I recently heard a good analogy that helps clear things up on the difference between Power and Authority, so let me share:
When you are driving home during rush hour and let’s assume the traffic light is broken or there isn’t one at that junction; so there’s a police officer controlling traffic.
Now, when that officer raises his hand for you to stop, why do you stop? If you refuse to stop, does he have the power to hold unto your car and stop it from moving? No he doesn’t (let’s hope you didn’t meet with The Hulk). So here we see that he doesn’t have the power to stop you but he has the authority. The Law is the backing of his authority.
Cool. Now, let’s bring this home with Scriptures. In the Bible, there are at least two Greek words translated as “power” (there may be more but we’d talk about two here). Let’s talk examples:
- Matthew 28:18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.“
- Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.“
In the first text (in Matthew), the word “power” is translated from the Greek word “exousia” which means authority, jurisdiction, liberty, right, etc. In the second text (in Acts), “power” is translated from the Greek word “dunamis” which means force, ability, miraculous power.
This should help bring things into perspective for us. We may not have the natural ability over something but we do have the God-given authority (and the Holy Ghost-endowed power) over such things.
Food for thought:
I’d like to know the different Bible passages that use the different words. For example, when Jesus said in Luke 8:46 that “…for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”, the word “virtue” there is actually “dunamis”.
Acts 10:38 “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power [dunamis]: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”