The word anupotaktos is used four times and is translated in various ways. One is as disobedient, referring to a kind of behavior Paul tells that with one of the uses of the law (that of civil restraint), it was not intended for righteous men (who are already self-governed). The law was intended for the lawless and disobedient (1 Tim. 1:9). This use helps us to understand Paul’s thought in Titus 1, where he is discussing elder qualifications. There he says that an elder candidate’s children must not be accused (rightfully) of “riot” or of being “unruly.” Unruly is the rendering of this same word. It comes up again just a few verses later. “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision” (v. 10). From this it is clear that we are not saying that an elder is disqualified because he told his three-year-old son to eat his peas, and the son decided not to. This qualification is referred to children who are simply out of control.
Interestingly, the same word is used one more time in Hebrews 2:8. God has subjected everything to Christ and has not left anything “that is not put under Him.” In other words, as Christ’s rule in this world is consolidated and made manifest, we will eventually see that nothing is disobedient.