What is Godly Submission?

What is Godly Submission? March 20, 2024

As most of you know, I created an online training for authors (aspiring & accomplished) called SCRIBE. One of the many bonuses of the training is a free interview with the author on their next book right here on the Patheos blog. Ralph Good is one such author.

I caught up with Ralph recently to discuss his new book What is GODLY Submission?

Enjoy the interview.

What provoked you to write this book?

I experienced the devastation caused by submitting to the improper use of authority in the church that has destroyed so many lives. I turned to Scripture to find answers. I found that the apostles Peter and Paul, whom God inspired to write the scriptures that instructed the church to submit to authority (Romans 13:1–2, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13–15). They were both arrested, condemned, publicly beaten, and imprisoned, even stoned and left for dead (Paul) on different occasions for refusing to submit to the authorities they claimed God established. (Acts 5:18, Acts 12, and Acts 16:23–26).

So what are we to do about submission to authority? When the apostles themselves, Peter and Paul, who wrote the scriptures on the matter, by example, did not submit and were arrested, condemned, publicly beaten, and imprisoned by the authorities.

What is Godly Submission? Explores why they refused to submit, giving detailed explanations on biblical-based authority. Moreover, explains when and/or why not we submit to authorities who come in Christ’s name.

Most readers want to know the answer to this question when they consider buying the book – what’s in it for me? Why do I want to spend the money and time on buying your book? What am I going to get out of it? Please answer this question.

Submission is a swear word to many abused by improper use of authority in Christ’s church. And rightly so! I know. I have been there. I found it is not submission that is the actual problem. Submission to Christ’s teaching brings us the blessed life He died on the cross to give us. However, submitting to improper use of authority causes hurt, pain, and devastation.

Submitting to well-meaning people who come in Christ’s name, who are clueless about God’s intended purpose for authority, unknowingly destroys so many innocent lives who come to church seeking a relationship with God. That must stop. It is not the will of God. I stand against it! Please stand with me!

What is Godly Submission? Examines how to identify authorities who follow the will of God, who help us mature in our faith. Moreover, it exposes how to identify the well-meaning false apostles, prophets, and teachers who come in Christ’s name and will separate us from God to follow them. To which, if we submit, will destroy our lives?

Share 3 “aha” moments that struck you the most when you were doing research for your book.

We need to know what biblical authority is before we can submit to it, less Satan deceives us. To benefit from submitting to biblical authority, we need to understand God’s intended purpose for authority, so Satan cannot use a “false expression” of authority to destroy us. In my quest to understand these questions, I searched the scriptures. I found the following about authority:

King James Version

The word authority (ies) appears 36 times in 33 verses. It translates from seven Greek words. 

New King James Version

The word authority (ies) appears 73 times in 67 verses. It translates from 12 Greek words. 

New Living Translation

The word authority (ies) appears 126 times in 113 verses. The New Living Translation of the Bible adds the word authority in many verses where the word authority does not appear in other translations (as does the New International Version). Therefore, it is impossible to determine from which Greek word “authority” translates. 

Greek words in the New Testament from which authority translates

Exousia G1849 29 times 53 times
Katexousiazo G2715 2 times 2 times
Exousiazo G1850 1 time 3 times
Dunastes G1413 1 time 1 time
Huperuche G5247 1 time 1 time
Authenteo G831


1 time

1 time

1 time

1 time

Emautou/emauto/emauton G1683   3 times
Heautou G1438   2 times
Archon G758   1 time
Dunatos G1415   1 time
Kuriotes G2963   2 times


ExousiaG1849 is the Greek word most often translated as authority. It appears 103 times in 93 verses and translates into these English words:

Authority (ies) 29 times 53 times
Power (s) 69 times 38 times
Right (s) 2 times 8 times
Liberty 1 time 1 time
Jurisdiction 1 time 1 time
Strength 1 time
Control 1 time


ExousiaG1849 defines, expresses, and identifies the power, authority, and rights of: 


(Luke 12:5, John 19:11, Acts 1:7, Rom. 9:21, Jude 1:25, Rev. 16:9) 

Jesus Christ

(Matt. 7:29, Matt. 9:6, Matt 9:8, Matt 28:18, Mark 1:22, Mark 1:27, Mark 2:10, Luke 4:32, Luke 4:36, Luke 5:24, John 5:27, John 10:18, John 17:2, 1 Corin. 15:24, Eph. 1:21, Col. 1:16, Rev. 12:10) 


