Authority of the Believer

Believers Authority and Power

Know the difference between two Greek words, ‘exousia’ and ‘dunamis.’

In a democracy, the citizens of a country ‘power’ (authority) may be given by to certain persons who qualify; this delegated authority can also be taken away again.  This word ‘authority’ in the bible is translated from the Greek word, ‘exousia’. 

The kinds of authority exercised in a democracy may be civil authorities, such as seen in the law courts, by the Judges, Lawyers, Queen’s Counsel and other law enforcers, in the prisons, or any other governmental authority.  Another authority is seen in the way in which the Prime Minister exercises authority, or those belonging to that office, such as politicians or other governing authorities. Again, authority is exercised in the family, by parents over their children.

Another authority may be exercised by the ownership of personal possessions, animals, or the like; then again, it may be a licence holder, such as a minister of religion or to drive a car. This authority is granted by the government that has been voted into power by the will of the citizens of a country.

Whatever the authority granted, those exercising it must stay within the laws of the land and obey the rules set down. Where this privilege of office, position or ownership rights are abused, the authority given them by the people can be taken away again.  It could be said that those who have this kind of ‘authority’ appointed by the people, have been delegated certain ‘privileges’ (Gr ‘exousia’) to execute their duties. These two words, authority, and privilege (exousia) are one and the same.

In the kingdom of God, believers have also been delegated authority and privilege, translated as ‘power’. Just as ‘authority’ means ‘privilege’ and comes from the Greek word, ‘exousia’, so, another word, also translated ‘power’ is the Greek word ‘dunamis’. Rather than ‘privilege’ this word means, ‘ability’.

It is important to know what these words mean and the difference between the two as they have special meaning for the citizens of the kingdom of God, Here then are some examples from the Scriptures. Jesus preached in both authority and ability (Lk 4: 36); Jesus had privilege to forgive sin on earth (Mt 9: 6); Jesus had ability and privilege over all of evil’s influences (Lk 9:1); Jesus told his disciples ‘all privilege is given to me in heaven and in earth (Mt 28: 18).

The privilege Jesus said he had been given he passed it on to believers so that they could continue his work: ‘to preach the gospel to everyone’ Jesus sent forth his disciples, men, and women, with this delegated privilege.  Another example might be given. Trucks and cars have the ‘ability’ to run you over and might do so if you stand on the road in the face of oncoming traffic. However, a law enforcement person can simply stand in front of oncoming traffic and hold up their hand and stop the traffic with the ‘authority’ that has been delegated to them.

On the other hand, believers have been given ‘ability’. The disciples were told to wait until they had been endued with ability from on high (Lk 22: 49). The Holy Spirit is the One that gives this divine ‘ability’. It is generally referred to as ‘the power of the Holy Spirit’ ‘(Acts 10: 38).

The Kingdom of God comes with ability (Mt 6: 13); The Scriptures have ability (Mt 22: 29); The Gospel is the ability of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it (Rom 1: 16).  The Spirit has ability Lk 1: 35). The ability of the Lord was present to heal the sick (Lk 5: 17); Jesus is seated on the right hand (of the ability of) God (Lk 22: 69). Believers have been given power (authority -privilege) over all the power (ability) of the Evil One (Lk 10:9).

You are if you believe you are.  We are what we believe

Therefore, believers have all the authority (privilege) and power (ability) they will ever need to overcome the power (Gr.  ‘dunamis’, ‘ability’) of the world, the flesh, and the Accuser of the believers.  The only difficulty believers face therefore, is the perception that they have of their position in Christ, of themselves and of the kingdom of God.  This perception does not alter the privileges and the ability that is available to them as the children of God.  It simply means that you are if you believe you are. We are what we believe. ‘As a person thinks, so are they (Prov 23: 7).

The ability of the world, the flesh, and the Evil One might be summed up thus.  The power of this present world constitutes the drawing ability of the external temptations and influences of our world, wherein we daily live, be it in the home, work or other places we frequent in our daily lives. Jesus in the Parable of the Sower refers those who are overcome by the world.

The seed among the thorns represents the people who hear the Word, and preoccupation for this world and the treachery of wealth choke the Word, and they don’t produce a harvest’ (The Source).

The ‘flesh’ constitutes the internal temptations we face because of a law, which is named, ‘Sin’, which is at work in the members of our body.

