Posted by: thebylog | April 27, 2005

Is All Authority From God?

If all authority is from God – and this was a point made in class today – there are some frightening consequences.

I’m not so sure where we’re going to end up with that, because class ended sort of in the midst of that though. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the teacher backed off that statement some.

That means slave owners, by virture of their physical dominance (i.e. guns and culture, back in those terrible days) are a legitimate authority. But if that’s true then I, if in possession of a deadly weapon which you had confidence that I’d use, would have legitimate, God-given authority if I took you hostage and began telling you what to do. Because that’s, in essence, what the slave traders/owners did.

But the Bible tells slaves to obey their masters.

Like I said, I’m not sure where we’re going with this, but I know that it is not Christian, not Biblical, for one human being to hold another one as a slave. And because of that (and perhaps other situations that exist), I’m not real comfortable at this point with the “All authority is from God” statement.



  1. I’m not comfortable with that statement either. A more accurate statement to my way of thinking is that, “All legitimate authority is from God.”

    What did your class ever decide on the question: Are things wrong because God said they’re wrong or did God say they are wrong because they are wrong?

    I, as I told the class, came out on the former side of the question. I am curious as to the class’ consensus as well as the opinion of the teacher.

  2. Who decides what authority is legitimate? I’m not qualified make that judgment.

  3. Yes you are qualified to make that judgement. The Bible says so: Acts 5:29: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!'”

    The Bible is our yard stick to see if the authority is legit or not. We should obey authority *unless* it contradicts God.

  4. Acts 4:18-20: Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

    1 Corinthians 6:2-3: Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

    2 Timothy 2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  5. I agree with you Byran, and Hans, and Paul. (?!?)We ourselves dare not make judgement as though we know what’s right and wrong. But since God has given us the Truth (Bible), and promises to guide us in difficult decisions, we can get “judgement” from God. Should we obey an authoritative command to sin?? That’s a no brainer.

    Maybe what Mr. Morality was implying was this: Since God created everything, nothing exists without Him getting the credit for it.

    But just as love burst out of God and into time, and yet it’s clearly corrupted and perverted in the world, so has authority, a God ordained thing, been misused and abused. Hey, God ordained marriage too, right? So if all marriage is from God… Yikes! No, God does not authorize or bless sin.

    I shy away from major “blanket statements” like that. Sounds nice, but testing it practically is usually a good thing.


  6. Dave: I agree with you. I think the purpose of such a “blanket statement” (which really wasn’t a statement: it was more of a question if that statement is accurate) in the context of Bible School (SMBI) is to make the students think.

  7. When the Word expresses something like this I think that the context of the passage is important, but you stated no chapter and verse that expresses this thought, but I offer these for your consideration:

    Ro 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers(exousia).For there is no power(exousia) but of God: the powers (exousia) that be are ordained of God.
    2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power(exousia), resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    1Co 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority (exousia) and power (dunamis).

    Notice that the words ‘power’ and ‘authority’ are the same Greek words except the last ‘power’ in I Cor. 15. The word translated from ‘exousia’ could be either ‘power’ or ‘authority’ in the Romans 3 passage. The context says that all power or authority is from God, and that the power or authority of earthly governments is delegated from God. That Paul is speaking or the Roman government is understood here from the context of the passage.

    I accept that God prefers an ordered government over anarchy and has delegated this authority to these governments, such as Rome here, however, if the government is improperly using this delegated power/authority, we still do not see any legitimate authority given to us Christians to resist the delegated authority given by God to such governments. In this case we only ‘obey God rather than man’ by refusing the command to sin (disobey God), and submit to the consequences of the government’s illegitimate wrath. That the Roman government persecuted Christians did not give them the right to fight to overthrow the government; i.e. to resist the authority that God eventually will reclaim per the I Cor. 15 passage statement.

    Having a weapon does not mean that one has ‘authority’ in this sense. One only has the ability of a temporary force until a larger temporary force is manifested to counter it, or the proper ‘authority’ intervenes.

  8. Throughout old testament the children of Isreal were defeated for and maybe even by their sin. Even with greater armies than their enemies their fate was as God had foretold through prophets.

    I can say that yes we answer to God on all levels and nothing is overlooked or slid by an all powerful God. Sometimes I don’t understand his ways but I know that the death of Jesus on the cross was a terrible loss of a teacher, healer and leader and yet without it I would not begin to know even a little of Godly love, mercy and power. If we could see the answer we still might not understand but I do believe that all authority is given of God.

  9. I have no problem saying that all authority is from God. However, just because I have the power to do something doesn’t mean I was given the authority to do it. So I can in fact do things that I’m not authorized to do.


  11. I am currently challenged by these issues after hearing John Bevere speak (very effectively) on the subject.

    As I prayed into the subject, God reminded me of how “they killed the prophets”. Prophets were not subject to the king, as such, but acted as a national conscience that often challenged the king.

    They were anointed of God to speak independently on ethical issues, but then the kings muzzled and killed them.

    I understand from this that there are different forms of authority, all of which are of God and as such a more appropriate reading of the statement “all authority is from God”, is to see authority as a principle, not a person and at that to see it as a balance of different points of reference, so that every word must be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses.

    The church often faces frustration because it does not always apply biblical leadership models. We impose individual leaders, rather than “leadership” as expressed through the balanced consensus of elders.

    One last thought is that, scientifically speaking, a law is only valid if it holds true for all conditions. We must find a correct interpretation of “all authority” that fits all conditions, else we have a concept not a law.

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