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Reading 9. Kingdom Power & Authority. Learning How God Flows Through Us

Kingdom Introduction
Observing the Text!

In Scripture, there is power in the words and the works of Jesus. Typically, the Westerner spends more times musing over the words without balancing out doing the works of Jesus. When Jesus sent out his disciples to minister (Luke 9.1), he gave them power and authority over demons and to cure diseases. These are two important words in Kingdom theology. Let’s take a closer look:

Power (dunamis)
The root word from which power (dunamis) comes can be defined as to have capacity. It can mean to have the ability to carry out something; to bring something, or to conclude something. It can denote spontaneity. In the classical period of the Greek language, dunamis meant the ability to achieve in the area of physical, military, or political power.

Dunamis is used to translate two Hebrew words in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX). The Hebrew words generally mean military power or force. The overwhelming proof of the power of God in the Old Testament was the miraculous deliverance of Israel at the Sea of Reeds (Ex 15.6, Deut. 3.24; 9.26-29). The most comprehensive demonstration of the power of God certainly is demonstrated in the creation of the world (Gen. 1-2). Jeremiah describes this awesome power to create in Jeremiah 27.5. He says the same essential thing in a prayer that is recorded in Jeremiah 32.17. Micah talked about the power of God working in him (Micah 3.8). In this passage, the Hebrew Poetry (parallelism) suggests that to be filled with power is to have the presence of the Holy Spirit. Micah is not saying that he is filled with power and the Holy Spirit but rather he is filled with the Spirit which is the same thing as being filled with the power of God.

Interpreting the Text!

Synoptic Gospels and Acts
In the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, dunamis signifies the power of God. Three ways the word is used are: First, the power of God (Mark 14.62; Luke 1.49, Almighty, ISV). Second, in Mark 13.25 the heavenly bodies (power of the heavenlies) are said to have been shaken. Third, dunamis is used to describe the works of Jesus. The works of Jesus are called mighty works (miracles Matt. 11.20 ISV). Here is the good news. The servants of Jesus have the same power of the Spirit. It is given to us to perform the mighty acts of the Kingdom of God. The Spirit of God brings the power of Jesus to the Church. In Acts 1.8 the Church is promised power. In Acts 2.4 the promise was fulfilled. The rest of Acts demonstrates the powerful works of the Spirit through the disciples. When the Spirit comes to us at conversion we, too, are given the same power to do the works of Jesus.When the Spirit comes to us at conversion we, too, are given the same power to do the works of Jesus. Click To Tweet

The Gospel of John
John’s Gospel does not use the noun dunamis. However, the verb form of the word does appear in 5.19) where Jesus told the Jews that he was unable (powerless) to do anything except what he saw the Father doing. In Revelation, God is praised for his power (Rev. 4.11; 7.12, 19.1).

The Writings of Paul
Paul deposits a great emphasis on the present experience of the power of God. The central proof of God’s power in Paul is the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is the source of the power of God in the Church (1 Cor. 1.24). The readers of Philippians are told that Jesus continually provides power for his own (Phil. 4.13). This verse could be translated, “I can continually do all things everywhere I go in Jesus who is continually empowering me.” Believers live in the power of God (2 Cor. 6.7;13.3; Eph. 1.19). The power of God comes in words and works according to 1 Corinthians 2.4-5. It is the Holy Spirit’s power which works signs and wonders which are the works of the Kingdom of God in this present evil age (Rom. 15.19; Gal. 3.5).

Authority (exousia)
The word in Greek for authority is exousia. It can be defined as unrestrained right or freedom of action. The verbal form of the word means to exercise one’s right. The right of a king to rule is because of his authority (exousia). The word can also mean the authorization of an officer or a messenger to carry out a specific task. Exousia is used only of people, never used of things.

To understand the New Testament use of the word we are indebted to the Old Testament book of Daniel. God delegates authority to world rulers. God installs and removes kings (Dan. 2.21; 4.31). In Daniel, we discover that the authority invested in the “son of man” is endowed by God. This authority would be given to the true Israel, the church (Dan. 7.14) is the absolute power of the king to govern the people of God. In Rabbinical literature the word means ruling power.