‘So then, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, or you will end up listening to its wants and wishes! And do not present your body parts to sin as weapons to be used by injustice. Instead, present yourselves to God as living ones who were once dead ones, and present your body parts as weapons to be used by justice.  For sin will not have mastery over you – you are not subject to law, but subject to God’s favour (Rom 6: 12-14; Also Rom 7: 25 etc.  (The Source Ann Nyland).

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Satan (noun: adversary, accuser) is mentioned in relation to David (1 Chron 21:1). Other than that Satan is mentioned in relation to Job (1: 1-12; 2: 1-7), Psalm 109: 6, and Zachariah 3: 1-2.  In the New Testament Satan again is referred to in the context of an accuser or an adversary.

“I am not asking you to take them out of the world but I am asking you to hold them firmly away from the Evil One. They are not of the world just as certainly as I am not of the world.  Make them sacred by the truth: your Word is the truth.  I have sent them into the world just as you sent me into the world.  And I make myself sacred for their benefit, so that they will also be made sacred by the truth” (The Source Ann Nyland).

The ability of the Evil One has no power over those who heed the Word of God.

As I have said, privilege (authority) can be abused.  In the church for example, it is possible to control whole groups of people with placebos dipped in the honey of a false spirituality. This can occur when leaders convey to the people that certain abilities and privileges (power and authority) belong to them as leaders and whomsoever they elect.

This is diametrically opposed to the whole counsel of the teachings found in the new covenant. The Scriptures say all who are obedient receive the Spirit’s outpouring, ‘Your sons and your daughters will prophesy’. In this we all say Jesus is coming back.  Paul said, ‘all may prophesy’. He said also, ‘forbid not to prophesy (preach.)’ The Scriptures say ‘you are all priests’ (1 Pet 2:9).

The Scriptures teach on ‘agreement of two or three’ (11 Cor 13: 1-3).  ‘The Anointed One is not weak with you, but makes his power (ability) known through you’ (The Source Ann Nyland), is taught in context of the authority or privilege believers have when they gather together.  They can come into agreement. The ‘binding and loosing’ is in relation to agreement and forgiveness.

Tamar in the Old Testament is the example of this New Testament teaching.  She bound Judah her father in law on earth by his handing her his pledge.  It consisted of Judah’s personal symbols: his signet ring, his belt and his staff’. In so doing, Judah was also bound in heaven. The final outcome was Tamar’s dignity and wholeness was restored, judgment was passed on Judah Tamar was blessed.  God was standing on Tamar’s side against Judah’s flagrant disregard for the laws the community lived by and his bullish attitude of complete disregard for her rights.  Tamar took matters into her own hands, knowing her rights.

In the New Testament teachings the idea is carried over. Jesus wants his followers to understand the complexities involved in the Kingdom community.  To care for one another, especially the most vulnerable, restoration of those who have stumbled, be wise yet simple, live right, avoid doing anything that causes others to stumble, and forgiveness without limits placed upon it. Jesus is present in this kingdom community and in living in this way the kingdom’s keys of authority are available to us (Mat 18:1-25).

Kingdom authority is taught earlier in Mt 16 Jesus talked there about the rock or the cornerstone the church is built upon. This rock, or cornerstone, was not Peter, a flesh and blood man, but rather, the revelation knowledge Peter had received and confessed. He said.  ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God’. It is upon this rock the church is built and nothing can prevail against it.  Wow! The keys of the kingdom, of binding and loosing are brought into focus here.

Having authority to use the keys of the kingdom involves forgiveness.  If we don’t forgive were bound to the person we are holding by the throat.  If we forgive were forgiven also.  ‘And when you stand praying if you have anything against anybody, forgive, that your father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses’.  Beware, authority is a privilege but has consequences if used improperly.

This is the authority (privilege) of the individual believers and of the church at large and in the realm of God’s kingdom. The authority spoken of here resides in being in harmony and communion with one another and in community of as little a number as two or three.  It suggests two or three coming together to pray and agree, to decide the course they should take.  The risen all-powerful Christ is in the midst of his people, who walk in forgiveness, ‘if you have anything against anyone, forgive’. Jesus has promised us his ability, and has given each one of us privilege.

To conclude, the only real authority belongs to Jesus. His is the only legitimate authority there is. This power and authority can and should be evidenced in the church. Truly anointed ministry manifests in such areas as healing and prophetic preaching, or accompanies individual workers in evangelism, etc.  He has delegated his power and given his ability by the indwelling Holy Spirit to his people. These are to be exercised on behalf of the nchurch and to preach the gospel in soul winning and against all evil.

