pastor or a Christian counselor?"
5. If the authority continues in the serious sin pattern, it is appropriate and sometimes biblically commanded to humbly and respectfully appeal above that immediate authority. For a wife, that would be an appeal to the church pastoral elders (Heb 13:7, 17).
6. If the wife believes that the elders did not adequately hold the her husband accountable so that the serious sin stopped, and danger to herself or others still exist, then it's appropriate to appeal above the church elders to the government (Rom 13). And in some cases of abuse, folks, the law of the land commands that the government be notified. So according to Rom 13; Titus 3; 1 Pet 2; when sexual abuse of children is discovered to be a fact, that must be reported to the government authorities. It is also appropriate in some cases of physical or sexual abuse for the wife and/or kids to separate from the husband for both protection and counseling under the protective oversight of the church and the government, under the protective oversight of the church and the government.
7. Finally, if all levels of appeal have been exhausted and the sin pattern is not stopped (like a Christian wife of a Muslim man in a Muslim country who has no outside help and no opportunity to separate - escape), then her wisest plan of action is to entrust herself to God just as Jesus in 1 Peter 2. Millions of Christian martyrs have gloried the Lord, revealing His supernatural love even for enemies, in just this way - the Way of God's Son (Romans 5:1-8).
Folks, this issue is vital to the glory of God our Father, the function and witness of the church family, and the spiritual and social health of our individual homes. Two important levels of concern, principle and degree, are involved with this issue, and each can be expressed by a simple question:
1. If a Christian husband continues in serious sin, should his Christian wife respond with a personal rebuke or by a process of respectful appeal?
2. If the process of appeal is the proper biblical response, what is it and how should it be carried out?
The first question is a matter of principle, not just degree, and it is the most significant. If a Christian husband continues in serious sin, should his Christian wife respond with a personal rebuke or by a process of respectful appeal? We must let the Bible answer that question, through careful, prayerful, systematic exegesis. We must draw out from God's Word, God's answer, and try not to put onto Scripture our preconceived personal or cultural conceptions. All of us are tempted to see Scripture from our own perceptual filter, and we believe that regarding this issue, many authors beliefs are unjustified exegetically and systematically for the following reasons:
1. No statement in the Bible directly tells a wife that she can rebuke her sinful husband. In contrast, the consistent, systemic principle throughout Scripture, not only for wives but for any person under authority, is that the complete process of appeal, rather than rebuke, is the right and wisest response to a sinful authority. Remember that many actions commanded in Scripture are qualified according to different roles, ranks, and responsibilities.
(for example - Mat 5:41; Luk 2:39-52; 1 Tim 5:1; Jude 9; Rev 12:11; etc.)
1 Tim 5:1-2 "Do not rebuke an elder (presbuteros), but exhort (parakaleo = beseech) him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity." [Note that Timothy is told not to rebuke an elder, but to beseech him.]
2. Many of the verses used by popular authors for support actually refer to situations involving Christians of equal rank. They fail to adequately consider, in their systematic theology of communication and peacemaking, the many other qualifying passages that modify if, when, and how a believer is to respond to a person in higher rank. Related examples include: Employee to Boss, Child to Parent, Husband to Pastoral Elder, Elder to Police Officer, Police to a Judge, Judge to the President, Human to Angel, Angel to Archangel, Archangel to Cherub such as Lucifer - Isa 14; Eze 28; Jude 9, and yes, Slave to Master. Throughout the Word of God, various principles are modified and qualified according to rank, role, and responsibility.
(Prov 9:8; 27:5; Mat 7:1-5; 18:15-20, Gal 6:1; Eph 4:15; etc.)
3. Some authors also uses the argument of pragmatism (it works) as a source of support for her belief that a Christian wife can and should rebuke her Christian husband. Yes, there are husbands who have turned away from sin because their wife rebuked them. But would the fact that a teenager who argues with her parents and gets her way, mean that such behavior was acceptable biblically? Of course not. The fact that it sometimes appears to work is never justification for an unbiblical, unChrist-like behavior. Actually for the record, from our nearly two decades of counseling experience, we've most often found that encouraging a person under authority to even "respectfully" rebuke a sinful authority, ends up either in serious conflict or a reversal of roles. This applies not only to marriage, but for example also to children and their parents. Our God is a God of order, and role reversal is a subtle form of disorder. Disorder leads to dysfunction, destruction, and ultimately dishonor to the reflection of God's image in families.
4. ** Finally and most importantly, when some authors do refer to passages that specifically involve relationships of authority and submission, the full context is missed, and so the simple, straightforward meaning of that passage is easily misunderstood. Eph 5:21 and 1 Pet 3:1-5 are the passages that form the foundation of such authors' efforts to exegetically support their own position and their attempt to counter those who disagree with them.
Since these two passages often form the cornerstone of some authors' foundational beliefs regarding "mutual sanctification" between wives and husbands, we need to examine each in their full context. This means not only the context before the passage, but the context after it, as well as the whole, systemic message of Scripture, God's Way Home - The Way of His Son - Hypotasso Faith (James 2:1-19).
