‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Romans 13:1).’
The Father’s Authority
God the Father sent Jesus (John 5:22, 23; 10:36; 1 John 4:14) to reconcile all things to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19; Colossians 1:20), and when His mission has been fully accomplished, the Son will be subject to the Father: ‘Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).’
God the Father also sent the Holy Spirit (Acts 2): ‘“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:26).”’
So the Father had the authority to send both the Son and the Helper [Holy Spirit] to accomplish His will. One of the purposes of His sending of the Helper was to ‘testify’ of Jesus: ‘“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me (John 15:26).”’
This verse also tells us that Jesus Himself was a co-sender of the Holy Spirit with His Father. All three Persons of the Godhead worked together in harmony (cf. Genesis 1:26).
It must be remembered that Jesus, ‘who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:6-9).’
Note that it is God the Father who exalts the Son.
The Authority of Jesus
Jesus said, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does the works (John 14:10).”
The indwelling Father did His ‘works’ through His Son who spoke with the authority of the Father.
Jesus also said, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me (John 14:24).”
Therefore the words of Jesus while He was on the earth were the very words of His Father.
After accomplishing what He was sent to do, and shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him (John 17:1, 2).”’
God the Father gave Jesus ‘authority over all flesh’ for the purpose of saving some to eternal life and glorifying His Father.
After rising from the dead and appearing to many (Acts 13:30, 31) before His ascension, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18, 19).”
Effectively, Jesus gave authority to His disciples to preach the good news of salvation in His name to the nations. His disciples today have this same authority. In fact Jesus has commanded them with these words: ‘having gone, then, disciple all the nations (Matthew 28:19 Young’s Literal Translation).’
While carrying out His mission on earth Jesus was repeatedly challenged as to who gave Him authority to teach His gospel. ‘Now when He came into the temple, the chief priest and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave You this authority (Matthew 21:23)?”
The people, too, were astonished, because ‘He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matthew 7:29).’
Not only did Jesus demonstrate His authority by what He said, but by what He did. He healed the sick (Matthew 4:24), cast out ‘unclean spirits (Mark 1:27)’ and raised the dead (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-56; John 11:38-44).
Authority Within the Church
To the Corinthian church Paul wrote, ‘For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed. – lest I seem to terrify you by letters (2 Corinthians 10:8, 9).’ [See also 13:10.]
The writer of Hebrews told the church to: ‘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 (Hebrews 13:17).’
Paul using his authority instructed Timothy, ‘And I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve (1 Timothy 2:12, 13).’ He also instructed the Corinthian church, ‘For man is not from the woman, but woman from the man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:8-10).’
He wrote these words to Titus who was supervising the church in Crete: ‘Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men (Titus 3:1, 2).’
On similar lines Peter wrote to the scattered churches: ‘Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good (1 Peter 2:13).’
These leaders within the church exercised their authority and exhorted those under them to respect civil authorities.
Even the devil [satan] was given authority, for He said to Jesus, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours (Luke 4:6).”
Couched in the figurative language of the Book of Revelation we find that the devil [the dragon] gives his authority to the beast: ‘Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority (Revelation 13:2).’
But the power and the authority of the devil has been restrained until the day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10); for Jesus triumphed over him at the cross, and He rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. From there at the right hand of the Father He rules over His church and waits until the Father makes His enemies His footstool (Matthew 22:44).
‘‘Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says, “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).’