Storytelling, Authority & the Bible

By: Laura Truax

If 70-80% of the Bible is composed of stories, what does it mean to say the stories are authoritative.

How can a story be authoritative since one of the primary purposes of story telling is to let people come to their own conclusions and their own applications? In addition to Sunday’s sermon, I wanted to share this other insight into the nature of authority and story. It occurs just above our passage from Sunday – Matthew 9:2-8. In that section of scripture Jesus has forgiven the sins of the paralyzed man. The Pharisees question whether Jesus has the authority to do that. Jesus responds in verse 6, using the Greek word exousia (authority), the crowd will reiterate that word exousia in verse 8. “They glorified God who had given such authority (exousia) to human beings.”

I’m not prepared to step very far out here since I haven’t been able to study this very closely. But the Greek sense of exousia is a word that means not only the power – or ability to act – but just as importantly, the freedom to act. There is no obstacle blocking that power from being used. This understanding opens up not only Matthew 9:8, but also the entire slant Jesus has on authority and the authority (exousia) offered to his disciples. In Luke 10:19, Jesus tells the 70 returning disciples that he has given them “authority” (same word: exousia) to tread on snakes, scorpions, etc. etc.

But the powerful part is not the power over reptiles, it’s the power to act freely, without coercion and without inner or outward obstacles preventing you from acting. That’s real power. Real freedom. Real Authority.

Just thinking aloud here…more to follow. Chime in as you wish. You have the authority to do so. (!)

One thought on “Storytelling, Authority & the Bible

  1. What would it mean to have freedom or no obstacles in treading on snakes or scorpions? And how would we evidence this kind of freedom and non-coercion in places where the Bible uses “exousia”? Trying to envision what this vision of authority would look like.

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