Greek Words for Authority:
The Greek word HUPAKOUO – ὑπακοή (hoop-ak-o-ay’) means, “to obey, to be subject to, listen to, respond, answer to, follow, be subject to,” Mat 8:27; Luke 8:25; Rom 6:16; Eph 6:1; Col 3:20.
The Greek word HUPOTASSO – ὑποτάσσω (hoop-ot-as’-so) means, “to be subordinate to, to subject to, put in submission to, to be or make subject, to submit oneself,” Rom 8:20; 1 Cor 14:32; Eph 5:21; Col 3:18; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:5.
The Greek word PEITHO – πείθω (pi’-tho) can mean, “to obey,” Gal 3:1, 5:7; Heb 13:17; James 3:3.
The Greek word PEITHARCHEO – πειθαρχέω (pi-tharkh-eh’-o) means, “to obey rulers, the one(s) in authority, follow the advice of, submit to, and hearken,” Titus 3:1.
The Greek word KURIOTES – κυριότης means, “lordship, dominion, mastery, and authority,” Jude 8.
The following four Greek words describe the authority of Jesus Christ.
- Power – DUNAMIS – δύναμις (doo’-nam-is) – Having inherent strength which is the authority to rule. He has been given the authority to rule by the Father.
- Might – ISCHUS – ἰσχύς (is-khoos’) – Having strength in reserve, which is the ability to rule and judge. He has everything necessary and all the ability to rule and judge.
- Dominion – KRATOS – κράτος (krat’-os) means, “force, strength, might,” “manifested power.” He has all authority to rule that will be real, seen, heard, felt, and perfect.
- Authority – EXOUSIA – ἐξουσία (ex-oo-see’-ah) – Power or authority to do a thing. Freedom to action, right to act, power over, license in a thing, an office, magistracy, or place or body of authority. He has the authority of the throne of rulership.
Authority is defined as the power to command, to judge, or to act by a person or persons in whom authority is vested.
- Authority or authorities applies to persons having legal power to make and enforce the law, to make policy, or to make decisions.
- Authority is also an accepted source of information, as in the case of the authority of the Pastor-Teacher to provide doctrinal or theological information from the Scripture.
- Authority can be defined in terms of an expert on a subject. Under the Laws of Divine Establishment, authority is defined as that legal power, delegated by God; whereby, certain persons have jurisdiction and responsibility for others.
Realms of Authority:
- God has delegated authority through His mandates in both the Old Testament, Deut 11:27; 1 Sam 15:22; Jer 7:25; 11:4, 7; Zech 6:15, and the New Testament.
- God has authority over nature, and nature obeys God, Matt 8:27; Mk 4:41; Lk 8:25; Rom 8:20-22.
- Angels are subject to Divine authority, Mk 1:27; 1 Pet 3:22.
- The Pastor-Teacher and church officers have authority over the congregation in the local church, 1 Cor 16:15‑6; 2 Cor 10:8; 1 Thes 5:12-13; 1 Tim 5:17-18; Heb 13:7, 17; Isa 54:17.
- Government has authority over its people to protect the sanctity of their freedom, property, and human life.
- The husband has authority over the wife. The husband’s authority over his wife provides great happiness in category two love, Eph 5:22; Col 3:18. This stabilizes that love.
- Parents have authority over children, Eph 6:1; Col 3:20.
- Teachers have authority over students.
- Coaches have authority over athletes.
- Management has authority over labor. Authority in business stabilizes the economy, Eph 6:5; Col 3:22.
- Freedom through military victory is based on the principle of the authority of military rank, Neh 4:13-15.
- Authority in business stabilizes the economy, Eph 6:5; Col 3:22.
- Law enforcement over citizens, Rom 13:1-7.
John 15:14 reads, “You all are and you keep on being My loved ones [friends], if you all, [maybe you will and maybe you will not], keep on doing what I myself command you.”
As you know, the commands of Jesus Christ are found in His Word. Therefore, “doing what I command you,” means keeping God’s Word resident within your soul and applying it on a consistent basis. In the context of John 15, this means abiding in the Word of Jesus Christ, John 15:4-11, with the added emphasis of the command given in verses 12-13.
- Keeping the commandment of Jesus Christ means the Bible has authority over our lives. Therefore, the Bible is our authority as the Word of God.
L.S. Chafer notes, “It reflects the supreme authority of God as actually His revealed will, the Word of Truth is to be obeyed by all who come under His Divine rule.”
The fact that Jesus Christ is commanding us is one more example in the Scriptures of His authority over the Church.
All Authority in Life is Divided into Two General Categories: (Legitimate & Illegitimate Authority)
Legitimate Authority is established according to Scripture, the laws of the land, or in accordance with established rules, principles, or standards. God has delegated legitimate authority in two categories.
a.) The temporal realm: The Laws of Divine Establishment. There are four basic concepts of establishment freedom.
- Freedom is the right of self-determination from human volition apart from violation of law or authority.
- Privacy is the right to hold opinions, make decisions, and engage in actions which do not interfere with the rights of others.
- The sacredness of property and life.
- Authority, enforcement of law, which is the guardian of freedom, privacy, property, and life.
b.) The spiritual realm: These are God’s laws for the function of a particular dispensation as directly communicated by God or found in Scripture. For the Church Age, spiritual freedom is the function of the believer while filled with the Holy Spirit inside God’s Power System (GPS). Spiritual freedom is taught in such passages as:
John 8:32, “You shall know the truth [Bible doctrine], and the truth shall make you free [spiritually].”
Psa 119:45, “I will walk in freedom; for I seek your doctrines.”
Gal 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Keep standing fast, and do not become entangled again in the yoke of slavery [living in the cosmic system].”
Illegitimate authority is illegal, unlawful authority, generally established by unlawful or illegal force, the attainment of power without the lawful right to possess that power. Illegitimate authority is that authority established by Satan through the function of the cosmic system. It is evident in the erroneous seizure of power, the rise of dictators, and tyranny throughout history. Illegitimate authority is delegated by Satan as the ruler of this world in three categories; tyranny, false doctrine, and power struggles. Nevertheless, because Jesus Christ controls history, illegitimate authority is allowed by God as a curse, judgment, or discipline on a people or nation for their apostasy and reversionism.
