Quick Facts

  • Pronunciation: hü-pā’-ko-os
  • Strongs Concordance: #G5255
    • Giving ear, obedient
  • Appears 3 times in 3 verses in the Greek concordance of the
  • Common translations:
    • obedient (3x)

Where and how hypēkoos is used in the New Testament

  1. Acts 7:39 – To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
  2. 2 Corinthians 2:9 – For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
  3. Philippians 2:8 – And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

My observations and perspective

This word does not appear very often. Three times to be exact. In each instance, it is translated obedience. In the first instance of hypēkoos, the obedience is in regard to the ancestors of the Jews obeying Moses.

Another of the three references is regarding Christ obeying His Father’s instructions and will for him – even death on a cross.

The remaining instance refers to the obedience to prior instructions that had been given to the church at Corinth regarding once-errant brothers whom have since repented.

This instruction could not be fairly attributed to Paul’s own authority. The instructions were to forgive a repentant brother. Forgiveness is Christ’s command, not Paul’s (Matt. 18:22).  Paul may have spoken authoritatively, but those would have been the words of Christ, which bear their own authority.

Saints should obey scriptural exhortations given to them by their leaders. Meaning, when the Word of God is aptly spoken regarding a situation, such admonishment should be taken to heart. The one speaking such hasn’t their own authority, however the scriptures themselves do!

This is also true of scriptural exhortations given by any of the saints – not only leaders. Nowhere in scripture is it taught that leaders have more ability nor an extra measure of authority to exhort or admonish from the Scriptures.

This is not done because of the power or authority of the leader, but the power and authority of the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

Consider this modern and personal example: Suppose my wife and I were to go out for an evening. Before leaving, I instruct our children; “do no watch television while we’re gone”. Now suppose while we’re out, that one of the children decides to turn on the television. Upon seeing such, one of the siblings, perhaps even a younger sibling, exclaims “you need to turn the t.v. off, we’re not to watch it while mom and dad are out!”. The child would be speaking the authority of the word of me as parent, despite not being commissioned with any authority over one another.

So it appears to be within the church. We do not have authority or power of our own over one another. We only have the power and authority of the word. It accomplishes what God sets forth for it to do.

When considering this, one must bear in mind that these same leaders who were charging the local church also charged them “test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Never does a saint appear to have an obligation of obedience to a role or office of the local church. If the one in the role or office is communicating the Word of God, it should be received – because it is the Word of God and God should be obeyed. Therefore, it’s extremely important to know what is, and what is not, the Word of God.

It is not up to us, nor a church leader to enforce such reception of truth. The verse below could demonstrates this:

“For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you,” – 1 Thessalonians 4:2,8

In summary, once again we can find no justification for insisting that a saint obey the commandment of a church leader, unless the charge spoken is the commandment of scripture, and only insomuch as that scripture is used appropriately. 

Since no scripture is private interpretation, church leaders are not free to manipulate the Word of God in order to achieve obedience to their personal desires, vision, etc. 

Like the examples reviewed, church leaders should trust the indwelling presence of Christ in the saint to produce the spiritual fruit.

“Anyone who in discussion
relies upon authority
uses, not his understanding,
but rather his memory.”

– Leonardo DeVinci


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