“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases-“
– Luke 9:1, NIV
When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples, He was entering the closing period of his ministry in Galilee. Soon, He would predict his suffering (Luke 9:18) and death. Here, He was sending out His disciples to continue His ministry among the Gentiles.
Luke’s use of “power and authority” in this verse is very interesting to us. We encountered this combination of words previously in Luke’s record. In Luke 4:36, the multitude said concerning Jesus, “For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.”
Jesus had the authority and power to command the unclean spirits. Elsewhere (see Luke 4:36), we discussed the source of the authority. In an ultimate sense the authority comes from God. As the divine Son of God, Jesus had authority and power. There is a sense, however, in which the Holy Spirit was the source of the power employed by Jesus.
Now, in our text, Jesus bestows “power and authority” on the disciples. According to Mark 6:7, Jesus “summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs; and He was giving them authority (exousian) over the unclean spirits.” Here, Luke adds power (dunamin). When Luke writes about casting out demons and healing the sick, power is his favorite word.
The disciples went forth with that authority and power and were amazingly successful. Luke writes (9:6), “And departing, they began going about among the villages, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.” When Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done, he was greatly perplexed. He had put John the Baptist to death, but some now wondered if Jesus were John risen from the dead. Herod wondered who Jesus was and sought to meet Him.
The empowerment of the disciples would be a major theme in Luke and Acts. Earlier, Luke (1:17) wrote that John would minister in the “spirit and power” of Elijah. This is another way of saying in the power of the Holy Spirit. Later, Luke (11:13) will write about the Holy Spirit as a gift to the disciples. In Acts, the theme is fully developed.
Today, we know that Jesus pours out His Spirit upon us as believers. The Spirit empowers us to do our work for the Lord. He empowers us to witness and to serve Him in expanding the Kingdom of God. However, even in Acts, Luke is reluctant to connect exorcisms and healings directly with the Spirit. His usual mode of expression is to utilize the word power (dunamis). The Spirit is the source of our power.
Erdman, Charles R. The Gospel of Luke. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 19.
Hawthorne, Gerald F. The Presence and the Power. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991.
Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke. Exeter, The Paternoster Press, 1978. Menzies, Robert P. Empowered for Witness. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991.
Copyright 2000 © George M. Flattery