There are different sources of authority. In my last post I showed how even Jesus had authority by coming under authority through submitting to John’s baptism. To conclude this series I will look at authority derived from ‘love for’ and authority derived through ‘commission by.’ These are terms I have come up with to describe what I am writing about. Though they are not theological or scriptural terms the principles are found in scripture.
Here are verses about love leading to authority.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17–18 (NKJV) NOTE the word power here is the Greek exousia, authority, and is translated as authority in the ESV and NASB.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9–11 (NKJV)
In the verses above we see that Jesus laid His life down as an act of love for humanity (Jn. 3:16) and we see that the Father’s love for Jesus action gave Jesus the authority to take His life up again. In my first post in this series I referenced Matthew 28:18-20 to show how we have authority as believers. What I did not focus on was Jesus comment, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus was granted this authority because He laid His life down in an act of love and obedience.
We too are granted authority when we lay our lives down in love and obedience. One of Paul’s points in Philippians 1 is that as our love grows our discernment deepens. As we see we can say – if we are seeing out of love. I see the pattern in scripture that as our ‘love for’ grows so also does our authority. Paul was sent to the Gentiles as His primary mission but he didn’t just have authority in people’s lives because they were Gentiles. He had it in the lives of those who came to Jesus through his ministry because he constantly laid down his life out of love for them. This can be seen in many of his letters but particularly in 2 Corinthians. Twice in this letter (10:8, 13:10) Paul references the authority he had been given for their edification and not their destruction. The whole letter, but especially chapters 11-13 is filled with Paul pouring out his heart of love for this wayward group of believers. So, we can grow in our authority to speak into lives if we are laying down our own lives for them, whether in practical ministry or intercession.
The last area is authority being given through ‘commission by.’ We can see it in The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). We can see the breadth of this ‘all nations,’ or as Luke puts it in Acts 1:8, ‘end of the earth.’ The scope of authority to make disciples is as broad as it gets. We also have examples throughout scripture of authority being given through commission by the laying on of hands and prayer. A notable example is Acts 13. As this juncture Paul (still referred to as Saul at this point) and Barnabas were among the leadership of the church at Antioch and were both teachers and/or prophets. However, they both had an apostolic call on their lives but had not yet been commissioned to this ministry. We know much more about the calling on Paul’s life than that of Barnabas but we immediately see the fruit when they are both commissioned as apostles.
2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. Acts 13:2–3 (NKJV)
3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. Acts 14:3 (NKJV)
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out Acts 14:14 (NKJV)
Commissioning comes about when there is a recognition by others in the church of the gift we carry, an endorsement by the Spirit, and the blessing and release to walk in it by leadership. An interesting side note, the general pattern in Acts was the establishment of churches by the apostles. Antioch was different in that we don’t know who started it, merely that some of those scattered by persecution in Jerusalem brought the gospel to Antioch and included the Gentiles in their evangelism. The church in Jerusalem then sent Barnabas to ground them in their faith and he went and sought out Paul (Saul) to help him. At the Spirit’s direction the Antioch church then commissioned Barnabas and Paul through the laying on of hands and prayer.
To wrap all of this up, we all have a measure and sphere of authority. Whether or not we have a more specific commission, we all have a general one and our authority to walk in it grows as we lay down our lives in love for those we seek to minister to by His grace. So, let us seek His face and grace to the end that our spiritual authority will build His kingdom.