. . . in the closing words of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus told His disciples, “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me!” (emphasis mine). In His prayer to the Father in John 17:2, Jesus said, “For you granted [me] authority over all people”.
Paul says in Colossians 2:10, “. . . you [we] have been given fullness in Christ who is the Head over every power and AUTHORITY”. So all authority comes to man from God, the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son. Thus, Jesus Christ has AUTHORITY over ALL authority. For example, in Matthew 10:1, “He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them AUTHORITY to drive out evil spirits, and to cure every kind of disease and sickness”.
Now, let’s take a look at authority in the church where you worship. I believe that authority in the church is given in TWO forms: GOVERNMENTAL authority and MINISTERIAL authority. I believe that everyone to whom God has given gifts of ministry has the call to minister. However, only those so designated have the call to govern, We can minister in the authority of Jesus Christ as individuals, but no one has been given governmental authority as an individual, Government is only put into the hands of a plurality of elders, However, the make-up of almost any “eldership” is men who have been given authority to minister, When the writer of “The Acts” told about the meeting in Miletus between Paul and “the elders of the church at Ephesus”, three different words were used in identifying these men. First, they were called “presbuteros” (chapter 20, verse 17). Yet in verse 28 they are called “episcopas”, who were encouraged to serve as “poimēn”, or shepherds. Then in Peter’s first letter, addressed to believers all over Asia Minor, he directed his words in the 5th chapter to “elders”, who also were called by the three same titles of identification.
Therefore, it appears that in every case where men had been set in place as the “elders” – the governing group – were also men who had experience and still were serving in ministerial authority, So, just as a man may server in two different relational roles, such as husband and father, so most of the men in authority mentioned here were called to function in two realms of authority: governmental & ministerial. In each case, the authority was from Jesus, the Head of the Church.
Because Jesus is the HEAD of the Church, He is responsible for the fulfillment of ALL AUTHORITY, Where He is the HEAD, Here are natural AND spiritual flows of authority, From the Scriptures, we learn clearly that authority in the Church – both kinds of authority – comes out of our learning the natural RELATIONAL life that we live. So now, in practical terms, look at how this works in your own church. We must, however, be careful to remember BALANCE as we do business with this matter of exercising authority. It is so easy to go to the extreme in either direction, because we will find we’re dealing with man’s rebellious nature.
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 35, January 1984.