Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


Since God is the One who establishes authority, there is no need for deputy authorities to try to build up their own authority. I know of a few brothers and sisters who were so foolish in the past that they thought they could direct others with their authority. They were trying to build up their own authority. This is foolish in the eyes of God. Hebrews 5:4 says, “No one takes the honor upon himself, but only as he is called by God.” The same is true with authority; no one can take authority upon himself. When God grants one to be an authority, he has authority. Hence, there is no need to demand obedience from others. If others insist on being wrong, let them be wrong. If others will not obey, leave them alone. If others want to take their own way, let them take their own way. We must never argue with others. If I am not appointed by God to be the authority, why do I have to demand obedience from others? On the other hand, if I am an authority appointed by God, why do I have to worry that others will not submit to me? If there is authority with me, others are disobeying God when they disobey me. So why do I need to be concerned with others’ disobedience? If authority is with me, others will be arguing with God when they argue with me. There is nothing more serious than this in the whole world. We do not need to force others to listen to us; we can give everyone the liberty to do what they want. If God backs up the authority, what more do we have to fear? Have you ever seen a king on earth backing up his ministers? No! However, if you are a deputy authority, God will sustain you, support you, and even back you up.

The more we know authority and the more open doors, revelation, and ministry we have, the more we will give others the liberty to take their own way. We must never speak one word to vindicate our own authority; rather, we should give others the full liberty. Others should come to us in as spontaneous a way as possible. If they do not want us to be their authority, or if they shy away from us, we do not have to force them to accept us. If there is authority in us, whoever desires the Lord will gladly come to us. It is a most ugly thing for anyone to speak for his authority in order to establish authority for himself. No one can establish his own authority. What one can minister to others in a locality can never be replaced by anyone else. If you have a ministry and others do not submit to you, they are the ones who will suffer the loss. God’s government is a mysterious thing. Many people think that they are growing spiritually, but unless they continue in obedience, God’s light will stop. They may not realize it after just one or two days, but after a while, they invariably will fall.

We have a good example in David. He was a person who never tried to establish his own authority. After Saul was rejected and David was anointed by God to be king, David still spent many years under Saul. He did not move his own hands to build up his own authority. If God has appointed you to be the authority, you must be able to pay the price to allow others to oppose you, disobey you, and rebel against you. But if you are not God’s appointed authority, it would be useless to even try to build up your own authority. I do not like to hear some husbands speak to their wives, saying, “I am God’s appointed authority and you must obey me,” or some elders speak to saints in the church, saying, “I am God’s appointed authority.” If you are a deputy authority, others will spontaneously submit to you. If they do not submit, they will fall back, and if they oppose you, they will not be able to go on spiritually. Paul said that all who were in Asia had turned away from him (2 Tim. 1:15). Those who had forsaken Paul could never advance spiritually. Brothers and sisters, never try to build up your own authority. If God has appointed you to be the authority, simply accept it. If God has not appointed you to be the authority, why do you have to strive for it? All self-established authority must be eradicated from among us. We must allow God to establish every authority, and we must not try to build up any authority of our own. If God has indeed commissioned us to be the authority, others will have only two ways to take: Either they can disobey and fall or they can obey and be blessed.


When a deputy authority is tested, he has to trust in God’s government. There is no need to worry, defend, speak for oneself, or do anything at all. I dislike and abhor those who say, “I am God’s appointed authority.” When we set out for our work, we will find much opposition, lawlessness, and rebellion. But if we are truly a deputy authority, we do not have to build up our own authority or try to maintain it. If a man rebels, he is not rebelling against us, but against God. If he rebels, he is not offending our authority, but God’s authority. We are merely here to act as the deputy authority. The One who is shamed, criticized, and opposed is God, not us. If God can endure these things, can we not endure them? Who are we? We are just the lowly ones who follow Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is only right that we be despised. If we have not seen this, may the Lord be merciful to us. We have to realize that when others offend authority, they are not offending us, but the authority that is in us. I can speak from my own experience. If our authority is of God and others oppose and damage us, they are the ones who suffer loss; they will have no future spiritually; their revelation will stop. God’s government is a most sobering matter! We must learn to not trust in ourselves. We must fear God and know what authority is. May the Lord be gracious to us!

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)