The problem arises when church leaders abuse their privilege. They teach that they have been given authority over people in their exercising their gift of government in the body of Christ. This is a very serious offence.  It is exacerbated when authority and gender privileges are linked together; some teach that women have not been given privilege in the church to govern, others, that women cannot preach or teach.

All is erroneous.  It lacks understanding of the church as the body of Christ, with Christ as its head, the gospel, the Scriptures and the power of God.  Questions surrounding authority are the main reasons why women are not given places of leadership and church government to function in their gifts.  This situation has grown out of a false understanding of privilege, associated with Jesus’ delegated ‘authority’.

Leaders who obey the doctrine of Christ and are of the same spirit, as the Apostle Paul was, will entreat, exhort, and teach sound doctrine. They understand they have no authority to demand obedience to themselves, personally.  That realm of authority is the Lord Jesus Christ’s alone.

Furthermore, they will teach the church the sound doctrine of allegiance to Christ alone.  Husbands do not own their wives, nor parents own their children. They are not above the laws of the land, where such laws protect the individual’s rights against abuse and injustice.  Rather, a spouse is a beloved companion in life. Children are a gift from the Lord and parents faithful stewards of them on behalf of the Lord.

Church leaders are acting on the Lord’s behalf as administrators of the gifts and talents people have. Gifts to the church are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers. Its their gifts that build up the body, to establish the foundations, to confirm the gifts by laying on of hands.  They are stewards.  Stewards own nothing.  What has been committed to their care they are answerable for to the Lord.  Indeed, they come under a greater condemnation.

The world, the flesh the Evil One, have limited power (ability), but not over the authority, the privilege and the ability given to the church collectively and the individual believers as members of the universal church.  Having said that, I recommend you forget the devil and preach the gospel.  ‘… you are the slaves of the one you pay attention to’.  Some Christians talk more about the ‘devil than they do about Jesus.   It’s as if they know him well!!  Really?

Jesus has been given all authority ‘exousia’, and he has delegated it to the people of God, whatever their station in life, have been given this same ‘authority’ (exousia) over all the power (‘dunamis’, ability) of the Evil One, and are promised that ‘no harm shall come to them’.

With this understanding, it is for the worker to believe that God is able to make the new believer stand in their faith.  Believers have not been given authority over each other’s faith.  Rather, the worker in the gospel, whatever their position or title may be, have simply been given this privilege as ‘helpers of their joy’ (11 Cor 1: 24).  It is our privilege to teach the new convert how to stand and ‘having done all, stand’.

What then?  Are we to commit sin, because we’re not subject to law but subject to God’s favour? Certainly not!  Don’t you know that whenever you present yourselves as slaves to someone and intend to do as they say, then you are the slaves of the one you pay attention to, whether you are a slave to sin which results in death, or whether you are a slave to paying attention to your master which results in being made right with God!  (Rom 6: 15-19, The Source)

Preach Christ and him crucified, and resurrected from the dead. The fruit that is produced from that divine seed will remain.  Rather than attempting to take first place in the new believer’s life allow their Lord to be their all-in-all.  After all, you are not with them twenty-four hours a day.  By all means offer your advice if asked, however, first direct them to the Holy Spirit by taking the opportunity to pray with them about their everything, ‘make your requests known to God (Phil 4: 6).

Teach them to hear from God.  They have an anointing (11 Cor 1; 21; 1 Jn 2; 27).  The Holy Spirit will lead and teach them the way to go, guiding them ().  Those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God.  On the other hand, those who are led by people are on the road to idolatry, hurt, wounding, untold pain and possible falling away.

As we practice and develop our personal style of soul winning, the Holy Spirit will give us, according to our gifts and the accompanying grace, full confidence in the work.  Taken in the context of people making a decision to obey the gospel, once they have heard it, may mean that the previous witnesser has failed to tell the whole truth to the inquirer.  Some people you talk to who display knowledge of the Scriptures may argue against the gospel’s message of power (ability) to save them.

This argumentative kind of a disposition may be because they have been in a cult or been hurt by some church leader or members of a church; it may be because they themselves have never obeyed the gospel, but rather they made a pretence of doing so for some underlying motive.

Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know.  If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul.  (2 Tim 2: 16-17 The Message).