First, let's look at Ephesians 5:21 in its context. Some authors say that this verse means husbands and wives are to practice "mutual sanctification", including mutual "rebuke". Is that what Eph 5:21 really teaches? Or does that verse, in context, actually serve as a heading to introduce three categories of people who are to be submissive to others in the Body of Christ (wives 5:22; children 6:1; & servants 6:5)? The following quotations are from a chapter by Dr. Wayne Grudem in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Dr. Grudem holds degrees from Harvard, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Cambridge University. He is Associate Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Il.. [Emphasis is added] By using this quote from Dr. Grudem, I do not imply that other authors hold fully to an "egalitarian" view of husbands and wives. All certainly do not, since many boldly and rightly teach that a wife is subject to her husband in rank. However, some use Eph 5:21 to support their view of "mutual sanctification" and "rebuking" is an egalitarian argument that fails to stand in the full light of the context.
(To see Dr. Grudem's full chapter online:
"How do egalitarians avoid the force of Ephesians 5:22, Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord ? Easy: they just look at verse 21, which says, Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Then they say, Of course wives are to be subject to their husbands, but husbands are also to be subject to their wives."
". . . . Of course no one can object to the ideas of mutual considerateness, thoughtfulness, and love! These are clearly taught in the New Testament. But are these ideas what this verse, Ephesians 5:21, really means? I do not think so. In fact, I think that the whole idea of mutual submission as an interpretation of be subject to one another in Ephesians 5:21 is a terribly mistaken idea. It can be advocated only by failing to appreciate the precise meanings of the Greek words for be subject to and one another. Once these terms are understood correctly, I think the idea of mutual submission in marriage will be seen to be a myth without foundation in Scripture at all."
". . . . 1. The meaning of be subject to -
The first reason I think some to others is a better understanding of Ephesians 5:21 is the meaning of the Greek word hypotasso ( be subject to, submit to ). Although some have claimed that the word can mean be thoughtful and considerate; act in love (toward another), there is no hard evidence to show that any first-century Greek speaker would have understood it that way, for the term always implies a relationship of submission to an authority."
". . . . 2. The rest of the context
The mutual submission interpretation also fails to adequately take account of the context. In Ephesians 5:22-24, wives are not told to be subject to everyone else, or to all husbands, or to other wives, or to their neighbors or children, for the Greek text clearly specifies a restriction, Wives, be subject to your own husbands (idiois andrasin). Therefore what Paul has in mind is not a vague kind of mutual submission where everybody is considerate and thoughtful to everybody else, but a specific kind of submission to an authority: the wife is subject to the authority of her own husband.
". . . . 3. The absence of any command for husbands to submit to wives:
There is one more fact that egalitarians cannot explain well when they propose mutual submission as an understanding of this verse. They fail to account for the fact that, while wives are several times in the New Testament told to be subject to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6), the situation is never reversed: husbands are never told to be subject to their wives. Why is this, if Paul wanted to teach mutual submission ?"
". . . . 4. The meaning of one another:
So what reason can people give to argue for the mutual submission interpretation in Ephesians 5:21? Their argument is based on the expression, one another (the Greek pronoun allelous ). Here interpreters say that the pronoun must mean everyone to everyone (that is, that it must be exhaustively reciprocal, which means that it refers to something that every single person does to every single other person). To support this view, they quote a number of verses where allelous does take that sense: we are all to love one another (John 13:34) and be servants of one another (Gal. 5:13). But here is the crucial mistake: interpreters assume that because allelous means everyone to everyone in some verses, it must mean that in all verses. When they assume that, they simply have not done their homework-they have not checked out the way the word is used in many other contexts, where it doesn't mean everyone to everyone, but some to others.
For example, in Revelation 6:4, so that men should slay one another means so that some would kill others (not so that every person would kill every other person, or so that every persons being killed would 'mutually' kill those who were killing them, which would make no sense!). In Galatians 6:2, Bear one another's burdens means not everyone should exchange burdens with everyone else, but some who are more able should help bear the burdens of others who are less able. In 1 Corinthians 11:33, when you come together to eat, wait for one another means some who are ready early should wait for others who are late."
". . . . 5. Conclusion:
What then does one another mean in Ephesians 5:21? It means some to others, not everyone to everyone. The meaning of hypotasso , which always indicates one-directional submission to an authority, prevents the sense everyone to everyone in this verse. And the following context (wives to husbands, children to parents, servants to masters) shows this understanding to be true.
Therefore, it is not mutual submission, but submission to appropriate authorities, which Paul is commanding in Ephesians 5:21. The idea of mutual submission in this passage is just a myth-widely believed, perhaps, but still a myth.
Is this important? Just ask yourself how important the idea of submission to authority is in the New Testament. If hypotasso can be emptied of any idea of submission to authority, the New Testament's ability to speak to our lives will be significantly impeded. This egalitarian misunderstanding of Ephesians 5:21 carries with it a very large price."
As seen from the quotations above, the term "hypotasso" cannot refer to a mutual process of anything. Paul in Eph 5:21-6:9 simply delineates three groups of Christians (wives, children, and servants), whose rank, role, and responsibility require them to reflect Christ through submissive respect. Therefore, neither this verse, nor any other in the entire Bible, teaches a wife to rebuke her husband, saved or unsaved.
