The Authority of Jesus
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"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18)
This lesson presents 10 facets of the authority of Jesus Christ as taught in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The scripture references below are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 on the Bible Gateway website unless indicated otherwise (Ref. 1).
Consider. Which aspects of Jesus' authority really amaze you?
In the New Testament and in the examples below, the Greek word translated as "authority" is exousia [pronounced ex-oo-see'-ah]. Exousia means power to act, conferred or delegated power, ability, and weight (Ref. 2).
1. Jesus' Authority as a Teacher
"They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Mark 1:22).
People were amazed [literally shocked or astonished] at the authority [ability and weight] that Jesus exhibited in his teaching (Matthew 7:28-29, Ref. 2, Ref. 3). Whereas the scribes quoted secondhand from other human sources such as rabbis ("Hillel says ..."), Jesus spoke from himself independently and absolutely as one sent of God (Ref. 4, Ref. 5). Jesus' formula was not "Ye have heard that it hath been said," but "I say unto you" (Ref. 6, Matthew 5:43-44 KJV).
2. Jesus' Authority over Unclean Spirits
"And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be quiet, and come out of him!' Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him'" (Mark 1:23-27).
Jesus demonstrated his authority [power to act] over unclean spirits by verbal word of command (man in synagogue - Mark 1:23-27, Gerasene demoniac - Luke 8:26-39, deaf mute boy with convulsions - Mark 9:14-29).
3. Jesus' Authority to Heal Diseases
"And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, 'If You are willing, You can make me clean.' Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed" (Mark 1:40-42).
Jesus demonstrated his authority to heal diseases by touch and verbal command (Simon's mother-in-law - Mark 1:30-31, leper - Mark 1:40-45, paralytic - Mark 2:10-12, man with withered hand - Matthew 12:9-14, blind man - Mark 8:22-26). In the remarkable encounter with the centurion whose slave was sick and about to die, the centurion recognized Jesus' authority to heal the centurion's slave from a distance by just saying the word (Matthew 8:5-10, 13).
4. Jesus' Authority to Raise the Dead
"And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise!' The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother'" (Luke 7:14-15).
Jesus demonstrated his authority to raise the dead by spoken command. In addition to raising the widow of Nain's son (Luke 7:11-17), Jesus raised Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56), and Lazarus (John 11:1, 11:21-27, 38-45). These miracles of Jesus' authority proved who Jesus was (and still is). Martha said to Jesus, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world" (John 11:27).
5. Jesus' Authority to Forgive Sins
"Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven'" (Mark 2:4-5). Some of the scribes who were present reasoned in their hearts, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mark 2:7, Exodus 34:6-7, Isaiah 43:25, Micah 7:18).
Jesus used his divine authority to heal the paralytic (with results the scribes could see) to prove his divine authority to forgive sins. Jesus said, "'But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home'" (Mark 2:10-11). The forgiven and healed paralytic did rise, and took out his pallet in the sight of all (Mark 2:12). The people were amazed and glorified God (Mark 2:12). Such is the authority of Jesus!
6. Jesus' Authority over the Creation
"And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm" (Mark 4:39).
Jesus -- the Creator (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17) -- demonstrated his authority over the creation by commanding the sea to be still (Mark 4:35-41). This miracle powerfully showed Jesus' disciples who he was (and still is). The Old Testament teaches that God is the only one who can still the roaring sea (Psalm 65:5-7). Jesus' disciples remarked, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?" (Mark 4:41).
7. Jesus' Authority to Execute Judgment
"For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:26-27).
God has given Jesus -- the Son of God (Luke 1:31-35), the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14), and the Messiah (John 4:25-26) -- authority to execute judgment. The Greek word for "judgment" in John 5:27 is krisis (pronounced kree'-sis). Krisis means a judicial decision with the results of either a positive verdict for (righteousness) or a negative verdict against (condemnation) (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 7).
The Gospel of John tells us that those who do not believe in Jesus are "judged already" (John 3:18, for context, read John 3:16-21). Those who do believe in Jesus do not need to worry about judgment [condemnation] because "He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
8. Jesus' Authority over Mankind to Give Eternal Life
"Jesus spoke these things; and raising His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, so that the Son may glorify You, just as You gave Him authority over all mankind, so that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life" (John 17:1-2 NASB 2020).
Note the distinction Jesus makes in this prayer between "all mankind" and those "given him." Although Jesus has authority over all mankind, Jesus gives eternal life to those his heavenly Father has given him, that is, all who will believe in him (John 3:14-16, 1 John 5:13, Ref. 8).
9. Jesus Gives Authority to His Disciples
"And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing" (Luke 9:1-2).
