The Scriptures teach that authority exists and is exercised in the natural and supernatural worlds, and that all legitimate authority proceeds from the sovereign rule of God Himself. Misappropriated authority is also exercised in rebellion to God’s gracious rule, but ultimately all illegitimate authorities throughout the universe will be utterly subdued, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and of the Father, will be universally recognised.
Through Christ’s atoning sacrifice and resurrection, authority has been restored to the believer, who is now commissioned to enforce Christ’s victory and extend God’s gracious rule and kingdom reign.
The concept of authority in the Bible
- The right or power to enforce rules or give orders
- Somebody or something with official power
- Power to act on behalf of somebody else or official permission to do something
- Somebody who is accepted as a source of reliable information on a subject, or a book in which such information is given
- An official body that is set up by a government to administer an area of activity (often used in the plural)
- A statement that makes somebody believe something is true
- The ability to gain the respect of other people and to influence or control what they do
- Knowledge, skill, or experience worthy of respect
- A law or legal decision that is cited as establishing a precedent or a principle
- A form of rule that is seen as legitimate
Webster’s Dictionary defines authority in part as:
Au·thor-i·ty, n.; pl. Authorities . [OE. autorite, auctorite, F. autoriteé, fr. L. auctoritas, fr. auctor. See Author, n.] 1. Legal or rightful power; a right to command or to act; power exercised by a person in virtue of his office or trust; dominion; jurisdiction; authorization; as, the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children; the authority of a court.
2. Government; the persons or the body exercising power or command; as, the local authorities of the States; the military authorities. [Chiefly in the plural.]
The principle of authority is taught in the Scriptures, having two sides:
- The authority we must submit to
- The authority we exercise ourselves.
Both are interrelated and cannot be properly understood apart from one another.
The Biblical concept of authority is not based on control, but service. Those with the greatest authority also carry the greatest responsibility to love and serve others with the power entrusted to them.
Many today would like to misinterpret the freedom we enjoy in Christ by postulating that we now have no need to submit to any authority. Still others, having experienced abuse from the authorities over them, shy away from submission to any authority fearing control and abuse from the hands of those they submit to. There is also a general streak of rebellion in the unredeemed heart that opposes authority, fighting for its own way and trusting in its own wisdom. This hard heart of unbelief and distrust is replaced with a soft heart of flesh in regeneration. For some of these reasons however, a biblical and balanced teaching of authority is necessary to set people free both the enjoy the benefits of healthy submission, and proper exercise of authority.
The Scriptures speak of authorities instituted by God in many realms of life:
God is the ultimate authority
God the Father is the ultimate authority in the universe, an authority which He has at this time delegated to His Son:
“For [Christ] must be King and reign until He has put all [His] enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be subdued and abolished is death. For He [the Father] has put all things in subjection under His [Christ’s] feet. But when it says, All things are put in subjection [under Him], it is evident that He [Himself] is excepted Who does the subjecting of all things to Him. However, when everything is subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also subject Himself to [the Father] Who put all things under Him, so that God may be all in all [be everything to everyone, supreme, the indwelling and controlling factor of life].” (1Cor 15:25-28 AMP)
Final judgment in all matters rests with Him. As the creator of all things, all things come under His gracious jurisdiction, and all are ultimately accountable to and subject to Him.
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
The term “sovereignty” connotes a situation in which a person, from his innate dignity, exercises supreme power, with no areas of his province outside his jurisdiction. A “sovereign” is one who enjoys full autonomy, allowing no rival immunities. As applied to God, the term “sovereignty” indicates His complete power over all of creation, so that He exercises His will absolutely, without any necessary conditioning by a finite will or wills. The term does not occur in Scripture, although the idea is abundantly implied. The major metaphor employed is that of “ruler and subject.” The doxologies and prophetic exclamations bear much of the weight of Biblical statement of the divine sovereignty. To be noted are the following: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever” (1 Tim 1:17); the words of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, “…till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will” (Dan 4:25,34-35); and “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation” (Jer 10:10). God’s sovereignty is His omnipotence expressing itself in relation to the created world…” THE ZONDERVAN PICTORIAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE
People, and even angels, have at times chosen to rebel against God’s rightful authority, but ultimately all will one day face judgement for their rebellion, and not one will escape the jurisdiction of the Judge and Governor of all.
