Distinctive Doctrines (04) - Headship and Authority
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 - For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
Ephesians 5:20–32 - [Give] thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word . . .
Ephesians 6:1–4 - 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
The Biblical Concept of Headship - In the Bible the concept of “headship” is pervasive. For example, from the very first mention of the promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15 (the “protoevangelium”) we have the thought that Christ will crush the “head” of the serpent, Satan. This passage is actually the first use of the term “head.” But then throughout the text we have references to the representative and symbolic aspects of “head.” Leviticus 1:4 and many other texts give the example of the worshiper who “shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” The animal’s head becomes the focal point of the transfer of guilt. In Numbers 1:4, we find the concept in the family, “head of his father’s household.” In Joshua there is a more explicit development of the headship-related idea of responsibility: “his blood shall be on his own head . . . but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him” (Josh. 2:19). Christ repeatedly is referred to as the “Head” (Greek: kephale) of the Church (Col. 1:18, 2:10).
The Biblical Application of Headship in Marriage and Parenting - It is paralleled in the world of marriage and family (1 Cor. 11:3): “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” Ephesians 5:23 - “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church.” Headship arises from the creation account of the first marriage (Adam and Eve). Adam was created first, then is given the prohibition against eating of the Tree of Knowledge, later to lead Eve in this obedience. Adam is then charged with dominion, naming the animals. Further the fall is through “one man’s sin.” This all demonstrates the primacy of Adam and his headship over his wife as part of the creational order (not as a result of the fall). Because of this the husband’s headship, father’s (specifically) must accept responsibility for rearing children. In Eph.. 6, the change from “parents” (goneis, 6:1) to “fathers” (pateres, 6:4) is significant. It is the father’s role to administer discipline and nurture the child in spiritual things. Christian discipline (paideia) and instruction (nouthesia) are the father’s responsibility. Thus, Fathers are to raise their children in faithfulness and the key insight Paul provides is not to provoke our children to anger and “not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3:21). Ways to cause your children to lose heart: disunity between husband and wife (displaying a lack of proper headship/leadership), hypocrisy of parents (requiring of others what they don’t require in themselves), a lack of approval/love of our children, unreasonable demands of perfection, harsh or severe discipline unequal to the “crime,” pettiness, arbitrariness, unfairness, favoritism, nagging, and insensitivity to real and perceived needs.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more