Twelve sent out: Jesus not only gave the twelve disciples the authority to act, but also gave them the power to act. The power and authority that Jesus gave his disciples over demons and to perform healing confirmed their preaching message. Luke 9:6 tells us, "Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere."
Seventy sent out: Luke 10:1 tells us that Jesus appointed seventy others and sent them to every city and place where He was going to come. Jesus instructed the seventy to heal the sick and say to them, "The kingdom of God has come near to you" (Luke 10:9). The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17). The authority of Jesus' disciples to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to preach the gospel, and to make disciples is not in the authority of their (our) own name but is in the authority of the name of Jesus.
Disciples after Pentecost: At Pentecost and after Pentecost, God poured out the Holy Spirit on Jesus' disciples and filled them (Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:17, Acts 4:31, Acts 10:44-48). Jesus had told them in advance that the Holy Spirit would come upon them so they would be his witnesses "in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). In the authority of Jesus' name, Jesus' spirit-filled disciples healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. These miracles resulted in opportunities for Jesus' disciples to testify about Jesus Christ with the results of many people believing in the Lord. Examples include:
10. All Authority Has Been Given to Jesus
After Jesus' resurrection, "The eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated" (Matthew 28:16). "Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth'" (Matthew 28:18).
God has exalted Jesus Christ and has given him supreme authority in heaven and earth. The Apostle Paul tells us about Jesus, "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11).
God has given Jesus all authority over all peoples and nations (Daniel 7:13-14, Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus governs and protects the church (Ephesians 1:19-23). Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8), and he employs the angels of God to render service for those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:13-14, Ref. 10).
In the supreme authority that God has given Jesus Christ, Jesus said to his disciples then, and he says to us -- his disciples today -- "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Apply. In the authority that Jesus has given you as his disciple, how will you serve others in Jesus' name?
Gills Exposition - Mark 1:22
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges - Mark 1:22
Barnes notes on John 17:2
Pulpit Commentary on Matthew 28:18
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"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." (Colossians 1:15)
"And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." (Hebrews 1:3)
This lesson teaches that when God has been visible to people in the Old and New Testaments, it was God the Son, the timeless second person of the Trinity.
Consider. Although the Father is unseen, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the visible expression of God throughout the Old and New Testaments.
1. No one has seen the Father except Jesus Christ, God's Son.
In John 6:46, Jesus said, "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father."
2. The Son was with God from the beginning and was God.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
3. In the Old Testament, when God visibly appeared to people it was God the Son.
In the Old Testament, when God visibly appeared to people it was God the Son, the timeless, pre-incarnate second person of the trinity. Consider the following examples from scripture. Note where the One appearing is interchangably called the "Angel of the Lord," "Lord," and "God."
Hagar -- Genesis 16:7-13
Abraham -- Genesis 17:1-22, Genesis 18:1-33
Moses -- Exodus 3:1-6, 13-15 (burning bush, John 8:58), Exodus 13:17-22 (pillars of cloud and fire), Exodus 33:9-11 (face to face), Exodus 33:17-23 (Moses sees the Lord's back)
Gideon -- Judges 6:11-24
Manoah and his wife (Sampson's parents) -- Judges 13:2-24
Elijah -- 1 Kings 19:9-18 (the Lord speaks with Elijah)
4. In the New Testament, God the Son was visible as a man, fully God and fully human.
He became flesh ("Incarnation"). "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
He was fully God and fully human. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (9) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (10) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority" (Colossians 2:8-10, italics added).
He was and is the visible image of God. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15).
Helps Word-studies tells us, "Image then exactly reflects its source (what it directly corresponds to). For example, Christ is the very image, (supreme expression) of the Godhead (see 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15)" (Ref. 1).
Jesus said to Philip, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9)
He was seen, heard, and touched by mankind. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— (2) and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us" (1 John 1:1-2, italics added).
He was and is the exact representation (character) of God. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (2) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (3) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:1-3, italics added).
The Greek word translated as exact representation in Hebrews 1:3 is charaktér (Ref. 2). Christ exactly represents and reflects the character of God because he is God.
Let us be thankful that we have a God who has visibly revealed himself to us in his Son, Jesus Christ. Out of God's great love for us, Jesus the Son of God, fully God and fully human, gave his life as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. Let us listen to him that we may understand God's character. Let us believe in him that we may have eternal life (John 3:16).
Apply. Believe in (put your faith in, put your confidence in) the Lord Jesus Christ, who was and is the visible expression of God to mankind.
"But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.' 'You have said so,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" (Matthew 26:63-64 NIV)
This article presents the eyewitness testimonies and Bible verse references that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
If you are searching to know who Jesus Christ is, consider these eyewitness accounts.
If you are a follower of religions or religious philosophies that teach that Jesus Christ was just a great moral teacher or a great prophet, but not the divine Son of God, then consider the truth of these testimonies.