Temporal and spiritual freedom relate to the two categories of authorities, as noted below. The primary purpose of temporal freedom is for evangelization.
It is inevitable that arrogance will challenge any legitimate system of authority. Then tyranny results. This is Satanic in nature. For Satan as the ruler of this world constantly seeks to do everything possible to overthrow the Divinely-delegated authority that brings freedom and blessing to individuals and nations.
Authority has been an issue since the beginning of the human race, Gen 3. The fall in the Garden of Eden was rejection of authority. The woman rejected the authority of God and Bible doctrine and accepted the authority of Satan. She also rejected the authority of her right man, 1 Tim 2:11-14.
1 Tim 2:14, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.”
Man accepted the authority of the woman; first rejecting God’s authority; thereby, throwing his delegated authority away. Therefore, rejection of authority on the part of the woman contributed to her fall. The woman failed in the garden under two principles of authority.
First, she failed under the principle of the Word, which was taught by Jesus Christ to both of them daily.
Secondly, she failed under the principle of the authority of the man who was both Divinely commissioned as ruler of the world, as well as the ruler of the woman under category #2 love. Under the original Laws of Divine Establishment, Adam was the ruler of planet earth and he was also the ruler of the woman. Both failures are emphasized in 1 Tim 2:11-14. So, the first civilization really began with rejection of authority: Revolution.
Authority has been delegated by God to four Divine Institutions:
- Self-determination is the authority of your own soul with emphasis on your volition. With freedom to make decisions comes responsibility.
- Marriage is the authority of the husband over the wife, Eph 5:22; Col 3:18.
- Family is the authority of the parents over the children, Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20.
- Nationalism is the authority of government over the citizens of that nation.
There are five categories of human freedom:
- The function of the soul with emphasis on thought, motive, and decision.
- The existence of privacy as the environment for freedom and self-determination.
- The right to possess property; to enjoy, benefit, or make profit from things acquired.
- Authority: The power delegated by God to command, to train, to teach, or to act as an agent for a principle.
- Human life: Man must possess human life to exercise his rights and functions under the concept of freedom.
There are two attitudes toward legitimate authority:
- Response, which is acceptance of authority delegated by God.
- Reaction, which is rejection of authority delegated by God.
The Function of Divine Sovereignty in Human History:
There are three categories of Divine sovereignty that function in human history:
- The directive will of God comprises Divine mandates to believers and unbelievers.
- The permissive will of God in which God permits the function of free will in opposition to Divine mandates. The permissive will of God always functions in the face of negative volition.
- The overruling will of God means that God prevents self-destruction or national destruction because of a pivot of mature believers.
The function of the three categories of the will of God is important to understand:
- Under the directive will of God, God has a plan for believers’ lives. In our dispensation, it is the protocol plan. Under the directive will of God, He has a system of order for all humanity, called the Laws of Divine Establishment.
- Under the permissive will of God, negative volition is permitted, but Divine justice provides awesome and painful punishment.
- Under the overruling will of God, the minority is always right. The minority is defined as the pivot of mature believers whose execution of the protocol plan of God delivers the nation from the fifth cycle of discipline.
Human volition can override the directive will of God, resulting in the permissive will of God becoming operational.
- The minute you disobey any mandate of God or sin, you have overruled the directive will of God, which is not to sin. Therefore, when we sin, we come under the permissive will of God.
- Under the directive will of God, there is no discipline. Under the permissive will of God, there is Divine discipline for us. Therefore, the result is suffering under the Law of Volitional Responsibility plus national punishment, illustrated by the five cycles of discipline.
- The permissive will of God is based on the fact that human volition and human freedom are the means of resolving the Angelic Conflict. The permissive will of God permits human volition to operate under the concept of human freedom. This volition either makes a nation great or destroys it.
When the directive will of God is rejected, the permissive will of God is activated.
- This explains why rebound is so important, for when we sin, only the use of rebound can put us back under the directive will of God and back into the Divine Dynasphere.
- When you’re outside the Divine Dynasphere, you’re outside the directive will of God and under the permissive will of God.
So, when the permissive will of God becomes activated, resulting in Divine punishment, the only hope is the overruling will of God.
- Our nation is now under the permissive will of God, because so many people have rejected the Laws of Divine Establishment, rejected every form of authority, and believers have rejected Bible doctrine. So, God permits us to be alive and to be punished.
- That can only be changed by the overruling will of God.
The overruling will of God can only be activated in national emergency by the existence of the pivot of mature believers or invisible heroes who have executed the protocol plan of God.
The believer is designed to function under the directive will of God. When the believer rejects the authority of God’s Word and its mandates, he has destroyed the authority of God in his life and has reverted to the cosmic system and the authority of Satan.
There are two categories of freedom related to authority:
- Temporal freedom is authorized by the Laws of Divine Establishment. It includes your privacy, the sacredness of your property, and your life.
- Spiritual freedom is authorized by the Mystery doctrine of the Church Age, related to life in God’s Power System (GPS). Only in GPS does spiritual freedom really function.
Spiritual freedom is related to believers only, and only those believers who reside inside GPS, under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, and momentum from metabolized doctrine. In fact, all spiritual freedom is confined to life inside your very own palace, the operational-type GPS.
The privacy of spiritual freedom is the universal priesthood of the believer which exists only during the Church Age.
The purpose of spiritual freedom is the execution of the protocol plan of God and subsequent glorification of God through the function of the invisible hero.
The function of this freedom is related to the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit inside GPS under two principles:
- The filling of the Spirit can only occur inside GPS. It is mandated in Eph 5:18 and Gal 5:16.
- The perception of Bible doctrine is the ministry of the Holy Spirit inside GPS, John 14:26; 16:12-14; 1 Cor 2:9-16; 1 John 2:27.
Spiritual freedom without authority is ignorance of Bible doctrine. The authority for spiritual freedom is the spiritual gift of Pastor-Teacher in the communication of Bible doctrine.
