Biblical Authority - #3

By Mark J. Ward

We have discussed in the previous 2 articles the essential nature of proper Bible interpretation and establishing Bible authority for all that we say and do. James 2:12 teaches us, "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." We are to have authority from God (given to us in His Word) for our every deed (Col. 3:17). Last month, we looked at two examples of SPECIFIC authority and noted how specific authority EXCLUDES.

Let us look at GENERIC AUTHORITY in this article. There are several instances of generic authority being used throughout the entire Bible. The essentiality of knowing the difference between generic and specific authority cannot be minimized! Let's look at two examples coming from the same verse.

In Matthew 28:19, the Bible says, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:". We can learn a lot from this verse, properly understood in its context. Jesus is speaking to the apostles. He teaches that they are to GO, TEACH, BAPTIZE, TEACHING THEM (those who are baptized) TO OBSERVE whatsoever Jesus taught them (which included the same!). So, this a continuing ministry of evangelism! Let us concentrate on just TWO of the things mentioned in the verse...the GO and the TEACH.

The "GO"

When we read of the various ways in which the apostles "went" (in obeying the "GO" of our text), we see that they were NOT restricted to "going" by only one way. Notice that we read APPROVED EXAMPLES of teachers of God GOING by walking (Acts 3), they went by ship (Acts 21), and they even obeyed the command to "go" by being in a chariot (Acts 8:28-38). This is evidence that God's command to GO is generic with regards to the mode of travel authorized. All things being equal, any mode of travel would be authorized under generic authority.


In the same text in Matthew 28, God is specific with regard to "What" is to be taught, namely "the gospel". However, God did NOT SPECIFY "the teaching arrangement" that the individual is authorized to use. We can read of assemblies wherein the gospel was taught (Acts 4), we can read of one-on-one teaching sessions (Acts 8:26-39), and we can read of letters being sent (Galatians 6:11) that are all AUTHORIZED arrangements wherein the gospel was taught by individuals in the first century. Now, while it would be wrong for individuals to set up and have another organization "teach" instead of individuals fulfilling their responsibility to teach the gospel, the fact remains that God allows various teaching arrangements for the individual to use in preaching the gospel to the lost. (Note: Each "act or action" must be properly authorized from the Bible on its own merit. I would like to take this opportunity to affirm that the church may also use various "arrangements" to teach the gospel, but she may not build or maintain "another organization", like a Missionary Society for example, to do the work God gave the church to do in teaching the gospel to the lost). This would allow the individual to use bulletins, tracts, radio programs, assemblies, letters, debates, and other types of teaching arraangements to teach the lost. Generic authority is NOT exclusive within the realm of doing what God authorizes! Please go back to last month's article and note the exclusive nature of specific authority again. Note the chart below.

When God Said

He Did NOT Specify

And This Allows

1. GO teach all nations...

ONE particular way of "GOING"

All TYPES of "going"

2. Go TEACH all nations...

One particulararrangement for "teaching"

Assemblies, web sites, bulletins, etc.

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