The biblical writers of the Old Testament explained God's authority over creatures. Man is presented as struggling to understand the nature of God's authority in relation to their co-existence with one another and with God.

 The Old Testament teaches the following on authority.

God's authority is acknowledged as supreme. This means that no any other authority IS above. This means that God is the complete master of all situations.

God's authority is creative. God used his authority to create the world, man and other creatures with love (Genesis 1: 1 ff).

God freely entrusted man with a share in his life-giving authority (Genesis 1:26 31. 2:8- 15). God palled on man to be a co-creator in exercising this authority and work to bring out the best in earthly beings.

Rejection of God's authority brings troubles to man. Adam and Eve rejected God's command of controlling the earth but ended up suffering (Genesis 3: 1 ff).

God hates the misuse of authority. In Genesis 4: 1 ff, God punished Cain for killing his brother Abel. Even the builders of the Tower of Babel were punished for their lack of faith in God and false wisdom in using authority (Genesis 11:1 ff) Samuel 15:22, God rejected the leadership of Saul as the king of the Israelites because of misusing authority.

God gives authority to man to serve his own needs and the needs of the human community. For example, God commanded Moses to go and liberate the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 3:9 - 10).

God's authority is saving. Among others, God used his authority to save the Israelites from the bondage of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 6: 11, 9:27).

God's authority is protective. God protected Abraham and his wife Sarah and the Israelites while moving to the Promised Land (Exodus 23:20 ff).

People are called to praise God's supreme authority and thank-him for the wonderful things in the world. God did all these for man's benefits (Psalm 136: 1 ff).

God is presented as reminding people about his authority through the prophets such as Jeremiah, Amos and Isaiah. These were in cases where the Israelites could have gone astray like worshipping idols.

Misuse of Authority in the Old Testament

God from the very beginning had shown His willingness to serve the needs of man through his authority. God had also given man a share of authority as co-creators. Unfortunately man over looked and neglected the true purpose and instead registered failures. Such instances are as summarized below.

1.   In Genesis 3: 1 ff man failed to perform the duties of controlling creation and conquering it as God had instructed. In this biblical text, Adam and Eve are said to have eaten the forbidden fruit. This failure in using authority was a sin that consequently led to their suffering.

2.   The story of Cain and Abel is-an example of man misusing power. (Genesis 4: 1 ff) Cain killed his brother Abel for his selfish needs but this was an injury to the needs of the human community.

3.   The builders of the tower of Babel also failed to acknowledge God's authority. They used their false wisdom based 00: greediness to begin a building programme that would reach God. (Genesis 11: 1ff). This explains why God punished them by mixing their languages and destroying the tower it self

4.   The drunkenness of Noah that resulted into him cursing one of his sons appears to be a misuse of power. Noah would have used his authority to serve the needs of his family but he chose to make his son suffer following the curse. (Genesis 9:20 -27).

5.   The enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt was a misuse of authority. The Pharaoh subjected the Israelites to heavy work in fulfilling his political ambition of building his new great capital. He could not allow their departure even if God had intervened because he would lose his man power. (Exodus 1:9- 5, 5:  ff).   

6.   There was forced labour during the time of Kings.  King Solomon subjected his people to forced labour in promoting his building programme. This was not so different from the slavery situation in Egypt that God was against (I kings 5: 13 - 18).

7.   Some leaders among the Israelites committed murder.  King David was behind the death of Uriah who was his faithful soldier (2 Samuel 11: 14-17). King Ahab was also responsible for the murder of Naboth (1 Kings 21: 1 ff).

8.   The various Kings of the Israelites over taxed their people. King Solomon taxed the Israelites in such a way that the rich became richer and the poor became poorer.

9.   The two sons of Eli misused their position as sons of the priest. Through their greediness, they ate God's sacrifices and even slept with women at God's altars. (l Samuel 2: 12 -17).