“The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth. (1Sam 2:10a NKJV)
“(For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us);” (Is 33:22 NKJV)
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:” (2Tim 4:1 NKJV)
The Sovereign right and rule of God is balanced in His own being by His amazing patience and grace. He is full of loving kindness and chooses not to lord it over His creation. He rather lovingly calls them to freely submit themselves to His rule. He forces Himself on no one. God our Father is an absolute authority, yet He is not authoritarian in the exercise of His governmental right.
All legitimate authority flows from God’s absolute authority
There is no authority in the created universe that is inherent to the one exercising that authority. All authority is derived from the absolute authority of God. All legitimate authority finds its source in Him. All authority is therefore a delegated, not an inherent authority, and in any given sphere of rulership the one exercising dominion does so by the dispensation of divine authority granted to them by God.
Even ungodly rulers are said to hold influence only by permission. Examples include Pharaoh (Rom 9:17), Cyrus (Isa 44:28; 45:1); Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 5:18).
All authority belongs to God, and is presently exercised through His Son, Jesus Christ:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matt 28:18 NKJV)
Jesus authority is over all earthly rulers, as well as the dominions in the heavenlies. Through the cross He stripped the demonic spirits, who were exercising a perverse dominion in the second heaven, of all their authority there. The delegated authority unwittingly handed to satan and his entourage by Adam, was won back by Jesus Christ.
Originally all powers in the spiritual world were instituted by God to exercise and perpetuate His loving rule throughout the universe:
“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Col 1:16)
In handing authority of the created world over to Adam, and through Adam into the hands of His enemy, God began a redemptive process whereby this intrusive and illegitimate authority, one which had perverted the nature and purpose of God’s instituted principle of gracious rule, would once again be brought to naught and authority reinstated to rightful hands. This was accomplished through the cross:
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (the cross).” (Colossians 2:15 NKJV)
“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1Cor 2:6-8 NKJV)
Through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the resurrection, satan’s authority through Adam was abolished. He and his governments were stripped bare, brought to nothing, and utterly overcome.
Christ, who now delivers it to whomever He wills, victoriously won authority back.
Illegitimate authority is now only exercised through the descendents of Adam who knowingly or ignorantly hand their will over to the deceiver.
Satan has no legitimate authority, delegated or otherwise, in any realm. His only hope of exercising dominion is to deceive, and through deception influence the lives of men and women held in his snare.
Again, although God has the ability and right to impose His dominance, He chooses to value the free will of His created beings rather than violate those created in His image. Because of this demons still exert influence through the unsanctified will of men and women.
The Bible speaks of specific authorities instituted by God. When we submit to these authorities with a right heart it aligns us to receive from God, and be blessed. Rebellion against God’s instituted authorities spiritually misaligns our lives.
Authorities placed by God include:
- Civil and social authorities Governments, council, police, judiciary, schoolteachers, work managers etc
- Authorities in the home – father and mother
- Ecclesiastical authority – church leaders
- Angelic authority
Civil and social authorities
“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,” (Titus 3:1 NKJV)
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Rom 13:1-7 NKJV)
“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Col 3:22-25 NKJV)
“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9 NKJV)
Civil, social and governmental authorities are instituted by God, and execute their given office on God’s behalf to maintain peace and justice in society, and bring public benefit.
Such authorities would include government ministers, school teachers, police, judges, managers at work, highway authorities etc. The Holy Ghost makes specific reference to the tax man as one of His ministers, probably because this is an area where people, even unfortunately Christians, are tempted to live dishonestly.
Any legitimate authority in society attends upon a ministry given by God. Even if those authorities themselves fail to realise the true source of their authority, we, as Christians, should submit wholeheartedly to these authorities as an obedience and praise to God. We are also encouraged to pray for them without wrath and doubting in 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
When an authority accepts its call from God, and attends to their ministry with a servant’s heart, a dispensation of grace is released to fulfil the responsibilities delegated to them. The anointing upon a policeman as God’s minister for law and order may be different to the anointing on a pastor or an evangelist, but it is no less significant.
The only time it becomes necessary to resist authority is when they actively seek to divert people from the truth of God’s Word, and coerce those they are given authority over into sin and transgression against God’s principles. For example, a boss may demand dishonest practices of his employees. A Christian would be bound to the higher authority of God’s word in such a case and could not in true conscience submit to the will of his/her misguided manager.
Where at all possible, without contravening conscience, the born-again Christian should glorify God by their trusting submission to instituted authority, even if those authorities are not perfect!
Authorities in the home
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33 NKJV)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise :“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph 6:1-4 NKJV)
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:18-21)
In all arenas there is a divine order which, when adhered to, yields blessing to those who align themselves.