Others who insist on talking about certain Scriptures that are not pertinent to the all important kernel of the Gospel reveal that they have, in the past, either heard from others a commentary on the Gospel or have entirely missed what is relevant to being born again and the power (ability) of the gospel to save them.

To be born again is to see the kingdom of God; like a natural birth, one must be born of water (the word teaching on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) and the spirit (the Holy Spirit which breathes into the believer the breath of life).  The blood of Jesus will also be present.The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1: 7).  The resurrection power of God to enable a person to be born again is contained in these Scriptures

Get to the kernel of the gospel

When working in evangelism you have to discern if you are talking to people about their wants or their needs.  The ‘want’ is linked with their reasoning powers, their ‘need’ tied up with their emotions.  Salespeople are trained to appeal to the ‘need’ of people rather than the ‘want’.  They make an emotional plea.  They never present the product, how it is made, its dimensions, or the manufacturer’s specifications.  The customer is there looking; they have a need; the salesperson will concentrate on that ‘need’, applying pressure with emotional pulls, with such emotive subjects as, family needs, comfort, health needs etc., all of which are the ‘now’, which is equal to the ‘need’.

Finally, however, to be successful, a salesperson knows s/he must ask the customer, ‘do you want to meet your ‘need’, here and now?  Without closing the sale there is no decision made. In convincing people about their ‘need’, there is a time to ask for a decision and the more sensitive you are to the timing the more successful you will be as a salesperson.

Now I am not suggesting that preaching the gospel is a matter of using common sales techniques. However, in selling terms, preaching the gospel is a presentation of what is offered, eternal life, and the claims of the gospel with the promises of God is the manufacturer’s warrantee.

Therefore, depending on the need, making a decision to be saved can be for some an emotional decision based on an appeal, given the enormity of their need; for others they will want to employ their reasoning powers. They have a ‘want’ and their ‘need’ is not so obvious to them or comes to the surface as easily as other inquirers.

Give a reason for the hope that is within you (1 Pet 3: 15)

Indeed, the preaching of the gospel is reasoning with people.  God wants to reason with them about the downward direction their lives are taking.  ‘Come, let us reason together, says the lord’ (Isa 1: 18).  In my experience, if the need is not obvious, as with one time when I was witnessing over a length of time to a self-made millionaire, I knew I had to wait until the need surfaced. Finally, with tears of what may or may not have been repentance, his confession of his frequent infidelities in his marriage surfaced.  This confession helped him to realise his need and to tell another person that he trusted of his failings.  It revealed his need. He accepted the power of God, the gospel, to save him in this need, which had the ability to save him from himself.

Signs accompany salvation

A worker can expect to see people experience an encounter with the living God.  Where this experience is not evidenced, the problem is not with the gospel but instead, with the witnesser.  Christians are often happy to talk about themselves and Jesus; to give a marvellous testimony of healing or dramatic changes that they have experienced in their lives or have been a witness of; yet they omit the Gospel, that is, planting, like a farmer, the divine seed that contains the power of God.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not the believer’s testimony. Someone’s testimony is commentary to the divine truth that is realised in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, ‘you must be born again’ (John 3).

When Naaman the Syrian (11 Kings 5) was healed of his leprosy (a type of ‘sin’ in the Old Testament), it was because he encountered God’s ability (Gr ‘dunamis’, ‘power’) through Elisha, God’s servant.  Full of faith, Elisha knew the Lord as Jehovah Rapha (Heb rapha: ‘heal’).  If Naaman met the conditions Elisha set down for him, Elisha assured him he would be healed.  On that basis, Elisha spoke in faith to Naaman.  Naaman acted upon Elisha’s word after he had reasoned some with another person whom he trusted.  Finally, he went and washed as he had been told to do by Elisha.  Having carried out the instructions to wash himself seven times in the Jordan, he was healed.

Naaman’s heart attitude was right, however, he had a problem because of certain obligations concerning his job. There, he was expected to go into the house of Rimmon, God of the Syrians, whenever his master went in to worship there.  Seeing it as a dilemma, he asked Elisha what to do about this. Elisha did not interfere in this, crossing boundaries into another’s life and faith walk, attempting to control his life.  The Prophet simply told him to ‘Go and wash’.  Like Elisha, the Christian worker also has to be careful with new converts, that we do not take the place of the Holy Spirit, directing them in their lives.

