These first two documents are replies to a question about Victor’s call for submission to him as a man of God. The first reply is Victor’s and the second is Paul’s.
Jesus Christ is the undisputed Shepherd for those who believe, Who cares for and leads His sheep. He sends shepherds in His Name for this purpose, to feed His sheep, as He specifically said and did with Peter. Is this fact not what the pope of Rome uses to claim his legitimacy and authority? But false claims such as his do not dispel what is authentic and needful. There are those who are sent by God (not ordained of men), who serve Him in leading others in the way. Since His way means life, submission is critical to the working out of salvation for those to whom He sends His servants.
We preach what we are and what we have. To whom much is given, much will be required. The case for submission is laid out so that you might hear and know that God cares enough to tell you otherwise than what you think and please to do. He laid down His life to this end, so the matter will not go away; now you are made aware that there is a better way.
This paper exposes the lie that we are all of equal authority and privilege before God the moment we become Christians and therefore need not obey or submit to God-ordained authorities sent for our sakes that we may learn to walk with God. The spirit of independence and pride are addressed here, which spirit is none other than that of the Evil One coming as a child of light.
The spirit of lawlessness, of iniquity, is everywhere, in everyone. It is that spirit whose ringing cry is, “You’re not going to tell ME what to do!” It is that “wicked one,” that man of sin, that son of pride which hates the law of God because it hates Him. People must be addressed and dealt with on a personal and specific basis and not only in general. And if they are going to walk with God, they must submit to such correction, without murmuring.