Freedom is Never an Isolated Entity, but is Four Interrelated Concepts Forming One Category and Single Principle:
The four concepts which form the one category are; freedom, privacy, property, and authority orientation. These provide everyone the same opportunity for self-determination.
- Freedom is the principle of Divine establishment and Honor Code function.
- Privacy is a principle related to the Honor Code function of the royal priesthood.
- Property is sacred under the Laws of Divine Establishment for the function of life.
- Authority is the umbrella for human freedom.
There cannot be an attack on any one of the four parts without destroying the entire concept of freedom.
- An attack on property, like socialism or the welfare state, destroys freedom.
- Slavery or gossip attacks and destroys privacy, and therefore eliminates freedom.
- Freedom itself is lost through the demon possession of the unbeliever, as well as drug addiction, erroneous thought, demon influence of the believer in the cosmic system.
- The most subtle attack on freedom originates in either the rejection of establishment or authority in the Royal Family of God. Under the Laws of Divine Establishment, authority is defined as the legal power delegated by God; whereby, certain members of the human race have jurisdiction and responsibility for others.
Such areas of authority include:
1) The Four Divine Institutions:
a) Divine institution #1, your own free will, is the first authority in your life. Decision is a part of respect for the authority in your own soul. Your volition is your authority to make good decisions from a position of strength or bad decisions from a position of weakness.
b) In Divine institution #2, marriage, the husband has authority over the wife.
c) In Divine institution #3, parents have authority over the children.
d) In Divine institution #4, various systems of government have authority over the people they govern.
2) Other areas of authority include: School authority in both academic and athletic administration, i.e., teachers and coaches. Economic authority resides in business executives, investors, and management. Legal authority resides in the law, the police officer, and judicial function. Military authority resides in commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers. Rank is absolutely necessary.
Spiritual authority resides in the Word of God and in its communicator, the Pastor-Teacher, as well as in Deacons to whom the Pastor delegates authority. The Evangelist also has authority.
Divine authority is stated in the context of the Word of God. This authority is delegated to the Pastor-Teacher of the local church. The Evangelist has authority over those unbelievers to whom he communicates the Gospel. Delegated authority is given to those with administrative gifts in a church.
The Pastor-Teacher’s authority is limited to his own sheep John 21:15-17; 1 Peter 5:1-3, though his sheep need not be under his face-to-face ministry.
God has provided an umbrella of Divine authority over the mechanics of post-salvation epistemological rehabilitation in the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. The Holy Spirit must fill the believer for perception of doctrine.
God has also provided an umbrella of human authority over the mechanics of post-salvation epistemological rehabilitation in the teaching function of the Pastor in the local church, either face-to-face or non-face to face.
The royal family honor code demands authority orientation in the form of academic discipline when the Pastor is teaching Bible doctrine:
- This academic discipline is the authority which the believer imposes upon himself during the teaching of the Word of God so that others may be free to learn without distraction.
- This academic discipline includes no talking, no unnecessary movement, or anything that would break the concentration of those positive toward Bible doctrine.
- The Royal Family Honor Code recognizes common sense and good manners, thoughtfulness of others, and respect for the Word of God.
Inevitably, the issue is the Mystery doctrine of the Church Age perceived and metabolized in your soul. This issue demands communication of doctrine from the Pastor-Teacher and perception by believers.
- However, the Pastor cannot communicate what he does not know. Therefore, his life must be devoted to studying and teaching the Word of God. What he teaches should be the result of many agonizing hours of study under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, you are required to respect and listen to the teaching, at which point you choose whether to metabolize it or not.
- This means the Pastor’s personality is not the issue in Authority Orientation and the function of the Royal Family Honor Code.
- Never permit preoccupation with the Pastor’s feet of clay or his personality to hinder your perception of Bible doctrine.
Heb 13:17, “Keep obeying those [Pastors] who themselves are ruling over you, and submit to their authority. For these same Pastors keep watching for the benefit of your souls, as those who have to render an account. Keep obeying them, in order that they may do this accounting with happiness, and not with groaning, for this is unprofitable for you.”
- The Pastor is responsible to the Lord and not to the congregation. Therefore, when he gets out of line, he gets double discipline.
- It is inevitable that certain members of the congregation will become dissatisfied with their Pastor. Therefore, they will seek to discredit him, to judge, malign, and slander him. Therefore, in Isa 54:17, there is a warning not to tamper with God’s communicator, “No weapon which is formed against you will prosper, and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and His vindication is from Me,’ decrees the Lord.”
- The job profile of the Pastor is given in Eph 4:11‑16; Col 1:23‑29; 1 Tim 2:24‑26; 3:1‑9; Tit 1:6‑9; Phil 2:16‑30; 1 Pet 5:1‑4; Eph 3:7‑13.
The Pastor’s authority is documented throughout Scripture:
2 Cor 10:8, “For even if I should rub it in about our authority which God gave for your edification, and not to destroy you, I shall not feel ashamed.”
Heb 13:17, “Keep obeying those Pastors who themselves are ruling over you, and submit to their authority; for these same Pastors keep watching for the benefit of your souls as those who have to render an account. Keep obeying them in order that they may do this [accounting] with happiness and not with groaning, for this [failure to accept Pastor’s authority] is unprofitable to you.”
1 Thes 5:12, “But we request of you, brethren, that you know [respect the authority of] those Pastor-Teachers who work hard among you [studying and teaching], who have command over you in the Lord, and who give you instruction [admonition].”
2 Cor 13:10, “For this reason, I am writing these things while absent in order that when I am present, I may not use severity in compatibility with the authority which God has given to me for the purpose of your edification, and not for the purpose of destroying you.”
The Pastor is only answerable to the Lord:
- The protection of the Pastor’s authority is found in Isa 54:17.
- The Pastor is responsible to the Lord for the function of his ministry. Therefore, when a Pastor is out of line, he receives double discipline from the Lord for his failure (Unless believers judge him, and then they get his double discipline.).
- It is inevitable that a certain number of believers will become disenchanted with their Pastor-Teacher for many different reasons, some legitimate and some not.
- The temptation will arise, under these conditions, to slander, malign, judge, and to enter into a conspiracy against him.
