the weblog of Alan Knox

Authority among the church? Starting a new series.

Posted by on Aug 29, 2011 in discipleship, elders, office | 10 comments

Authority among the church? Starting a new series.

I started writing this series on authority among the church several weeks ago, and, almost immediately, I began putting off publishing? Why? Because I honestly didn’t want to publish another blog post, much less another series, on the topic of authority.

Unfortunately, whenever I write about the church gathering together, authority pops up. Whenever I write about the Lord’s Supper, the topic of authority is raised. When I write about spiritual gifts, someone brings up authority. When I write about missional living and gathering new believers, authority is brought up.

Authority among the church is a topic that touches every aspect of our understanding of the church. And, if we don’t talk about it, it quickly becomes the “elephant in the room.” It may not be the elephant in the room that no one talks about. Instead, it’s the aspect of the church that everyone assumes and affects everything that it means to be and act as the church as as God’s children.

In the next post, I’m going to examine a passage of Scripture in which two people ask Jesus for a position of authority under his own authority. That’s right, they did not want to usurp Jesus’ authority. Instead, they wanted to exercise authority under Jesus’ authority. I think Jesus’ response is very important to this discussion.

In the third post, given Jesus’ response to authority in the previous post, I’m going to ask the question, “How does someone lead without exercising authority?” In this post, I hope to make a very important distinction between authority and influence.

In the fourth post, I want to answer another question: “Doesn’t the existence of elders indicate that they have some kind of authority?” In Scripture, it’s clear that there were elders among those early churches, and it’s clear that everyone believer was not considered an elder. Does this distinction indicate some type of authority?

In the final post – unless I change my mind – I’m going to look at the relationship between shepherding and overseeing and exercising authority. Elders were instructed to shepherd and to oversee the church. Again, doesn’t this indicate some kind of authority?

I’m assuming that some of my readers will disagree with me. That’s fine. I only ask that you consider what I write, and deal with my arguments. I’m willing to learn from my readers, but I’m also hoping that you would be willing to learn as well.

Finally, this topic needs more discussion… much, much more. So, please feel free to add your own thoughts to these posts.


“Authority Among the Church” Series

  1. Authority among the church? Starting a new series.
  2. What did Jesus say about positions of authority under his own authority?
  3. In the church, how does someone lead without exercising authority?
  4. Does the existence and recognition of elders indicate that they have positional authority?
  5. Does shepherding and overseeing suggest exercising authority?

Addendum: The most pervasive argument against positional authority among the church


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-29-2011

    I’m looking forward to this series.

  2. 8-29-2011

    Looking forward to this as well. I have been thinking a lot about elders again. The tendency seems to be an extreme in one of two ways, either an overemphasis that sees pastors/elders as rulers of the church and makes the pastor and his ministry the focus of the local church or the other extreme that sees little or no value in elders at all and deemphasizes them to avoid even the appearance of hierarchy.

  3. 8-29-2011

    Leighton and Author,

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this subject as well.


  4. 8-29-2011

    Great topic even if over discussed. The word “Authority” is used approximately 440 times in the scriptures but one of the most interesting, if not divisive verses for me is “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:12

    Let’s put aside the whole woman issue for a moment. Paul acknowledges that there is, within the church those who may exercise authority over others.

    In a discussion of this sort, I think we have to develop common ground before entering in or we just keep repeating the same things with no one listening.

    1. Can it be established from scripture that there is such a thing as one member of the body of Christ having authority over another?

    2. If it can be established that an authority structure exists within thee body of Christ, then what is it’s nature?

    3. If it can be established that an authoritative role is warranted in the scriptures, is it temporary or permanent?

    4. Do we have examples in the scriptures of some within the body of Christ commanding or ordering others to act or cease to act in any way? Did they comply? Why?

    I would love to see these points addressed in some manner during the discussion.

  5. 8-29-2011

    And what gives you the authority to publish this series? LOL Just kidding brother.. I look forward to reading along with you. 🙂

  6. 8-29-2011


    Those are great questions! My series does address some of the questions directly, but others only indirectly. Perhaps, after I publish the last post in this series, you could write a follow up to cover where I missed it and what I didn’t cover. 🙂


    No authority here… of course, if I write anything that corresponds to God’s will, then there is authority in that… but not in me. I look forward to your input as well.


  7. 8-29-2011

    Wow you blog a lot

    What do you do for work

    Are you a writer or editor or something

    Ok I’m off track

    First off I love the fact that you referenced the question of being in authority from Jesus’ disciples

    That one passage speaks VOLUMES

    Hope to be able to see and read all of these

    Might have to subscribe =D

  8. 8-29-2011


    Well, I write posts for this blog, and I’m currently writing my dissertation and writing a book. So, I’m writer, although I haven’t earned an money at it yet. 🙂

    I’m typically working on several blog posts at a time. I’ll keep several posts in draft mode and work on them 5-10-15 minutes at a time. It actually doesn’t take me a long time to write a post like this.


  9. 11-3-2011

    It’s interesting. I’ve been mulling a series of articles on “Leadership” for the very same reasons you cite here.

    We seem to just be obsessed with this topic in the Church and I don’t believe we can talk about it too much – especially from the perspective I believe you and I share regarding what true Biblical leadership looks like according to Jesus.

    Thanks for taking the lead on this one. I’ll probably start my series after you’ve mined all the gold for me. 🙂

  10. 11-3-2011


    I hope I didn’t mislead you, but this is a series that I completed about 2 months ago. You can find links to all the posts in the series at the bottom of this post. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on this subject!