ON THIS PAGE
Accountability and Individualism
The NT and Biblical Authority
Dunamis and Exousia
The NT’s Lack Of Emphasis On The Leadership
Leadership Role of Elders
Obey? Obey Whom?
The Charge to Leaders
Section VI: Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare & Territorial Spirits
Accountability and Individualism
In an informative article on accountability on Bible.org, Author J. Hampton Keathley, III makes the following observations..
While Paul warns the Christian community against the evil of judging one another concerning certain doubtful or debatable practices (which Christians have varying opinions about but are not specified as wrong by Scripture), he also reminds them that in the end each of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:10-12).. Jesus emphatically taught that a day of judgment is coming when every person will have to give an account of both their words and actions. And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. [Matthew 12:36]. “to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more”. [Luke 12:48b].
Unfortunately, however, man is a rebel who wants to do his own thing without any or very little accountability for his actions. Since the fall of man (Gen. 3), this has been the case, but a worldwide phenomenon of our day is a defiance of any form of established authority whether religious or secular, social or political. This sad reality has colored the beliefs and actions of our present society worldwide… the prevailing attitude is ‘Do your own thing. You are only accountable to yourself and your own self-fulfillment.’
The Bible in no way denies our individualism. Indeed, it promotes it, but in a way that holds us each accountable to others. Proper individualism leads to a certain amount of inventiveness, ingenuity, and freedom, but it can also breed license and irresponsibility without accountability. The fact is you can’t make disciples or produce growing and mature Christians without accountability. 
Christian living is an interesting paradox. While the Bible does not make any effort to suppress individualism, each individual is part of the body of Christ as a whole. Therefore all our actions as Christians are guided not only by who we are and what is good for us, but also by what God wants and what is good for the body of Christ. Left to ourselves, most individuals tend to focus on themselves and leave the other members of the body to focus on themselves. Westerners certainly are more about autonomy than submission.
This problem was dealt with to a large extent by the early church that met in small interactive and informal gatherings in individual homes. The ultimate focus for the New Testament idea of the weekly assembly was to encourage one another and to strengthen the church. Since it is not the Lord, but His people who need strengthening, the gatherings were for the benefit of the people present… Believers not only enjoyed interaction and involvement with each other, but provided one another with the necessary discipline and support needed to see people reach godly goals. It was community of the best kind.
While the Bible certainly does talk about accountability, the question arises as to who is accountable to whom? 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14 point to a dual accountability. Verse 11 tells believers to “encourage one another” while verse 12 asks them to know and “exceedingly” esteem those who are “over you in the Lord”.
Wherefore encourage (Gk. Parakaleo) one another, and build (Gk. oikodomeo) each other up, even as also ye do. But we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them exceeding highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort (Gk. Parakaleo) you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all. [1 Thessalonians 5:11-14]
Note that in the above verses, one Greek word parakaleo has been rightly translated both as encourage and exhort. Parakaleo is the word used of the Holy Spirit as the comforter, encourager, helper, but has also used with the idea of appeal or plead as used in Romans 12:1; 15:30; 16:17. The word translated build up is the Greek oikodomeo, which has been used of physical building in the New Testament (See, for instance Matthew 7:24). Oikodomeo has also been translated edify.
The building up and restoring of another believer is the ultimate and only goal of accountability, which is probably why Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake “…our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh”.
Those who are “over you in the Lord” obviously being leadership or elders whom God holds responsible to care for His flock and who are responsible for the spiritual well being of the local church. Certainly the New Testament is clear that there are recognizable leaders in a local body and that their existence and ministry are important to the health of the body. There were elders over the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) and bishops and deacons at Philippi (Philippians 1:1). In fact Titus was charged by Paul to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). However each church did not have a "senior pastor", but were shepherded by more than one elder, who was equal in authority to the others.
The word authority however is easily misconstrued since Biblical authority was vastly different from every other form of authority we are familiar with.
The NT and Biblical Authority
If one believes that what Jesus thought and taught makes any difference, it is necessary to note that when Jesus spoke about “leaders”, He said they should not take a leaf out of the Gentile’s book, lording it over people but should be as servants, the greater should become as the younger, and the chief one has to serve.
But Jesus called them (the disciples) unto him, and said, Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant: [Matthew 20:25-27]
And there arose also a contention among them, which of them was accounted to be greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles have lordship over them; and they that have authority over them are called Benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. [Luke 22:24-26]
Peter echoes the thought using exactly the same Greek word that Jesus did
neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. [1 Peter 5:3-5]
Paul uses a derivative of the same Greek word when he said..
Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for in faith ye stand fast. [2Corinthians 1:24]
Dunamis and Exousia
The New Testament uses two Greek words which correspond to different aspects of what we mean by "authority." The fact that dunamis (power) and exousia (authority) are different is emphasized in Luke 9:1, when Jesus “…called the twelve together, and gave them power (dunamis) and authority (exousia) over all demons, and to cure diseases”.
Dunamis: The first, dunamis has been used some 120 times in the New Testament. Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Lexicon says it means a force (literally or figuratively); specifically a miraculous power (by implication a miracle itself). Accordingly it has sometimes been translated works and miracles, but is usually translated power.
The New Testament speaks of this power as being possessed by God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Satan (Luke 10:19), while Romans 8:38 speaks of angels, demons and principalities in the same breath as powers. However nowhere is a human being spoken of as having "power" in their own right. When people possess this power, it comes to them from above since it has a supernatural quality.
Luke 24:49 And behold, I send forth the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city, until ye be clothed with power (Gk. dunamis) from on high.
Acts 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power (Gk. dunamis) or godliness we had made him to walk?
Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, By what power (Gk. dunamis), or in what name, have ye done this?
Exousia: is usually translated as "power" or "authority" and is the closest equivalent (in both meaning and connotation) to our English word "authority." The New Testament lists of those who have exousia (authority) and those who have dunamis (power) are virtually the same i.e. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, angels, demons etc.
However the list of those that have exousia (authority) includes human beings who may not have power given them from above, but have authority in their own right. For example Paul had authority given him by the chief priests, Ananias had authority over his own property, the Corinthians had authority over various aspects of their lives … eating, drinking, and being married [1Corinthians 9:4-5]. And Paul and Barnabas had the authority to abstain from labor.
Whereupon as I journeyed to Damascus with the authority (exousia) and commission of the chief priests, [Acts 26:12]
While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power (exousia)? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. [Acts 5:4]
Have we no right (exousia) to eat and to drink? Have we no right (exousia) to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have we not a right (exousia) to forbear working? [1 Corinthians 9:4 -6]
However conspicuous by their absence are the New Testament verses that speak of one believer having "authority" over another, regardless of their position or prestige.
There are two exceptions to this, both in 2 Corinthians when Paul speaks of the authority given him by the Lord for building them up.
For though I should glory somewhat abundantly concerning our authority (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down), I shall not be put to shame [2 Corinthians 10:8]
For this cause I write these things while absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for casting down. [2 Corinthians 13:10]
However when one considers that the entire tone of 2 Corinthians is one of persuasion. Paul has certainly expending a great deal of time and energy in an effort to persuade the Corinthians to listen to him. If he had authority over them why did he bother? Why not just give them an order and be done with it? In fact virtually all the New Testament authors made appeals directly to the churches, with a distinct …
The NT’s Lack Of Emphasis On The Leadership
It is particularly interesting that in the early church it was not necessarily just the elders or pastors that made the final decision on important matters. For example in Acts 15:22, the apostles, the elders, and the whole church decided to choose some of their men to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. the entire church made a joint decision, which is very different from the CEO mentality we often find in modern institutions. Also consider the following points brought up by author Steve Atkerson…
Consider the steps of church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17 as it relates to a church's decision making process (see also 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; Galatians 6:1). Notice that the whole congregation seems to be involved in the decision to exercise discipline. Notice also that the leaders are not especially singled out to screen the cases before they reach the open meeting nor to carry out the disciplining. It is a corporate decision.
This corporate process is also glimpsed in Acts 1:15-26. The apostle Peter placed the burden for finding a replacement for Judas upon the church as a whole. In Acts 6:1-6, the apostles turned to "all the disciples" (6:2) and asked them to choose administrators for the church's welfare system. Both these examples point to congregational involvement.
Paul wrote to "all" (1:7) the saints in Rome, and made no special mention of the elders. The letters to the Corinthians were addressed to the entire "church" (1 Corinthians 1:2, and 2 Corinthians 1:1). Again there was no emphasis on the overseers. The greeting in Galatians 1:2 focuses on the "churches" in Galatia. The message was not first filtered through the leaders. The "Saints in Ephesus" (1:1) were the recipients of that letter. In Philippians 1:1 the saints were given equal billing with the overseers and deacons. In Colossians 1:2 the salutation went to "the holy and faithful brothers in Christ." All of this implies that the elders were themselves also sheep. The elders were a subset of the church as a whole. There was no clergy/laity distinction.