- This results in triple-compound discipline for the offender, Mt 7:1-2.
1) You are disciplined for judging or conspiracy.
2) You are disciplined for the arrogance of assuming you can do a better job of judging the Pastor than God can.
3) Discipline for the sin or sins named in the gossip, maligning, or slander are transferred to you.
- Since the Pastor gets double discipline, triple-compound discipline times two intensifies your discipline beyond anything you can stand.
- So, if for any reason you are dissatisfied, the best advice is to quietly leave that church and find a church to your satisfaction.
- The congregation of a local church does have a right to change its Pastor, but this must be done in compatibility with 1 Cor 14:40, which says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” That excludes conspiracy, slander, gossip, maligning, hatred, etc.
The Pastor’s Authority:
- The job profile of the Pastor or minister is found in enough passages so that everyone can understand the role of the Pastor; e.g., Eph 3:7-13; 4:11-16; Col 1:23-29; 1 Tim 2:24-26; 3:1-9; Tit 1:6-9; Phil 2:16-30; 1 Pet 5:1-4.
- The authority of the protocol plan of God is the Mystery doctrine of the Church Age recorded in the New Testament epistles.
- The authority of the Pastor as the communicator of the protocol plan is stated directly in the New Testament epistles. The authority of the Pastor is established through the faithful teaching of the Mystery doctrine.
- The Pastor’s authority cannot function apart from two factors.
1) The power of the Holy Spirit inside the Divine Dynasphere.
2) The positive volition of the royal family of God directed toward the Bible teaching of the Pastor.
- The function of human authority is a matter of personal volition or human consent. The Pastor’s communication demands a hearing, but he cannot force you to accept or reject it. (See point 3.)
Christ and His Authority Over the Church:
Jesus Christ is called the last Adam as the ruler of the Church, and the believers, the Church universal, is called the new spiritual species, as found in 1 Cor 15:45‑49; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15. This “new creation” is important, because it focuses attention on the Church during the intensified stage of the Angelic Conflict.
In the head and the body analogy, Christ is the head and the Royal Family of God is the body. This speaks of Christ’s authority. The body emphasizes our differences in personality and spiritual gifts, Eph 1:22‑23; 2:16; 4:4‑5; 5:23; 1 Cor 12; Col 1:17‑18, 24; 2:19.
The Shepherd and the sheep analogy is found in John 10; Heb 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4. This analogy connotes the security and great blessings that come to us as members of the Royal Family of God. The analogy is apropos, for like us, sheep have no sense of direction, cannot fend for themselves, are helpless, and therefore need the guidance, sustenance, and protection of the Shepherd. The sheep must be guarded and fed by the under-shepherd, the Pastor of the local church.
The Vine and the branches analogy is taught in John 15:1‑6. Jesus Christ is the Vine; we are the branches. This analogy is used for union with Christ, i.e., positional truth and/or positional sanctification. The vine always represented stimulation. The production of the branches is your advance to maturity.
The concept of Christ as the Chief Cornerstone, and the stones of the building as the Church was first taught by Christ in Mat 16:16‑18 when He told Peter, “You are blessed, Simon, Son of Jonas. And on this rock [PETRA – πέτρα (pet’-ra) – giant rock, Lord Jesus Christ] I will build my Church [Royal Family of God]. Therefore, your name is now PETROS – Πέτρος (pet’-ros) [part or chip of a rock].” This reference to Christ as the Chief Cornerstone is found in Eph 2:20; 1 Peter 2:4‑8. Peter recognized that Christ, not himself or the Church, is the rock. The Church didn’t even exist in Mat 16. Christ is the link between the two walls, Israel and the Church. He is the ruler of both.
The analogy of the High Priest and the Royal Priesthood is found in Heb 7:25; 10:10‑14; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6. Only when the God‑Man ascended and was seated could Jesus Christ be a High Priest. Every believer in union with Christ is a royal priest.
The Groom and the bride analogy is found in 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25‑27; Rev 19:6‑8. This eschatological analogy speaks of the future of the Church as royal family of God. This will not be fulfilled until the Second Advent at the wedding feast of the Lamb. It takes seven years for the bride, the Church, to be prepared before the Judgment Seat of Christ. There will be no local churches in the Millennium.
The King and the Royal Family of God analogy is taught in Eph 1:22‑23; Col 2:10. Jesus Christ is the Royal King, and we are His family.
From each of these analogies, certain things are taught about your personal life as a Church Age believer.
As the human head governs the body to which it belongs, so authority is vested in the headship relation wherever it exists. In relation to Christ and the Church, He is the Head and we are the body.
Christ sustains at least six such relations, as:
- Head of principalities and powers, Eph 1:21; Col 2:10. Christ has universal authority over all angelic hosts.
- Head over every man, 1 Cor 11:3; cf. Eph 5:23. Whether recognized or admitted by men, Christ is ruling over all of them. To Him they must one day render an account.
- Head of the corner, Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7. See Eph 2:19-22, where the whole company of believers is seen as a building of God, Christ being the Headstone of the corner.
- Head over the mystic Body of Christ, the Church, Eph 4:15; Col 1:18; 2:19. This figure is used more than any other to represent the service and manifestation of Christ by or through the members of His Body.
- Head over the Bride, Eph 5:23-33. Here again the Church is in view with a unique relationship, which relationship is to be realized fully after the marriage of the Lamb.
- Christ ranks as Head over the New Creation, which creation is in Him and partakes of His resurrection life, Eph 1:19-23.
- The Head of Christ is God, 1 Cor 11:3. The authority which Christ exercises was given to Him by the Father, John 5:27; Acts 17:31; 1 Cor 15:25-28.
The Authority of the Bible, by John A. Witmer
Description. That the Bible is authoritative in some sense or other is acknowledged by all segments of the theological spectrum of Christendom. The Bible stands as the distinctive document of all groups that call themselves Christian. Therefore, they ascribe authority in some form to the holy Scriptures. This is true historically, as well as in the contemporary milieu. But truth is not created by consensus. In addition, previous discussion has demonstrated that this unanimity as to the fact of Biblical authority is balanced in contemporary theology by total disagreement as to the form and function of Biblical authority. The question therefore remains pertinent: What is the authority of the Bible? Inseparably joined to the consideration of this question is the complementary query: How does this authority reside in the Bible?
