Last week I began to address the subject of God-given authority. I revealed that the most common understanding of authority by men is seen in the Greek word katexousiazo, a word that means to take your given responsibility as an opportunity to exercise control over someone else. This is a view of authority by people who do not understand covenant and those who exercise it seek to lord over the lives of others. God’s most common word for authority is exousia. It simply means to be who we are. We have to become what and who we are in order to have exousia. Purpose doesn’t come from what we do. It comes from who we are. Authority is rooted in our substance and not merely our actions. Power can be an action, but authority is a substance of life. The enemy wants us to seek power more than we seek authority. Power implies being able to be in control, while authority requires us to lose control and become servants of others. Authority involves giving a measure of substance to others that can make them become alive in who they are. Power alone seeks to take from others in order to have control, while authority advances those within its sphere of influence.
We see this seeking for power in the societies of the world around us. When men seek to be women or women seek to be men they are seeking power, but losing true authority. Authority has the power to produce life, while power alone can produce self-satisfaction or self-gratification, it cannot produce the fruit of inheritance. It cannot produce generational life. Authority is generational, while power alone is lifetime focused. Power alone is focused on self, while authority seeks the betterment of others.
In the nature of mankind women are comparable to men, but not meant to be competitive with them. They are different. They are equal in value, but comparable in nature. While a man is to be the head of a household, a man is never to be the controller of the house. This is a Gentile mentality. It is a mentality of people who do not understand a covenant with God. Men and women are joint heirs. Elders are not better than the saints of the church, but they are elders. Leaders are not better than followers; they are simply leaders. They are each comparable, not competitive. Elders or leaders in a congregation do not represent the people. They represent the next level of authority. The Holy Spirit is the highest authority among men. What Holy Spirit says to the human heart is the highest form of communication on planet earth and it carries the authority of life. When lesser authorities violate the greater authority of the Holy Spirit they diminish and destroy their own authority. We are who we are and this is the exousia, the authority of our lives. Exousia is the substance of true authority. It is a delegated influence. It is received and then manifested in our lives. That is the kind of authority that Jesus walked in. God says; “I Am who I Am”. It is not a lordship authority, but it is a freedom and it brings freedom to others.
In the story of the Centurion, the Centurion was a man under a tangible authority. He was who he was (Mt. 8:5-13). He had the exousia of a commander. The Centurion wasn’t a controller. He was a commander. Something in him inspired him to be a commander. He had the responsibility and he also possessed the necessary attributes and charisma to fulfill the responsibilities of being a commander. We need more privates than we need sergeants, but they have a different authority. An irresponsible private won’t be a responsible general, but a responsible private might make a responsible general some day, providing he or she also possesses the necessary attributes, charisma, and completes the appropriate measure of training.
Authority comes from ability and the ability to respond. If you are to live in authority you must prove to be responsible. If you can’t fulfill the authority of paying bills, how can you fulfill the authority of prophesying? Your unreliability in one area will eventually bleed over into the other areas of your life. This doesn’t mean we are disqualified from having authority if we face challenges in our responsibilities. It means that when we face difficulties we stand fast to work a way through our difficulty and prove to be responsible to the best of our ability.
Jesus was who He was. There was a tangible evidence of His authority (Lk. 4:31-37). He didn’t have a method, He was who He was. There was a time when Jesus was in the city of Capernaum being who He was and manifesting the authority that He was. A man with an unclean demon was in the synagogue and Jesus rebuked the demon and cast it out. The remark of the crowd was that of being astonished with His demonstration of authority (exousia). Jesus was who He was!
The apostle Paul commended the church of Rome to submit to governing authorities for they were appointed by God (Rom. 13:1-3). Our submission is to the authorities (exousia), not the controlling ways of those authorities (katexousiazo). Submitting as unto the Lord is submission is to exousia, not domination. The exousia of governing authorities lies within the boundaries of their God-appointed responsibilities, not everything in life. A president has the authority of a president, but not a dictator in telling you what you can and cannot do in your daily life. His exousia is within the sphere of presidential responsibilities. A pastor has the exoduses of a pastor within the sphere of his pastoral responsibilities, but not in every area of your life.
The apostle Paul had authority (exousia) as an apostle to the churches God had sent him, but he did not abuse his authority in the gospel (1 Cor. 9:18). He didn’t use his authority to demand financial support, even though financial support would be an honorable thing for them to give. His authority wasn’t because they paid him. His authority was because God sent him as an apostle in their lives. Authority is not marked by domination and control. It is facilitation and release.
There is another form of authority and it is the Greek word exousiazo (GSRN # 1850). It is the same as exousia, but in a controlling sense. It is sometimes bad and sometimes good. An example of a bad use is when the kings of the world seek to lord over their subjects and they seek to exercise their authority in a controlling sense (Lk. 22:24-26). An example of this same word in a good sense is found in the testimony of a husband and wife relationship. Because a man and a wife are in the covenant of one flesh, the wife does not have controlling authority (exousiazo) over her body, the husband does. The husband does not have authority (exousiazo) over his body, the wife does (1 Cor. 7:4). This is not a dominating, dictating, control. It is not a taking thing. It is a giving one to another for the purpose of a healthy and full life. The issue is one of life. Authority always produces life!