10. The demand for the physical king by the Israelites was a misuse of authority. God had given freedom to the Israelites as the Holy people. Instead, they misused this freedom and rejected him by asking for a king they could see (l Samuel 8: 1-1 0).


Moses received his call from God through the burning bush event. God later commissioned him to go and lead the Israelites out of their Egyptian slavery (Exodus 3: 1 ff). His services included the following.

1.   Moses liberated the Israelites from the Egyptian slavery where they had been suffering for quite a long period of time. (Exodus 12:40- 41)

2.   Moses recruited people for military services. He also physically led his soldiers into battlefields in fighting the Canaanites and the Amalekites while on their way to the Promised Land (Numbers 1: 22 ff and Exodus 17:8 ff).

3.   Moses settled disputes among the Israelites over various issues. This maintained peace and harmony among the Israelites (Exodus 18: 13 - 16)

4.   Moses performed miracles on behalf of the Israelites. For example, he announced plagues in Egypt and dividing of water at the Red sea. These miracles were performed for the benefit of the Israelites (Exodus 7-11, 13:21 - 22).

5.   Moses called the Israelites back to God. For example, he called the Israelites back to God when they had made a golden calf to be worshipped instead of God. (Exodus 32: 1 ff)

6.   Moses prayed on behalf of the Israelites both in times of peace and difficulties. In Exodus 32:11 - 14, Moses prayed to God not to punish the Israelites for their sin of worshiping the golden calf.

7.   Moses received God's commandment (laws) on behalf of the Israelites. He later on passed on these laws to the Israelites in order to guard their relationship with God and among themselves. (Exodus 19 - 20)

8.   Moses offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the Israelites. This helped the Israelites to realize God's presence among them (Leviticus 9:1 ff).

9.   Moses mediated between God and the Israelites. It was Moses who went to the Pharaoh of Egypt to announce the release of the Israelites (Exodus 4:21). God also gave his laws to the Israelites through Moses.

10. Moses prophesized on behalf of the Israelites. He had visions and guided the Israelites from the time, of liberation up to when he died.     

Qualities of Moses as a leader

Moses was a courageous leader. For example, he did not fear to go back to Egypt yet he had killed the Egyptian slave master before taking refuge at Midian. (Exodus 4: 18- 20). He also led the Israelites into the battle field when attacking the Amalekites and even showed courage before crossing the red sea and did not fear the Egyptian soldier were pursing them (Exodus 14:13)

Moses was God fearing. He obeyed all the instructions God had given him like going back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 3:1 ff), building alter, striking the rock to produce water (Exodus 17:5-13

Moses was tolerant leader. For example, he tolerated the behaviour of the Israelites who had gone astray and worshipped other gods (Exodus 32: 1ff)

Moses was a patient leader. He would wait for the Lord to act during both peaceful and difficult times. For example, he showed patience during the liberation of the lsraerites from Egyptian slavery. When the pharaoh refused to release the lsraerites, he waited for God to do his part. (Exodus 17:5-6)

Moses was an optimistic (hopeful) leader. He never gave up in difficult situation. For example,  when crossing the Red sea ,he did not give up yet Egyptian soldiers were pursuing them (Exodus16:1ff)

Moses as s leader was approachable. He was always there to be consulted by the lsaerites. For example, the Israelites approached him when they wanted water (Exodus 14:13)

Moses was a good listener. For example, he listened to the Israelites when they wanted food and prayed to God who responded positively and gave food in the form of manna and quails (Exodus 16:1 ff)

Moses was a dedicated leader. He whole-heartedly served the Israelites right from liberation up to the time he died

Moses had genuine love for his people. For example, killed the Egyptian slave master who was beating the Hebrews(Exodus 2:11-12)

Moses was an intelligent leader. He used his intelligence to settle disputes among the Israelites and left both parties satisfied (Exodus 2:11-12)

Moses was a unifying factor among the Israelites. During the course of their movement to the promised land, he rallied all the Israelites behind him

Moses was also non-discriminative. He served all the Israelites equally without favouring any.