Authority Resides in God. Understanding of the word authority and its use is prerequisite to explaining the authority of the Bible. Webster’s New International Dictionary defines authority as “legal or rightful power…exercised by a person in virtue of his office or trust.” In the words of another dictionary, authority means “the power or right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action, or make final decisions.” From these definitions, it is obvious that authority in its ultimate form belongs to God. As the eternal essence, God is Creator of all things and exercises final authority as absolute sovereign of His universe (cf. Isa 45:9–10; Rom 9:20–21).
Other authorities in addition to God do exist:
- There is a sense in which every person has his form or area of authority. The Declaration of Independence affirmed that men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” But all these authorities came from God, who has ordained the distribution of authority in His universe. Such authority is called delegated authority. This is seen in the Bible, where the principal word for authority is exousia, which is frequently translated “power.” This word is applied to others besides God, but their authority comes from God. (B Sac 118:471 (Jul 61) p. 265). For example, Paul states, “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom 13:lc). This refers to civil authorities, and Paul is here discussing the Christian’s relationship to human government (vv. 1–7; cf. 1 Tim 2:1–4; Titus 3:1–2; 1 Pet 2:13–17). But this assertion also has a broader application to all the authorities God has delegated, for Paul also declares, “For there is no power but God” (Rom 13:lb). Throughout this discussion, the word exousia is used, and it is translated “power.”
- God has established other delegated authorities in addition to human government which the Bible recognizes. Foremost is the fact that He has delegated authority to the Lord Jesus Christ (e.g., Matt 28:18; John 5:27; 17:2). Man has been given authority over woman by creation (1 Tim 2:12–13; 1 Cor 11:3, 8–10) which is recognized and carried out in the church. Delegation of authority is involved in God’s calling men to be His spokesmen (Jer 1:7, 9–10; 2 Cor 10:8). And in a very real sense even Satan’s authority (Acts 26:18; Col 1:3), though secured by seizure, is exercised by the permissive will of God and thus is delegated.
- In addition, the Bible itself has a relationship to God. It records the history of God’s dealings with men. It reveals God in His Person and His program. It claims to speak the message of God to men. From the human point of view, the Bible was written by men whom God had called to be His spokesmen and to whom He had delegated authority. Therefore, the Bible also possesses a delegated authority from God. This authority is somewhat different; however, for the Scriptures represent themselves as being the very verbal expression of God, like a decree or a proclamation of a monarch which conveys directly the authority of the sovereign. In any case, the authority of the Bible is the authority of God. (See Doctrine of the Authority of the Bible.)
While believers positive toward doctrine advance to maturity, execute the protocol plan of God, and become invisible heroes, a positive believer cannot maintain and continue momentum unless he maintains and continues the basis for doing so, which is authority orientation. In order to have freedom, we must have authority and be oriented to that authority, which means to have the utmost respect for and honor the authority and authorities in your life.
- Perception of doctrine, the function of post-salvation epistemological rehabilitation, is based on a principle of authority orientation. Perception of Bible doctrine is the only way to advance spiritually. Such perception absolutely demands authority orientation.
- There is no way you can read your Bible for yourself and understand and execute God’s protocol plan. That is why God has given the spiritual gift of Pastor-Teacher, Eph 4:11.
Authority orientation is honor and humility. The greater the authority over people, the greater the responsibility to people. No matter how high we go in life, there is always higher authority that must be recognized in order to perpetuate humility as orientation to life.
Freedom and authority must coexist. You cannot have freedom without authority. Freedom without authority is anarchy. Authority without freedom is tyranny. Freedom includes the right of privacy, the right of self-determination, the right to hold your own opinions, and the sacredness of property and life. Establishment freedom is the heritage of physical birth.
Authority Orientation is one of the 11 Problem Solving Devices:
- Rebound – Psa 32:5b; 1 John 1:9
- Filling of the Holy Spirit – John 14:26; 16:12-14; Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16
- Doctrinal Orientation – Heb 11:1; 1 Thes 4:13
- Faith Rest Drill – Psa 37:4-5; Rom 4:20; 2 Cor 8:9; Heb 4:1-3
- Grace Orientation – Eph 3:20; 2 Cor 12:9
- Authority Orientation – Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-3:6; 2 Cor 10:8; Eph 5:22-24, 33b-6:9; Col 3:18-25
- Personal Sense of Destiny – Eph 3:16; Phil 4:9; Rom 9:23
- Personal Love for God the Father – 1 John 4:19; Rom 5:5; 8:28; 1 Cor 2:9
- Impersonal Unconditional Love for Mankind – John 15:15; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14
- Sharing the Perfect Happiness of God – John 15:11; Prov 3:13; 1 John 1:4
- Occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1:8
As such, when the believer is oriented to authority in life, it will first cause the avoidance of many problems in life, and secondly, adjust the mentality of the soul to overcome existing problems in life, especially those problems cause by rejection of authority.
Authority Orientation and Joy:
We build capacity for joy through Authority Orientation.
Remember that Joy is inner liveliness caused by response to metabolized Bible doctrine in the soul’s stream of consciousness. Joy is the reality of the spiritual life in the thinking of your soul. It is animated thinking as a result of God’s Word in your Soul. Authority orientation is life orientation. Therefore, regarding “Authority Orientation and Joy,” has to do with building capacity within your soul for joy by applying God’s Word to life’s situations where there is authority. When you apply God’s Word in life, your soul is freed from sin and the garbage of Satan’s Cosmic System that hinders happiness, and therefore you build capacity within your soul for the Joy of Jesus Christ, John 15:11.
Psa 89:15-18, “How blessed (happy) are the people who know the joyful sound (trumpet blast = authority orientation)! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance. 16In Your name they rejoice all the day, and by Your righteousness they are exalted. 17For You are the glory of their strength, and by Your favor (Grace) our horn is exalted (military victory). 18For our shield belongs to the LORD, even to our King the Holy One of Israel (Jesus Christ).”
