Church Authority

Over the years in church I have seen a great deal of debate over the topic of church authority. Is it right for people to have authority over other people in the church context? Is a paid priest/minister Biblically sound? What Biblical instruction is given on this topic? These are my personal Bible study notes on the topic.

Christ Is Head Over Church

Isaiah 9:6 …the government will be upon His shoulder…
Matthew 16:18 Christ as head, delegated authority to selected men. (Matthew 23 gives insight into what this doesn't mean.)
Matthew 28:18-20 Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. He gave the church a commission.
John 10:7-16 Christ is the door, the good shepherd.
John 13:3-5 Jesus, knowing He had been given all authority, was a servant, as exemplified in washing His disciples' feet.
Romans 12:4-5 Church is body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 Have unity under Jesus Christ, not division following various human leaders.
1 Corinthians 11:3 Christ is head of every man.
1 Corinthians 12:12,27 One body of Christ, with a diversity of members and functions.
1 Corinthians 15:24-25,28 Christ will in future turn all He rules back over to the Father.
Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:12,15-16
Ephesians 2:19-22 Christ is chief cornerstone of the living temple of God.
Ephesians 5:22-33 Husband-wife relationship is like Christ and the church.
Philippians 2:5-11
Colossians 1:18,24; 2:10,19
1 Peter 5:4 Jesus is the "chief shepherd".

God Ordains Authority

Exodus 3; 4 God ordains Moses, though Moses didn't want the job. Aaron also ordained. Note Moses was sure he wasn't the one for the job, due to his poor speaking skills. But God was determined that Moses was the man He wanted. God doesn't always pick the most skilled, most qualified by human reckoning. Later events with the golden calf showed that Aaron was a weaker leader despite being a better speaker.
Exodus 18:12-26 Moses appointed judges over Israel, following Jethro’s advice. (But in verse 23, Jethro gave the caveat that his counsel needed God’s approval.)
Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20 Parental authority; respect to parents.
Exodus 27:20-21; 28:1-3,40-43; Leviticus 8; 9 Aaron and his descendants appointed as priests.
Numbers 1:51; 3:10 God chooses whom He wills, and no man can take it upon himself.
Numbers 3:5-13; 8:5-26 Levites ordained for service to God, instead of the firstborn of all the families. Levites aged 25-50 serve in tabernacle/temple. Older Levites mentor the younger ones.
Numbers 11:16-17 Seventy elders of Israel appointed to lead the people and to help Moses.
Numbers 17 Aaron's rod budded after the rebellion of Korah.
Numbers 27:17 Moses asked God to provide another leader for the people after him. Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9 Joshua was appointed by laying on of hands. God gave him the spirit of wisdom.
Deuteronomy 1:12-17 Ordaining judges of Israel.
Deuteronomy 1:17 "the judgment is God's". 2 Chronicles 19:6 "you do not judge for man but for God, who is with you in the judgment."
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 Appoint judges in Israel.
Deuteronomy 17:2-7 Community responsible to judge evil (presumably judges described in previous chapter). Inquire diligently. Death penalty on testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses. Witnesses must be first in stoning.
Deuteronomy 17:8-13 Authority of priests to judge. People had to respect the priest's decision.
Deuteronomy 17:14-20 King to rule Israel. (1 Samuel 8 is when the people ask for a king when Samuel is old.)
Deuteronomy 18:5; 33:10 Historically, God chose the Levites to "stand to minister in the name of the Lord", and to "teach Jacob God's judgements and teach Israel God's law".
Deuteronomy 31:7-8,14,23; 34:9; Joshua 1:16-18 Joshua was ordained and respected leader after Moses.
Deuteronomy 34 Moses died and the people mourned for him. There has been no leader like him since.
1 Samuel 8:4-8 When the people wanted a king, they weren't rejecting Samuel but God, who had ordained Samuel. Israel should have looked to God as king.
Esther 4:11 We can see God's hand at work appointing Esther as queen in Persia, to accomplish God's will in unexpected crucial circumstances for Judah.
Psalm 78:70-72 David chosen to shepherd Israel with "integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands".
Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes."
Nehemiah 8:1-8 Priests and elders helped explain God's word.
Matthew 9:35-38 Jesus saw the people like sheep without a shepherd. Pray for God to send out workers into the spiritual harvest.
Matthew 16:18-19; 18:16-18 Peter and apostles: Bind and loose. (see also John 20:23)
Matthew 18:19-20 Jesus Christ's backing of deliberations in harmony with Him — "in My name".
Matthew 22:15-22 Christ endorses respect of secular authority: give to Caesar what is Caesar's.
Matthew 23:1-3 The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore do what they say (but don't do according to their works). It is remarkable considering the rest of the chapter.
Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:4-8 Apostles' commission.
Luke 6:12-13 Jesus chose 12 apostles.
John 4:34-38 Jesus sent the disciples to reap God's spiritual harvest. Matthew 9:37-38
John 13:20 Receive those whom Jesus chose as His representatives.
John 14:26; 16:13; 2 Peter 1:3 Guidance of the church through the Holy Spirit.
John 17:6,8 Jesus gave the disciples essential truths from God, for them to then teach others.
John 19:11 Jesus told Pilate that Pilate's authority came from God.
John 20:21-23 Apostles' Commission. Gift of Holy Spirit to lead them. Authority to forgive or retain sins. (see also Matthew 16:19)
John 21:15-19 Peter's commission: feed God's sheep.
Acts 1:15-26 Matthias selected to replace Judas, by combination of human selection and lots.
Acts 6:1-6 Seven chosen to serve practically. Laying on of hands.
Acts 8:12-17 Philip preached about Jesus, and baptised, but Holy Spirit wasn't given through him. Giving of Holy Spirit was through laying on of hands by God's chosen apostles.
Acts 9 The calling of Saul of Tarsus to be Paul the apostle.
Acts 13:1-3 Barnabas and Paul appointed by Holy Spirit, for apostle work.
Acts 20:28 Holy Spirit appoints overseers, shepherds.
Acts 26:17-18 God appointed Saul/Paul to bring the gospel message to the Gentiles. To "open their eyes" as it says —God uses humans as His servants to accomplish His purpose.
Romans 3:1-2 The oracles of God were committed to the Jews.
Romans 10:14-15 God sends out messengers, preachers of His truth.
Romans 12:4-8 God has appointed a range of gifts and functions in the body.
Romans 13:1-7 God even appoints secular authority.
1 Corinthians 3:5-11 Ministers are God's workers.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5 Authority of the church collective (ekklesia).
1 Corinthians 12:7-11,28 Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings… v.11,18,28 given "as He wills". 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 one body, many members.
1 Corinthians 14:34-36; 1 Timothy 2:11-15 Men (rather than women) appointed to authority and speaking roles in church.
2 Corinthians 13:10 God gave authority (for edification not destruction).
Galatians 1:1 Paul was an apostle through Jesus Christ and God the Father, not through man.
Ephesians 4:11 Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers…
Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19 Husband authority.
1 Timothy 1:1,12 Paul was appointed an apostle, despite his faults.
1 Timothy 1:20 Paul "delivered to Satan" Hymenaeus and Alexander for rejecting the faith. This sounds like an exercise of authority—putting someone out of the fellowship—similar to 1 Corinthians 5:5.
1 Timothy 2:7 Paul was appointed a preacher and apostle to the Gentiles, in faith and truth.
1 Timothy 3:1-13 Qualifications for good leaders. It's a noble work to serve God's people.
1 Timothy 3:15 Church-based work of God. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.
1 Timothy 4:6 Timothy urged to instruct the brethren, thus be a good minister of Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 4:14 Laying on of hands.
1 Timothy 4:16 Timothy's faithful service has potential to "save" self and hearers.
1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9 Qualifications of overseers.
2 Timothy 1:1 Paul was an apostle by God's will.
Timothy and Titus were appointed by Paul to minister to the churches. They were commanded to in turn appoint suitable overseers/elders. Titus 1:5 A chain of authority to appoint other faithful leaders.
Titus 2:15 Paul tells Titus to "Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority."
Hebrews 5:4 Talking about role of high priest — no-one takes this on themselves, but he who is called to it by God.
Jude 1:5-11 Warning about apostates who don't respect authority. Especially v.8 warning about "dreamers who… reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries", and v.11 warning about going in the way of Korah's rebellion.

Laying on of Hands

Genesis 48:12-16 A blessing conferred according to God's will, through human agency by the laying on of hands.
Numbers 8:9-11 Ordination of the Levites with the laying on of the hands of the people of Israel.
Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9 Joshua.
Acts 6:1-7 Seven appointed to serve widows.
Acts 8:14-17 The Holy Spirit was given, by the laying on of the hands of the apostles. Simon the sorcerer wanted that power.
Acts 9:17 Paul had hands laid on him, by Ananias (a "certain disciple" given the task by God).
1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6 Timothy had a gift by the laying on of hands of the eldership.
Hebrews 6:2 Laying on of hands is listed as an elementary, foundational doctrine.

Respect Those in Authority

Exodus 16:1-3; 17:1-4 Don't contend with rulers, but respect God who ordains authority and is the ultimate leader of His people.
Exodus 22:28 Don't curse a ruler of the people.
Numbers 12:1-8 Aaron and Miriam were wrong to speak against Moses (Moses was extraordinary compared to most prophets).
Deuteronomy 17:8-13 Respect the decision of the priests, and he careful to do according to their judgement.
Joshua 1:16-18 Joshua was respected as was Moses.
1 Samuel 24:6,10; 26:9,11,23; 2 Samuel 1:1-16 King David respected King Saul as God's anointed, despite Saul being rejected by God and David knew he was destined to take Saul's place.
1 Kings 2:26-27 Solomon respected the office of the priest Abiathar who had carried the ark of the Lord, and so preserved his life though he deserved death.
2 Kings 2:23-25 Youths show disrespect towards Elisha. Two bears maul many of them. God will judge those who disrespect authority ordained by Him.
Ecclesiastes 5:8-9 Don't marvel if you see corrupt exercise of power. Such is sometimes the way of human power. They will have to give an account to a higher authority.
Ecclesiastes 8:1-9 Obey the king's command with wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 Serve faithfully even if the ruler is against you. Ride it out patiently and work for conciliation.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 Do not curse the king, even in your thought.
Hosea 4:4 God criticises Israel for being "like those who contend with the priest." Probably alluding to Deuteronomy 17:8-13.
Matthew 22:15-22; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-17 Even respect secular authorities. Pray and give thanks for them. Obey their laws.
Matthew 23:1-3 Respect what the scribes and Pharisees tell you, even though they themselves are hypocrites.
Acts 23:5 Paul showed respect to the high priest, even though he was corrupt. Paul quoted Exodus 22:28.
Romans 12:3 Don't think of ourselves too highly (in context of roles in spiritual body).
1 Corinthians 14:29 Listen respectfully and carefully weigh what is said (in the context of speaking in church).
Ephesians 6:5-8 Servants respect masters.
Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; Hebrews 13:18-19 Pray for the furtherance of the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 Recognise those who labour among you.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-9 Respect and follow those in authority.
1 Timothy 5:17-20 Let those who rule well be counted worthy of double honour. Support financially. Don't receive accusation except by multiple witnesses.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 It is a sin to be in opposition [to God's ordained elders? see context]. Such people have been taken captive by the devil to do his will.
Titus 2:15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities.
Titus 3:2 Don't speak evil of anyone, let alone authorities.
Hebrews 13:7,17 Remember and obey those who rule over you (they must give account).
1 Peter 2:13-17 Submit to authorities, who are God-ordained.
1 Peter 2:18-25 Servants, submit to masters, even to those who are harsh.
1 Peter 5:5 Younger submit to elders. All submit to one another in humility.
2 Peter 2:10-11 Beware of despising authority, which is arrogance. Even the angels fear to speak against human authorities.
Jude 1:8-11 Beware of rejecting authority (mention of rebellion of Korah). Example of archangel Michael, who wouldn't even rebuke Satan.

Give Financial Support to Those Who Labour for the Gospel

Deuteronomy 18:1-8 The portion due to Levites.
Malachi 3:8-10 Rebuke on those who don't pay their tithes and offerings.
Luke 10:4-7 Jesus sending out His disciples: "…remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the labourer is worthy of his wages."
1 Corinthians 9:1-18 Paul's defence for ministry being supported by the church. He quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 "Don't muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain." and says, "Is it oxen God is concerned about?"
2 Corinthians 11:7-9; Acts 20:33-35 Paul struggled to support himself while lacking support from hostile brethren. Brethren from Macedonia supported him.
Galatians 6:6 Those who are taught should share their wealth with the one who teaches.
Philippians 4:10-19 Philippians supported Paul, while other churches didn't.
1 Timothy 5:17-18 quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 "Don't muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain." and also says, "The labourer is worthy of his wages." (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14-15; Luke 10:7)
2 Timothy 2:6 "The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops."

Instructions to Those in Authority

Leviticus 19:15 Judge with impartiality.
Numbers 6:22-27 Priests: bless the people of Israel as described.
Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32 Don't add to God's word, or take away from it.
Deuteronomy 16:18-20 Don't pervert justice with partiality, taking a bribe.
Deuteronomy 17:14-20 King to rule Israel: Don't multiply horses or wives. Write a copy of the law; read it and live by it. The king is not above the law. The king must make sure his heart is not lifted above his brethren (is this to reiterate the king is not above the law, or to say the king ought to be egalitarian in outlook?).
Deuteronomy 31:6-8; Joshua 1:5-9 God promised to be with Joshua, commanded him to be diligent to obey the law, and encouraged him to be strong and of good courage.
Deuteronomy 31:9-13 Leaders to read God's law to the people every 7 years.
Deuteronomy 33:10 Levites were expected to teach Israel about God's law.
2 Samuel 7:8; 24:17; Ezekiel 34:23-24 Role of shepherd — look after God's sheep.
2 Samuel 23:3 Leader must rule justly and in the fear of the Lord.
1 Kings 12:1-15 Hear the advice of the elders to King Rehoboam. Be a servant to the people, then they will be your faithful servants forever.
1 Chronicles 29:1 David, regarding physical temple: "the work is great, because the temple is not for man but for the Lord God."
2 Chronicles 17:1-6 Jehoshaphat took delight in God.
2 Chronicles 17:7-9 Jehoshaphat sent his leaders and Levites around Judah to teach God's word to the people. 2 Chronicles 30:22 Likewise Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 35:3 Likewise Josiah.
2 Chronicles 32:25-26; 33:12-13,19,23; 34:27 Example of kings who humbled themselves before God.
Psalm 78:70-72 Shepherd God's people with integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands. Note, God can give skill any time (Exodus 31:1-6), but integrity of heart is a much longer process of life.
Psalm 115:1 Seek God's glory, not our own.
Proverbs 8:15-16 Rule with wisdom.
Proverbs 15:22 Seek a multitude of counsel.
Proverbs 29:12 A ruler must not listen to lies.
Proverbs 30:6 Don't add to God's word.
Proverbs 31:4-5 A ruler must not corrupt judgment with alcohol.
Ecclesiastes 4:13 Better a poor wise youth, than an old foolish king who will be admonished no more.
Ecclesiastes 7:19; 9:17 Wisdom is paramount.
Ecclesiastes 10:17 It's a blessing when leaders feast for strength, not drunkenness.
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Isaiah 30:20-21 Faithful teachers prophesied.
Jeremiah 23:28-29 Speak God's word faithfully.
Daniel 12:3 It is blessed to be someone who turns people to righteousness.
Malachi 2:1 Glorify God's name.
Malachi 2:5 Fear God and revere His name.
Malachi 2:6 Uphold truth, justice, peace, equity. Exhort people to repentance.
Malachi 2:7 Teach the knowledge and law of God.
Matthew 18:1-5 Be humble as a child, to be greatest in the kingdom (don't seek greatness via preeminence of leadership).
Matthew 20:20-28; 23:11 Don't "lord it over" people. Be a servant, as Jesus did. Luke 22:24-27 This even came up at the final Passover meal.
Matthew 23:6-10 Don't be called "Rabbi", or "teachers". One is your teacher—the Christ. Surprising in light of eg 1 Timothy 3:2 "able to teach".
Matthew 28:18-20 The great commission: preach the gospel to the world.
Luke 10:2-11 Jesus' instructions to His disciples He sent out.
Luke 12:48 To whom much is given, much will be required.
John 7:16-18; 12:49; 17:8 Preach God's word, not our own.
John 7:18; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 Glorify God, not self.
John 13:1-17 Jesus's example of footwashing at Passover. Jesus washed His disciples' feet even though He was their Lord and Teacher.
John 21:15-19 Jesus commanded Peter, "if you love me, feed My sheep".
Romans 12:3 Don't think of ourselves too highly (in context of roles in spiritual body).
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 God's wisdom, not our own.
1 Corinthians 3:1-11 Servants of God must be united in work and purpose.
1 Corinthians 3:11 Foundation is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul's example of dedication to preaching the gospel to the best of his ability.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Preaching (prophesying) is a noble desire.
1 Corinthians 14:3 He who prophesies speaks edification, exhortation, comfort.
1 Corinthians 14 The whole chapter gives principles of running an orderly church meeting (in the context of speaking in tongues).
2 Corinthians 1:24 Not dominion over the people's faith, but fellow workers for joy. By faith you stand.
2 Corinthians 2:17 Not peddling the word of God, but sincerely speaking it in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:5-7 Preach Jesus, not self. Be bondservants of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:8 Authority is for edification, not destruction.
2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." God's word to apostle Paul.
Ephesians 4:13 Goal of church.
Philippians 2:6-7 Jesus' example of service.
1 Thessalonians 2 Follow Paul's example of faithful service and integrity and doctrinal truth. He was gentle, like a loving mother, not demanding.
1 Timothy 1:3-4 Charge people to teach "no other doctrine", nor give heed to fables, genealogies which result in disputes rather than Godly edification and faith.
1 Timothy 1:18-19 Wage the good warfare, with faith and a good conscience.
1 Timothy 3:1 It's a good aspiration to desire to serve as an overseer.
1 Timothy 4:6-7 Diligently instruct brethren with sound doctrine, and reject nonsense.
1 Timothy 4:8-10 Leadership can be tough, bringing hardship. But pursue true godliness and faith in God.
1 Timothy 4:13-16 Be fully dedicated to your job. Don't neglect your gift of service (which therefore gives you a duty).
1 Timothy 4:16 Your work does matter to the lives and salvation of God's people.
2 Timothy 2:14-18 Combat false doctrines, "idle babblings".
2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to be approved; rightly divide the word of God.
2 Timothy 2:24-25 Don't quarrel; correct gently and with humility.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 Stick to what we've learned. Holy Scriptures are foundation.
2 Timothy 4:2 Be ready to preach the word effectively at all times and seasons.
Hebrews 5:1-3 The human high priest is subject to weakness, so he can have compassion on fellow humans who are "ignorant and going astray". For this reason he has to give a sacrifice first for his own sins, before that of the people.
James 5:19-20 It is wonderful to turn someone away from sin and back towards God.
1 Peter 2:9 We are chosen people, to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 4:10-11 Serve to the best of our God-given abilities, to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 5:1-4 Instructions to elders. Serve, not by compulsion but willingly. Not lording it over, but being examples. Shepherd the flock for the Chief Shepherd.

Warnings to Authority

Leviticus 10:3 Lesson from Nadab and Abihu: God must be regarded as holy and glorified by those who come near Him.
Deuteronomy 3:23-27 Lesson from Moses: God doesn't show partiality; if anything, He is tougher on leaders.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 Don't speak presumptuously in God's name.
1 Samuel 2:27-36 Judgement on Eli and his sons: Honour God by righteous obedience, or else be removed.
1 Samuel 3:11-14 Judgement on Eli: he failed to restrain his sons from their evil ways. There is a responsibility of leaders to restrain bad leadership among them.
2 Chronicles 19:1-3; 20:35-37 Don't ally with wicked people.
Psalm 82 God expects the strong ones of the congregation to ensure justice and defend the weak, or else be judged by God themselves.
Proverbs 16:10 A king must not transgress in judgement. His decisions are supposed to be a divinely sanctioned edict.
Proverbs 16:12-13 A king must not do wickedness.
Proverbs 29:2 When a wicked man rules, the people groan.
Ecclesiastes 4:13-16 Better a poor and wise youth, than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more.
Ecclesiastes 8:9 Beware, ruling over someone could be to one's own hurt—earthly strife or eternal judgement.
Isaiah 3:12-14 Woe to rulers who rule poorly and take advantage of the people.
Isaiah 56:9-12 Greedy self-serving leaders.
Jeremiah 2:8; 3:15 Rulers who do not know God.
Jeremiah 5:30-31 The prophets prophesy falsely. The priests rule by their own power.
Jeremiah 10:21 The shepherds have become dull-hearted, and have not sought the Lord. Therefore they won't prosper, and their flocks will be scattered.
Jeremiah 14:13-16 The prophets prophesy lies in God's name. They will be consumed by the judgement they falsely assure won't come.
Jeremiah 23:1-2 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep.
Jeremiah 23:11-40 Prophets whom God did not send. They would have been fine if they preached God's word faithfully. It's essential to represent God's word truthfully, or else face disaster.
Jeremiah 50:6 Shepherds who led the people astray.
Lamentations 2:14 False prophets.
Ezekiel 13:1-23; 22:25-28 Prophets who say things that God has not spoken.
Ezekiel 34:1-16; 44:1-10 Woe to shepherds who feed themselves and neglect the flock.
Daniel 4 Nebuchadnezzar, a king of a great empire, was humbled by God in the midst of his pride.
Daniel 5 Belshazzar, a king of a great empire, was judged by God and lost his life in his pride. He failed to give due glory to God.
Hosea 4:6 Beware of rejecting knowledge, forgetting God's law. Otherwise God will reject that leader.
Micah 3
Zechariah 11:4-17 Woe to shepherds who neglect the flock.
Malachi 2:1-9 Criticism of priests who should have been teaching God's word, but were causing many to stumble at the law.
Matthew 7:22-23 Didn't we prophesy in your name? I never knew you.
Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:6-13 Don't teach the commandments of men as "doctrines".
Matthew 15:12-14 Every plant not planted by God will be uprooted. Pharisees were "blind leaders of the blind".
Matthew 18:6-7; Mark 9:42 Beware of causing little ones to stumble.
Matthew 18:10-14 Beware of despising little ones. They are precious children of God, so care for them as God does.
Matthew 21:33-46 Parable of wicked vinedressers.
Matthew 23:3-7,13-15,25-28 Beware of hypocrisy, the sin of the scribes and Pharisees.
Matthew 23:6-7; Luke 11:43; 20:46; 3 John 1:9 Beware of loving prestige, preeminence.
Matthew 23:8-11 Don't be called Rabbi, Father, Teacher. Leaders are brothers with the people, and must be servants.
Matthew 23:14,25 Devouring widows' houses; full of extortion and self-indulgence.
Matthew 23:16-22 Teaching false doctrine against God's law.
Matthew 23:23-24 Neglecting the "weightier matters of the law".
Matthew 23:29-35 Murderers of God's true servants.
Luke 9:51-56 Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire on the Samaritan village.
Luke 11:37-54 Parallel to Matthew 23.
Acts 20:17-38 Beware of being a savage wolf that attacks the flock; of speaking perverse things; of drawing a following of disciples after oneself.
Romans 2:17-24 Beware of hypocrisy.
Romans 2:24; 2 Peter 2:2 Beware of causing the way of truth to be blasphemed.
Galatians 1:8-12 Let anyone preaching a false gospel be accursed. Please God, not men. Preach the gospel from Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:7 Beware of desiring to be a teacher, without really understanding what you're saying.
1 Timothy 5:19-20 Instructions regarding sinning elders?
Hebrews 13:17 Leaders will have to give account for what they did.
James 3:1-2; Matthew 23:14; Luke 20:47 Teachers receive stricter judgment. E.g. Moses. Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 3:23-27

Warnings About Corrupt Authority (When to Ignore Authority)

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 Ignore someone who tries to turn people away from God.
Deuteronomy 18:17-22 Ignore "prophets" who don't speak according to the word of God, and whose words fail to come to pass.
Isaiah 3:12 O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths."
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing. Know them by their fruits.
Matthew 16:5-12 Beware of the leaven [doctrine] of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Luke 12:1 It is hypocrisy.
Matthew 23:3 Do not do according to their works — hypocrisy.
Matthew 23:8-11 Don't call anyone Rabbi, Father, Teacher. Leaders are brothers, and must be servants.
Matthew 24:4-5 Beware of many who will come in Jesus's name, saying "I am He".
Matthew 24:11 False prophets will deceive many.
Matthew 24:23-28; Mark 13:21-23 False Christs and false prophets will arise in the end time, to deceive if possible even the elect.
Luke 20:45-47 Beware of the scribes.
Luke 21:8 Beware of many who will come in Jesus's name, saying "I am He", and, "The time has drawn near".
John 10:1-30 The true shepherd, vs thieves and robbers.
Acts 4:19; 5:29 Obey God not Man.
Acts 17:10-12 Bereans checked apostles' preaching against the Scriptures.
Acts 20:29-31 Prediction of savage wolves to come.
Romans 16:17-18 Note those who cause divisions, and avoid them.
1 Corinthians 14:29 Listen respectfully and carefully weigh what is said (in the context of speaking in church).
2 Corinthians 11:1-4 Beware of someone preaching "another Jesus", or a different spirit, or a different gospel.
2 Corinthians 11:12-15 Beware that false apostles could appear to be ministers of righteousness.
Galatians 1:6-9 Preachers of a false Christ.
Galatians 2:1-9 Paul regarded seemingly prominent people in the church as nothing special. "God shows personal favoritism to no man."
Galatians 2:11-14 Paul was willing to rebuke other church leaders (Peter, Barnabas) for doing the wrong thing.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Beware of the coming false religion, false religious leader, with the power of Satan.
1 Timothy 1:3-7; 6:3-5 Teachers who get caught up in fables and endless genealogies; who don't understand the purpose of the law: love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.
1 Timothy 4:1-3 People who will depart from the faith, give heed to demons, and try to command people with false laws.
2 Timothy 2:14-18 Leaders with "idle babblings" and false doctrines.
2 Timothy 3:13 Evil men and imposters will grow worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 People will find for themselves teachers who say what they want to hear.
2 Peter 2:1-22 False prophets will come.
1 John 4:1 Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits.
2 John 1:7-11 Many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.
3 John 1:11 Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.
Jude 1:4-19 Ungodly men have crept in (leaders, or people in general?)
Revelation 2:2 Commendation of the church of Ephesus that tested the false prophets and found them to be false.
Revelation 2:20-23 Criticism of the church of Thyatira that tolerated Jezebel the false prophet.
Revelation 13:1-18; 16:13; 19:20 Warning of coming deception of the beast power, with a false prophet.

Historic Challenges to Authority

Exodus 15:22-25; 16:1-3; 17:1-4; Numbers 11:1-3; 14:22; 20:1-5 Many times the Israelites complained against God, and against Moses and Aaron.
Exodus 32:1 Israel rejected Moses and God in golden calf incident.
Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses.
Numbers 16 Rebellion of Korah. Numbers 17 Aaron's rod budded.
1 Samuel 22 King Saul kills Ahimelech and other priests of the Lord, by the hand of Doeg.
2 Samuel 15 Absalom challenges King David's rulership.
2 Samuel 16:5 Shimei curses King David.
2 Samuel 20 Sheba's rebellion against King David.
2 Samuel 24:3-4; 1 Chronicles 21:3,6 Joab questioned David's command to number Israel. He mostly complied, but didn't number Levi or Benjamin.
1 Kings 1:5-10,50-53; 2:13-25 Adonijah sought to inherit the throne from David, though he must have known God had given it to Solomon.
1 Kings 12:1-19 Israel splits from King Rehoboam, who then rules only Judah.
Matthew 14:3-5 John the Baptist criticised Herod for marrying his brother's wife.
Acts 4:1-31 Apostles versus priests, Sadducees, Sanhedrin.
Acts 23:1-5 Apostle Paul speaks against the high priest after the high priest orders to have him struck in the face. Apologises when he is told he is the high priest, referring to Exodus 22:28.
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Corinthian church was divided, taking sides with various human leaders.
2 Corinthians Paul was defending his authority against Corinthian opposition.
2 Timothy 4:14-16 Alexander the coppersmith did Paul much harm.

Just Opposition to Authority

Exodus 1:17-21 Hebrew midwives disobeyed Pharaoh.
Joshua 2 Rahab disobeyed the command to capture the Israelite spies.
1 Samuel 14:38-45 The people resisted Saul, saving Jonathan from Saul's poor judgment.
1 Samuel 19:11-17 Michal went against her father, helping David to escape.
1 Samuel 22:17 Saul's servants would not obey his command to kill the priests.
1 Samuel 24:8-15 After Saul left the cave, David confronted Saul over the way he was being treated.
1 Samuel 25:14-20,25-26 Abigail went against her husband Nabal's authority, after Nabal's servant's advice.
1 Samuel 26:13-25 David confronted Saul a second time, after sneaking into his camp and taking his spear and water bottle.
2 Samuel 24:3; 1 Chronicles 21:3-6 Joab resisted David's command to number the people.
1 Kings 18 Obadiah hid 100 prophets from Queen Jezebel.
2 Kings 11 Rebellion against Queen Athaliah.
Daniel 3:1-30 Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego defy Nebuchadnezzar regarding gold statue, and get thrown into the furnace.
Daniel 6:1-28 Daniel defies King Darius' decree, and gets thrown into the lions' den.
Acts 4:13-22; 5:17-42 The apostles defy the priests, the high priest, Sadducees and Sanhedrin.
Galatians 2:11 The apostle Paul challenged Peter, arguably his superior (1 Corinthians 15:9).
Hebrews 11:23 Moses's parents disobeyed the Pharaoh's command.
Revelation 2:2 Church of Ephesus "tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and found them liars."
Revelation 13:15 Future disobedience of God's people against the beast power.

Laypeople Advising Authority

Exodus 18:12-26 Jethro advised Moses to appoint judge's over Israel. But in verse 23, Jethro gave the caveat that his counsel needed God's approval.
Job 32:1-13 Elihu speaking to his elders.
Proverbs 25:15 Persuade a ruler by long forbearance and a gentle tongue.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 "If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, Do not leave your post; For conciliation pacifies great offenses."
1 Samuel 25 Abigail to David (not yet king, though had been anointed).
1 Samuel 24; 26 David to King Saul.
2 Samuel 14 The wise woman of Tekoa to King David (by Joab's planning).

Laypeople Negotiating With Authority

Numbers 32 The tribes of Gad and Reuben negotiated with Moses to settle on the east side of the Jordan. At first Moses objected to their request, but they persuaded him.

Examples of Bad Authority

Leviticus 10 Nadab and Abihu offer profane fire before the Lord.
Numbers 13; 14 Ten of the spies of Canaan (all who were leaders among the people) bring back a bad report, and turn the hearts of Israel.
1 Samuel 2:12-17,22-36 High priest Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They are actually called "sons of Belial" in v.12. v.17 says people abhorred the offering of the Lord.
1 Samuel 8:1-5 Samuel's sons.
1 Samuel 13 Saul's pivotal moment.
1 Samuel 15 King Saul proved to be a poor king, despite being selected by God. God eventually rejected him, and replaced him with David.
1 Samuel 24; 26; 2 Samuel 1:1-16 King David respected King Saul as God's anointed, despite Saul being rejected by God and David knew he was destined to take Saul's place.
1 Kings 11:29-38; 12:26-33 Jeroboam was promised an enduring kingdom by God if he obeyed. But he disobeyed God in his efforts to secure his rule by human reasoning.
1 Kings 21:1-29; 2 Kings 9:26 Ahab and Jezebel abused their royal power to kill Naboth and his sons, and take his vineyard.
2 Kings 12:8 The priests agreed not to repair the temple.
2 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 God struck Azariah/Uzziah with leprosy when he trespassed the temple in his pride. Uzziah went outside his domain of authority.
Psalm 78:64 Unfaithful priests in an unfaithful nation.
Jeremiah 22:11-30 Consider most of the kings of Israel and Judah. They were given authority and expected to lead the people, but they were mostly failures.
Matthew 23; Mark 12:38-40 Scribes and Pharisees were bad leaders, hypocrites.
Matthew 26:3-5 Chief priests, scribes, elders plotted to kill Jesus the Christ.
Mark 11:18; 15:10 The chief priests handed Jesus Christ over to death because of envy.
Luke 23:14-25 The chief priests etc persuaded Pilate to crucify Jesus.
John 12:42-43 Secular leaders in Christ's time didn't confess Christ because of the Pharisees; they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Acts 4:1-31; 5:17-42 The Sadducees and Sanhedrin fought against the New Testament church.
Acts 7:1-60 The religious leaders martyred Stephen.
Acts 8:14-24 Simon Magus wanted the Holy Spirit for selfish reasons—for self-glorification and power.
3 John 1 is a letter of encouragement to Gaius in the face of Diotrephes' corrupt behaviour as elder. Do not fear those who do evil, for they are not of God.
Revelation 2:2 Church of Ephesus tested those who say they are apostles, but are not, and found them liars.

Examples of Good Authority

1 Samuel 2:35 A priest after God’s heart — apparently Zadok. 2 Samuel 20:25; 1 Kings 2:26-27; Ezekiel 40:46; 44:15
1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22 King David, a man after God's heart. Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hosea 3:5 Jesus Christ will establish King David as a righteous ruler in future.
Nehemiah 5:14-18 Generous ruler who didn't burden the people, because he recognised their difficulties, and because he feared God.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-13 Apostle Paul.

Examples of God's Servants Who Made Mistakes or Sinned

Exodus 32 Aaron made the golden calf.
Numbers 20:10-12,24; 27:12-17 (note Moses' acceptance of his penalty). Deuteronomy 3:23-26 Moses and Aaron failed to obey God and honour Him before the people.
Joshua 9:3-21 Joshua and the leaders made an error of judgment in the matter of the Gibeonites.
Judges 13; 14; 15; 16 Samson was a judge of Israel with a tempestuous life.
1 Samuel 25 David had determined to kill all the males of Nabal's household, before Abigail stopped him.
2 Samuel 11 King David, adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. 1 Kings 15:5.
2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21 King David numbered Israel.
1 Kings 13:1-30 The prophet who rightly prophesied against Jeroboam, but then disobeyed God's instructions and died.
2 Chronicles 26:16-23 Uzziah (aka Azariah) was considered a king who did what was right (2 Kings 15:3), and yet in the end he sinned presumptuously due to pride, going into the temple. God gave him leprosy.
2 Chronicles 32:24-26 Hezekiah nearly fell to pride.
2 Chronicles 33:10-14 King Manasseh humbled himself before God.
Apostles chosen by Christ were flawed but God made them strong. Disciples argued over greatness and Jesus had to teach them a different way. Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 9:34; 10:41-45; Even during their last Passover meal with Jesus (Luke 22:24-30). Peter put his foot in it on several occasions (Matthew 16:22-23; Luke 9:33), denied Christ (Matthew 26:31-35,69-75). Thomas doubted (John 20:24-29). James and John were "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17; Luke 9:53-56).
Acts 12:25; 13:13 John Mark abandoned the mission.
Acts 15:36-41 Paul and Barnabas had a sharp contention over John Mark, and split. Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11 Later John Mark recommitted to the work, and Paul reconciled with him.
Galatians 2:11-14 Peter and Barnabas hypocritical over Gentiles' salvation. 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Apostle Paul was fighting against the church prior to his calling. Honour and glory to God. Acts 9:13-14,26-28 Brethren were suspicious of Paul at first.

Leaders Are Humans Who Sin

Romans 7:13-25 Apostle Paul describes his struggle against sin. "O wretched man that I am…"
Hebrews 5:3; 7:27; 9:7 The priests had to make offerings for their own sins as well as the sins of the people.
1 John 1:8-10 Apostle John says we all have sin.
James 3:1-2 "…let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things…"


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