“To possess power or to be powerful,” wrote Stanley I. Benn in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “is to have a generalized potentiality for getting one’s own way or for bringing about changes (at least some of which are intended) in other people’s actions or conditions.” This useful analysis of human relationships, however, does not take into account the many additional catalysts which, according to Scripture, may alter our lives.
Types of Power in the Bible
Power of God
In contrast to the nature gods of the Greek and Hellenistic worlds, the God of the Bible is a Person transcendent to immanent processes. As Lord of history, He has both the ability and the right to carry out His will in the world in the way He chooses. God is the ultimate source of all power, as the doxologies say.
Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from thee, and thou rulest over all. In thy hand are power and might; and in thy hand it is to make great and to give strength to all (
1 Chron 29:11, 12).
Power of angels and Satan
Power of sin
Fallen men have an evident ability to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. Both Jews and Greeks are “under the power of sin” (
Power of government
In a fallen world, God permits the armies of one nation to bring judgment on another nation. The prophets pronounced judgment upon one corrupt government after another. Should the Israelite nation turn from the Lord, He would “break the pride of [their] power” (
Power of prophets
Power of Christ
discerningly shows how the crucified Christ displayed omnipotence. “This is the perfection of His divine omnipotence, that (in distinction from all abstract omnipotence) it can assume the form of weakness and powerlessness, and triumph as omnipotence also and even especially in this form.”
Power of Christ’s disciples
With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were to be “clothed with power from on high” (
Power of the Church
Believers are to use their God-given abilities for the edification of the whole body. “Power” is used for a gift (
Power of the age to come
“The powers of the age to come” (