Acts 21:5,6 - And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.

I heard a Pastor time and again preaching of how Paul submitted to church authority but when we read the book of Acts along with the Epistles we do not read any such thing. Paul was spiritually built in the church of Antioch and the person who was instrument in building him was Barnabas but we see Paul had the same love to all the churches under him and there was a time when he overgrew the one who was his spiritual mentor and rebuked him when he made a grave mistake. The only things Paul submitted was to the Lord and to the mission the Lord had in his life (his Cross).

We as Christians are called to love all mankind but to love like Christ loved only our brethren and not all mankind. Christ humbled Himself and came for all mankind but died for the sins of only those who are His that is why only those who believe in Him are saved. Scriptures does not say all the sins of mankind are forgiven because of Christ's sacrifice, it says those who repent and come to Him, acknowledge as their Lord and Saviour, accepting His sacrifice as a payment for their sins, are forgiven.

Respect and submission are two different things. Respect is a subset of submission. We as Christians are called to submit only to God and His Word. On the other hand we are called to respect our parents, church leaders, elders and all those whom God has put to rule over / administrate over us.

In the Bible during the time of the early Church it was Peter (Simon), John and James (the brother of John) who were the core people who headed the Church, later we read Paul and Barnabas got included in this core group. This group of five were basically for administrative and theological co-ordinations. All the churches worked independently but yet they co-ordinated with each other, and this core group was instrument for this; that is why we see Paul moved around and so also did the others (for Acts records there was a time when Peter who usually was stationed in Jerusalem for he was commissioned by the Holy Spirit to minister to the Jewish Christians, was not there in Jerusalem).

Paul was a no nonsense person who was very stern in his ways. He never held back when it came to rebuke anybody, even his own core group members, but he did show a lot of patience at the same time.

In today's message we read Paul was on his third and last tour visiting the churches he was instrument in building. Many of the churches he visited tried to persuade Paul to not go to Jerusalem for they knew in spirit that Paul would be arrested there and that would lead to his death. But we see Paul did not oblige them but was very firm of doing the mission the Lord had put in his life. He respected the Christian church leaders as well as the Jewish church leaders and the worldly rulers but did not abide to their every word.

Submission is total surrender and respect is submitting after discerning. When we know it is God's Word we submit even though we may not have the full understanding of it, for Bible says it is after we submit we will have its understanding and thus know the Truth and then the Truth shall set us free. But when the people we respect speak we discern their words and see if they do not lead us away from God and does not harm any person in any way, then only we submit to them.

Let us learn from Paul to be bold, to whom we submit and whom we respect.

[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, the center scripture of your Word says (Ps 118:8) 'It is better to seek refuge in the LORD than to put trust in man'. Lord, we pray your people do not blindly follow man just because they claim to represent You. That they discern every word that comes from man and know if it is your Word or it is their flesh that speaks. Lord, we pray they learn whom to submit to and who to respect and when to say YES and when to say NO...

This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.

[ Reference ]
Psalms 118:8 - It is better to trust [seek refuge <02620>] in the LORD than to put confidence [trust <0982>] in man.

John 8:31-32
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Acts 4:5-33

Galatians 2:11 - But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

Acts 9:26-27
26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Acts 11:22-26
22 Then tidings of these things came to the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would hold to the Lord.
24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added to the Lord.
25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 15:37-40
37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.
39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus;
40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brothers to the grace of God.

Luke 18:20 - You know the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor [revere] your father and your mother.

Ephesians 6:1-4
1 Children, OBEY your PARENTS IN THE LORD: for this is right.
2 Honor [revere] your father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3 That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.
4 And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

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