The Authority of “Ministries”
This article is written to show what the New Testament has to say about the authority of “ministries.” In Part One I will examine the roots of the original model of the first century very closely. Part Two will present a few timely observations about current religious “leadership.”?
1. THE ROOTS OF THE ORIGINAL MODEL OF THE FIRST CENTURY
God Delegated His Power of Christ
When discussing any question of authority, it is important to state one's bedrock assumptions at the beginning: According to the entire Bible, God is viewed as the ultimate Authority. God is also over Christ (1 Cor. 11:3). God the Father sent Jesus with full authority. Jesus spoke the words of God (John 3:34). At first, Jesus was sent only to the lost sheep of the household of Israel to preach the kingdom of God, and “to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18). God sent His Son to save the whole world (John 3:17). Accomplishing God’s will was Jesus’ mission, and, ultimately, he was our sin-offering (1 John 4:10), so that we could live eternally through him. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19).
Christ’s Authority and Power
During the ministry of Jesus, God anointed him with the Holy Spirit without measure and with power (dunamis). He taught people as one having authority (exousia). He had the right to forgive sins on earth. Jesus commanded unclean spirits to come out, and he was in control of the elements. Governor Pilate had no power over him (John 19:10,11). Christ had the power to lay down his life as a sacrifice voluntarily and to rise from death (John 10:18; cf. I Cor. 6:14). He destroyed the Devil’s power (kratos) through his own death and resurrection (Heb. 2:14). So, at the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus said, “All authority (exousia) has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). And, he will come again with power (dunamis, Matt. 24:30). Christ is the power (dunamis) of God (1 Cor. 1:24), i.e. the preaching about the cross of Christ (1 Cor. 1:18), which is where our faith should rest (1 Cor. 2:5). He now lives forever by the power of God (2 Cor. 13:4; Heb. 7:16). At the end of time, Jesus will have subjugated every other kind of rule (archee), authority (exousia), and power (dunamis) (1 Cor. 15:24). Every knee will bow to him (Phil. 2:10).
Various Roles of Christ
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else, because there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” And, there is only “one Mediator between God and men--the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5).
Jesus is Lord. He was Lord of the holy Sabbath (Matt. 12:8). He is the Head of every male, who are over the females (1 Cor. 11:3ff). Christ is “the Head of all principalities and powers” (Col. 2:10, 15). All angels, authorities, and powers have been made subject to the ascended Christ (1 Pet. 3:22). Jesus is the King. Jesus is our only High Priest. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Foundation, the Chief Cornerstone.
The Early Disciples of Christ
Jesus set the right example: He is the Messianic Servant in Matt. 12:18, quoting Isaiah 42:1-4, one of the Suffering Servant passages. He took upon himself the form of a slave and was made in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:7). He came to serve (diakonein) and not to be served (Mark 10:45). For example, he washed the feet of the disciples (John 13:1-15). Even though he had no sins, he so identified with us, that he allowed himself to be immersed because it was proper "to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). Jesus Christ was a "minister" (diakonos) to the Jews on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises which were given to their forefathers (Rom. 15:8). As High Priest, he is the "Minister" (leitourgos) of the heavenly Sanctuary and of the true Tabernacle (Heb. 8:2). He left the true example for every Christian to follow "in his steps" (1 Pet. 2:24). He taught that greatness comes through serving (diakonein) in Matt. 20:26-18. Jesus said, "If any man serves (diakonee) me, let him follow me. And where I am, there my servant (diakonos) will also be. If any man serves me, my Father will honor him" (John 12:26). So, following Jesus is equivalent to serving Jesus.
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