Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (5:21; TNIV)
Who is submitting to each other? Everyone is submitting to everyone. From our love, respect, reverence, and fear of Christ we will subject ourselves to one another. Now, what does this mean? Does this mean that we will be mindless people, act like a doormat, and let everyone push us around or tell us what to do? NO. We have a strange view of submission and subjection because often this is how we understand submission. But the concept is really simple: we are going to yield to others. Maybe it would help to read the text with the word “yield.” We are to yield to one another out of reverence for Christ. The new life in Christ yields to the interests of others. The old self gives commands. The old, sinful self looks out for its own interests only. But if there is something that is good for another person, we will yield our own interest to advance their interests.
Too often this verse is missed as studies dive into Ephesians 5:22 where wives submit to their husbands. But this should not be an issue because Paul has already commanded everyone to yield to everyone. Paul is simply pointing out that even wives yield to husbands (5:22-24), husbands yield to wives by loving them as Christ loved the church (5:25-33), children yield to parents (6:1-3), parents yield to their children’s interests by training them in the Lord (6:4), slaves yield to masters (6:5-8), and master yield to slaves (6:9).
Everyone is to yield to each other. This is Christian living.