Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

Hypotasso (spelled hupotasso in some sources), translated into English Bibles as submit, (as in, for example, the verses that wives have to submit) is a combination of two Greek words.

The one is hypo (spelled hupo in some sources), the other tasso.

Tasso means to arrange, and hypo means, according to the dominionists, under. And thus hupotasso would be, they say, to arrange under.


Hypo – G5259 in Greek dictionaries – is used 230 times in the Bible. It is mostly translated as of. Often, it is translated as under or by or with, and in singular cases as when or from or among. Hypo is under in just over 20% of the uses.Arranging yourself with or under a man

Examples of how “hypo” is used in the Bible:

of: “spoken of the Lord” (Mat. 1:22)

“the glory of men” (Mat. 6:2)

by: “spoken by the prophet”(Mat. 2:17)

“baptised by John” (Mat. 3:13)

“tempted by the devil” (Mat. 4:1)

under: “put it under a bushel” (Mat. 5:13)

“under authority” (Mat 8:8)

“under her wings” (Mat 23:37)

with: “vexed with unclean spirits” (Acts 5:16)

“carried with a tempest” (2Pet 2:17)

among: “of good report among all” (Acts 10:22)

The Greek word translated submit, then, may be loyalty or co-operation, arranging yourself by, arranging yourself about/ of (another), or arranging yourself with.

What if this was translated badly all along? What if translaters chose submit – arrange under – because of their limited understanding, and not because it was what the message actually said? What if the wife’s proper place, into which she should arrange herself, is beside her man and not below him?

Could it even be that Paul and Peter told 1st-century wives, who would have been positioned by society as below the men, to rise up to partner level?


Ps: You may also be interested in this.

Comments on: "Submit, how? The wife’s “proper place”" (14)

  1. Wow Retha, This is great insight!

    Those male privilege lenses through which scripture has been filtered for oh so long will not prevail now that women are educated.


  2. Perhaps that is why the patriarchy people want to keep women out of college?


  3. Excellent research!! This should go on the ECA Blog.


  4. TL – take it. You can take my puzzle picture(Beside him – or below him) too if you’d like.


  5. Yes! This is in keeping with something I read elsewhere (don’t remember where) that “hypotasso” was a word used to tell freemen who had become soldiers to cooperate with those who had been put in command over them. The freemen-soldiers would otherwise be equal in status to the commander, except that they were now in the army. This word was NEVER used for a slave or someone of lower status to the one being “hypotasso”-ed to. That Paul used it as he did was, in itself, a radical new shift in male-female relations for the time!


  6. Kristen, wasn’t that John Temple Bristow in his book “What Paul Really Said About Women”.


  7. Interesting that, regardless of how you interpret it, the command assumes women have agency.


  8. loved that! very cool! the bible tells us to submit unto one another, so he has some submitting to do too! lol 🙂 thanks for the free lesson!


  9. Sorry Retha, but I don’t agree with your findings. Hypotasso in its most literal sense does actually mean to “arrange under”. In it’s military meaning and usage it has the literal meaning of “subordinate”.

    However, hypotasso is also used in the context of relationships where the people are of equal status. This includes the marriage relationship where hypotasso should be understood to mean cooperate, support or be loyal, etc. There are plenty of Greek texts where hypotasso simply means cooperate and “get on well”, as opposed to being resistant, rebellious or a pain in the neck.

    When Paul and Peter asked wives to be submissive to their husbands they were simply asking them to be cooperative and loyal not subordiante or submissive like some in the church believe.


  10. Maybe I should explain further.

    So while hupotasso its most literal sense does means “arrange under” there are different ways, contexts and senses that word is used in Koine Greek literature. In English we have words which we simply don’t use in their most literal sense.

    It is ludicrous that some Christians use the strict literal, military sense of the word in the context of the personal and intimate relationship of marriage. I have never understood why Complementarians believe that when there are only two people – husband and wife – there needs to be a leader. Yes, larger organizations need leader, but a couple does not need a leader!!!

    A bit more info:

    Hypo is a preposition. As a preposition it has two basic uses and meanings. When used with a genitive noun, hypo has the meaning of agency or means. So something is done “by” or “through” the agent. When the preposition is used with an accusative, it has a different meaning. This time it has the meaning of position of “under” or “below”. (Compare this with hyper, with the accusative, which means over and above.) (This is a very brief summary of the use of hypo as a preposition.)

    When hypo is part of a word it generally has the implication of “under” or “below”. Occasionally hypo (as part of a word) may have the implication of “inferior/weak” or “response/answer”.

    Finally here are some other examples where hypo is part of a word: hupodema (‘sandal”, a leather sole tied under your foot); hupomene (“perseverence” or “endurance”, literally “remain under”); hupolenion (a trough placed beneath a wine-press). There are numerous words that begin with hypo.


  11. Retha, I found you on the Equality Central forum. Thank you for pointing out the different ways hypotasso can be translated. I’m currently on an editorial team doing a contemporary egalitarian rendering of the New Testament, and we were just discussing this weekend what we were going to do with this word (I’m currently working on Colossians).

    Marge thanks for your comments too. I will be passing this on to our editorial team as we figure out what to do with the household codes.


  12. I just visited this again, from blog stats of the year’s top posts. Thanks, everyone.

    Shawna, I don’t know if you will ever read this now, but yours was my most unexpected comment of the year. This Bible study, mentioned before a translation team? I’m just a little nobody who’se access to Greek scholarship is using Strong’s on the Internet – and asking question on equalitycentral to people like Marg.


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