The Hebrew word (rasuit), not found in the Old Testament but among the writings of the Rabbis, means an authoritative power of action like the power of attorney who is given the power of an ambassador. The judicial sense of rasuit designates the right to marry, teach, or inherit. Finally, the word is used to denote freedom of action. The New Testament uses the word exousia frequently, most frequently in Revelation. In secular usage, it meant the power to give orders (Matthew 8.9, the centurion).

Power and Authority and Believers
Luke’s version of the sending of the disciples is a key passage to understand how authority and power apply to us. Power (dunimas) has its foundation in the idea of being anointed, while authority (exousia) has its foundation in the concept of being sent out.

Jesus expelled demons by his authority. He deprived Satan and his demonic host of their power, that is their ability to do evil, thus destroying the works of Satan by snatching men from his rule. Jesus passed the same authority to his disciples (Matt. 10.1; Mark 3.15; 6.7; Luke 10.19). John’s Gospel tells us that everyone who receives Jesus receives from Jesus the power (exousia) to become his child (John 1.12). Three words are important to this verse. First, give. God gives to those who believe the right to become his child. Second, the right. This is our word exousia. John is not speaking of power as some ability to do a certain task but to gain status. Jesus gives those who believe the full authority to become. He gives us the power to change status. Finally, children. Those who believe become children. John uses a term that draws attention to the community or family. As a part of the family, we become partakers of the divine nature of the Father (2 Peter 1.4). When we believe, we are given authority (the right) to change our status from children of Satan to children of God.

Luke teaches us through the words of Jesus that we have been given authority (exousia), which is the right to use God’s power (the ability to accomplish a task) to tread on serpents and scorpions. Think of it this way. A police officer who directs traffic does not have the power to stop a car because it is much bigger and more powerful than he or she is. However, a police officer does have the authority to stop a car by merely raising his hand. The government has delegated his authority to him.

The centurion of Matthew 8.5-13 demonstrates this very fact. He knew what authority was. He had been delegated his authority by his superior. Those under him had to follow his command. His authority to command was granted because he was also under the authority of his senior officer and finally Caesar himself. Ultimate authority came from Caesar, but the centurion issued the orders. This was a one-time gift of authority to the centurion. He did not have to run to Caesar each time he needed to give an order to his followers. The same idea is true for believers. God has passed on his authority to us through Jesus who sent the Holy Spirit to continue his ministry through us. We have been empowered (Acts 1.8) to do his work. We have the responsibility to exercise the power and authority he has given us.On authority: a police officer does have the authority to stop a car by merely raising his hand. Click To Tweet

Living into the Text!

It is always important to apply what you have learned. Pause at this point and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to meditate on and put into practice some or all of the following.

  • In what ways have you used the authority that God has given you to do his works and talk his words? What help do you need?
  • If you could do one work of Jesus in the next week, what would it be? How do you know that you have authority to do that work? How do you call the power of God into action so the work can be accomplished?
  • Why is the Old Testament and Septuagint important to us in the interpreting of the New Testament? What can you do to be better prepared to understand these resources?

The articles below come from various Bible Dictionaries and other sources. The posting of these brief articles are to introduce some readers to the vast amount of information that is provided to enhance your reading of the text of the Bible with a hope that it will lead to a better understanding of the text and will lead the reader to an improved praxis in his or her community of faith and personal life. You might read the articles offline in a number of different Bible Dictionaries. If you do not own a Bible Dictionary, I would recommend New Bible Dictionary 3rd Edition. If you like lots of color pictures, try Revell Bible Dictionary. Revell Bible Dictionary is no longer in print but is available from Amazon. One of these should suit your personal needs.

  • Centurion
  • Hebrew Poetry Forms
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Guide Yourself into a Kingdom of God Mindset in 13 Readings, which covers a matrix through which you can view the writings of the New Testament about the subject matter of the kingdom of God. You can enjoy this material completely in just 13 readings. Of course, you can take all the time you want, say 13 Days or 13 Weeks. It's up to you. To get the most from your reading, it is important that you read the biblical text along with it. The New International Version (NIV: Electronic Version 2011) is the text on which the studies are built.

