Luke 10:19 (NIV)

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Here, Jesus gives his authority to the 72 he sent out.

Matthew 28:18 (NIV)

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...

Here the "therefore" implies that Jesus' disciples are to stand on his authority in their commission to go and make disciples of all nations.

In both of these instances, Jesus is speaking specifically to certain people, namely His apostles and disciples. Did Jesus give this same power and authority to all disciples?

  • If Christ would have addressed Americans instead of Disciples, and would have granted them power over atomic devices instead of various reptiles, would we therefore of necessity conclude that all US citizens are expert craftsmen in nuclear weapons ?
    – Lucian
    Dec 15, 2017 at 23:28
  • Without your defining "believers", I don't believe this question can be answered here. It perhaps would be more suitable for Christianity StackExchange, but even there I think you are going to need to be more specific as to how you define "believer".
    – user33515
    Dec 17, 2017 at 16:47

3 Answers 3


No. The words recorded in the NT were spoken to those living in the first century A.D. The pronoun "you" in Luke 10:19, and in most other instances were those who saw Jesus in person during those days of the first century A.D. The events were recorded and preserved by the Holy Spirit through the agency of the apostles and His other "secretaries" for our benefit so that we can know assuredly that Christ did exactly what was prophesied from all OT prophesy.

So, we who are reading these words almost 2,000 years after they were spoken have to follow some rules.

  1. Identify who was speaking.
  2. Identify the audience to whom they spoke.
  3. Identify the time frame, ie. during Jesus' ministry, after the crucifixion, etc.
  4. Keep the perspective of that direct communication.

We may read our grandmother's diary where she recorded an event that happened on a particular day, and we know that the pronouns and demonstrative "this" or "those" were meant of things present during her daily journal. But, we don't extrapolate her record of events to a future time frame that she wasn't talking about.

Taking the words of Christ and the apostles out of the first century A.D. is anachronistic, and causes much misunderstanding.

In Luke 10:19, Jesus was speaking to His disciples during His 3-1/2 year ministry before the crucifixion. The pronoun "you" was directed to His disciples, and was very specific. It was not a universal statement, and therefore only applied to His disciples.

We have to be careful to know when a command or statement was specific, and when it is generic and meant for all people of all generations. Most of the "you's" in the NT are specifically addressed to those of the first century A.D.

For example, when Jesus told His disciples in Mark 16:15,

"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

That command was a directive to His disciples. But, the next statement in vs. 16,

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

is generic, and is meant for all people of every generation who will believe.

Christ gave power and authority to the disciples to aid them in the spread of the gospel. He delegated certain miraculous powers to them that were not given to others even in that same generation.

  • So the Sermon on the Mount is only for those who heard it? Dec 16, 2017 at 1:08
  • 1
    1 Corinthians 15 is about the resurrection of Christ and whom He appeared to after His resurrection. V8 said '...and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.' 2 Corinthians 12 Paul is speaking, in addition to other things, of his experience in the third heaven. Without a doubt, Paul spoke with Christ as an apostle.
    – Grace
    Dec 16, 2017 at 16:37
  • 1
    I have also found that in Acts 3:6,16 and 4:10,30 Jesus was speaking only to his apostles. In Acts 19:13 the seven sons of Sceva were trying to cast out demons by this name of Jesus and were not successful. The article in v13 is 'the Jesus' as if to identify the magic word to the demons.
    – Grace
    Dec 16, 2017 at 17:13
  • 1
    @RevelaionLad, we do not have "authority" to become children of God, but we do have the choice / election to obey. It is God who writes our name in the book of life as we repent and are baptized into Christ. Christ set the process for how to become reconciled to the Father. That process remains the same for every generation. The specific instances of what the apostles were contending with, and the specific miraculous gifts were for that generation. We learn from their experience how to deal with our own troubles and persecutions. But we cannot slip their troubles into our generation.
    – Gina
    Dec 16, 2017 at 17:34
  • 1
    Regarding the target audience of the Sermon on the Mount: Scripture is clear that it was given to the disciples and not the multitudes at that time (Mt 5:1). At the end of Matthew's Gospel, however, the Apostles are commanded to teach all nations ... to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. (Mt 28:20)
    – user33515
    Mar 8, 2018 at 3:52

Take an analogy: if, say, Gaius has been given an authority to enter the Emperor's chamber freely, of course it means that Gaius can enter the room of the Emperor's servants equally freely.

