Old Testament obedience was directed, speaking doctrinally and in general, to God (cf. Abraham, Gen. 22:18; Saul, 1 Sam. 15:22; 28:18). It was a national issue with Israel (Isa. 1:19; Zech. 6:15).

Certain distinctions occur in the New Testament statement of the doctrine. First, there is the personal obedience of Christ to the Father (Phil. 2:8)—a great Bible theme—which served as a test of His true humanity (Heb. 5:8). In the accomplishing of salvation Christ's obedience is also prominent (Rom. 5:1221). "Children of obedience" (1 Pet. 1:14, R.V.) are such because they stand in the obedience of the Last Adam; "children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2) are such because they have to do with the disobedience of the first Adam. It is necessary for the unsaved to be obedient to the gospel (Acts 5:32; 2 Thess. 1:8) if they would be redeemed. Christians are to be obedient both before God and man (Acts 5:29; 1 Pet. 1:22). Children are to be subservient to parents (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). Servants are to obey their masters (Col. 3:22) and wives to submit to husbands (Eph. 5:22). No word is addressed to unregenerate people regarding obedience to God, apart from the gospel. Obedience for the Christian is equivalent to abiding in Christ (John 15:10).

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