All of the scripture references below are from the New American Standard Bible translation on the Bible Gateway website (Ref. 1).
Testimony of God the Father at Jesus' Baptism
Mark 1:9-11 - "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (10) Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; (11) and a voice came out of the heavens: 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'" Also see Matthew 3:13-17 and Luke 3:21-22).
Testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus' Baptism
John 1:32-34 - "John testified saying, 'I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. (33) I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, "He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit." (34) I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.'"
Testimony of God the Father at Jesus' Transfiguration
Mark 9:2-7 - "Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; (3) and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. (4) Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. (5) Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' (6) For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. (7) Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, 'This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!'" Also see Matthew 17:1-5 and Luke 9:28-35.
Testimony of the Apostle Peter about Jesus' Transfiguration
2 Peter 1:16-18 - "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (17) For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased'-- (18) and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."
Explanation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Luke 1:30-35 - "The angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. (31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; (33) and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.' (34) Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I am a virgin?' (35) The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.'"
Testimony of Jesus' Disciples in the Boat
Matthew 14:22-33 - "Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. (23) After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. (24) But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. (25) And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. (26) When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out in fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.' (28) Peter said to Him, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' (29) And He said, 'Come!' And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (30) But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' (31) Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?' (32) When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. (33) And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, 'You are certainly God’s Son!'"
Testimony of Jesus at His Trial
Luke 22:66-71 - "When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying, (67) 'If You are the Christ, tell us.' But He said to them, 'If I tell you, you will not believe; (68) and if I ask a question, you will not answer. (69) But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.' (70) And they all said, 'Are You the Son of God, then?' And He said to them, 'Yes, I am.' (71) Then they said, 'What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.'"
Testimony of the Roman Centurion and Soldiers Upon Jesus' Death
Mark 15:39 - "When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, 'Truly this man was the Son of God!'"
Matthew 27:54 - "Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'"
It's really simple. Either you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God or you don't believe it. If you believe Jesus was just a great teacher, or a great prophet, but not the Son of God, then you are calling the witnesses and Jesus himself liars - in which case, his being a "great teacher" is not an option. Once you do believe that Jesus is who he says he is, then the great truths of the Bible will fall into place for you, and your life will be changed for the better - eternally.
Believe in (put your faith in, trust in, put your confidence in) Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Believe that Jesus is who he said he is. Believe the eyewitness accounts that Jesus is the Son of God.
For Additional Reading
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"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15).
"Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58).
This lesson teaches that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, fully God and fully human, the image of the invisible God, and the same God who spoke to Moses saying, "I AM WHO I AM."
Consider. On the evening before his death, Jesus spoke with his disciples. Jesus told his disciples that he was about to leave them (John 13:33).
Who was this Jesus that was speaking to his disciples? Was he just a great teacher or a prophet? Or, was he God as he claimed?
Let's explore several scriptures that tell us who Jesus is.
Jesus is the only Begotten Son of God
When the time came for the second person of the Trinity (Ref. 1) to become flesh, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary (Luke 1:26-27). Gabriel informed Mary, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:31).
Mary replied, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Literally, Mary asked Gabriel, "How can this be since I do not know (sexual intimacy) a man?" (Ref. 2)
Gabriel answered Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
John describes Jesus as the only begotten Son of God in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." The Greek word for "only begotten" is monogenés, which means "one (monos) of a class, genos (the only of its kind)." Therefore, Jesus is unique (Ref. 3).
The above scriptures establish Jesus' title as the begotten, unique, and only Son of God.
Jesus is Fully God and Fully Human
John begins his gospel by describing the Deity of Jesus Christ. "In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself" (John 1:1).
John also describes the Word made flesh. "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
The Apostle Paul states, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9).
These scriptures tell us that Jesus is fully God and fully human.
Jesus is the Visible Image of the Invisible God
Throughout Scripture, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is the visible image of the invisible God. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15). Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
The New Living Translation of Hebrews 1:3 explains that Jesus expresses the character of God. "The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God." The Greek word is "charaktér," which means an exact impression (likeness) which also reflects inner character.
The Preincarnate Son of God was "exceedingly active in the Old Testament" (Ref. 4). Consider these examples where Christ appeared in visible form:
Jesus is the Same God Who Spoke with Moses
In Exodus 3:13, Moses asked God to tell him God's name. God replied to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you' " (Exodus 3:14).
Jesus confirmed that he is the same God who said to Moses, "I AM WHO IAM." Jesus said to the Jews who opposed him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM" (John 8:58).
We began this post with a question. Who was this Jesus that was speaking to his disciples on the evening before his crucifixion? (John 13:33)
Jesus who said to his disciples, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6) is the same God who spoke to Moses and said, "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14).
Apply. If someone asked you to explain who Jesus is, how would you answer?
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