Authority Requires Two

​According to Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the word authority has gone through numerous meanings. First, it meant “to have leave or permission.” In this sense, authority was something that one had only as a result of someone else giving it to them.  Next, this word carried the meaning of being “endued.” Here one was acknowledged to have authority with the assumption that they were to be respected. Finally, authority was defined as “having the ability or strength to exercise power.” One must note that there has always been some confusion relating to authority verses power.  It is understood that power denotes “ability, force, strength, and might.” In a spiritual sense, this word signified “mighty works, mighty deeds, and miracles.”  However, the significant difference involving power is its meaning when defined “as absolute or unrestricted.” This definition is usually associated to God who alone is understood to have absolute or unrestricted power. Man does not have this kind of power.  It is generally accepted that more than often man’s use of power needs to be limited. Power has the ability to corrupt the one who has it regardless of the context in which it is expressed. Many men and women have been desperately challenged to not allow power to alter their identity and purpose in life.  In short, human beings need accountability when it comes to power.
Luke 22:25- 26 addresses this reality in the context of how power can corrupt men and women. “Jesus said to them, the kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” The question that had arisen among the disciples of Jesus focused on “which of them was considered to be the greatest.” The point being identified here is that men seem to equate power with greatness.  The one who has power is also the one who is considered to be the greatest.  Jesus goes so far as to use the terminology that those who consider themselves powerful also lord this mentality over others. He continues by using the word benefactor when referring to the kings of the Gentiles. A benefactor is someone who helps others by giving money for their cause. Jesus emphatically states that His followers are not to be like these leaders. It is implied that even though they had the potential to help others, their use of their authority was motivated more for their own benefit as opposed to those in need. Light is also shed on the fact that these benefactors viewed themselves as rulers.
Biblically speaking, man has been given the right to exercise authority. But this right must come from someone else other than the one exercising it. In other words, there is always someone with more authority and ultimately one with more power.  The exercise of authority is always dependent on the power it is associated with. Put another way, the one with the power also dictates how that power is to be used or expressed. Thus, the one with power also dictates the purpose, or how their power is supposed to be used by those given the right or ability to represent it.  Jesus shares with His disciples how the Father intended for His power to be exercised by men. He emphasized that the exercise of power was never meant to make one greater than someone else. It is evident that men, then and now, struggled with authority because their motives often ran contrary to God’s purpose for sharing it with them. Like the kings of the Gentiles, many today abuse this God-given authority by taking advantage of the poor or less fortunate, or by simply forgetting about those in need.
Authority, by its very purpose, requires two. It must involve an understanding of its purpose. James 1:17 declares that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  God created mankind and gave to them dominion. Dominion is simply the right to represent God’s power using delegated authority. God intended for man to use His authority according to His purpose or will. Anyone who exercises authority without an awareness of the power behind it will most often abuse it. Even Jesus humbly acknowledged that “all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him.” As a result, He commanded His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-19). The ability of the followers to fulfill the command of Jesus requires a right relationship with the one who represents power as well as a commitment to the purpose for which He shared it with them. Authority will always require two! God and man must work together for the benefit of all mankind.

​​In His Service,

Dr. Clarence V. Boyd, Jr.
Senior Pastor, RRTEC

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