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Sermon Notes

Main Idea:

Every family in the world is imperfect. But our imperfection should not keep us from pursuing God’s best.

Important Insight:

The patriarchal society of First Century Rome held little value for women and children. In terms of the Empire, all power was held by one man- the Caesar. Inside the Greco/Roman home we see a similar pattern. The father was a mini emperor over his estate and this included the lives of his wife, children, servants and property. In most cases, the father could end the life of anyone in his household and not face charges.

In the middle of this unjust system, the First Century Church fostered a new way for families to relate to one another. The Apostle Paul highlights this approach by using a word that is often misunderstood; the word “submit”. Today, Pastor Rusty will clarify what this term actually means and help us apply this wisdom to our families today.

First Century Roman Hierarchy

  • Caesar
  • Ruling class
  • Then the masses (Artist, Workers, Farmers, etc)

The First Century Church’s Pattern

  • Christ loved us by given himself away
  • We receive that love
  • We pass it on to others

Key Concept:

In Rome, everyone lived or died by the power of Caesar.

In Christ, we have the power to live because he died for everyone.

  1. Paul gives a broad-based command to everyone in the church (Eph 5:1)
    • What are we to do: Imitate God
    • How are we to do that: By living in love
    • To What Extent do we follow this: As Christ did by giving himself up

Key Question:

Is everyone in the church called to love others?

2. Paul then defines this sacrificial love in a certain way (5:21-22)

  • What the word submit does not mean:
    • Less valuable/important
    • Worthy of punishment/humiliation
    • Without autonomy
    • Obedience against one’s will
  • What submit (ὑποτάσσω, hupotássō) does mean:
    • In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and/or carrying a burden”.
    • Submission to one another is not for each other- but for Christ
  • Submission to one another is not for each other- but for Christ
    • Wives- “…as to the Lord…”
    • Husbands love your wives by “…giving yourself away…” (παραδίδωμι, paradídōmi), to place yourself into someone else’s hands, to surrender
    • Paul alludes to this reciprocal nature elsewhere:
      • 1 Cor 7:4

Key Question:

Does everyone need to submit?

Big Idea:

You can’t maximize your family relationships if you maximize your personal freedoms. Paul then addresses headship (5:23-24)

  • Everyone loves. Everyone submits. (and most of life should happen here)
  • But one must direct.

3. Paul then addresses headship (5:23-24)

  • Everyone loves. Everyone submits. (and most of life should happen here)
  • But one must direct.


List the people in your family. 

Here’s how I can help meet a practical need (love)

Here’s the personal freedom that I can give up (submit)

Discussion Questions


  1. Pastor Rusty shared the Roman hierarchy of the first century with had Caesar at the top, next the ruling class and finally the masses. The first century church had a different focus: how Christ loved the church, how the church received that love, and how the church passed it to others. Which is easier for you; focusing on your right to tell others what to do, or focusing on demonstrating God’s love to others?
  2. In Ephesians 5:1 Paul tells us we are to imitate Christ. In the next verse he tells us we can do that, by living a life of love. Why is that so challenging for each of us?
  3. Ephesians 5:2 reminds us that we’re to “live a life of love.” We do that by imitating God. What might “imitating God” look like in your own life?
  4. Pastor Rusty reminds us that Christ demonstrated how we are to live by giving Himself up for us. What does Christ sacrificial life and death mean to you?
  5. A key question we need to consider is whether each of us is called to love others? How would you answer that question? Why did you answer as you did?
  6. Pastor Rusty says the word “submit” doesn’t mean someone: 1) who submits is less valuable, 2) deserves punishment or humiliation, 3) is without autonomy, 4) is obedient against their own will. He says it is “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, and or carrying a burden.” How is this definition, at odds with how most people view the concept of submission?
  7. Pastor Rusty points out that submission means: 1) wives submit to the Lord, 2) husbands give themselves away, or surrender to God. 3) submission is reciprocal in nature, IE both husbands and wives are called to submit. This is alluded to in Ephesians 1:21 and 1 Corinthians 7:4. For those who are married, how does God want this to play out in your marriage? Does this mean no one directs or leads?


  • Make a list of each immediate family member and ask yourself what practical needs each one has which God is calling you to meet through your love for them.
  • Think through your immediate family members again and make it a point to pray for each of them by name every day this week. Pray for God to meet their needs and help them be all He wants them to become.
  • What personal freedom will you give up, or what sacrifice will you make (submission) that can help each family member reach their spiritual potential?
  • Each day this week ask God to help you be the family member you need to be.