We do not have joy when we reject authority in our lives, Rom 8:7; cf. 10:3.
Rom 8:7, “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”
Your authority orientation towards your Pastor/Teacher gives him great joy. It frees him from having to address various problems or situations that distract him from his main job – to study and teach, Heb 13:17.
Heb 13:7, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”
- You “remember” Pastors by attending Bible class, by praying for them, by understanding that they have an abnormal life, and supporting them financially, 1 Cor 9:3-14; 1 Tim 5:17-18.
- The issue of a Pastor’s way of life is their Bible doctrine, not their way of life. Are they faithful in studying and teaching the word?
Heb 13:16, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
- We must, according to our power, give to the necessities of the body of Christ especially towards the needs of our Pastor/Teachers.
- The Pastor is totally dependent on the grace of God and the grace of the local assembly.
- We are commanded to give graciously in all aspects especially in providing for our Pastor, 2 Cor 9:7-8.
- God accepts these offerings with pleasure, and will accept and bless the offerers through Christ.
Heb 13:17, “Obey your leaders (Pastor/Teacher) and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”
“Obey” is from the Greek word PEITHO – πείθω (pi’-tho) in the Present, Middle, Imperative with the Dative Case of HEGEOMIA – ἡγέομαι (hayg-eh’-om-ahee) that means, “leader.”
This means to abide by the teaching of your right Pastor Teacher and his delegated authority.
“Submit” is also an Imperative Mood in the Present Tense and Active Voice of HUPEIKO – ὑπείκω (hoop-i’-ko) which is an old Greek compound that means, “to yield under, to give up, or to give way to authority.” Ultimately it means, “to submit to authority.” It is used here only in New Testament.
This means to humble yourself under the authority of your Pastor/Teacher. This is primarily wrapped up under his teaching authority, which means you show up to class when he is teaching and in objectivity you learn from him.
So, we have the dual command to obey and submit that brings together two systems of authority in the Royal Family: The right Pastor, plus the function of your own free will in positive volition toward Bible doctrine.
Principle: Your obedience and submission to your Pastor/Teacher has a direct correlation to your obedience and submission to God.
“Keep watch over your soul,” is the Greek verb AGRUPNEO – ἀγρυπνέω (ag-roop-neh’-o); from AGREUO – ἀγρεύω (ag-rew’-o) that means,” to catch, take by hunting,” and HUPNOS – ὕπνος (hoop’-nos) that means, “sleep.” So, AGRUPNEO literally means, “to be sleepless or wakeful,” but comes to mean, “to be alert, keep on the alert, or to keep watch.”
Whether you believe it or not, the Pastor is a protector of your soul under the direct authority of God. He protects your soul by teaching pertinent doctrines from God’s Word as led by God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate Shepherd and Guardian of your soul, 1 Peter 2:25, “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
He is the capital “S” shepherd and “G” guardian while the Pastor/Teacher under the delegated authority of God is the lower case “s” and “g”.
Jesus Christ’s guardianship comes from His Word as taught by the Pastor/Teacher through the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit.
“Not with grief” is the Greek verb STENAZO – στενάζω (sten-ad’-zo) from STENO that means, “to moan, sigh, or groan.” So, STENAZO means, “to groan (within oneself).”
BDAG defines its usage here as, “to express oneself involuntarily in the face of an undesirable circumstance, to sigh or groan.”
This is in contrast to the Pastor having joy. If the congregation is not submitting to his authority by; not showing up to class, not obeying his teachings, not applying it in life, not supporting him fully financially, or honoring his administrative authority within the Church, there will be grief in his soul, just as the Spirit is grieved, Eph 4:30.
“This would be unprofitable for you,” is the Adjective ALUSITELES – ἀλυσιτελής (al-oo-sit-el-ace’) that means, “unprofitable or of no advantage or help.”
The Pastor’s job is to study diligently so that you can learn the Word of God and apply it within your life. If your Pastor has any grief at all he is hindered in performing his job which will negatively affect your soul and your spiritual life. At best, you won’t be as fruitful as you could have been. At worst, you will fall into reversionism and have misery of your own with loss of reward.
Heb 13:17, “Let them do this with Joy, [CHARA – χαρά (khar-ah’)]”
- Pastors (PT) do not rule over you in the sense of telling you what to do, but in the sense of teaching you what God expects from you and how to execute His Plan. (As the PT walks as an example for you Heb 13:7, 18).
- You submit to the Pastor’s authority by listening to their communication of Bible doctrine.
- Your duty to your Pastor/Teachers is to obey and submit to them, so far as what they are teaching is agreeable to the mind and will of God, made known in His Word. Compare with Heb 13:8-9.
- The Pastor’s authority is established on the basis of the teaching of Bible doctrine. The issue is not the man’s personality but the message. However, He does have responsibility to be a righteous man with a good reputation within and outside the church, 1 Tim 3:1-7; Heb 13:7.
- Since the Pastor’s authority is Bible teaching, his ministry does not violate the privacy of the individual priesthood. Therefore, the Pastor fulfills his responsibility under the mandates of 1 Tim 4:10; 2 Tim 4:2; 1 Peter 5:2.
2 Tim 4:2, “Preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort (when warranted by context), and do this with all patience and teaching.”
1 Tim 4:10, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”
R.B. Thieme Jr. translated it as, “For because of this (communication of Bible doctrine), we work hard to the point of exhaustion, and we hang in there tough, because we have confidence in the living God who is the Savior of all men.”
- The believer should never think that he is too wise, too good, or too great, to learn Bible doctrine from their Pastor. Regardless of a believer’s spiritual growth, he must continually search the Scriptures. So far as the Pastor teaches according to God’s Word, the congregation ought to receive his instructions as the Word of God, which works in those that believe.
- It is in the interest of the hearers that the account their Pastor gives of them may be with joy and not with grief.
Phil 4:1 personalizes this concept, “Therefore, my brethren, loved ones [congregation who is respected for their faithfulness], deeply desired ones, my joy and my crown, keep on standing firm in the Lord [winners of the crown of righteousness], my loved ones.”
