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"By what authority are You doing these things

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1 "By what authority are You doing these things
"By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" (Matt. 21:23)

2 The word "authority" means, "the power of rule or government, the power of one whose will and commands must be obeyed by others." (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, page 91). There are two kinds of authority: general (or generic) and special (or specific) It is regrettable that many people do not even think about "authority" in the realm of religion. Perhaps that is why there is so much disagreement among the various religious groups.

3 When Jesus told the apostles, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15), He authorized every mode of travel - walking, sailing, riding in a chariot, riding on a beast, etc. - because He did not stipulate (or specify) as to method. On the other hand, He stipulated what they were to preach - "the gospel." Hence they were not free to "preach" anything else. There are two possible sources of authority: divine and human. This can be demonstrated by Matt. 21:23-27.

4 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' "But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet." But Jesus answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John--where was it from? From heaven or from men?" Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" So they answered Jesus and said, "We do not know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things." (Matt. 21:23-27)

5 Not only did the chief priests and elders recognize that there is a need for authority but they also recognized that authority must come from the proper source.

6 If "from heaven" the scriptures will equip us for it.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4) Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6) Jesus asked them if the baptism of John was "from heaven or from men." They couldn't say "from heaven" because they would look inconsistent, not having been baptized by John. But neither could they say "from men," because they feared the people. Thus, they answered, "We do not know." All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

7 During the present New Testament age, Jesus has all authority both in heaven and on earth.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18) Thus, He is the only one "whose will and commands must be obeyed by others."

8 Thus, in writing to the church at Colosse, Paul commanded,
Whatever you do in word [teaching] or deed [practice], do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Col. 3:17) To do something "in the name of the Lord Jesus" means to do it "in recognition of His authority."

9 Hence, we must recognize the authority of the Lord Jesus in everything we teach and practice!
Otherwise, He is not really our Lord. Authority cannot come from the Old Testament but must come from the New Testament. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)

10 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal

11 inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. (Heb. 9:15-17)

12 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then

13 would they not have ceased to be offered
would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that

14 the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins
the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings

15 and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure
and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come-- In the volume of the book it is written of Me-- To do Your will, O God.' " Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and

16 offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. (Heb. 10:1-9)

17 This is well illustrated in the account of seven Jewish men to whom the miraculous ability to cast out evil spirits had not been given. One can not afford to take it upon himself to do what the Lord has not authorized.

18 Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches."

19 Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so
Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:11-16)

20 They did not have the authority to demand the demons to leave the one whom they had possessed but decided they would try. And the result was disastrous. Jesus, Paul, the other apostles and some upon whom the apostles had laid their hands, however, had such authority and the results were never disastrous with them.

21 The New Testament authorizes in three ways:
(1) direct statements/commands (2) approved examples (3) implications Jesus used these three methods to establish authority for His teaching and practice.

22 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak." (John 12:48-50)

23 But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:17-19)

24 The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him, saying: "Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also,

25 and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also
and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her." Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

26 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching. (Matt. 22:23-33)

27 When questioned by the Sadducees - who believed in neither spirits nor angels - about the resurrection, Jesus quoted from the first five books of the Old Testament - the only part of the Old Testament they accepted - to defend His teaching.

28 His defense ran thus: (1) Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for hundreds of years, when God appeared to Moses. (2) But God identified Himself to Moses saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." (3) In saying this, God implied - and we infer necessarily - that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive in - some sense - at the time of Moses. (4) To deny this is to implicitly affirm that God is "the God of the dead."

29 This proved that there is a part of man that survives physical death and can be resurrected.
If this is not true, why did Jesus bring it up? This was such a forceful argument, that it "silenced the Sadducees."

30 I know of no fourth method ever used by Jesus to establish authority for either His teaching or His practice, but will accept any method that is self-evident or that can be established by one of these three.

31 By their very nature, commands MUST BE authoritative!
Notice the following explanation of commands being usable for authority.

32 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented." And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.

33 "And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and

34 "Jacob in the kingdom of heaven
"Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour. (Matt. 8:5-13)

35 Jesus told His apostles,
"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." (Matt. 10:40) Therefore, the apostles’ commands MUST ALSO BE authoritative. Since Jesus has all authority, His commands MUST BE authoritative.

36 The New Testament prophets had "the mystery of Christ" revealed to them.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles-- if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. (Eph. 3:1-7)

37 Therefore, their commands MUST BE authoritative, as well.
The commands of Moses and the Old Testament prophets, on the other hand, are no longer authoritative.

38 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

39 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud,

40 saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him
saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matt. 17:1-8)

41 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let

42 us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-- because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. (Mark 9:2-8)

43 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to

44 accomplish at Jerusalem
accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing

45 what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen. (Luke 9:28-36)

46 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His

47 person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Heb. 1:1-4)

48 We are commanded by the apostles to recognize approved examples as authoritative.
Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (1 Cor. 4:16)

49 We are commanded by the apostles to recognize approved examples as authoritative.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11:1)

50 We are commanded by the apostles to recognize approved examples as authoritative.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Phil. 3:17)

51 We are commanded by the apostles to recognize approved examples as authoritative.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:9)

52 Of course, our ultimate example is Jesus.
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: (1 Peter 2:21) And He provided us with an example of using implication to establish authority.

53 The apostles also used implication to establish authority for their teaching and practice.

54 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the

55 Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren
Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. (Acts 15:1-6)

56 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between

57 us and them, purifying their hearts by faith
us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." (Acts 15:7-11)

58 Peter necessarily inferred [from his experience with the household of Cornelius recorded in Acts 10 & 11] that binding circumcision on the Gentiles would be tempting God and putting a yoke on the neck of those disciples.

59 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. (Acts 15:12)

60 Barnabas and Paul necessarily inferred [from their first missionary journey] that Gentile converts do not need physical circumcision. They never demanded it, yet God endorsed their preaching with "miracles and wonders."

61 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:

62 'After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;

63 'So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.' "Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those

64 from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." (Acts 15:13-21)

65 James stated that Peter's inference was in agreement with the prophets.
He then quoted from Amos 9:11-12, and concluded that to bind circumcision would be to "trouble...those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God."

66 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. They wrote this letter by them:

67 The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law"--to whom we gave no such commandment-- it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send

68 chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

69 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. (Acts 15:21-31)

70 "The apostles and elders, with the whole church" implied in their letter that physical circumcision was not essential to salvation by stating that those who were binding circumcision were "unsettling…souls" in doing so. Finally, the disciples at Antioch used necessary inference when they read the letter and “rejoiced for the consolation.”

71 I have shown that there are three biblically authorized methods of establishing religious authority.
(1) It is self-evident that commands and other direct statements of one in authority are authoritative. (2) We are commanded to follow the approved examples of the apostles. (3) There are examples of Jesus and the apostles using implication (or necessary inference) to establish authority.

72 Is there a fourth method authorized by command, approved example, or implication?
If so, what is that fourth method?

73 If there is no fourth method, then whatever is not authorized either by command, example or implication, in the New Testament, is simply not authorized!

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