Now for 1 Pet 3:1-6. Some authors, even biblically committed ones, say that this passage speaks only about "unbelieving" husbands and how Christian wives should respond to their sin. Yet the full context, especially verse 6 and the example of Sarah and Abraham, shows that the principles apply to both unsaved as well as saved husbands.
1 Pet 3:1, 2, 6 "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. . . . . 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. [Note that both Sarah and Abraham were believers.]
We agree with many authors that the phrase "disobedient to the word" includes unsaved husbands, since that is how that phrase is used in 1 Peter 2. But Peter's use of Sarah and Abraham, an obvious believer, to exemplify the principles of 3:1-5, obviously means that Peter applied the principle of winning without a word, to wives with believing husbands also. Some authors believe that the principles of 1 Pet 3:1-6 refer only to wives of unbelieving husbands. The burden of proof is therefore on them to explain why Peter's sole example is not only a believing husband, but Abraham, a man referred to over and over again in Scripture as a prime example of faith. All believing husbands are at times "disobedient to the word". There is nothing about that phrase, which forces it to always refer to unsaved people.
A closer look at 1 Peter 2 even further deepens our understanding of this principle of not rebuking a person who represents God's delegated hand of authority (1 Pet 5:5-9). Peter in chapter 2 sets the tone and lays the foundation for his message to wives in chapter 3. In 3:1 Peter says, "Likewise, wives, be submissive . . .". The transitional term "likewise" refers back to the example of Jesus in chapter 2, who speaking as the second Adam in the role of the suffering servant of Isa 53, did not rebuke the human authorities who were sinning by seeking to murder Him. This is the way of the Son, hypotasso faith. Jesus entrusted Himself to the One who judges righteously, God His Father. There was no earthly, human authority left for an appeal. One day, however, Jesus will return and (Philip 2), and speak not only as the suffering servant, but as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Our conclusion then, based on the evidence of Scripture, is that the appeal process, not personal rebuke is the proper, biblical way for a person under rank (hypo-tasso) to respond to a sinful authority. Why? The reason is so that outward recognition is given to the God-ordained, delegated position, which that authority carries. That person's position represents God's authority and a submissive person is to respond "as unto the Lord". True submission does not rebuke the position, representing the Lord's hand. Rebuke for that position is reserved for someone of equal rank or above.
This vital principle not only applies to wives, but to every relationship where God has appointed someone to a rank under another. The chain of command, the authoritative "hand of God" (1 Pet 5) comes down from God the Father through His glorified Son, Jesus, and flows on through the secular government officials (Rom 13), church pastoral elders (Heb 13:7, 17), husbands (1 Cor 11; Eph 5; Titus 2), mothers (Prov 29:15), and even the children over the animals. A person under authority is never to obey an immediate authority, if that authority commands something that violates an even higher authority. And when that occurs, the Christ-like response, the Way of the Son, is the biblical process of full appeal, never head to head, personal rebuke.
And see Linda Galloway's testimony: Testimony of an Ex-Feminist
Different Roles, Ranks, Responsibilities
© L.E.A.D. toward restoration & maturity in Christ, for God's glory, when you are in authority:
Why & When to L.E.A.D.? Matthew 20:20 ff. When a Christian is in a position of authority, he or she is to lead as Christ, not the way of the world. If you love and equip, but do not exercise accountability and discipline, your leadership is unbiblical and will fail to honor God, benefit others, and bring you joy. Likewise, if you focus on accountability and discipline, and neglect loving and equipping, then your leadership will fail just the same. And please do not fall for the modern myth of mutual submission. A parent for example is to be loving and kind, but never submit to the children. Jesus submitted to human authorities, because His first coming to the world was not yet as the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. (See the article by Wayne Grudem, Ph.D., on (The Myth of Mutual Submission".)
© F.O.L.L.O.W. your leaders, in order to reveal Christ's character, when you are under authority:
(Who is to follow? Citizens, church members, wives, children, employees, students, etc. . . . .)
- F ear (Eph 5:33; Col 3:22 "phobeo" = respectful, submissive fear, recognizing authority as delegated by God.)
Why & When to F.O.L.L.O.W.? Sadly, some children today have learned by example from their mothers and fathers, the modern motto of "NO RESPECT, NO FEAR, NO RULES". Yet Scripture says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Scripture teaches that all human authorities, yes even unbelieving ones, are in their position because God sovereignly allowed it. They are therefore His delegated authorities to ensure some level of order in this sinful world (Rom 13). We are to honor and fearfully respect all of them as unto the Lord. We are to obey them, unless they command us to violate a higher command. If such a sinful command is given, then we are to humbly and respectfully appeal directly to that sinful authority, and if that does not change the situation, then we can and sometimes must appeal above that sinful authority to higher human authorities. Remember, a person in rank under an authority, is never to "rebuke" that authority, who represents God's hand. The process of appeal is the only biblically, Christ-honoring method of dealing with a sinful authority. (See the articles section for more detailed exposition of these crucial principles)