1 Thes 2:19‑20, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? [At the Judgment Seat of Christ, those who have attained spiritual maturity are the crown of glory for the Pastor.] 20For you are our glory and joy.”
- Faithful Pastors will deliver their souls, but the ruin of a fruitless and faithless people will be upon their own heads, they can only blame themselves.
- The more earnestly the congregation prays for their Pastor, the more benefit they may expect from their ministry.
- A good conscience has respect for all of God’s commands and all our duty, including this one [Heb 13:17].
- The equipping / perfecting of the saints in every good work [Eph 4:2], is the great thing desired by the positive Pastor/Teacher, as well as the desire of the Pastor to be fitted for the employment and happiness of heaven. He wants to be used by God.
- There is no good thing in us except that which is made by the work of God. The delegation of authority from God to the Pastor, who is abiding in Christ for His sake and by His Spirit, is the means by which God’s good is worked in us.
- God’s good in the positive believer is what brings joy to the Pastor/Teacher.
Authority Orientation towards governing authorities frees the soul so that the joy of God can come in, Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Prov 21:15.
- “to be subject to” is the Greek verb HUPOTASSO – ὑποτάσσω (hoop-ot-as’-so) and is in the Imperative Mood which is a command in Romans and Peter. In Titus 3:1, the word “remind” is in the Imperative Mood, where Titus is commanded to remind believers of the command, “to be in subjection to authority.”
Prov 21:15, “The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.”
Workers who submit to their bosses have capacity for joy, Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-24; 1 Peter 2:18-19, 25; with 1 Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9.
Wives who submit to the authority of their husbands have capacity for joy. The husband has authority over the wife. The husband’s authority over his wife provides great happiness in category two love. This stabilizes category two love, Eph 5:22-24, 33b; Col 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-6.
Children who submit to the authority of their Parents have capacity for joy, Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20; with Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Prov 6:20; 23:22-25.
Rejection of authority carries responsibility, and results in a life of misery, unhappiness, disaster, and no human or Spiritual Self-Esteem, Rom 13:5.
Rom 13:5, “Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection …for conscience’ sake.”
The Role of Human Volition in Accepting Authority:
Response to authority is a function of human volition. The function of authority is a matter of personal volition. The acceptability of authority in this life is dependent upon human volition.
Human freedom provides the option of accepting or rejecting authority in life, both legitimate and illegitimate. While God has delegated legitimate authority in life, these authorities are useless if human volition does not accept them.
All legitimate authority in life is delegated by God through two categories of truth: the laws of Divine Establishment, and the content of Bible doctrine.
All illegitimate authority in life is based upon the function of man’s arrogance in the cosmic system of Satan. Power lust is one of the motivating factors in arrogance.
From the example of the woman and Adam in the Garden of Eden, arrogance results from the rejection of legitimate authority in life. Such arrogance is the source of evil and psychosis. Rejection of authority causes people to degenerate, either morally or immorally. For example:
- The wife who rejects the authority of her husband becomes uncontrollable in society.
- The most awful and awesome mistake people make is the rejection of the authority of their parents. Your attitude toward their authority determines whether you ever grow up or not. Predominant rejection of authority of parents destroys a society.
- The rejection of the authority of legitimate government is destructive.
- The rejection of the authority of teachers and coaches is very detrimental.
- Rejection of all the above authorities means you have the potential of becoming a criminal. It means you will reject the authority of the police officer, the judge on the bench, and of management. Such a miserable person makes those in his periphery miserable.
- Rejection of authority does carry responsibility, and results in a life of misery, unhappiness, disaster, and no human or spiritual self-esteem.
While God has delegated authority in life to such legitimate categories as government, husbands, parents, teachers, coaches, public officers, judges, and management, this authority is useless apart from human consent. You can be bullied into accepting authority, but it does no good in the long run. What makes authority work is human consent, where rational human beings understand the importance of the principle of authority, regardless of whether they like the personality or not.
- For example, the husband has legitimate authority over his wife. But his authority is useless unless his wife, from her own free will, recognizes and accepts it. Regardless of whether she is motivated by love or something else, she must accept his authority. Personal love does not accept human authority, unless the authority agrees with it and does what it wants. But as soon as the authority says, “no,” then the personal love is gone. Without impersonal love, the woman resents the authority of the man, and therefore becomes an uncontrollable woman.
- While parents have authority in the home, this authority is useless apart from training and discipline, which eventuates in the child accepting the parents’ authority. While young, children must recognize the authority of their parents. As a result, they will develop love and respect for their parents later on. But if you reject the authority of your parents, you will be a misfit in society. You never really grow up until you accept authority.
- Legitimate government has authority over its citizenry, but that authority is useless apart from human consent. Human consent is expressed in this country by voting for someone you think will do the job. The important factor is the consent of the governed. Apart from human consent, there is revolution, civil war, violence, terrorism, crime, dictatorships, slavery, and other functions of evil.
- The biggest thing that keeps you from growing up is your rejection of authority, your lack of consent to submit to necessary authority.
Therefore, legitimate authority is only effective where human volition responds to it under the principle of freedom. When we choose for legitimate authority, we are blessed both individually and collectively. However, when people through arrogance and power madness gravitate to the cosmic system, they use their volition to make decisions from a position of weakness which has both personal and national repercussions.
Every person is a product of their own decisions. Good decisions from a position of strength accept authority and develop capacity for life. Bad decisions from a position of weakness reject authority and fulfill passages dealing with the laws of volitional responsibility, Hos 8:7; Gal 6:7; Prov 22:8; Col 3:25.
Believers who gravitate to a life of fulfillment of lust and arrogance have used their free will to ruin their lives. Young people who resist the authority of their parents have developed a habit which will destroy their lives.
- How does the rise of dictatorship and evil happen? People use their own free will to gravitate to a system of evil power, especially in time of historical disaster. Such small groups as the Bolsheviks and Nazis have controlled millions of people, because the people surrendered to them with their own free will, gravitating to a system of power.
- When people gravitate to the power of GPS, they use their own volition to make good decisions for legitimate authority, and inevitably receive Divine blessing as they become mature believers.
