If Surrendering to God is a Biblical Concept, Why Isn’t it in the Bible?

Surrending handsWe’ve all heard sermons and lectures about surrendering to God. We’ve sat through plenty of Sunday School lessons about surrendering to God. There are books about surrendering to God. We sing songs about surrendering to God: “I Surrender All.”

It’s in our religious vocabulary. Surrender your life to Jesus. Ministers talk about the time they surrendered to the call to the ministry.

So it’s definitely a Christian concept in the sense that Christians use the word all the time—but is it a biblical concept?

For that we have to look in the Bible, because it seems to me that if something is going to be called a biblical concept, it ought to be, you know, in the Bible.

Or maybe that’s just me. I’m simple like that.

So to research the biblical concept of surrender, I looked up every time that the word “surrender” in any of its forms occurs in the Bible.

Didn’t take long, because it only appears in the Bible 7 times.


1 Samuel 23:12 and 23:20; Jeremiah 21:9 and Jeremiah 38: 17, 18, and 21; Jeremiah 50: 15; Deuteronomy 20:11.

All in the Old Testament. Not at all in the New Testament.

I figured “Surrender your heart to Jesus” had to be in the New Testament.

That’s in the New Revised Standard Version. If you look in the real English translation of the Bible—the King James Version—well, that’s a different story altogether.

In the King James, the word “surrender” appears—nowhere at all.

That’s none. Nada. Zero. Zip.

So is surrendering a biblical or Christian concept at all if it’s not in the Bible?

I think so.

Right after the disciples have celebrated the first Lord’s Supper, Jesus turns to his them and makes a sober prediction: “You will all fall away.”

By using the strong Greek word for “fall away,” Jesus essentially says: “You will all stumble and fall flat on your faces.”

Jesus wants his disciples to understand that they can’t handle what’s ahead by themselves. They must let go and seek God for help in the coming hours.

Rather than listen to Jesus, Peter beats his chest with much bravado and trumpets, “Even if all fall away, Jesus, I will not.”

Jesus tries to warn Peter: “I tell you the truth, today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times.” The “three times” hammers home to Peter how far he’s capable of falling.

Stubborn, self-willed, and hard-headed Peter is offended by Jesus’ suggestion and replies, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”

What Peter is saying is, “I got this. Don’t worry, I can handle it. I will never fall flat on my face.”

After the Passover meal Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane. Watch what happens when Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, the One who existed since all eternity past in perfect and unbroken union of love and joy with the Father and the Spirit, now, as a human being, faces a great test.

He is “deeply distressed” and “troubled.” From the moment of his baptism on, Jesus was thrown into a great battle.

But notice the difference between Jesus and Peter: when life starts to overwhelm them, Peter says, “I’ve got it. I can handle it on my own.” In contrast, Jesus, God the Son, says, “I don’t have it on my own. I need you. Father, help me.”

This is simply astounding. If the Eternal Son of God lives to surrender and surrenders to live, doesn’t that tell us something about reality?

Surrender is woven into the person of God as a Trinity of Love. The Son submits to the Father. The Father seeks to honor the Son. The Spirit points back to both the Father and the Son. The Father and the Son send the Spirit as their representative.

True surrender isn’t a response to defeat; it’s a response to love.

Photo Credit: © Can Stock Photo / Linnea

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