Divine order in the home begins with marriage.
All reference to Godly order in the home is in the context of covenant loyalty between two partners, a man and a woman, for life. Within these boundaries the man is called to be the head of the home, providing protection, sustenance, direction and stability for the family, the wife is called to be the heart of the home, providing security, nurture and wisdom and a positive environment for growth and love. The children are called to submit to the wise God centred authority of their parents under God, knowing that the commandment to honour parents comes with a promise of long and fulfilling life.
The husband is the head not necessarily because of natural gifting or wisdom, but by God’s ordinance, and should wisely guide the home in consultation with his wife, deferring where necessary to her insight. He remains however the final authority and should be the decision maker, guiding the home toward godliness in all things. He is responsible before God to love His wife and seek her utmost benefit in all he does, serving his family as Christ loves and serves His Bride, the church.
The wife in turn must choose to submit herself to her own husband, deferring to him in all things and trusting that through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, he will be guided to make the right decisions.
Together with the Holy Spirit, the married couple, aligned within God’s order, and unified in mind and heart toward the purpose of God, become a three stranded cord that cannot easily be broken.
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Eccl 4:12 NKJV)
As we come into right order – not just the wife submitting to the husband but also the husband rising to his place of headship and responsibility, the anointing for harmony and growth is released. Both husband, wife and children will enjoy increased protection and blessing.
This takes humility on all parts, the woman relying on God to guide the husband, the man laying down his self-reliance and accepting God’s grace (empowerment) to fulfil his delegated responsibility.
To misadminister what has been entrusted to us is a very serious matter, and should not be taken lightly. The admonition to husbands is to love their wives with a supernatural love, not lord it over them arrogantly, abusing the ordinance of Scripture to get their own way. Godly authority and leadership always puts us in a place of servanthood, upholding those we are called to lead.
God has also ordained definite authorities in His own house and Kingdom. We will consider in more detail what the Bible has to say regarding leadership and church structure in a later module. However we here present just a few verses and comments on this important area of authority.
“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” (1Peter 5:1-5 NKJV)
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
…Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Heb 13:7,17 NKJV)
Authority in the church does not proceed from a title or position, but flows from the Source who places those men and women in position. He is the Head of the church, and it is God Himself who fits His Body together as it pleases Him:
“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NKJV)
Authority is delegated from the Head down, and men and women are given as gifts to the Body, not for their own benefit and exaltation, but rather that the whole Body be lifted to full maturity and stature, with each individual member being recognised and released into their unique ministry to one another, and to the world:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Eph 4:11-13)
We will consider what the Bible says about church authority, leadership and structure in a later module, “The Church of the Living God”.
As Jesus pointed out and demonstrated, worldly leadership is often very different to the leadership in His kingdom:
“But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”” (Mark 9:34-35 NKJV)
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” (Mark 10:42-45 NKJV)
Having laid such a foundation we need to stress however that the authority given by God to His ministers is very real and should be humbly exercised by those called into such service. Paul the Apostle understood this well, and encouraged his disciples to fulfil their ministry unapologetically, trusting God to endorse their ministry:
“And show your own self in all respects to be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works, teaching what is unadulterated, showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive], with dignity and seriousness. And let your instruction be sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and irrefutable and above censure, so that the opponent may be put to shame, finding nothing discrediting or evil to say about us…Tell [them all] these things. Urge (advise, encourage, warn) and rebuke with full authority. Let no one despise or disregard or think little of you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect].” (Titus 2:7-8,15 AMP)
“He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error].” (Titus 1:9 AMP)
“And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending). Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong. He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness, in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God’s] will.” (2Tim 2:24-26 AMP)
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2Tim 4:2-4 NKJV)
Church authorities are instituted by God for our protection and blessing, not to control or manipulate. When we come into proper divine order, choosing to submit to one another according to God’s instruction, we position ourselves for divine flow. God blesses the humble, but resists the proud. This statement is made in 1 Pet 5:5 in relation to submission to instituted authority. If we desire grace (God’s empowerment to prosper) we must first humble ourselves and empower other God appointed persons to speak into our lives.
The realm of angels was covered in detailed teaching in Module 4: Spiritual Realities, Lesson 3. Here we simply want to reaffirm the truth that all authority, angelic or otherwise, is a delegated authority, existing in and flowing from God Himself as the Source. Scripture makes it clear that there are spiritual structures of authority operating in the invisible realm. Satan has perverted these to set up his contrary establishment in the realm of the spirit, but the God instituted authorities and ranks still exist and operate according to His command. All were originally made for His pleasure and to uphold and serve His Kingdom purposes (Colossians 1:16).
