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Authority is a position where one or many people have power over others. Authority is mainly used to refer to government, which rules over a country or institutions with political power. However, the highest authority is God, who is sovereign over all things and gives government its authority.[1]

The word comes from the Latin auctoritas, meaning (commanding) authority. Auctoritas is moral and social impact, what we call a "commanding presence," which is more than mere celebrity. Involving more persuasion than good advice but slightly less compelling than official commands, decrees, laws or military orders, it represents a powerful moral, social, cultural, even spiritual influence that is consequential, and therefore difficult to dismiss or ignore. In ancient Rome, auctoritas referred to the general level of prestige a person had in Roman society, and, as a consequence, the power to influence others, especially because of one's commanding manner or recognized expertise and knowledge about something, with ability to rally support around one's will. It could be either benevolent or malevolent. Auctoritas was not merely political, but had a mysteriously awe-inspiring quality that could actually be felt, the "power of command" of heroic Roman figures. There were influential women in Roman society too who had auctoritas. For example, the wives, sisters, and mothers of the Julio-Claudians had immense influence on society, the masses, and the political machine.

Parental Authority

In the family, parents - and particularly fathers - have authority over children and are responsible for guiding and disciplining them, and teaching children right from wrong. The Bible teaches that chidren should respect and honour their parents (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20) and makes it clear that parents have the duty and authority to punish their children, including by spanking them. In particular, Proverbs 13:24 states that "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them" while Proverbs 22:25 says that "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away" and Proverbs 23:13 says "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die."


  1. Romans 13:1 (ESV)

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