Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AUTHORITY (Matt. 7-9)


"for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes" (Mt. 7:29).

"For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it" (Mt. 8:9).

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Mt. 9:6).

"But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (Mt. 9:8).

"Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority" (Mt. 10:1)

As I read through Matthew 7-9 this evening, the word "authority" stood out to me like never before. Jesus had authority, but it was not in the sense of the religious leaders of the Jewish faith were accustomed to. His authority was not considered an earthly authority, let alone one of a divine nature, yet He spoke, taught, healed, and rebuked evil with authority. What is in the word Matthew uses in his Gospel account that will give us some insight into the authority of Jesus?

In Mt. 7:29, authority is "eksousía" ("delegated power") which refers to the authority God gives to His saints – authorizing them to act to the extent they are guided by faith (His revealed word). Matthew uses the word "authority" a total of ten times throughout his Gospel account (according to the NASB translation), and one-half of those uses occur within just 3.5 of the total 28 chapters, all of which occuring once Jesus' ministry begins. What is Matthew trying to stress to his Jewish readers?

Greek To Me

This Greek work "eksousía" is derived from two words. "Ek" that has a two-layered meaning (out from and to) which makes it out-come oriented (out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object), and "eimí" meaning "I am, exist." Therefore, it should become easier to comprehend how Jesus' eksousía is a delegated power given of the heavenly Father that simply "is" in Him.

Biblos offers this: "eimí ("is, am") – in the present tense, indicative mood – can be time-inclusive ("omnitemporal," like the Hebrew imperfect tense). Only the context indicates whether the present tense also has "timeless" implications. For example, eimí is aptly used in Christ's great "I am" that also include His eternality (self-existent life) as our life, bread, light," etc. See Jn 7:34, 8:58. (1)

In comparison to the authority of the earthly leaders, that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, Jesus' authority was sourced by the Spirit, not that of a proxy or council, and was clearly being exhibited in His early teachings

Why didn't I see this before?

Leaning on the Word is vital to Christians, but we must not be afraid to dig into the text and discover the treasures of its context. Here, even though I extend the assignment by one verse (SUE ME!), Matthew is bringing the authority of the Messiah to a Jewish audience that had known nothing beyond that of their synagogue leaders. Let's keep reading and see how Jesus' authority is used and tested.

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