Services of King David to the Israelites

King David was the youngest son of Jesse who became the second king of Israel. He took over from Saul (Israel’s first king) whom God had rejected for the blunders he made during his administration. During his reign, King David offered various services to the Israelites. These include the following;

David’s greatest service was his defeat and killing of the giant Goliath. This was because Goliath had become a threat to the Israelites that not even king Saul could stand up against him but, David fought at a tender age eliminated this giant using a stone (1 Samuel 17:48-51)

David also promoted unity in Israel. He made the tribes of the south and the north to recognize him as their only king yet they were divided during the time of king Saul (2 Samuel 5:1-3)

David promoted religion among the Israelites. This was in his efforts to rule his people with God’s assistance. He did this by centralizing worship at Jerusalem as opposed to the existence of various worshipping places like Gilgal and Bethel among others.

David captured Jerusalem from the philistines through his various military victories. He as later established Jerusalem capital as the capital city (David’s city) of Israel (2 Samuel 5:6ff). This greatly contributed to the growth and prosperity of Jerusalem as a city

David promoted diplomatic relations with the neighbouring countries like Egypt and Tyre. This became an important service because lsrael had been involved in wars with its neighbours. This brought stability and peace (2 Samuel 5:11-12 )

David brought back the ark of covenant to Jerusalem from the philistines after a long period of absence. The absence of the Ark of the Covenant which was captured during the wars implied that God of Israel had been hijacked and the covenant relationship broken. It’s return was therefore a restoration of the covenant relationship (2 Samuel 6:1 ff)

David also promoted music among the Israelites. He used to entertain king Saul in his palace and also went a head to compose the psalms

King David expanded the boundaries of Israel. This was through military defeats, where he was able to annex the conquered territories onto Israel.

King David built and maintained a strong standing army. This army maintained peace and stability in the kingdom.

King David was a repentant king. This was as opposed to the character of King Saul who would feel sorry after committing an offense. For example when David committed the double sin (sin of adultery and murder, he repented and even fasted). He also begged for forgiveness after carrying out an illegal activity aimed at military conscription (2 Samuel 24:10).

King David promoted the spirit of forgiveness among the Israel. David forgave his enemy king Saul who had in many occasions wanted to kill him. This an inspiration to his followers (1 Samuel 24: 1 ff 26:1 ff)

King David also promoted justice during his regime. As a servant, David made sure that all cases were judged fairly following the covenant law (2 Sam 8:15, 9:1 ff)

David is credited for having brought the plan for building a temple for God in Jerusalem. This was to be a place of worship and for keeping the ark of the covenant after securing it from the philistine (2 sam 7:1-7)


Despite the above services, David’s regime like any other leader had n mistakes. His regime developed black spots and came to tragic turn point. This made him fail in delivering services to the Israelites. David’s failures includes the following

1. David committed adultery with Bathsheba who was the wife of Uriah, his faithful soldier (1Sam 11:4-5). By doing this David violated the covenant law which was against adultery (Exodus 20:14)

2. David also committed murder.  First under the disguise of revenge, David killed the wives of Saul. At a later stage, David personally plotted for the murder of Uriah at the battle field for his failure to come back home and have time with his wife Bathsheba whom he had already impregnated (2 sam 1:14-17). This was also a violation of the law which was against murder (Exodus 20:13)

3. David introduced forced labour as he embarked on his building programme. This was dictatorial practice that was not different from that slavery situation in Egypt which God denounced through Moses.

4. David married a number of foreign wives who came into Israel with their own cultures ideas and religion. Because of this David failed to control his family. There were cases of incest (2 sam 13:1 ff), rape and murder in David’s family (2 sam 13:29). Above all the Israelites were not to marry from external nations.

5. David also became tribalist with his decentralization policy.  He delegated power to only his tribemates. This eventually brought instability to the whole of Israelite.

