Monday, February 18, 2008

The Meaning of Authority

When we accomplish things in our day to day lives, we usually know the proper source of authority in what we do without even thinking about it. We know that the state has the right to establish a speed limit. The county can levy taxes. The federal government has the power and authority to establish laws that forbid many different types of crimes. However, when it comes to religion, it seems that people throw out common sense and respect for the law giver to justify doing whatever they desire.

Let’s first look at two words—power and authority.

The word power is translated from the Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) from several different words.

O.T.: koach—strength; force; ability to do something; we find where God emphasizes His power and strength in verses such as Exodus 15:6 and 32:11.

Dunamis—in reference to God: Matthew 26:64, Mark 14:62; of Christ: 1 Corinthians 1:24; the Gospel: Romans1:16.
Exousia—freedom of action, right to act; Luke 12:5, Ephesians 3:10
Ischus—ability force strength; 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Kratos—power; 1 Timothy 6:16, Hebrews 2:14

The word “authority” is translated from the Greek word exousia (1849) denoting ability or strength that one is endued or given. We see that this word is used somewhat interchangeably in the New Testament meaning power or authority depending on its context.

The bottom-line is that power is the ability or force to accomplish something and authority is the right to carry it out.

Who has the power and authority and how do we know?

For the purpose of my blog, I will dwelling with the fact that the Bible is the sole source of authority. Other books by man, religious synods or doctrine, opinions, etc. will not be used as a source of God’s authority.

The Holy Bible is the source of our authority from God. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17:

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

The inspiration of God means that it is God breathed (theos + pneo).

We find that it is free from error and historically accurate. Additionally, the word of God needs no revision or additions to be complete. 1 Peter 1:24-25 states:

1 Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Many other groups have found that in order to justify their actions, they need more than the Bible (in particular the New Testament) to justify their actions.

Jude 3: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

We find that this means once and for all time delivered (also see 2 Peter 1:3). We don’t need other books or creeds of man. It is all sufficient and provides all we need to accomplish all of God’s desires in worshipping Him and living our lives that we might please Him and have eternal life with Him.

My next blog will cover the differences between the two covenants and explore which covenant is our source of authority.