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Do You Have Authority?

The Apostle Paul describes himself as just that, an Apostle. An Apostle is someone commissioned with authority. The first thing Paul wants to establish in his letter to the Church in Galatia is that “my apostleship doesn't derive from human sources, nor did it come through human a human being; it came through Jesus the Messiah, and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.” Galatians 1:1 NTE.

The Apostle Paul was not one of the twelve, nor did he receive his apostleship through the laying on of hands from one of the twelve. Paul says explicitly that his apostleship came directly from Jesus Himself. Some will say that Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus uniquely qualified Paul to be an Apostle because he “saw” the resurrected Jesus. But Jesus is no less alive today than when Paul met him on the road. Why should we consider an encounter with Jesus any less significant today than it was back then?

If the Twelve were the gatekeepers for all future Apostles, the Apostle Paul jumped the fence. Not only that, the Apostle Paul also dared to confront the Apostle Peter over issues regarding the treatment of Gentile believers in a foundational altercation (Galatians 2:11-14). In no way does the Apostle Paul appear as anything less than an Apostle in the first degree.

No Empty Words

Paul’s Apostleship is not dependent on his claims regarding the Damascus road incident. Anyone, such as the heretic Joseph Smith, can claim to have a sensational experience accompanied by increased authority. Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road was a foundational and authoritative experience, but recounting it for others did not give him authority. Paul’s apostleship does not derive from people who believe his story but from the fact that it happened whether people believe it or not. Paul’s whole argument is that humans didn't give him his authority; it came directly from Jesus, and nobody could take it away except Jesus.

We are All the Twelve

The twelve disciples were never meant to be separated from the rest of the Church as an exclusive fighting force. Instead, the twelve represent the nation of Israel as a whole, the renewed twelve tribes of Israel, the family of God. God calls every new believer to become a disciple in the pattern of the twelve. Similarly, the Messiah represents the nation as a whole. The Messiah did for the nation what she could not do for herself. Still, now that we have come into the Messiah, His history becomes our history, His vocation becomes our vocation, and His authority becomes our authority. This shared history and vocation with the Messiah is precisely what Paul talked about when he said that “the Messiah did not know sin, but God made him to be sin on our behalf, so that we might embody God’s faithfulness to the covenant.” 2 Corinthians 5:27 NTE

From the beginning of creation, God’s central intention for human beings is to exercise authority.

Authority Cannot Be Abused

Humans fear authority for one main reason: we have all been abused by people in positions of authority. But here is the good news: genuine authority cannot be abused. Once authority is abused, it ceases to be authority.

The essence of witchcraft is manipulation or intimidation for the sake of domination. Witchcraft is a parody of authority. The trouble is, we are all invariably mixed bags concerning our allegiance to the Truth. Therefore, we all walk in a mixture of genuine authority and witchcraft. But some people walk in more genuine authority than others. We must observe the fruit of a person's life and ministry to determine the genuineness of their authority.

Ultimately, the only pure authority is the Truth itself, who is the person of Jesus. All authority comes from Him, and our access to that authority comes through submission to Him. For this reason, we have no reasonable cause to fear or resist authority. We only need to thank God for His mercy for rebels and thieves and His graciousness to set us straight in His name so we can learn to exercise genuine authority as He always intended.

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