- However, when believers gravitate to the power of the cosmic system, they use their volition to make bad decisions from a position of weakness. Inevitably, they give their authority to evil leaders with disastrous consequences.
- Evil has no authority apart from human consent. We are the products of our own decisions. We are constantly assigning authority to evil people who represent the cosmic system. This is how dictators become oppressors of the people. This explains the rise of terror in the French Revolution, as well as the rise of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. In times of tribulation, the free will of man often chooses for an alleged or apparent strong man. By so doing, man establishes the authority of evil in dictatorship. Therefore, in history, disaster is the result of individual and collective decisions of people. People are the products of their own volition.
- Good decisions from a position of strength place the believer in the directive will of God. The believer is both protected and blessed in the directive will of God. The winners in history never deviate from the Divine authority of God’s directive will and His mandates, which lead the believer to spiritual maturity, the establishment of a pivot, and the manufacture of invisible heroes.
- When believers reject authority in childhood and adolescence, they will reject the authority of Bible doctrine, which is tantamount to rejecting God’s protection in His directive will. Destruction of the authority of God in your life is a guarantee of a disastrous life.
Rom 13:1, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
1 Peter 2:13-15, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
Act 23:5 “You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people.” When the Lord tells us to go and face the authority, He is always just, and when we obey Him, He will always act on our behalf.”
1 Sam 17:47, “The battle is the Lord’s.”
Ex 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
Isa 54:17, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.”
2 Cor 13:8, “For we can do nothing against the truth but only for the truth.”
Glorifying God Through Authority:
Rom 13:1 “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities [children under parents, citizens under government, employee under employer, etc.]. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
The Divine solution to solving your problem does not include running away from the problem or the scene of adversity. Running away is never a solution. The Divine solution recognizes the principle of human authority even when that authority has been abused and distorted. Most of the time when you think that the authority is wrong or abusive or distorted, it is just your arrogance that gives you that point of view, and the authority is usually right, no matter how bad it may seem.
1 Peter 2:13-3:1 “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution [parents over children, government over citizens, employer over employee], whether to a king as the one in authority or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right [submitting to authority] you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves to God. Honor all men by respecting their privacy; love the Royal Family of God; respect God and honor the government. Servants be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed…”
Authority: by Lewis Sperry Chafer:
Though recognizing God as supreme, the general theme of authority may be extended from that point on almost without end. All the material is subject to a twofold division, namely, (1) authority which is external to man, and (2) that which is internal.
EXTERNAL. This conception includes the authority of God, of the separate Persons of the Godhead, of angels, of human governments, of the apostles, of the Bible, and of the church. The subject matter includes every situation wherein one or more intelligences determine the actions of others. Comment bearing upon each of these several divisions is in order.
THE TRIUNE GOD. By right of creation—the most absolute of all prerogatives comes—the ground of Divine authority. To be the Originator, the Designer, and the Executor of all that exists becomes at once the basis for transcendent, peerless, and incomparable authority. Whatever lesser authorities there may be, it must be predicated of them that they are only relative and such as are allowed by the One who is Supreme. The fact and extent of other authorities than that of God should not be contemplated apart from recognition of the over-all authority of God. Authority in the hands of those who are unworthy of it is most dangerous, and so it is cause for great thanksgiving that God is what He is; His is perfect trustworthiness, perfect wisdom, perfect purpose, infinite power, and infinite love.
THE FATHER. In the present relationship which exists within the Godhead, the Father is revealed as granting authority to the Son and directing the Holy Spirit. It is to the Father that Christ ever turned in prayer and expectation, and the believer is directed to pray to the Father (John 16:23) with the same recognition of His supreme authority and power.
THE SON. Though Christ could say, “All power [R.V., authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18; cf. 1 Cor. 15:25-28), He does, nevertheless, acknowledge that the power is granted Him by the Father. He said accordingly, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” (John 5:26-27). Much indeed is implied when He claimed “all authority” and “judgment.” These are the prerogatives of God. There is no intimation here that in His adorable Person the Son is inferior to the Father. In the outworking of creation and redemption, however it has pleased the Persons of the Godhead to be related to each other as They are. Christ in consequence did His mighty works through the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. All such representation of the Son is better understood when it is remembered that Christ was living in the human sphere and adapting Himself to that limitation. Respecting Christ’s authority, note Matthew 7:29; 9:6, 8; 21:23-27; Mark 1: 22, 27; 11:2, 8-29, 33; John 5:2-7.
THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit is sent forth by both the Father and the Son, which fact indicates that He receives authority from those who send Him; He indeed exercises great authority in the world. He it is who restrains evil, who convicts the world, and who guides and empowers the believer (cf. Acts 13:2).
THE ANGELS. When angelic creation is described as in Colossians 1:16, there is mention of “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.” By these terms reference is made to the authority which the angels exercise within their own order and sphere. It is true, as in the case of Satan, that some authority is granted them in their appointed relations with men (cf. Luke 4:6; 12:5; 22:53; Acts 26:18; Eph 2:2; Col 1:13; Rev 6:8; 9:3, 10, 19; 13:4-5, 7, 12; 20:6).
THE CIVIL RULERS. The Word of God not only requires subjection to earthly authority, but declares that rulers are appointed of God. Such, indeed, is the supreme authority of God over all else as to control even government (cf. Prov 24:21; Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-17).
THE APOSTLES. Very special authority was extended to the apostles, and for this the Apostle Paul contended throughout his ministry; not for self-advancement, of course, but that his God-given right might be exercised in full according to the plan and will of God (Luke 9:1; 2 Cor 10:8).
THE BIBLE. Reflecting the Supreme Authority of God as actually His revealed will, the Word of Truth is to be obeyed by all who come under His Divine rule.
THE CHURCH. This kind of rule may be perverted, as in the case of Rome, but the Word of God directs that subjection be rendered by all within the church to those who are set over them in authority. The practical outworking of ecclesiastical authority has been the cause of endless strife throughout the history of the church.
INTERNAL. Without perhaps the same degree of definiteness, there is to be recognized the authority which arises through spiritual and moral appeal, through conscience, through customs, and through sentiment. All this and more like it may so dominate the mind and heart as to become a motivating influence.