Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


Today God has made everything ready. The Body and the Head already have the same life and nature. Therefore, submission is very spontaneous, while not being submissive is rather strange. For example, if the hand is raised up according to the desire of the head, there is nothing strange about it. But if the hand cannot move, then it is a strange thing. Perhaps the hand is sick. The Spirit of life that God gave to us is the same as that which is in the Lord. The life and the nature that He gave us is likewise the same as that in the Lord. Here again there is no possibility of disharmony and disobedience. Some of our bodily movements are conscious, while others are unconscious. The oneness of the body with the head does not depend only on a conscious submission, but on an unconscious submission. It is like breathing. There can be conscious deep breathing or there can be unconscious and spontaneous ordinary breathing. This is like the heart which beats without consciousness. There is no need to give it an order; it keeps on beating by itself. This is submission in life. For the body to submit to the head, there is no noise, no imposition, and no friction. Everything is in harmony. It is not enough for some to just submit to commands. In the commands is the will, and in the will is the law of life. Only when one submits to the law of life is his submission perfect. If the submission is not like that of the body submitting to the head, it is not called submission. The submission of some is with such reluctance that it cannot be considered as submission.

The Lord has put us into the Body. Here the union is perfect and the submission is perfect. It is a wonder that even the mind of the Holy Spirit can be guided by the members. There is no possibility of separating two members from the other to make them distinct wholes. A harmony spontaneously exists between the members. There is no need to even think about this submission. Its harmony is beyond the description of human words, and its submission to authority is the most perfect that can be found. For this reason we cannot be a sick member, one that makes noise and causes friction. We are living in the operation of God’s authority; there should be a very spontaneous submission. The church is not only the place of fellowship for the brothers and sisters; it is also the place for the manifestation of authority.


The authority in the Body is sometimes not manifested directly, but indirectly. Not only does the body submit to the head; its members submit to and help one another also. The left and the right hands do not have direct fellowship with each other. The head moves the right hand, and the head moves the left hand. The left hand does not control the right hand, nor the right hand the left. The hand does not order the eyes to see. It only informs the head. The head then directs the eyes to see. No matter how far the members are from the head, their relationship with the head is the same, and all their works relate back to the head. If my eyes see, my hands work, or my feet move, then I say that I see, I work, or I move. Hence, many times the decision of the members is the decision of the head. The authority of the members is the authority of the head. The hand cannot see by itself; it needs the decision of the eyes. It is wrong for the hand either to ask the head to see or to ask itself to see. Both are impossible. But this is often the problem with God’s children. Hence, we must take other members as the deputy authority of the Head. The function of the hand is just that of a hand, the function of the foot is only that of a foot, and the function of the eyes is only that of the eyes. We must accept others’ function as our function. We cannot reject the function of the members. If the foot rejects the hand, it is rejecting the head. Consequently, when we accept the authority of the members, we are accepting the authority of the Head. Every member is my authority in fellowship. Although the function of the hand is great, it has to accept the function of the foot in the matter of walking. The hand cannot feel color; it needs the authority of the eyes. The function of the members is the authority of the members.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)