Church Authority · Doctrinal · Pastors

Christian Accountability – Obey

What is Christian Accountability & Is a Christian


Accountable to Church Leadership?

The Christian life is a life of submission and obedience to the Lord Jesus.

This post will address the first word in our word matrix.


The central word of the gospel when it comes to the claims of Christ.  In a very real sense, Christian accountability is ultimately to Christ, and is the bedrock of all Christian accountability.  But the issue is whether this accountability is transferred to church leaders, and if so, what does it look like?

Lets review the passage and then discuss.

Hebrews 13
7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Following is a matrix of words that need to be considered in understanding the teaching of Hebrews 13, especially verse 17. (See end of study for Strong’s full definitions.)

OBEY (peítho)
A cursory glance through Strong’s definitions reveals that the prevalent meaning of peítho is not obey.

It seems the prevalent meaning is “to persuade” or “to be persuaded” As a matter of fact, if the three verses in Hebrews 13 were translated “to be persuaded”, the concept of obedience (in opposition to persuasion) in relation to this Greek word would disappear from the New Testament.

To be persuaded is a completely different concept than that of to simply obey!  Of course the end result may “look” similar, (that of a believer conforming to the character of Christ) but I am thinking the method of achieving this end result is what is of concern to the Lord.

When someone brings to my attention a careful argument against some thinking that is predominant in my life, and is seeking to persuade me through the scriptures, I am (hopefully) more apt to accept the correction or rebuke.

When someone demands conformance due to his position in a organization, something inside me tends to ask “Why?” My sinful nature? I don’t know, but I don’t find much justification (in the Bible) for obedience to a mans demands simply due to his position within an organization.

Please understand. I am not advocating “lone wolf” Christianity, or a spirit of removal from the family of God.

What I am advocating is acknowledging responsibility for one’s belief, and therefore your action’s before God.

(Hopefully we will address this issue in a later post!)

A long time ago, Moses wrote concerning prophets and their authority over His people.

Deuteronomy 13

1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Here we have Moses advocating a discerning spirit that stands up to “prophets” within the church, prophets with supernatural powers that seem to have authority in their “ministry”.

Did Moses advocate obeying these prophets?

Verse 5 seems to say they should “kill em”.

These prophets were in a position of seeming authority with all this wonder-working power. But the message these prophets were preaching was one of drawing the people away from God. The people of God needed to love God enough to reject these evil, self promoting men.

Teach me, persuade me of the scriptures.  Human authority is only human authority.

Story time.

A long time ago (not as long as Moses story!), I was a newly married fella, with a job delivering papers. (over 400 each night!) I would usually start around 2 in the morning and be finished around 6.
One beautiful morning, around 5, I was delivering to Georges home. Now George is a fine christian man, one that I respected and listened to. He was awake and he invited me in for a wee drink. I asked him a Bible question and he took me to the scriptures, explaining where I was lacking in my understanding. This fella had a degree in Bible something, but he never referred to his ability to understand the Word, or his awesome knowledge base that I should respect. He showed me the Scriptures. And usually I was persuaded.
Thanks George.

We will address “RULE”  in the next post.  Please return to “Considering the Bible” with me.

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