I Peter 5:5 says, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
The first sentence of this verse, begins with “Likewise,” which means in like manner. This sentence is a command to the younger members of the church to be subject to the older members. Both the words, “younger” and “elder” in the original Greek language are plural in form here. While certainly the younger and all should obey the Elders that oversee a congregation (Hebrews 13:17), it is also the case that the younger should give special honor and respect to all older members of the church (I Timothy 5:1-2).
We should tie upon us humility as an apron would be tied upon a person. If we tie upon us humility, it will not fall off, much as we tie knots in our shoelaces to keep them from coming undone. We are told here to be lowly at heart and willing to serve in whatever capacity we can. God is against the proud, but His unmerited favor is shed upon those who are humble. Proverbs 3:34 teaches that God gives grace to the lowly.
Some have misapplied the injunction, “all of you be subject one to another,” by propagating a false idea, often called “mutual submission,” that says that all Christians are to submit to one another to the point that no one has any power over anyone else, meaning that husbands have no authority over their wives, Elders have no authority over the church, masters have no authority over their servants, and civil government officials have no authority over anyone else. Actually though we are to minister unto one another. Some people do have authority over others, and we must submit to them. Peter is summarizing here in I Peter 5:5 what he has previously said. He has already told people to submit to rulers of the land, who have authority over them in I Peter 2:13-17. He has already told servants to submit to their masters, who have authority over them in I Peter 2:18-19. He has already told wives to submit to their husbands, who have authority over them in I Peter 3:1-6. He has instructed us that the Elders have authority over the congregation in which they attend, so we can conclude that we must submit to the Elders over us, according to I Peter 5:1-4. Peter has already said, which was elaborated upon at the beginning of this article, that the younger must submit to the older in I Peter 5:5. Peter says in summary that all must submit unto the ones whom he has already told us to submit.
In conclusion then, the injunction for us all to “be subject one to another,” is a summarizing phrase that we should submit unto those to whom Peter has already told us to submit by the inspiration of God. We should all submit to the rulers of the land in obedience to laws that do not require us to do wrong (Acts 5:29)! Servants should submit to their masters! Wives should submit to their husbands! We should submit to the Elders! The younger should submit to the older! Let us be sure to yield to admonitions from those to whom we are to be in subjection!