Michael appeals to His Source
“Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”” (Jude 1:9 NKJV)
Here we see the Archangel Michael, one of the primary angelic beings mentioned in Scripture, who does not operate in his own authority even though in himself he is a mighty being to be reckoned with. Instead he cites the authority from which his influence is derived saying, “The Lord rebuke you…”.
The context of these scriptures is highlighting the foolishness of those who scorn and reject authority and government, and who seek to operate in spiritual authority with ignorance and arrogance.
A mature understanding of authority and submission is essential to effectively wage spiritual warfare.
Submission to instituted authorities and humility
“Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” (1Pet 5:5 NKJV)
By nature man is proud, relying and trusting in his own judgement and ability. In every realm of life however, God calls us to live a life of humility, submitting to one another in the fear of God, and leading with dignity, sensitivity and diligence, fully reliant on God’s wisdom and anointing. Peter makes it clear that as we do this God’s grace will be released to us. God resists the proud (self-reliant) but gives grace (empowers, shows favour to and blesses) the humble.
Proper alignment to authority comes with a reward from the Source:
““Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:” (Eph 6:2 NKJV)
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good….” (Rom 13:3-4)
Authority and the fear of God
The Bible says that to seek a place of leadership, oversight and influence is an honourable ambition, but equally warns of the responsibility that comes with such authority when it is granted.
“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” (1Tim 3:1 NKJV)
“My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1 NKJV)
The late Dr Ed Cole rightly said that authority does not come with age but with the acceptance of responsibility. Recognition that we will one day give account to God for our stewardship, and that those who have accepted a dispensation of authority to influence others will receive a stricter judgement, should help leaders to keep drawing on God’s grace and goodness that they might administer the authority they have received in a way worthy of His name.
All authority comes with an increased accountability and responsibility.
Those who seek positions of influence with wrong motives, and who misadminister their divine office of authority, fail to realise that they will one day face a stricter judgement before God. Men who fornicate and take no responsibility for children born of that fornication are an example, or church leaders who seek position for monetary purposes or to satisfy their ego are another. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and in any capacity of leadership wisdom is requisite.
“And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, “My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:42-48 NKJV)
In this illustration Jesus affirms the truth that the authority derived from stewardship also comes with increased responsibility and accountability. To whom much is given much is required.
A steward is simply a servant, one who does the will of another, for the benefit of others. The servant is a lowly rank and place, and Jesus elsewhere likens the work of leadership and ministry to this position of humility. If we are servants, our Master should receive the glory for our works of service. Also, Jesus makes it clear that qualification for exhalation and promotion, is the result of faithful stewardship in our present responsibilities.
Consider the following passages from Matthew and Mark. Consider the nature of true authority in your discussions, and also consider some practices in today’s church that would be contrary to the spirit of these scriptures.
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, “Rabbi, Rabbi. ’But you, do not be called “Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.””
“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”
But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They said to Him, “We are able.”
So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.””
Many of the people who are ‘first’ now will be ‘last’ on the day of judgement. Many of whom we have never heard, who are faithfully serving in lowly places where none will ever see them, will one day be lifted to positions of great influence and authority in the world to come. Let us serve with utmost humility and seriousness, not becoming drunk with power or popularity, or growing lazy in our God given responsibilities. Will Jesus find you tending to your duties when He arrives?
As servants of God anticipating our welcome into heaven as ‘good and faithful’ is our attitude here that God owes us something for our services rendered, or that people are obligated to us in respect to our title or position? Or is it as Jesus encouraged in Luke 10:10:
“Even so on your part, when you have done everything that was assigned and commanded you, say, We are unworthy servants [possessing no merit, for we have not gone beyond our obligation]; we have [merely] done what was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10 AMPLIFIED)
Concluding remarks on these sessions regarding Biblical authority
We have established from Scripture that God has instituted authority as a principle in His universe and that His authority is administered in many arenas of life. All authority flows from God, and as such, stewardship of His authority is granted to individuals who are then accountable for the responsibility that comes with the dispensation of influence God grants. Then, as we are faithful in our God-given responsibilities, He will entrust us with more.
A man or woman of true authority is one who serves those whom he or she has been given the authority to influence.
We will now move to consider the truths concerning our authority in Christ Jesus, and the implications of these truths for the Believer.