In fact, Christ who is equal to God the Father (cf. John 5:23; Phil. 2:6) gave to His believers authority to become children, the sons and daughters of God (John 1:12) through the birth in God's Spirit (John 3:5), who is also equal to God the Father since knows everything of Him (1 Cor 2:10) - the epistemological equality being impossible without the ontological equality - and through this Spirit humans received freedom (2 Cor 3:17), so that even Law of Moses is no longer applicable to such divinely freed (Gal 5:23). Now, this wonderful change applies not only to apostles, but to all Christians, who did not receive faith in any inferior way than the highest of the apostles, but just "as precious as them" (cf. 2 Peter 1).

Exactly this new and incredible intimacy, this sonship and daughtership of God and co-heir-ship of His Only-begotten Son is what can be compared by an earthly analogy, to getting free access to the chamber of the Emperor. Now, expelling of demons is far lesser thing than being the son/daughter of God! That's why Jesus even warns not to be glad for this lesser authority when the higher authority, that of becoming His co-heirs, and thus co-kings of the Kingdom of Heaven is already at hand (Luke 10:20). Thus, if the access to the Emperor's chamber - cf. God's sonship/daughtership - is given to all, of course access to the Emperor's slaves' chambers - cf. authority over evil spirits - is also open to all by default, so to say. And in fact all Christians are authorized by Christ to expel demons through prayers and fasting (Matt 17:21), and His reprimanding for the lack of faith therewith applies not only to His disciples, but also to the people (Matt 17:17).

However, God also gives specific bestowals of graces to specific people for special purposes in view of edification and nurturing of His Church, and thus, not all are apostles, or prophets, or teachers, or healers, or exorcists, or talkers with tongues etc. (cf. 1 Cor 12:29) - but all those are incomparably inferior and specific functions and callings in comparison with the general and highest calling of all Christians in infinite and endlessly increasing participation in the eternal love of the Father and the Son (John 3:35), given to us by His Spirit (2 Tim 1:7), without which, even with all other inferior gifts and abilities, we are just idly resounding gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Cor 13:1).


No, He did not give the same authority and power to all disciples according to the Gospel texts.

In Luke 10:19, Jesus was speaking specifically to the Seventy (v.17), whom He had appointed (or commissioned - ἀνέδειξεν) and sent out in pairs before him (v.1).

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus was speaking specifically to the eleven disciples (v.16).

This is not to say that the commissions of those mentioned could never be appointed to others. This was made clear in Matthew 18:18:

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This saying was part of a longer passage beginning at v.1. The parallel passage in Mark (9:35ff) confirms that this also was given to the Apostles (the twelve, at that time). The Acts of the Apostles is an early history of the Church which shows how the Apostles used the authority granted them by Christ to pass their commission on to others.

Acts also illustrates the outcome of undertaking evangelization without any commission from the Apostles or from those whom they appointed.

We learn in Acts 9 that only a short time after being baptized, Paul at once began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God (v.20ff). The disciples had to come and help him escape in a basket (v.25). It would be some time before Paul would be given a ministry of his own, assigned to him specifically by the prophets and teachers of the Church (13:1ff). And in even this he was to work closely with Barnabas and not on his own.

A more extreme example is perhaps that of the seven sons of Sceva, who, attempting to cast out demons on their own (19:13ff), were set upon by the very demons they were trying to exorcise (v.16).

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