6. King David carried illegal senses without consulting God. This sense had a bad motive because it aimed at knowing the number of people whom David would exploit through taxation and forced labour (2 sam 24:1ff).

7. In his last year of regime, David embarked on forceful military recruitment. This caused wide spread resentment in the whole kingdom. Even prophets’ including Nathan stood up and condemned such a practice.

8. David also levied taxation on his people. This was aimed at fulfilling his selfish ambition of his building programmes.

The New Testament teaching on authority.

The coming of Jesus into being was a manifestation f god’s authority in work as prophesied in Isaiah 11:1-12. He is presented as a good shepherd as fore told by prophet Ezekiel (Ezek 34:11)

The New Testament therefore teaches the following about authority

1. Authority in the New Testament is meant to reconcile man with each other and lead them to the almighty father (Jn 10:16). In this text Jesus is presented as having come to reconcile people but not only the Jews. This was later fulfilled through his death that brought salvation to mankind.

2. According to the authority means service and leading by example (Jn 13:15). Here Jesus bent slow and performed task usually done by slaves. For example he washed the feet of his disciples.

3. Leaders according to Jesus are to perform their duties even in the times of difficulties, (Jn 10:11-13). He emphasized the need for leaders to lay down their lives and suffer just for the sake of their people. For example at the time of his crusification, Jesus did not give up because he knew he had come to serve.

4. Jesus emphasized that authority is meant to liberate man from the bondage of sin (Jn 10:7-10). This text presents Jesus as having the authority to liberate man from the power of sins. Through him men received purification and were forgiven.

5. Authority according to Jesus is meant to protect, sustain and guide others. In John 10:11, Jesus is presented as a good shepherd fore told by Ezekiel and being ready to sacrifice himself just for the sake of helping man kind

6. Jesus emphasized that greatest in the heavenly kingdom is one who is a servant to everyone (mark 10:43-44). He points out that this is the only way of being known in the father’s kingdom.

7. Authority according to Jesus means being able to forgive and clean the life of a repented sinner. For example, he forgave his betrayer Judas Iscariot and even those who crucified him.

8. According to Jesus, authority is having love for each other. (John 13: 1). His suffering and death was proof that his authority was basically service with love.

9. According to Jesus, serving one another goes beyond mere observance of petty regulations. He emphasized that the laws are there to serve the needs of man. (Luke 6: 10).

10.            Jesus showed the need for leaders to overcome temptation in serving the needs of others (Mathew 4: 1 - 11, Mark 1: 12 - 13, Luke 4: 1 - 13). This is a call for those in official positions to use their authority for the enrichment and liberation of men.

11.            Jesus taught that authority is carrying the burdens of others. In Mark 10: 38 - 40, Jesus is presented using his authority to share the suffering of his people in building the heavenly kingdom.

12.            Jesus commemorated the feast of the Pass over (the Sabbath day). This was an act of his authority at work in saving his people. He chooses this occasion to demonstrate how his followers must be ready to serve others (John 13:1 ff).

13.            Jesus delegated a share of his authority to his apostles as servants of the word of God (2 Corinthians 10:8). The apostles came to realize that the gift each member had in the community had to be used for the service of the whole community (Ephesians 4: 11 - 13).

 How did Jesus prove his servant hood during His ministry?

        Performed miracles like changing water into wine at a wedding at Cana

        Fed His followers like the 4000 and 5000 people respectively

        Defended the weak like the woman caught in adultery

        Wept when He foresaw the destruction of the Jerusalem city

        Preached the good news of salvation

        Identified Himself with His followers.

        He knew His followers by their names

        Washed the feet of His disciples.

        Looked for sinners and forgave them

        Endured the pain of being beaten for the sins of His followers

        Associated with everyone

        Challenged the Jewish about their legalistic attitude

        Forgave those who were against Rim

        Resisted temptation by Satan

        Gave up His life on the cross in order to bring salvation to mankind.

        He sent the holy spirit to His disciples as He had promised.

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