- To teach:” … because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” ~ Matthew 7:29 (see also Mark 1:22; Luke 4:32
- To heal and forgive sins: ” ‘But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….’ Then he said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.'” ~ Matthew 9:6 (see also Mark 2:10)
- To exorcise evil spirits: “The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’ ” ~ Mark 1:27
- To be hailed as a delivering king; to cleanse God’s house, to heal, and to demonstrate the power of faith ~ Matthew 21:12-27; Mark 11:12-33; Luke 20:1-8; John 2:13-25
- To judge: “And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.” ~ John 5:27
- To lay down and take up His own life again: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” ~ John 10:18
- To give eternal life: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” ~ John 17:2
As given through His disciples:
- To heal and exorcise: “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” ~ Matthew 10:1 (see also Mark 6:7; 3:15; Luke 9:1)
- To overcome the enemy: “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” ~ Luke 10:19
- To build up the saints: “For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:8 (see also 13:10)
- To give instructions: “For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 4:2
- To encourage and rebuke: “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” ~ Titus 2:15
For others, in short. For their benefit – and God’s glory.
What Authority Is NOT To Be Used For
- To lord it over others: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” ~ Matthew 20:20-28 (see also Mark 10:42; Luke 22:25)
- To claim it as one’s own: The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.‘” ~ Luke 4:5-8 (see also Romans 13:1)
- To denigrate, humiliate or otherwise tear down other believers: “This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:8, again (and also see again 13:10)
For one’s self, in short. For one’s self-justification and self-aggrandizement. Hebrews 13:17 does indeed instruct: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” And there is certainly a strong implication that these leaders are leaders within the church, who should expect their work to be a joy and not a burden. (But it is not explicit. There is no word here equivalent to elders, shepherds, pastors, bishops, deacons, ministers. Just “those leading you.”) Also, the good reputation of believers is in view where 1 Peter 2:13-15 teaches us to submit to all authorities instituted among men. Yet, sometimes, a choice must be made – and Peter, along with his companions, clearly and quickly saw there was no question about it when religious leaders ordered them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus:
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!” ~ Acts 5:29
When authority is misused, misrepresented as God’s, insisted upon without question, enforced with humiliation and threat, it is wrong no matter what commands or teachings that claimed authority defends. And there is every reason to suspect those commands and teachings, too – if the manner in which authority is handled (rather, mishandled) can be demonstrated to run counter to the instructions of scriptures like those cited above.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” ~ Luke 16:10
That is as true of authority as it is of anything else with which God entrusts us.