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ἐξουσία.

In the varied use of ἐξουσία for the authority imparted to the community the outstanding
characteristic is that the Church owes its existence and nature to Christ. It needs “enablement”
even to enter the kingdom of God: ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι (Jn. 1:12). The
same thought is figuratively expressed in Rev. 22:14: μακάριοι οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν,
ἵνα ἔσται ἡ ἐξουσία αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς, and negatively in Hb. 13:10: ἔχομεν
θυσιαστήριον ἐξ οὗ φαγεῖν οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἐξουσίαν οἱ τῇ σκηνῇ λατρεύοντες. The concept is also
indispensable in relation to apostolic action, with the emphasis on power. 2 C. 10:8: ἐάν τε γὰρ
περισσότερόν τι καυχήσωμαι περὶ τῆς ἐξουσίας ἡμῶν, ἧς ἔδωκεν ὁ κύριος εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ
εἰς καθαίρεσιν ὑμῶν, οὐκ αἰσχυνθήσομαι; 2 C. 13:10: γράφω, ἵνα παρὼν μὴ ἀποτόμως χρήσωμαι
κατὰ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἣν ὁ κύριος ἔδωκέν μοι εἰς οἰκοδομὴν καὶ οὐκ εἰς καθαίρεσιν, Ac. 8:19: δότε
κἀμοὶ τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἵνα ᾧ ἐὰν ἐπιθῶ τὰς χεῖρας λαμβάνῃ πνεῦμα ἅγιον. Cf. also Rev.
11:6. This power cannot be used arbitrarily; in its application the apostle is bound to his Lord: εἰς
οἰκοδομήν, cf. also Rev. 2:26–28. On the other hand, ἐξουσία presupposes responsible use, as
Jesus assumes in the parable in Mk. 13:34: ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἀπόδημος ἀφεὶς τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ καὶ
δοὺς τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐξουσίαν, ἑκάστῳ τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ, and as Paul demonstrates in his
refusal of support. In this connection ἐξουσία denotes the right, e.g., to be supported by the
community, 1 C. 9:4–6, 12, 18; 2 Th. 3:9.
More particularly ἐξουσία means the freedom given to the community. This is the subject of
Paul’s quarrel with the Corinthians; cf. 1 C. 6:12: πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει.
πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐγὼ ἐξουσιασθήσομαι ὑπό τινος. 1 C. 8:9: βλέπετε δὲ μή πως ἡ
ἐξουσία ὑμῶν αὕτη πρόσκομμα γένηται τοῖς ἀσθενέσιν. 1 C. 10:23: πάντα ἔξεστιν, ἀλλʼ οὐ
πάντα συμφέρει· πάντα ἔξεστιν, ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντα οἰκοδομεῖ.
The ἐξουσία which was a Corinthian slogan may be interpreted either Gnostically as power or as
freedom in respect of law.45 Either way the basis is Paul’s own teaching on freedom from the Law
(→ 501), and the slogan itself may well be Pauline. It reminds us of the saying in R. 14:14: οἶδα καὶ
πέπεισμαι ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ ὅτι οὐδὲν κοινὸν διʼ ἑαυτοῦ, which perhaps derives from Mk. 7:15, and
which Paul develops in rather a different way in his attack on asceticism in 1 Tm. 4:4: πᾶν κτίσμα
θεοῦ καλόν. These statements are not general truths; they are valid only for faith. In the first instance
they are addressed to Jewish Christians. They dissolve the Rabb. distinction between ‫ ִמ ְצוָ ה‬and