There are some other words for authority that are also presented in the subject of leading. One word is the Greek word proistemi (GSRN # 4291). It is used twice in the Scripture (1 Tim. 3:5; 5:17). It means to stand before in rank, to preside, to practice and it comes from a word that means to be in front of, a word rooted in a word meaning to stand in various applications. There is a Scripture in James that says that if anyone is sick they should go to the elders and they will anoint them and pray the prayer of faith. I don’t believe that praying for the sick is reserved for elders, but we should be confident that elders know how to pray the prayer of faith. This is one of the reasons they are elders. They stand before the people in the practice of a Christ empowered life. To be an elder they must be able to pray the prayer of faith. Others should also know how to pray prayers of faith, but elders must be out in front of the people, standing before, leading. Like the lead goose of a flock of geese, those who lead carry the point in order to create a direction and a breaking through in the path of resistance for those that follow. It is a matter of leading and not lording. It is a leading, not a controlling or an act of manipulation. This doesn’t mean there can’t be commands. Leaders can give commands within the sphere of their responsibility, but their commands are for the freedom of those they lead and not their control. When a worship leader leads a congregation in worship they must be out in front of the people, standing before them, and leading them as the Spirit of God directs them. Leaders in the church must walk out truth, they must be walking truth, and they must present it to others who follow. This is an example of proistemi. Like us all, leaders don’t arrive they are simply leading in the process of maturity and progress in the faith.
This type of authority is a place of rank. It is not a place of being above others in value, but it is a place of being in front of others in responsibility. A general would not likely be on the front lines in every battle, because he is the general. He would lead from behind, because his responsibility as a general must be protected to assure the safety of all of the troops. A general needs privates and privates need generals.
Elders do not represent the people. They stand before the congregation helping to carry out the vision. They represent the head. They represent God and the represent God’s appointed leader. Like Moses and the 70, authority comes from authority. No individual is the source of authority. God is the source and leaders represent the voice of God to the people. They are not the voice; they represent the voice.
There is another word that represents authority and it is the word rule in the Greek word hegeomai (GSRN # 2233). It is used three times in the New Testament Scriptures. It means to lead, to command with official authority. It comes from a word meaning, to lead, bring, drive, or induce – like staring a car and driving.
Hebrews 13:7 Remember those who rule (lead) over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.
The word “remember” in this verse means, to exercise memory, to keep in your mind, to think on them, to stay close enough to keep them in your mind.
Everyone who is part of a corporate purpose must have a vision for that corporate purpose, but some are given supervision for that purpose. Some lead in the process, but everyone must embrace the process and be a fully supporting participant of that process. We must seek to be close enough to those that lead us in order to embrace the vision of the corporate purpose. We must do what we do the way they do what they do in the corporate connection of the body.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Here is another way of saying this above verse:
Be in relationship with and rely upon those who lead and induce you toward life, surrender yourself to them, for they are required to be awake concerning your souls, and they must give an account in thought and word for you. They will help keep you from falling into deception and will be alert to the life that God has for you. Let them do this with cheerfulness and joy and do not make them sigh and murmur because of you. Don’t put them in straits, for if they are forced to live in a tight and narrow place because of you it will only be unprofitable for you and prove to cut your purpose short.
Enthusiastic members will inspire and bring further change to those who lead. Reluctant members will hinder the direction of the corporate purpose and flow. A leaders responsibility to lead is for the sake of those being led, not for their own personal gain.
Hebrews 13:24 Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you.
We must think with covenant minds, and not Babylonian ones. Leadership is a good thing. The word rule does not mean control. It means to induce and lead others towards a God-given purpose in life.
Another word for rule is the Greek word poimaino (GSRN # 4165). It is used three times in Scripture. It means to tend as a shepherd – an overlay of life. Like the Spirit of Counsel it rules by bringing light to darkness, fullness to that which is empty, hope to hopelessness, and any form of life to any form of death.
Revelation 2:26, 27 “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations– ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces’–as I also have received from My Father;”
Revelation 12:5 And she bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.
Revelation 19:15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
This type of rule is an overlay of life breaking off hiding places. It is the rule of the Shepherd and Pastor of men. It is a testimony of a rod of iron, it that it is strong and uncompromising in his protection of the nations. He doesn’t judge a sinner, He destroys sin and expunges it from the lives of men. Authority gives life! The iron rod is not to beat the sheep. It is to protect the sheep. His standard in being a shepherd never changes. It is the same today and forever. He is not judgmental, but He exercises righteous judgments. Jesus is the Shepherd who tends like a shepherd. He is the Shepherd who is who he says he is. There is no changing of His substance or His purpose for the life of men.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson