By Spencer D Gear
Is it wrong to say that a Christian should ‘surrender to God? I met a fellow online who seemed to want to stir up the folks. He wrote:
I see you have not heeded The Spirit’s call for you to speak with integrity and honesty. No NT Scripture ever speaks of “surrendering to God.” It is the same manner in which no Scripture ever speaks of “Giving our heart to Jesus.”
“Surrender” and “giving” one’s self are forms of Paganism. Jesus is the only qualified offering to be placed upon the Alter which The Father uses.
I need not test you. I need only compare your ideas and words to the standard of Scripture, God’s Plumbline. Lol.
Is that accurate or not? Does the Bible not speak of surrendering to God? I checked this out with the Greek of James 4:7 and responded to him.
He uses something stronger than surrender
The New Testament uses an even stronger term than ‘surrender’ as in James 4:7, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (ESV).
‘Submit’ is the aorist, middle-passive imperative of hupotassw. Hupotassw is an old verb that is also a military term that means ‘to range under’ (Robertson 1933:52) or as a middle-passive verb here, ‘subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey’ (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:855).
This fellow wanted to quibble over ‘surrender’ not being in the Bible, but I pointed out to him that hupotassw is a much stronger term with its command to subordinate himself or be subordinated to God Himself.
Therefore, submitting to God, being subject to him, and obeying him are not forms of paganism, but are a requirement of all true believers in Christ.
In James 4:7-10, there are 10 aorist tense imperative verbs (commands). These are (according to the ESV): submit, resist, draw near, cleanse, purify, be wretched, mourn, weep, let … be turned, and humble yourselves. Desmond Hiebert’s commentary gets to the heart of the meaning of these commands:
They constitute an urgent call to repentance, to correct their blameworthy position before God. These imperatives, like curt military commands, demand incisive action. They reflect the seriousness with which James viewed their double-mindedness…. “Be subject to God” as an aorist imperative conveys a sense of urgency, demanding immediate compliance. The compound verb (hupotagete), consisting of the preposition hupo, “under,” and tassw, “to order, place, station,” demands that they accept their proper station under God as their captain. The passive [voice] is to be understood in the sense of the middle [voice], calling for their voluntary subordination to God and His will. God does not want forced obedience. Thus, they must express their recognition of God as supreme in their lives. This subordination, so hard for the proud and self-reliant, is essential to cure their worldliness (Hiebert 1979:260-261).
Romans 8:7 sends a parallel message, ‘For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot’ (ESV).
Submit = surrender in the English language
What is the English meaning of ‘surrender’? The Macquarie Dictionary (1997:2131) gives one of the meanings of ‘surrender’ as: ‘To yield (something) to the possession or power of another’. That’s parallel with what is intended with the meaning of ‘submit’, which the Macquarie Dictionary gives as meaning, ‘to yield in surrender, compliance, or obedience’ (1997:2110, emphasis added). Therefore, from the Macquarie dictionary’s definitions, surrender means submit. They are synonymous terms.
There is no point in a Christian getting his nappy in a knot, trying to prove that the New Testament doesn’t teach that Christians should ‘surrender to God’. The facts are that Christians are commanded to ‘submit to God’, which in the English language, means ‘surrender to God’.
It is nit-picking to say that the Bible does not speak of ‘surrender to God’. Why? Because the Bible uses a stronger term: ‘Submit to God’ and ‘submit to God’s law’. Therefore, this fellow was building a false proposition by saying that it is wrong that a Christian should ‘surrender to God’. It is called building a straw man logical fallacy (The Nizkor Project). We can’t have a logical discussion when a person builds a false case. The Nizkor Project’s definition of a straw man logical fallacy is, ‘The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position’.
The fact is: The Bible does teach that Christians should surrender to God because they are commanded to submit to God.
Submit = surrender
Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).
Hiebert, D E 1979. The Epistle of James: Tests of a living faith. Chicago: Moody Press.
The Macquarie dictionary 3rd ed 1997. Delbridge, A; Bernard, J R L; Blair, D; Butler, S; Peters, P & Yallop, C (eds). Sydney, NSW: The Macquarie Library, Macquarie University, Australia.
Robertson, A T 1933. Word pictures in the New Testament: The General Epistles and the Revelation of John, vol 6. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.
 I incorporated the following in OzSpen#75, ibid.
 The middle-passive voice is the same conjugation of the verb in NT Greek.
 This is ‘a translation and adaptation of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörtbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der übrigen urchristlichen Literatur’ (4th rev & augmented edn 1952) (Arndt & Gingrich 1957:iii).
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.