As basic as I can state it - to obey means to be obedient and carries with it an authoritativeness that says, "This is the way it’s going to be; it is not open for discussion; this is non-negotiable." Whereas to submit, to be in submission to another, carries with it a subdued form of authority that allows room for negotiation and consideration. Submission allows one to have a voice and an opinion, whereas obedience does not allow this considered negotiation.
For example, we are commanded to obey God’s commandments, which are not subject to negotiation or debate... God said it and that settles it. Obviously, we have no righteousness of our own, nor any omniscient power of our own to negotiate any subject matter with our Holy God. God’s ways are not our ways, but we can be assured that He always has our best interest in mind, hence the reasons we are commanded to obey God. (Deuteronomy 11:27, 28; 26:17; 27:10; 28:9; 30:2, 8, 16; 32:4; I Samuel 12:14, 15; Jeremiah 42:6; Psalm 19:8; 119:75; Romans 7:12; I Peter 4:17) But there are also two other authoritative relationships mentioned in the Bible: the relationship of children with their parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; Deuteronomy 21:18-20) and servants with their masters (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22). It is both interesting and necessary to note that these other two relationships (of children/parents and servant/master) are to be patterned in much the same way, for many of the same reasons. (Exodus 20:12; 21:15, 17; Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 8:5; 21:18-21; Proverbs 13:24; 20:20; Psalm 123:3; Mal. 1:6; Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22-25; 4:1; I Timothy 6:1, 2: Titus 2:9, 10; I Peter 2:18, 19)
Have you ever notice that the Bible never says, "Children submit to your parents," or "Servants submit to your masters"? There isn’t the slightest hint of these relationships being of the negotiating kind. In all three of these examples, the command is to obey and there is no suggestion of a negotiating relationship, and it is this command of obedience that also carries with it the hand of chastisement (Deuteronomy 11:1, 2; Hebrews 12:7-11). All three of these relationships are based on a superior and subordinate design... but the husband and wife relationship is a unique unity and is designed to be different, hence the reason why the Bible repeats, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands..." in Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18.
In the Bible, it is only with the husband/wife relationship that we see submission and that is because marriage is not to be a domination relationship. (I Peter 3:1-5; Ephesians 5:21, 22) Marriage is about two becoming one flesh, not just physically (bodily) speak, but more importantly mind, and soul; becoming soul-mates. It is only submission that encourages this as a reciprocating relationship which results in the unique unity of marriage (I Corinthians 7:3, 4; I Peter 3:7; Genesis 2:23, 24; Matthew 19:5, 6). And, with this unique unity of marriage, submission does not allow a husband to dominate his wife. He is also not allowed to chastise his wife in any form or manner. Christ set the example of how a husband is to treat his wife, in Ephesians 5:22-33, and Christ does not dominate. Even when God has to chastise a wayward Christian, we are corrected as a child, not a bride. (Deuteronomy 11:1, 2; Hebrews 12:7-11)
Thank you for reading my post, your questions and comments are welcomed.