(Acts 8:19, 1 Corin. 9:4–6, 1 Corin. 9:12, 1 Corin. 9:18, 2 Corin. 10:8, 2 Corin. 13:10, 2 Thess. 3:9, Heb. 13:10) 


(Matt. 10:1, Mark 3:15, Mark 6:7, Luke 9:1, Luke 10:19) 


(John 1:12, Mark 13:34, Luke 19:17, Acts 5:4, 1 Corin. 7:37, 1 Corin. 8:9, 1 Corin. 11:10, Col. 2:10, Rev. 2:26, Rev. 20:6, Rev. 22:14) 


(Rev. 14:18, Rev. 18:1) 

Civil Governments

(Luke 12:11, 20:20, Rom. 13:1–3, Eph. 3:10, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 3:22, Luke 23:7, John 19:10, Matt. 8:9, Luke 7:8) 

Religious Governments

(Matt. 21:23–24, Matt. 21:27, Mark 11:28–29, Mark 11:33, Luke 20:2, Luke 20:8, Acts 9:14, Acts 26:10, Acts 26:12)

Satan and the Devil

(Luke 4:6, Acts 26:18, Eph. 2:2)

The Kingdom and Power of Darkness

(Luke 22:53, Eph. 6:12, Col. 1:13, Col. 2:15)

The Beast and Dragon

(Rev. 13:2, Rev 13:4–5, Rev. 13:7, Rev. 13:12, Rev. 17:12–13)

Pale Horse, Scorpions, Serpents

(Rev. 6:8 Rev. 9:3, Rev. 9:10, Rev. 9:19)

What a shocking revelation! The Greek word “exousiaG1849is most often translated as “authority,” defining the power and authority of God’s kingdom. According to my calculations, it also establishes the power and authority of Satan’s kingdom about 20% of the time.

How do we define the differences between the power and authority of these two kingdoms, as the same Greek word in Scripture defines them both?

If we cannot define the differences between these two kingdoms, how do we know which power and authority we are using or submitting to?

What is Godly Submission? Examines the words Jesus used to define the differences between the power and authority of these two kingdoms. 

For those who don’t read too many books, give us a two or three paragraph summary of the key points you make in the book.

Jesus taught us that the most important thing to do in life is to keep God first in all we do. What is Godly Submission? Discusses what it means to keep God first. This knowledge helps us to choose to walk with God through His Son, Jesus, enabling us to have the power and authority to live the life He wants for us.

Yes, God has given us the freedom to choose. Life! Or death! It is our choice!

What is Godly Submission? Dispels the lies Satan introduced into the church about submission that has and is destroying many lives, causing people to reject the good life God has for them: Thus, causing unwanted misery and death to the hopes and dreams of many believers.

I hope that by helping you understand what Godly submission is and what God intended by submission to the proper use of authority is, you will choose life! Jesus came to give us life! He is not the author of the hurt and pain from submission to improper use of authority, which leads to death!

“Submission” has been a hot-button word among Christians for years. For instance, some husbands have brow-beaten their wives into controlling them based on a verse in Ephesians that commands wives to “submit” to their husbands. Also, the entire Discipleship Movement of the 1970s was based on the idea that a Christian must submit to his/her leaders, which meant in that movement, domination and control. Scores of people were hurt by such abuse of authority. How does your view of submission avoid the pitfalls of these two examples, and how does your book prevent people from abusing other Christians and from being abused by them?

What is Godly Submission? It is a direct response, exposes the lies about submission of the Discipleship Movement and other movements, and teaches people how to avoid it. I was a victim of it!

I was in my early twenties when I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus in 1980. I had an eighth-grade education and no knowledge of the bible. I was raised as a pacifist in the Old Order Mennonite Tradition. My father, a farmer and businessman, became bitter and abusive after being rejected by the church because he purchased a vehicle to better provide for his growing family. He had 11 children in all. He never attended church again for the rest of his life. As a result, we became an isolated family.

After eighth grade, he had me quit school to work on the farm and his businesses, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. At seventeen, I could not take it anymore and ran away from home with my ten-speed, a box of clothes, an eight-track, a couple of tapes, and a twenty-dollar bill.