The first section of each reading is called Observing the Text, which is an introduction to the section that is being read. Next, you will encounter Interpreting the Text, which suggests an interpretation of the section your are reading. Then, there is Living into the Text, which suggests questions, which may help you live into the text. This final section BibleInfoResources!, provides you with some articles that may interest you. After all, the text of Scripture was originally written for a community of Yahweh or Jesus followers to help them in their pursuit of God. The text was never meant to be for the accumulation of personal knowledge. Of course, the Holy Spirit is the final word for living your life and for the life of a community of Jesus followers. Listen to what he may be saying to your community of faith and personally about what you are reading. But, on a personal level, don’t get a personal application for you mixed up with the meaning of the text in Scripture. Remember this easy rule of thumb: one meaning, many applications. NOTE: Throughout the text, you will see words that have a thin dashed underline. When you place your cursor over the word(s) a small tooltip box will appear with more information about the word(s).

Each reading may include some of the following icons and sections:

Observing the Text! What does the text say? Provides you with a quick overview of the passage.
Interpreting the Text! What does the text mean? Helps you gain an understanding of the meaning of the text as those who first heard or read it may have understood it.
Living into the Text! What does the text mean to my community of faith and to me? Some reflections to help assist your community of faith and you to live into the Story of God.
WordTreasures: Defining the Text! Definitions of key words and phrases.
Behind the Scenes: Historical Background of the Text! A look at the historical background of the text
BibleInfoResources! Helpful resources for further readings. The Resource Information appears at the end of each of the studies. Reading this material in the noted reference popup will enrich your comprehension of the material under consideration.


Centurion was a Roman officer in command of a hundred men (Mark 15:39, 44, 45). Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was a centurion (Acts 10:1, 22). Other centurions are mentioned in Matt. 8:5, 8, 13; Luke 7:2, 6; Acts 21:32; 22:25, 26; 23:17, 23; 24:23; 27:1, 6, 11, 31, 43; 28:16. A centurion watched the crucifixion of our Lord (Matt. 27:54; Luke 23:47), and when he saw the wonders attending it, exclaimed, "Truly this man was the Son of God." "The centurions mentioned in the New Testament are uniformly spoken of in terms of praise, whether in the Gospels or in the Acts. It is interesting to compare this with the statement of Polybius (vi. 24), that the centurions were chosen by merit, and so were men remarkable not so much for their daring courage as for their deliberation, constancy, and strength of mind."

Easton's Bible Dictionary (Public Domain)

Hebrew Poetry Forms

As poetry, all of them make use of a literary device called parallelism, a thought rhyme in which the second line of a section echoes or reiterates the thought of the first line. The two lines, then, become poetic units. There are four basic kinds of parallelism. Understanding them restores to us some of the beauty and power of the original, and usually brings us closer to the writer’s intent. The four types of such parallelism are:

Synonymous Parallelism: In this type of parallelism, the same thought is expressed in successive lines.

The ox knows his master,
     the donkey his owner’s manger, (Isaiah 1.3a)
What is man that you are mindful of him,
     the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8.4)

You can see here that the second line says the same thing as the first line. Only one thought is being conveyed.

Antithetic Parallelism: In this form, the thought in the second line or successive lines is in contrast to the first. This type is used extensively in the Book of Proverbs.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous
     but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1.6)
A wise son brings joy to his father,
     but a foolish son grief to his mother. (Proverbs 10.1)

Synthetic Parallelism: Often called Formal Parallelism–this type of parallelism has neither repetition in contrast nor in different terms. The second line simply carries the thought of the first line to a conclusion.

The Lord looks down from heaven
     upon the sons of men. (Psalm 14.2a)

Climactic Parallelism: In this form, two of the previous forms (Synonymous and Formal) are combined. The second line repeats the first in part, adding to it to bring the thought to a conclusion.

Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones,
     Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. (Psalm 29.1)

The more clearly we recognize the form and the function of these parallel structures, the more purely we can receive God’s message the way he intended we receive it. Although Hebrew poetry is infinitely more complex than we have indicated here, an understanding of parallelism will cause us to be more attentive to what we are reading and interpreting.

Winn Griffin. Old Testament Interpretation. 1996. SBL Publications.

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