In the English we tend to use the words Power and Authority as a common given phrase, never giving consideration to its constituent parts and their meanings. Indeed, many seem to confuse the multiple meanings of the two words to such an extent that even in my Webster’s Dictionary, power = authority in one specific usage. However, both words in Webster’s cite different Latin roots.
The same is true in the Greek where:
dumamis = power (from which we get dynamic and dynamite) and
exousia = authority
Simply put as a working definitions in the Biblical context, we can see that Power = strength or force – the strength and force required to rule, while Authority = the right to rule.
Thus, any government must have both Power and Authority to legitimately and effectively govern. If a government or leader has authority, but no power to enforce rules, edicts and decrees, they cannot govern. Similarly, if a government has power, but no legal authority which gives it the legal right to exercise its power; it performs the illegal act of usurping or illegal encroachment, whether or not it includes the occupation of a throne.
These distinctions of the words and their meanings are very important for Christians, for the Bible uses the words and phrases many times. For example, in the King James Version: Power is used 260 times; Authority 34 times; Power and Authority 5 times. Unfortunately, in the King James Version, on many occasions ‘exousia’ is incorrectly translated as ‘authority’, causing confusion in the reading. Many, but not all, later Bible versions have generally corrected this, such that, for example, Colossians 1:13 which read “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness” now reads “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness.”
Why is all this import to Christians? Well, Matthew 28:18 states clearly “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Secondly, we are told in Revelation 2:25-27 to “hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. “
We can see from this that Jesus has received authority to rule from His Father and He will give us full authority also. Indeed, we are to receive authority from Jesus to rule. As born-again Christians we already have received some authority and so we really need to understand now, the basis on which power and authority work together in the Kingdom. Matthew 16:19 says “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” That authority, we have and can exercise now.
First, we need to understand that having one’s authority removed, does not necessarily make one any less powerful. Satan did not either gain or lose “power” either at the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, or at the cross of Jesus. His “authority”, however, did change, both in the Garden and at Calvary.
It is very important that we recognise and understand this change in authority in the Garden, for this example shows just how deadly seriously God takes the concept of Authority. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God intended for us to govern the earth on His behalf and confirms it in Psalm 115:16 saying “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” In other words, we were given God’s authority to govern the earth on His behalf. But in the Garden, when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they disobeyed God and obeyed Satan. As we were exiled from the Garden, Satan took over authority for the earth from us and we have been on the defensive ever since. God confirms this in John 12:31 where Jesus days “Now is the judgement of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” See also v14:30 and v16:11 and other passages which confirm Satan as “the ruler of this world”.
However, at Calvary and on the cross, Jesus removed Satan’s authority over the earth; though Satan retained his power. If Satan had lost his power at that time, the world would be in a totally different state today – as Satan would be of no importance to anyone whatsoever. Similarly, if Satan had not lost his authority at Calvary, then again, the world would be in a different state than today – only much, much worse. Because of Calvary and the price Jesus paid for redeeming us, we can see in Matthew 16:19 and Luke 10:19 that we have authority over Satan: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
Secondly, Only those who have authority can delegate it. You cannot give away that which you do not have. Thus, if Jesus did not have authority from the Father, then he could not pass it to us. If He did, it would be worthless under that circumstance. However, if we exercise the authority of Jesus we are given and find that it is true, then He does have real authority given Him from His father, and all is as He says it is, for He is true to His word and all His words are true.
Thirdly, to receive this authority from Jesus, we must first accept His authority over our lives, and accept Him, for who He is. If we do not accept His authority over us, He cannot give us His authority.
Fourthly, use or lose authority. If you do not exercise your authority over the enemy you may as well not possess it, for it is worthless and he will take full advantage of your condition of weakness.
I pray that you will find these words will strengthen your faith in the authority you have as a Christian under Jesus and that you will be emboldened to exercise both the power and authority you have as a son or daughter of the King of Heaven.
Amen and Amen.