1 Fenrilkree

Keeping Watch Over Your Souls Assignment

Verse(Click for Chapter)

New International Version
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

New Living Translation
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.

English Standard Version
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Berean Study Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. To this end, allow them to lead with joy and not with grief, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Berean Literal Bible
Obey you those leading and be submissive--for they watch over your souls, as about to give account--so that they may do this with joy and not groaning, for this is unprofitable for you.

New American Standard Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

King James Bible
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Christian Standard Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Contemporary English Version
Obey your leaders and do what they say. They are watching over you, and they must answer to God. So don't make them sad as they do their work. Make them happy. Otherwise, they won't be able to help you at all.

Good News Translation
Obey your leaders and follow their orders. They watch over your souls without resting, since they must give to God an account of their service. If you obey them, they will do their work gladly; if not, they will do it with sadness, and that would be of no help to you.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

International Standard Version
Continue to follow and be submissive to your leaders, since they are watching over your souls as those who will have to give a word of explanation. By doing this, you will be letting them carry out their duties joyfully, and not with grief, for that would be harmful for you.

NET Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.

New Heart English Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Obey your Leaders and submit to them, for they watch for the sake of your souls, as persons who give an account, so that they may do this with joy and not with groans, because that is not advantageous to you.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)

New American Standard 1977
Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Listen to your pastors, and do not resist them, for they watch for your souls as those that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you.

King James 2000 Bible
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

American King James Version
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

American Standard Version
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them : for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you.

Darby Bible Translation
Obey your leaders, and be submissive; for they watch over your souls as those that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not groaning, for this [would be] unprofitable for you.

English Revised Version
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you.

Webster's Bible Translation
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

Weymouth New Testament
Obey your leaders and be submissive to them. For they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give account; that they may do this with joy and not with lamentation. For that would be of no advantage to you.

World English Bible
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch on behalf of your souls, as those who will give account, that they may do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Young's Literal Translation
Be obedient to those leading you, and be subject, for these do watch for your souls, as about to give account, that with joy they may do this, and not sighing, for this is unprofitable to you.

This morning I have been pondering Hebrews 13:17.  It is quite a revealing passage on leadership.  The focus is on how to follow a person who leads in the church.

The current NIV renders this verse:

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

and the New King James version has a familiar ring:

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

The person who wrote Hebrews, mentions ‘leaders’ three times in Chapter 13.  The Greek term used in each case is a participle, a verb used as a noun.  The people themselves who lead are not in focus but the act of leading.  While it is somewhat clumsy, the passages could each be translated – ‘those who have been Allleading you”.   The leadership here is to be ‘out in front, foremost’ particularly in thinking and teaching.  Verse 7 in the same passage has already asked us to be mindful of those who are leading through their teaching and lifestyle.

The recipients of this letter are asked in this verse to do two things in response to those leading; to have confidence / obey and to be submissive.  Neither of these terms are the normal Greek terms for ‘obey’ or ‘submit’, so they need a little unpacking.

‘peithesthe’ refers to being persuaded or convinced of the truth, particularly of words, and in other passages, particularly by God.   It is connected to confidence and trust.  Here it means something like: Be willingly open to be challenged and persuaded by the word of God which comes to you through the words of those who lead you. 

hyperikete’ is to willingly yield or to surrender, not to resist or to fight.  This idea here expands on what has just been said about willingness to learn and also prepares us for what is to come.  The writer is about to challenge us not to make ‘leading’ hard work which causes a ‘groan’, instead make it a joy for those who lead by our responsiveness.

To match the two instructions for followers, a two fold reason is provided.   We should be responsive to leadership, because those who lead us watch over our souls, knowing they must give an account to God.

The idea of ‘watching’ is literally, ‘not sleeping’, staying awake and vigilant.  It has connections to the image of the shepherd, keeping watch over the sheep.  The idea of protection is in mind, the under shepherds need to give an account to the chief shepherd for any loss or distress to the flock that occurs.

What is being watched and protected is our souls.  The ‘psyche’ refers to our hearts, the inner persons that we are, the persons destined for life with God.  By implication here, Christian leadership is about drawing people to God through teaching and living God’s word, and also by shaping a community which invites trust and responsiveness to God.  Followers are encouraged to be responsive to this, learning and embracing the way of God, as taught and modelled by those leading.

Accountability here contains the idea of providing an expected return to the rightful owner for something held in trust.  Leadership is a calling by God.  Leading is to gather, grow and guide those who belong to God on his behalf and for his purposes.  It is a task for which an account is to be given.  What is clearly apparent in this verse is that leadership is a two way street.  Leaders need to be enabled to lead by the willing response, openness and engagement of followers.  Followers need to be enabled to follow by the clear teaching, loving care and lived integrity of leaders.

In a wrap-up note, the author then calls on followers to make the work of leaders a joy not ‘hard work’, through their responsiveness to God.  Groaning here refers to grief, pain, labour in the attempt to move something forward, pushing or pulling.  Childbirth falls into this type of ‘groaning’ work.  We are reminded not to frustrate our leaders through lack of response to God, which is hard work for them and ‘of no value’, ‘a missed benefit’ or ‘unprofitable’ for us.

So for what it is worth, here is my paraphrase;

Be willingly open to the grace of God which comes to you through the words of those who lead you.  Don’t resist leadership, but work with those leading, for they actually loose sleep, thinking about your inner growth.  They know they are accountable because you are God’s loved people and God calls them to guide you on his behalf.  So make their building of the church a joy not a waste of time and effort both for them and for you. 

May those of us called to lead be encouraged to step up and all of us who follow challenged to be open-hearted and responsive.

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