The word translated “quietness” primarily means “quiet tranquility,” not literal silence. In other words, it usually references the state of the soul, NOT the state of the mouth.
That is the word used in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are disorderly, doing no work at all, but are busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet tranquility and eat their own bread.”
This was not a command that when you work, you must maintain silence, but pointing out that an undisciplined, unproductive life leads to an inner turmoil that translates itself into a disruptive life, and that person then becomes a disrupting force, a CENTER of conflict, within the lives of all those around them. The opposite of a disorderly busybody was a person of quiet tranquility. That person was a source of STRENGTH to those around them, NOT a source of discord.
In other words, “Get to work, support yourself, and instead of being such a disruption in the lives of those around you, try being a stabilizing source of strength!”
Now for “submission.” There is no exact English equivalent for this word, so it is always a struggle to translate it correctly. First, let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way:
1) it does not mean “obedience.” That is a different word in Greek.
2) it does not indicate that someone has control over another person. THAT too is a different word in the Greek.
3) It is never used of forced or involuntary servitude. (You guessed it: different word in Greek).
The best definition of this word might be something like “freely and voluntarily given respect, honor and trust.” The underlying idea is actually that the person being so treated has EARNED that respect, and thus deserves to have their authority honored. In many contexts there IS an underlying idea of submitting to the will of another, but it is a voluntary submission that arises from the tremendous respect and admiration you have for that person’s wisdom and leadership.
The over-riding concept is NOT about obeying someone, always deferring to their decisions or will, or even of letting them make the decisions. The strongest underlying idea is actually one of supporting, encouraging, or even holding someone up so that they don’t collapse. It is mostly about an attitude of respect and honor, not about decision making or obedience.
This is the word used in 2 Corinthians 9:12-13
“For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your voluntary submission by confession into the gospel of Christ, and for the generosity of your contribution to them and to all.”
It is difficult to translate properly because we don’t really have a word in English that describes the situation where we have so much admiration, respect and trust in someone that we give what they say extra value, sometimes to the point of voluntarily deferring to their judgment over our own, but either way, of always holding them and what they say in the highest regard.
So in the context of wives and husbands, it refers to a situation in which the wives honor and respect their husbands, supporting them and holding them up.
The verb form is . One of the best scriptures for illustrating what it means is Ephesians 5:21 “Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of God.”
This is something that we can do TO EACH OTHER. If we can do it to each other, it does NOT mean one is superior to the other, or one has authority to make decisions over the other. IT refers to voluntarily giving each other respect, trust and honor, and treating each other accordingly.
Note in Ephesians 5:22 it says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.”
First observation: This is speaking to the WIVES, not the husbands. This is between wives and the Lord. It does not say, “Husbands, make sure your wives submit to you as to the Lord.” The only role the husbands play in this is in taking the respect and admiration of their wives seriously, and living up to it. What the wives actually DO is none of the husband’s business. This is between a wife and God. It is not the husbands responsibility to see to it that a wife does this. HIS responsibility is to love her, sacrifice himself for her, and care for her needs.
The second observation, and the really radical aspect of this is that Paul is saying that wives should consider the LORD having earned their respect on the husbands behalf. In other words, no matter if the husbands have earned it or not, the wives should give it to them anyway as a way of showing their tremendous respect and admiration for God. The Lord is saying, “the general, over-all respect and honor you give your husband should be determined by how you feel about ME, not how you feel about HIM.” This is the SPOUSE version of Christ’s illuminating statement:
“Whatever you do to the least of these, my brethren, you do to me.”
Christ is saying, “When you give respect to your husbands, you are really giving it to me.”
Again, this is NOT about obedience, this is about respect, trust, and honor, and the actions and behaviors that flow out of those attitudes. Contrast this with the verse at the end of this section: “Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord, for that is right.” Different word completely. Obedience and submitting are not the same thing.
If there is any doubt as to what this is talking about, notice what Paul says to the husbands. “Love your wives.”
No mention, EVER, of ruling over them. Even in the comparison to Christ and the Church, note what is emphasized:
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER; THAT HE MIGHT SANCTIFY HER, HAVING CLEANSED HER BY THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD . .. so husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.” Ephesians 5:25-30
It does not say, “as Christ loved the church, and ruled over her . . . ” In fact, it doesn’t even mention authority, because submission is not so much about authority as it is about respect, honor and support.
Just as Priscila and Aquila were considered “co-workers” in Christ, so all women are equal to men within the body of Christ.