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Thursday, April 25th, 2024
the Fourth Week after Easter
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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

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POWER . In general the word means ability for doing something, and includes the idea of adequate strength, might, skill, resources, energy, and efficiency, either material, mental, or spiritual, to effect intended results. Strictly speaking, there is no real power or authority in the universe but that which is ultimately of God ( Psalms 62:11 , John 19:11 , Romans 13:1 ). But this Almighty One has originated innumerable subordinate powers, and some of these are possessed of ability to perform acts contrary to the will and commandments of the Creator. And so we may speak of the power of God, or of man, or of angel, or of demon, or of powers inherent in things inanimate. Inasmuch as in the highest and absolute sense ‘power belongeth unto God,’ It is fitting to ascribe unto Him such doxologies as appear in 1 Chronicles 29:11 , Matthew 6:13 . In Matthew 26:64 the word ‘power’ is employed for God Himself, and it is accordingly very natural that it should be often used to denote the various forms of God’s activity, especially in His works of creation and redemption. Christ is thus the power of God both in His Person and in His gospel of salvation ( 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:24 , Romans 1:16 ). The power of the Holy Spirit is also another mode of the Divine activity. By similar usage Simon the sorcerer was called ‘the power of God which is called Great’ ( Acts 8:10 ), i.e. a supposed incarnation of the power of God. The plural powers is used in a variety of meanings. (1) In Matthew 7:22 , Luke 10:13 , Acts 2:22; Acts 8:13 , ‘powers,’ or ‘mighty works,’ along with ‘signs and wonders,’ are to be understood as miracles, and were concrete manifestations of supernatural power. (2) ‘The powers of the heavens’ ( Matthew 24:29 , Mark 13:25 ) are understood by some as the forces inherent in the sun, moon, stars, and other phenomena of the heavens, by virtue of which they ‘rule over the day and over the night’ ( Genesis 1:18 ); by others these heavenly powers are understood to be the starry hosts themselves conceived as the armies of the heavens. (3) Both good and evil angels are designated by the terms ‘ principalities and powers ’ in such passages as Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12 , Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; Col 2:15 , 1 Peter 3:22 . The context of each passage must show whether the reference is to angels or demons. in Ephesians 2:2 Samatan is called ‘ the prince of the power of the air ,’ and these powers are further defined in Ephesians 6:12 as ‘world-rulers of this darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’ These are thought of as so many ranks of evil spirits who are ever at war with God’s hosts, and seek to usurp the heavenly regions. (4) in Romans 13:1 civil magistrates are called ‘the higher powers’ because of their superior rank, authority, and influence as officers ordained of God for the administration of justice among men (cf. Luke 12:11 , Titus 3:1 ). (5) ‘The powers of the age to come’ ( Hebrews 6:5 ) are best understood of all supernatural gifts and spiritual forces which belong to the age or dispensation of the New Covenant, of which Jesus is the Mediator (cf. Hebrews 9:15 ). They include the ‘greater works’ ( John 14:12 ) which Jesus assured His disciples they should do after His going unto the Father and sending them the Spirit of truth. See Authority, Kingdom of God.

M. S. Terry.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Power'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdb/​p/power.html. 1909.
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