On Differentiating Between Obedience and Submission in Colossians 3

A recent interaction with complementarians has made notice a distinction they make between obedience by children and submission by wives in Colossians 3:9-4:1 and Ephesians 5:21-6:9. The distinction seems to be that parents are authority over children while wives, though submissive, are equal to husbands. This proves problematic for two reasons.

1) Submission for wives is used elsewhere to describe other relationships, even for children. This is probably the result multiple factors, but the results is that the word we sometimes translate as submission here is translated in other ways elsewhere. A word search for the uses of this word would show that, but one great passage is 1 Corinthians 15:28, which makes this a word of subjugation.

2) The rhetoric does not allow this interpretation to fit. This includes the use of Ephesians 5 to help translate this passage since the same word is used for submission. It is used for wives, but before it is used for wives, it is used for all people in the Church, meaning that all the people mentioned in the list (sidenote: the slaves and masters are included in this list) are all in submission to each other. This is not literally said in Colossians 3:9-17. Although the list for the household code itself is longer in Ephesians than the Colossians version, the description of the nature of submission is longer in Colossians.

I hope this helps further the understanding of these passages.

The use of greek in this post comes from the GNT (Greek New Testament)  and the BDAG Greek-English Lexicon.

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