Authority: Legit, Yet Limited
Jesus is a phenomenal leader. As such, He is not a micromanager. With responsibility, He delegates the authority to accomplish it. Whenever He calls us to do something, He makes sure we have what it takes to succeed in it.
Furthermore, because we represent Him in our calling, He guarantees the backing of Heaven. This is authority.
Because our callings are different, however, so is the measure of our authority. In the New Testament there is a specific word used by Paul to address this concept. The word is metron and is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:13 to describe both the reach and limit of his apostolic authority. His assignment set the parameters of his authority. Translated “measure” in the KJV and NAS, the translators of the ISV chose the word “field” to communicate Paul’s intention. The implication is that Paul understood he was delegated a measure of authority, not all authority. That authority was within a certain field and could be exercised only within those boundaries.
The grace upon a man or woman’s life determines their gifting, the assignment determines the parameters on the authority they are delegated. For Paul, that grace was for apostolic ministry (Ephesians 1:1; 3:2). In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul is mounting a defense of his authority against interlopers who have moved into his territory, attempting to gain influence in the church he had labored to build. Paul assured the Corinthians his authority extended to them (2 Corinthians 10:13-14). Conversely, Paul had already acknowledged to this very church that he was not an apostle to everyone (1 Corinthians 9:2).
This is an important principle, highlighting the fact that the authority of the gifts of Jesus have distinct boundaries, often geographic (Timothy was an apostle to Ephesus) or demographic (Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles). Just because a man is the head of his home, that doesn’t mean he is the head of every home he enters. The same is true of any type of authority, be it a teacher in a kindergarten class or an apostle in the Kingdom; each have limits.
This is precisely the problem with much of the teaching today in regards to apostolic authority. Although legitimate, it is also limited. Those who carry that anointing and those in relationship with them must realize the boundaries to their ministry. Because they exercise authority within their own relational sphere, many leaders assume they can exercise the same authority in relationships outside their God-ordained field. This simply serves to discredit a very valuable gift.
This over extension of authority also happens when leaders attempt to usurp God-given authority from those they lead. For instance, a pastor’s authority ends where a father’s authority begins. It is the father’s responsibility to lead his home and a pastor’s to teach him principles to do so. But when a pastor jumps from teaching to leading a man’s household, he has climbed a fence erected by God. That authority lies with the parents and not the pastor.
Jesus longs to release His authority through His church, but in order to do so, He must have a church under authority. Authority has both legitimacy and limits. Both must be embraced.
Furthermore, submission begins at the top; everyone needs to answer to someone. Most of us would like to believe we have no problem submitting to Jesus, but the fact is our submission to Him is reflected in our submission to those people to whom He has delegated His authority.
Authority is essential. Do you have it? One good barometer would be whether you are under it.