In our society authority is delegated everywhere you go. We can see this in our armed forces and the schools for our children. In many, if not all occupations, this is easily determined. There are channels whereby authority is carried out.
Defining the Terms
What is delegating authority? The American Heritage Dictionary defines delegating as; a person authorized to act as representative for another; a deputy or an agent. Authority is defined as power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine, or judge.
One of the greatest needs in our day is respect for established authority. Many of the problems that exist today in the religious world can be blamed on man’s appeal for many and different rules of authority. Many establish authority by their own conscience or feelings or some convention and even a head of “a church.” The Scriptures are the complete revelation of God to man. No other source of divine truth can be appealed to. The secret [things belong] unto the LORD our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children forever…” (Deuteronomy 29:29). What does the Bible say about delegated authority?
Inherent Authority - The Father
God speaking through Moses said of Jesus, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require [it] of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19).
Jesus corroborates showing this fulfillment is in Him. “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49).
Luke records by inspiration the apostle Paul’s declaration to the superstitious Athenians, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24).
Thus we may conclude authority delegated came from the Father because of His relationship to everything as Creator.
Authority Delegated To Christ Jesus
Jesus taught with authority. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matt. 7:28, 29). Jesus’ authority is greater than that of Moses or the prophets. (Matt. 17:1-5).
Before Jesus ascended upon high Matthew records, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power (authority – rwk) is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt.28:18). Jesus has all authority in Heaven and earth NOW!
Peter declares Moses’ prophecy and Jesus’ assertive fulfillment indeed finds realization in Jesus, “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, [that] every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22, 23). Jesus is the authorized prophet of God!
The Hebrew writer proclaims this prophet is Jesus, the Son of God. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Thus Jesus is God’s authorized Spokesmen for this age! Moreover the apostle Paul teaches that this power (authority) will remain with Jesus until He (Jesus) comes again. “Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24). If one will not listen to Jesus he will be destroyed. Therefore, Jesus Christ must have all authority in our lives if we will be pleasing to the Heavenly Father.
Jesus Delegates Authority - Apostles by the Holy Spirit
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19).
The Lord’s prayer recorded while hanging on the cross, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me…” (John 17:8). These words were to be remembered with the help of the Holy Spirit by revelation. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:11-13). Paul in Ephesians 3:5 says, “[W]hich in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” Furthermore Paul by the Spirit proclaims, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Thus, from these Scriptures the apostles were to carry out the commission of Jesus who received all authority from the Heavenly Father. Jesus sent the apostles with the words that He received. The apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit what they said and what they wrote. (Matthew 10:19; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17). If one will not accept the writings of the apostles, who were sent by Jesus, fails to receive Christ (John 17:8ff; 2 Corinthians 13:5).
Apostles Delegate Authority
Paul wrote to Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Apostolic writings are a part of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15, 16). Their writings give us insight into the things of God (Ephesians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13). Today when one preaches the pure and unadulterated Word of God he is preaching that which is to free man from sin (John 8:31, 32; 17:17). All will be judged by this word! (John 12:48). One must preach this Word without addition or subtraction or be accursed (Galatians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15).
Authority - Primary and Delegated
Only God has absolute authority. All other authority is that which He has delegated. He delegated authority to His Son, to apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible. Delegated authority is binding. If we can understand that, it will never replace the higher authority of God and His Word. It is imperative we recognize this and accept authority where God has placed it.
Authority Delegated - Elders
Elders are commanded to oversee the work of the local congregation (Acts 20:28). Members of the local congregation are commanded to obey them (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Elders must function within the guidelines of God’s word. Elders do not make commands; they find scriptural ways of carrying out the rules God has laid out in His Word. Elders are to be examples before the members and not rule as Lords over God’s people (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Authority Delegated - Husbands
The Bible teaches God has made the husband the head of the home, just as He made Christ the head of the church. Husbands are instructed to love their wives and provide for their needs (Ephesians 5:25-29). Wives must submit to their husbands and children are to be obedient to their parents. When husbands will accept their responsibility to guide the home in love, it will help wives and the children to accept their God given authority.
Authority Delegated - Government
The Bible commands Christians are to obey governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7). Christians must pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2). Christians must give to Caesar what is due Caesar (Matthew 22:21). Governments are a part of God’s plan for our protection. (Romans 13).
Delegated authority is only binding as long as it does not conflict with God’s authority. Elders, husbands, fathers nor civil authority have power to command us to do wrong. When there is conflict we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29)!
By Ryan W. Kepke
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /