“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”Matthew 8:5-10
Ever since I was a child, when I read this passage, I always wondered why the Centurion said he was a man, “under authority”, and therefore he had soldiers who obeyed him… I mean, it seemed to me he should have puffed out his chest and said he was a man “of authority”, meaning that he possessed the authority to hand out orders to others. What does it mean to be “under authority”, and how would a position of being “under authority” have brought about obedience from his soldiers?
let’s go to scripture
I want to share another Bible verse with you. Let’s look at it together and see what we can learn from it. I think it will help to shed a little additional light upon this subject.
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”1 Corinthians 11:1-3
chain of command
This is a “chain of command” verse that shows how authority flows. I know this one is a little controversial, but let’s notice the authority starts with God, that is God, The Father. All authority starts with God the Father, and flows directly to His Son, Jesus Christ. Most people understand that God is the source of all rightful authority. I think we also understand and agree that God gave authority to His Son, Jesus. We see this when Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”Matthew 28:18-20
his power, not ours
Jesus commissions us to go out and teach all nations, based upon the fact that all “power” is given unto – not us, but – HIM! The word “power” Jesus uses here is the same Greek word used for “authority” we saw back in Matthew when we began talking about the Centurion being “under authority”. So, if we are to be effective in carrying out the Great Commission, we are not to be “of authority”, as if power resides in us. If we are to carry out His orders, we have to be “under authority” – that is under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, which we already know is perfectly aligned under God the Father, the original source of all authority.
If we are properly aligned under Him, and are working to accomplish His work, we have access to unlimited power and authority exactly because it does not come from us – but flows from Almighty God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and we become merely a vessel through which He acts. If we get out from under His authority, however, and seek to do our own thing against His will, under the pretense of acting on His authority, then we are completely without basis and generally in a world of trouble.
abuse of power
I would imagine the controversy surrounding 1 Corinthians 11:3 does not come in regard to men who seek the Scriptures to see how Jesus would have him to lead his family, and then want to work with their wives to carry out those plans. Those men would be acting “under authority”. No, I would guess the problems instead come when there are men who see the word “head” and puff out their chest and then go to demand obedience and unquestioned submission from their wives. In other words, the problems we have are from men who seek to be “of authority”, and not from those who are seeking to be “under authority” of God.
“under” not “of”
So, as we think back to the Centurion we mentioned in the Book of Matthew, because he was “under authority”, because he was properly aligned under his superiors, he therefore wielded the full weight of all the legions of Rome. If he told a soldier to do some task, this was not just him personally – this was consistent with the full authority of Rome! If the soldier disobeyed or resisted, he would be subject to punishment for his insubordination against the authority of Rome. On the other hand, if the Centurion were to say to his men, “I’ve had enough of Rome – let’s fight them! Who is with me!?!”, if he stepped out of alignment with his superiors and turned against Rome, then he would lose the foundational backing he had. He would be truly “on his own” and we would quickly see how much authority he held on his own. I doubt he would get nearly as much support from his soldiers. This is the difference in the Centurion being “under authority”, or him being (or trying to be) “of authority”.
how does it apply
So, how does all this apply to the mission of Patriot’s Hope and preserving our nation? We need to remember that all authority begins with Almighty God. God the Father gives all authority to His Son, Jesus Christ. When our officials take office, they take an oath to align themselves with the will of God. Our founders who wrote the requirement for an oath into the Constitution took it seriously. The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “Oath” as:
“ A solemn affirmation or declaration, made with an appeal to God for the truth of what is affirmed. The appeal to God in an oath implies that the person imprecates his vengeance and renounces his favor if the declaration is false, or if the declaration is a promise, the person invokes the vengeance of God if he should fail to fulfill it.”Definition for “oath” from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
inviting God’s judgment
In our founder’s minds, our officials were to be aligned under the rightful authority in our nation – our Constitution. In our Declaration of Independence, we see that God gave rights to the people, and the people formed a government (with the Constitution) to be an entity to secure those rights. They understood the real authority of government officials was when they were “under authority” that was vested in their office by our Constitution. If they stepped off their foundation and chased their own agenda, if they used their office to do their own thing, if they failed to be true to their oath, they were inviting God’s judgement and vengeance upon themselves.
Our form of government was designed for our officials to be “under authority”, and that authority flows from God Himself. Like the faithful Centurion, or like a Godly man leading his family faithfully, or like Jesus would have us to carry out His charge from the Great Commission, we should be under the rightful authority of God, and focused on His purposes.
hold them accountable
Any of our officials who seek to use their office to advocate for the evils of society today are out from underneath their proper authority. If they do not properly represent God’s authority over our nation, if they do not properly carry out their oath to support and defend the principles of our nation as found in our Constitution, then they are outside of the boundaries of their rightful authority. If they are out of alignment with their proper authority, then they are acting “of authority” and not “under authority.” If they’re doing this, they have no legitimate authority and are being tyrants. We have to hold them accountable.
nation of men vs nation of laws
When John Adams spoke of the idea of a “Nation of Laws” vs a “Nation of Men”, he was getting at this same idea. When we have officials in line with their rightful authority, executing the laws consistent with the Constitution, we have a “Nation of Laws”. When, however, we have those who undermine the proper Constitutional authority of their position and seek to cram an agenda down the throats of the people, we have a “Nation of Men”. Let’s get back to being a nation of laws. Let’s have officials “under authority”, and not seeking to exercise their own will, apart from their rightful authority.
“The interest of the people is one thing: it is the public interest. And where the public interest governs, it is a government of laws and not of men. The interest of a king or of a party is another thing: it is a private interest. And where private interest governs, it is a government of men and not of laws.”John Adams