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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Authority

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AUTHORITY . The capability, liberty, and right to perform what one wills. The word implies also the physical and mental ability for accomplishing the end desired. Authority refers especially to the right one has, by virtue of his office, position, or relationship, to command obedience. The centurion was ‘a man under authority,’ who knew what it meant to be subject to others higher in authority than himself, and who also himself exercised authority over the soldiers placed under him ( Matthew 8:8-9 ). In like manner ‘Herod’s jurisdiction’ ( Luke 23:7 ) was his authority over the province which he ruled. Hence the authority of any person accords with the nature of his office or position, so that we speak of the authority of a husband, a parent, an apostle, a judge, or of any civil ruler. The magistrates who are called in Romans 13:1 ‘the higher powers,’ are strictly the highly exalted and honoured authorities of the State, who are to be obeyed in all that is right, and reverenced as the ‘ministers of God for good.’ God is Himself the highest authority in heaven and on earth, but He has also given unto His Son ‘authority on earth to forgive sins’ ( Matthew 9:6 ) and to execute judgment ( John 5:27 ). After His resurrection Jesus Himself declared: ‘All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth’ ( Matthew 28:18; cf. Colossians 2:10 , 1 Peter 3:22 ). In the plural the word is used in Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12 , Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:15 , to denote good and evil angels, who are supposed to hold various degrees and ranks of authority. See Dominion, Power.

M. S. Terry.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Authority'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/a/authority.html. 1909.

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