Five years later, I was a hard rock/metal band bassist. Unbeknown to me, the lead singer was a Satanist. During practice, as we played Running with the Devil, I became aware of this very evil presence in the room. I got scared and didn’t know what to do. I got drunk that Saturday and crawled to the room I was renting above the bar. As I fell on my bed, I cried, “Somebody help me”.

When I woke up the following day, Jesus stood beside my bed holding His hand to me. That began my journey, sometimes very hard but always rewarding, as Jesus never left me despite my shortcomings.

As I got involved in church, their big emphasis was submission to authority, for God established them (Romans 13:1–2). Resisting them would bring God’s judgment. Wanting to do the will of God and not face His judgment, I submitted to those who came in His name.

The more I submitted, the less victory I had over the sin in my life. I did not understand. I thought I was doing the will of God by submitting to authority in the church, as Romans 13 said. I became more and more frustrated and oppressed as I no longer experienced the power, authority, and freedom I had when I first came to Christ.

My life was being dictated and controlled by an elder and deacon of the church who was also my employer. After a severe confrontation about the control they were asserting over my life, they refused to hear me and condemned me for not submitting to their authority. The elder knew what he was doing and repeatedly claimed, “Someday, you will thank me.”

Rather than giving in/submitting my life to being dominated by someone in a position of authority, who did not respect what Jesus did for me on the cross. I picked up a large bottle of over-the-counter painkillers and put some in my mouth. As I tried to swallow, an invisible hand reached around from behind and held my throat, preventing me from swallowing. I was so emotionally exhausted I fell to the floor and passed out.

I got up about a day and a half later, quit my job, and left the church. I was so confused; I did not know who I was anymore. My employer, the deacon tried to force me to return to work for him, where I had a supervisor’s job. I found out years later during counseling I could have put him in federal prison for violating labor laws.

A friend who left the church before me contacted me, concerned about how I was doing: as we talked, he said he was part of a group of over twenty church members, some of whom were leaders, who confronted the senior pastor about this elder controlling people. The senior pastor refused to hear anything negative said about the leader of the church or do anything about the actions of his high school friend. His actions revealed leaders will not be held accountable for maintaining the biblical qualifications in Scripture for those in authority.

I was distraught. People knew and spoke up about the abuse of authority, but the powers in the church, who expected everyone to submit to them, did not care about the people’s well-being. They only cared about you submitting to their authority, their vision.

It had been about two years since I had left the church. I decided it was best to follow Scripture and confront those who offended me. After calling the senior pastor every two weeks for several months, He agreed to give me ten minutes with him and the elder.

After confronting the elder about controlling me, he admitted he was controlling me. The senior pastor spoke next saying, “I am seeing things that are just not there!” I could not believe my ears! What a liar! The elder just admitted to controlling me. Then the man leading the church implies, “It never happen!”

As I left, I was so angry. I made a promise to God, the church, and myself: Someday, I will shout from the rooftops about the abuse of authority that nearly cost me my life!

That day has come.

I spend years studying Scripture to find answers as to why this happens and solutions to avoid becoming victims of such authorities in the church. What is Godly Submission? Explains my findings in detail.

The simple answer is: The godliest form of submission we will ever do is submitting the task of keeping God first in our lives in all we do! Anybody who leads us to violate that task, regardless of their place in life, is doing the very same thing Satan did to Adam and Eve!

What else would you like readers to know about your book?

I did not set out to be an author. My love for God and concern for the well-being of the people in His church compelled me to write about my findings in Scripture about authority and submission. Submission is not the problem. It is what or whom we submit to that can become a problem. Yes, it can be a severe, painful, spiritually, life-threatening problem. As Adam and Eve submitted to Satan’s lies, it brought them spiritual death. The same can happen to us if we submit, even unknowingly, to Satan’s servants who come masquerading as a servant of God.

What is Godly Submission? helps you to understand to whom and what we submit and why; on the other hand, why and when we biblically refuse to submit. Remember, Peter and Paul, whom God used to write the scriptures about submission to authority in the church. They were arrested, condemned, publicly beaten, and imprisoned for refusing to submit to the authorities who held an office of authority, which God Himself established through Moses.

What is Godly Submission? Explains why.

"Thanks for sharing this!"

Eric Clapton on Jesus
"Thank you Frank and Team! ~ Gordie"

The Truth Booth Podcast
"The insights Kenneth Bailey brings in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes is just amazing, almost ..."

Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies ..."
"I am surprised there are no comments about the Thompson Chain. I purchased my first ..."

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible

Browse Our Archives