A simple example: picking fruit

Evangelism is a bit like picking fruit.  For example, when picking oranges off a tree, you pull gently on the fruit to see if it is ready.  It can look ripe on the outside, but if it is not fully ripened, it will not come off in your hands without damaging the tree. When it is ripe you do not have to tug very hard, it just falls off into your hands. If left too long and not picked over ripe fruit simply falls to the ground, goes rotten, and is then only good for the worms in the ground.  If not picked when ready the ‘birds of the air’ (Mt 8: 20) take their full of it and the fruit is ruined.

Elisha gave a little tug at Naaman’s heartstrings, a test to see if the fruit was ripe, and Naaman responded. He came off the tree easily, so to speak, of his own volition. Discover if people are receptive to the gospel by giving a little tug on the heartstrings.  Soul winning is not difficult. Instead, it is the most exciting and exhilarating work you can undertake.

With the ability of God (God’s power) within and the love of God (the Gospel) flowing, it is possible to continually win people to Christ on a daily basis.  It is dependent on your words, your faith, and your sharing the good news of the gospel, all of which are God’s love in action as you work closely with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.

To love another is not romance it is a mark of maturity… If you don’t love you don’t know Him. To know Him is to love

Nevertheless, there is certain work we cannot accomplish so don’t try to do the work only the Holy Spirit can do.  Yes, we do have a responsibility to preach the Gospel and teach, making disciples.  Yes, to teach them to observe all things whatever we have been taught that has made us who we have become under the powerful influence of the life changing Gospel.  However, there is a cut off point. Like Elisha, it is not the place of the servant of God to tell others how to conduct their lives. Ultimately, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Believe in the power of the Holy Spirit

Learn to understand and believe in the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling also in the newborn believer; of the necessity for them to obey God and not you.  The whole process of the Christian life is to continually declare Jesus as Lord.  At times, Christians lead people to Jesus whose work takes then into hotels, nightclubs, amongst the horse racing fraternity, and other such professions.

People they meet who accept the gospel may be professional singers, musicians, or bar attendants and such like.  Once they accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord the worker may step outside the bounds of their appointed task: ‘you shall be witnesses unto me’. They can over step their boundary by giving the newborn believer direction about their work and future, thus taking the place of the Holy Spirit in the newly saved person’s life.

A prime example of this is a recent world-renowned Australian jockey who, when he received Christ, left his profession, presumably on advice of a church leader, to attend college and become a Pastor, only to return later to his racing career. No doubt he realised that it was there, in that environment that he knew and made a living from, that God could use him, and where he will have the greatest influence for God, among his peers, with God’s grace to sustain him in it.

Finally, preach in season, out of season: do the work of the ministry

Preaching the Gospel is exacting work; it is time-consuming and it can be draining. Certainly, give your best to Jesus and give your all. I have mentioned burnout in another place but want to leave a last word on this as I close. We need wisdom to serve the Lord. We can find examples when Jesus went to a quiet place to get away from people. But the people still made their demands on Him and followed him.

In your service for the Lord, where your relationships with the unbeliever and the newly saved are concerned, and your giving, reserve quality time for yourself, whether alone or socialising; draw close to your supportive family church and good friends. There are a number of teachings on giving, and this can be time as well as involve monetary costs. Corinthians shows when we give, its not random giving or by compulsion. Rather, our giving needs wisdom as in any other decisions we make:, ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Cor 9:7).

It’s more blessed to give than receive’

Right?  That’s because you’re assured of always being on top – Let’s stop spiritualising everything.  That’s actually the attitude of the rich towards the poor, so we need to watch our smugness when interpreting Scripture.

We also need to work in community with others. I never went into the street at night without a partner alongside me.  We also need to share and pray regularly with one or two wiser more mature workers.  Above all, we need to protect ourselves from becoming wounded or burnt out.

Finally, love conquers all.  So let’s together keep on keeping on and keep working on it with a view to maturity (perfection) : ).

‘My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God.  Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.  The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love  – so you can’t know him if you don’t love.  (1 Jn 4: 7-8 The Message).  [1]

Feel free to write via my website and let me know how you are going in your Christian witnessing, and where you are serving, etc.

God richly bless you in all your service in the Lord,

Love in Jesus





The Source New Testament Dr Anne Nyland: All New Testament references where noted, taken from ‘The Source New Testament with Extensive Notes on Greek Word Meanings’, Translated with notes by Dr.  Ann Nyland’, 2004, published by ] any teaching resources books mentioned by Patricia are available here on her website.

 [1]‘The Message’ Eugene H Pearson.