‫ ְרׁשּות‬and in their concrete application they show what freedom from the Law means. Many Jewish
Christians in Paul’s congregations, however, were still bound in their consciences to the Law of their
people. This was not because they opposed Paul’s teaching in principle. It was rather because many
things connected with pagan cults raised for them the question whether freedom would not bring them
into the sphere of the unclean and even involve them indirectly in a certain participation in paganism
for which they could not assume responsibility. This explains the scruples regarding meats and drinks
in Rome and Corinth. On the other hand, the declaration of freedom from the Law perhaps led others
to vivid and startling demonstrations of this freedom. It is along these lines that Schlatter understands
1 C. 5:1 ff. The inclination to treat sexual questions in the same way as meats might well be linked
with the Jewish origin of those concerned. While radically upholding the ἐξουσία of Christians, the
πάντα μοι ἔξεστιν, Paul opposes to these tendencies two principles, the principle of what is fitting, of
the συμφέρον, and the principle of what is edifying. The first has the man himself in view, and it
points to the fact that there is no freedom without danger, for there always lurks the peril of a new
bondage, an ἐξουσιασθῆναι. The second considers the neighbour and asks what is helpful to him.
This enables us to see the difference from other types of autonomy. The ἐξουσία of which
Poimandres speaks in a prominent passage: εὐλόγητος εἶ, πάτερ· ὁ σὸς ἄνθρωπος συναγιάζειν σοι
βούλεται, καθὼς παρέδωκας αὐτῷ τὴν πᾶσαν ἐξουσίαν, the opposite of the ἐναρμόνιος δοῦλος, is the
freedom of the inner man from fate and from the influences of the planets. The ἐξουσία of Epictetus
is the same apart from the dualistic and cosmological background. Common to both is the idea that
this autonomy is grounded in the Being of man and is thus intrinsic. In Paul man as a totality is taken
up by Christ into the sphere of the βασιλεία θεοῦ, and he is thus liberated from all powers, not by
nature, but in faith, which does not disregard the power given to Satan and his forces in this world,
but which knows that it is not abandoned to them.
Among Christian Gnostics the term ἐξουσία (== potestas) plays a relatively minor role. But the
thing itself is there, and it is a development of the movement already present in Corinth. We can see
clearly the reaction against Jewish (and ecclesiastical?) legalism in the accusation of Irenaeus that the
Gnostics are always the first at pagan feasts.
Another divergence from NT ἐξουσία is found in the apocryphal Acts, with parallels in the magic
pap., in which the word itself is infrequent.50 In the NT ἐξουσία is sought from God in faith and He
gives it freely in Christ. But here it is wrested from higher powers by means of magic. Again, in the
NT it is devoted to the service of God. But here it is used for one’s own ends.
These non-Christian ideas of ἐξουσία simply represent so many human questions in antique form,
namely, the questions of freedom from destiny, of freedom for action, of real power and of authority
to act; and it is to these questions that the NT seeks to give an answer.1

1
Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–). Theological dictionary of the New Testament
(electronic ed., Vol. 2, pp. 560–576). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
ἐξουσία exousia
Power, authority, freedom of choice, right; capability, might, absolute power, warrant; ruling
power, official power, government, domain, a means of exercising power.
SENSES

