Biblical Definitions of the Word ‘Power’

‘Then Pilate said to Him, “Are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin (John 19:10, 11).”

‘”‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”  – He said to the man who was paralysed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house (Luke 5:24).”

Six New Testament Words for Power

In English there is one word for ‘power’, but in the Greek of the New Testament there are six. Therefore when studying the text it’s good to know which word is being used, because then we shall have a better understanding of what is being said. The word must also be understood within the context of what is being stated, because the context can change its meaning.

In the above quotes from the Gospels of John and Luke, the Greek word for power is pronounced ex-oo-see’ah. It means ‘freedom to act as one with authority’. Clearly it is seen that any authority or power that Pilate had was given to him by God.

In the Luke account, Jesus, as God Himself, had the authority and power to forgive sins, and He proved it by healing the paralytic.

One of the most inspiring verses in the Bible for me is to be found in Ephesians 1. It goes as follows:

‘And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:19).’

In this verse the words for power are different. The first is pronounced doo’-nam-is, and the second krat’-os. The meaning of doo’-nam-is, within its context, is ‘miraculous force’, and it can also mean ‘ability or might’. The second word, krat’-os, in its context, means ‘strength’, but krat’-os can also mean ‘dominion’.

Therefore, one might have a better understanding of Ephesians 1:19 when nuanced.

It would look something like this: ‘And what is the exceeding greatness of His miraculous force toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty strength which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places’.

This can give one an insight and a depth of understanding that may not have been appreciated if one’s only knowledge of the word power was from the English dictionary. An online dictionary [dictionary.com] defines it as: ‘the ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something; strength, might and force.’

Another word for power in the NT Greek is is-khoos’, which means ‘ability, force or strength’. It can be found in 2 Thessalonians 1:9: ‘These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.’  But because of its context, it probably means ‘strength’.

In the NT doo-nat-os’, possibly the least frequently used word for power, can mean ‘might or strength’.

We can find an example of its use in Romans 9:22: ‘What if God, wanting to show His wrath and make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.’  Here it probably means ‘strength’.

There is one more little used word for power in NT. It is the expression ar-khay, and it can be found in Luke 20:20: ‘So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.’ 

ar-khay is defined as ‘the first rank of power’, and appropriately so, because the governor held the highest office of authority and of power.

It’s interesting to note that in Romans 13:1, 2 the word authority in the New King James Version, means ‘freedom to act as one with authority’. It is the the same word ex-oo-see’ah, which means power or powers.

‘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. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.’

Paul, through the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5), exhorts us in our times of the Coronavirus to be subject to the authorities who supervise us.

Any power they have is given to them by God (Romans 13:1-7). God works His power through them and us, ‘according to His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9).’

Other Articles on the Subject of Power

God’s Power

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2019/08/14/gods-power/

Power of the Spirit

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/20/power-of-the-spirit/

Some NT Texts Featuring the Word ‘Power’

Luke 5:24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” He said to the man who was paralysed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” [ex-oo-see’ah]

Luke 6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. [doo’-nam-is]

Luke 9:1, 2 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. [doo’-nam-is]

Luke 10:19 Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over the power of the enemy, and nothing by any means shall hurt you. [ex-oo-see’ah]

Luke 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him. [ex-oo-see’ah] 

Luke 21:27 Then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. [doo’-nam-is] 

Luke 22:69 “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”  [doo’-nam-is] 

Luke 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” [doo’-nam-is] 

John 19:10, 11 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” [ex-oo-see’ah]

Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [doo’-nam-is] 

Acts 3:12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” [doo’-nam-is] 

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” [doo’-nam-is] 

Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. [doo’-nam-is] 

Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. [doo’-nam-is] 

Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. [doo’-nam-is] 

Acts 26:17, 18 “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” [ex-oo-see’ah]

Romans 1:4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. [doo’-nam-is] 

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Greek. [doo’-nam-is] 

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of he world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. [doo’-nam-is] 

Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for dishonour? [ex-oo-see’ah]

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. [doo’-nam-is] 

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [doo’-nam-is] 

1 Corinthians 2:4, 5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. [doo’-nam-is] 

1 Corinthians 6:14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. [doo’-nam-is] 

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. [doo’-nam-is] 

2 Corinthians 13:3, 4 since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we are also weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. [doo’-nam-is] 

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.[krat’-os]

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. [ex-oo-see’ah]

Philippians 3:10, 11 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. [doo’-nam-is] 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind. [doo’-nam-is] 

Revelation 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophesy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. [ex-oo-see’ah]

About thebiblicalway

I am a Christian by the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8, 9 Jesus loves me and I love Him. I love my wife, my family and my larger family, the true Church of God.
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