Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


(1)The midwives and the mother of Moses disobeyed the order of Pharaoh so that the life of Moses could be preserved. The Bible calls them women of faith.

(2)The three friends of Daniel did not worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar. They disobeyed the order of the king, yet they submitted to the king’s burning.

(3)Daniel defied the decree in order to pray to God, yet he submitted to the king’s judgment to be thrown into the lion’s den.

(4)Joseph escaped with the Lord Jesus to Egypt to avoid the killing by King Herod.

(5)Peter went contrary to the charge of those in the synagogue and preached the gospel. He also said that it was right to obey God rather than men. Yet he submitted to the rulers’ chains and imprisonment.


How do we know if a person is one who submits to authority? Here are a few marks:

(1)As soon as a person meets authority, he will look for authority everywhere. The church is the organ for the training of Christian submission to authority. In the whole world there is no such thing as submission. But a Christian must learn submission. He must, moreover, submit from the heart, not just in an outward way. Once a person learns submission, he will look for authority wherever he goes.

(2)Once a man meets God’s authority, he will soften, wither, and weaken. This is because he has become fearful of making mistakes; he is a truly soft person.

(3)Those who have met authority will not like to be the authority. They will have no desire or interest to be an authority. They have no joy in giving opinions or in controlling others. Those who submit to authority are always afraid of making mistakes. But many love to be God’s counselors. Only those who do not know authority love to be the authority.

(4)Those who have met authority will have their mouths shut. They will be restricted. They will not dare to speak carelessly, because they have the consciousness of authority with them.

(5)If a man has met authority, any transgression in others will be detected by him immediately. He will see through many lawlessnesses and realize many rebellions. He will then come to know that the principle of lawlessness abounds everywhere, in the world as well as in the church. Only those who have met authority can lead others to learn submission. Only when the brothers and sisters are submissive to authority will the church have a testimony and a way on earth.


If a man has not met authority and does not know the principle of submission to authority, he cannot bring others into the way of submission and authority. If you put two dogs together, you cannot make one the authority and make the other submit to authority. This is useless. If a man meets authority, everything is solved. Once he violates authority, he will realize that he has violated God. If a man has not seen authority, it is useless to point out his mistakes. When such a situation occurs, we have to withdraw and take care lest we fall into the same realm of rebellion.


It was right for Martin Luther to rise up to speak for the basic principle of justification by faith. It is also right for us to leave the denominations to stand as the testimony of oneness in the local church. Since we have seen the glory of Christ and the Body of Christ, we cannot have any other name apart from the name of the Lord. The Lord’s name is of foremost importance. Why is salvation not only through the blood of Christ but also through the name of the Lord? This is because the Lord’s name means resurrection and ascension. God has only one way of salvation, and He has placed this under the name of the Lord. In baptism we are baptized into the name of the Lord, and our meeting together is in the name of the Lord. Therefore, the cross and the blood alone cannot solve the problem of denominations. If a man sees the glory of ascension, he cannot insist on any name other than that of the Lord’s. We can only exalt the Lord’s name. There cannot be any other name. Today’s denominational organizations are overthrowing the Lord’s glory. This is a blasphemy to the Lord.


The church is maintained by two things: life and authority. The life is for us to submit to authority. The difficulties in the church seldom arise from disobedience. They mainly arise from an unwillingness to submit. The principle of our life is that of submission, in the same way that the principle of the bird life is to fly in the air, and the principle of the fish life is to swim in the water.

The way of oneness in Ephesians 4 seems far off now. But if men meet authority, the way is not far away. All of the saints may have differences of opinion, but there is no rebellion. The submission is from the heart. Then we will all arrive at the oneness of the faith. Today the life is here, and the principle of life is also opened to us. If the Lord is merciful to us, we will be able to take up this way quickly. Today life is not only for us to deal with sin. That is only the negative aspect. Life is also for submission. This is more crucial, and is the positive aspect of it. Once the spirit of rebellion departs from us, the spirit of submission will be recovered, and the situation in Ephesians 4 will be manifested before our eyes. If all the churches take the way of submission, these glorious facts will unfold before our eyes.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)