ruling authority 57 of 102


noun. authority over a domain or sphere of influence; often pertaining to the political or religious
sphere.
ἐξουσία exousia
Mt 7:29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Mt 8:9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one,
‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’
and he does it.”
Mt 9:6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive
sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
Mt 9:8 •When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had
given such authority to men.
Mt 21:23 And when he entered •the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people
came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these
things, and who gave you this authority?”
Mt 21:24 •Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the
answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.
Mt 21:27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither
will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me.
Mk 1:22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had
authority, and not as the scribes.
Mk 1:27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying,
“What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits,
and they obey him.”
Mk 2:10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive
sins”—he said to the paralytic—
Mk 11:28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who
gave you this authority to do them?”
Mk 11:29 •Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; •answer me, and I will tell
you by what authority I do these things.
Mk 11:33 So they answered Jesus, “•We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither
will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Mk 13:34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants
in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.
Lk 4:32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.
Lk 4:36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with
authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”
Lk 5:24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive
sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, •pick up your bed and
go home.”
Lk 7:8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one,
‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’
and he does it.”
Lk 9:1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all
demons and to cure diseases,
Lk 19:17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful
in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
Lk 20:2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that
gave you this authority.”
Lk 20:8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these
things.”
Lk 20:20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they
might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and
jurisdiction of the governor.
Jn 17:2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give •eternal life to all
whom you have given him.
Jn 19:10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have
authority to release you and •authority to crucify you?”
Jn 19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had
been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater
sin.”
Ac 1:7 •He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has
fixed by his own authority.
Ac 9:14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your
name.”
Ac 26:10 And I did so in Jerusalem. •I not only locked up many of the saints in prison
after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast
my vote against them.
Ac 26:12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and
commission •of the chief priests.
Ac 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the
power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among
those who are sanctified by faith •in me.’
Ro 9:21 •Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel
•for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Ro 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Ro 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and
those who resist will incur judgment•.
2 Co 10:8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for
building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.
2 Co 13:10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I
come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me
for building up and not for tearing down.
Col 2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
Jud 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty,
dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Re 2:26 •The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will
give authority over the nations,
Re 6:8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name •was Death, and
Hades followed •him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill
with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.
Re 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of
our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
Re 13:2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; •its feet were like a bear’s, and its
mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and
great authority.
Re 13:4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and
they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
Re 13:5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and
it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.
Re 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And
authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
Re 13:12 •It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the
earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound •was healed.
Re 14:18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over
the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your
sickle •and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”
Re 16:9 •They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who
had power over these plagues. •They did not repent and give him glory.
Re 17:12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal
power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.
Re 17:13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the
beast.
Re 18:1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great
authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory.
Re 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the
second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will
reign with him for a thousand years.
power ⇔ authority 16 of 102

noun. power, often implying the accompanying authority that comes with such power.
ἐξουσία exousia
Mt 10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean
spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.
Mk 3:15 and have authority to cast out demons.
Mk 6:7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them
authority over the unclean spirits.
Lk 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over
all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
Lk 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has
authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
Lk 22:53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me.
But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Jn 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority
to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from
my Father.”
Ac 8:19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may
receive the Holy Spirit.”
1 Co 7:37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but
having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his
betrothed, he will do well.
Re 9:3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like
the power of scorpions of the earth.
Re 9:10 •They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for
five months is in their tails.
Re 9:19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are
like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
Re 11:6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of
their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to
strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.
ruler ⇔ authority 12 of 102
noun. a person who exercises (administrative) control over others.
ἐξουσία exousia; κυριότης kyriotēs
Lk 12:11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the
authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should
say,
Ro 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no
authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Ro 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. •Would you have no fear
of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
1 Co 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God •the Father after
destroying every rule and every authority and power.
Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every
name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Eph 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of
disobedience—
Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made
known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against
the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual
forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Col 1:16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and
invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created
through him and for him.
Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by
triumphing over them in him.
Tt 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be
ready for every good work,
1 Pe 3:22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels,
•authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
right ⇔ authority 11 of 102
noun. a privilege (of a social or legal nature) reserved exclusively to a particular person or group.
ἐξουσία exousia
Jn 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to
become children of God,
Jn 5:27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of
Man.
1 Co 9:4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink?
1 Co 9:5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles
and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
1 Co 9:6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a
living?
1 Co 9:12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless,
we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in
the way of the gospel of Christ.
1 Co 9:18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free
of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
2 Th 3:9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an
example to imitate•.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.
Re 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the
tree of life and that they may enter •the city by the gates.
domain ⇔ authority 3 of 102
noun. a domain understood by the authority necessary to exercise such dominion.
ἐξουσία exousia
Lk 4:6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has
been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.
Lk 23:7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over
to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the
kingdom of his beloved Son,
authority (symbol) 1 of 102

noun. a public representation of either being within someone’s sphere of authority, or of having
the authorization for something.
ἐξουσία exousia
1 Co 11:10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because
of the angels.
discretion (freedom) 1 of 102

noun. freedom to act or judge on one’s own.


ἐξουσία exousia
1 Co 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling
block to the weak.
possession ⇔ authority 1 of 102
noun. the act of having and controlling property.
ἐξουσία exousia
Ac 5:4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was
it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You
have not lied to man but to God.”