Religious Authority


After I accepted Christ, not much changed in my life. I went through high school and college able to talk the talk, but I didn’t really walk the walk. Even though I called myself a Christian, I had never truly given total control of my life to Christ. As I grew in my faith, I realized that recognizing and submitting to the authority of Christ allows us to be “free” from religion and enter into a growing relationship with the God of the universe.

  • Are you relying on your own authority or the authority of Christ in your life? How do you know?


20:1 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Describe this scene and the interaction in your own words. If this were a movie scene, what would the tone be?
  2. What is the conclusion of the scribes and chief priests? What do you learn about their values, fears and faith by their actions?
  3. What do you learn about the character and nature of Jesus through this interaction?
  4. How do you respond to God’s authority? Do you accept or reject your place of submission?


The temple was a place where the priests and scribes taught, held court, and were considered the authority on religious teachings. Jesus’ life and questions were a direct challenge to their authority and the acceptance of the people. The scribes and priests knew the correct answers, but they were too afraid of the people and consequences to yield their lives to what was right. Today, people are often still afraid to acknowledge God’s presence and ultimate authority. We must choose to follow Christ and his authority.

  • Take a moment and ask God how you can be submissive to his authority.