This lack of emphasis on the leadership is also seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 2:1, 7, and Jude 1:1. In fact, the book of Hebrews was written to a subgroup of believers and it was not until the very last chapter that the author asked them to "greet all your leaders" (13:24). He did not even greet the leaders directly! 
The Leadership Role of The Elders:
However all this does not mean that the elders did not have a leadership role and did not deserve a great deal of respect, which was however, honestly earned. 1Timothy 5:17 says “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching”. Acts 20:28 makes it clear that in the early church the Holy Spirit was instrumental in appointing elders or bishops…
Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
The following verses emphasize a definite management/shepherds role for the elders.
Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops (Youngs Literal Translation and the KJV use the word overseers), to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood. [Acts 20:28]
Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; [1Peter 5:2]
"If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (1 Timothy 3:5)
Obey? Obey Whom?
The Greek word hupakouō is to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority: - hearken, be obedient to, obey (Strongs). However if you examine all 21 uses of the word in the New Testament you will find that we ought to obey God, the Gospel and the teaching of the apostles. Children are instructed to obey their parents and servants their masters and Sarah was said to have obeyed Abraham.
But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? [Romans 10:16]
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. [Ephesians 6:1]
Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; [Ephesians 6:5]
So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; [Philippians 2:12]
And if any man obeyeth not our word by this epistle, note that man, that ye have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. [2 Thessalonians 3:14]
as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose children ye now are, if ye do well, and are not put in fear by any terror. [1 Peter 3:6]
Are believers to "obey" church leaders? If they are, the New Testament doesn't say so. On the contrary 1 Peter 5:2-5 shows that elders are to preach, and willingly tend to the flock providing faithful example. Their “authority” is limited to the teaching of the Word, instructing and serving believers so that they might grow.
However one verse has often been used as ‘proof-text’ for submitting to ecclesiastic authority … [Emphasis added]
Obey (Gr. peitho) them that have the rule over you, and submit (Gr. Hupeiko) to them: for they watch in behalf of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this were unprofitable for you. [Hebrews 13:17]
In the paragraph above, the Greek word hupeiko, which has been translated submit only occurs this once in the entire New Testament. On the other hand, the Greek word peitho, translated obey, has been used some 55 times in the New Testament, but has most often been translated persuaded, trust or confidence. For example
And Agrippa said unto Paul, With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian [Acts 26:28]
“And he spake also this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought” [Luke 18:9]
and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness, [Romans 2:19]
So apparently the word has nothing to do with blind obedience, but is more in the sense of ….after being persuaded that what the leaders are saying is true, one listens to or obeys them. In fact this stipulation is liberally sprinkled through the pages of the New Testament…
Lets go back a mere ten verses to Hebrews 13:7, which says…
Remember them that had the rule over you, men that spake unto you the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith.
While this particular verse very likely refers to the people mentioned in the Hall of Faith of Chapter 11 (Having to remember somebody usually means they aren’t around any longer), the principle is the same.
The men that have the “rule over you” were the one that “spoke to you the word of God”. This had absolutely nothing to do with status or position, but was recognition of their knowledge, understanding of the scriptures and, particularly in this case, their faith in God. The very next verses (8-9) says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day” and “Be not carried away by divers and strange teachings”.
While Christians must not think themselves too wise, too good, or too great, to learn from their leaders, we are to remember, and obey, only those who speak God's word, so we won't follow strange doctrines.
Compare and contrast the following two verses. The first says men who teach a different doctrine KNOW NOTHING, while the second says to esteem those who are “are over you in the Lord” [All Emphasis Added]
If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [1 Timothy 6:3-4]
But we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them exceeding highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. [1 Thessalonians 5:12-13]
Our leaders can only be considered worthy after we are sure that their teachings are from Scripture only. And by this I do not mean that they claim to be Christians, or their words are sprinkled with a few out of context verses, but that they adhere to the full counsel of God. Unfortunately most people in the West evaluate teachers on the basis of their being charismatic, and/or able to make a good presentation, and/or have a large following and/or have written several best sellers.
How would we know whether the leaders are teaching according to Scripture?
Obviously we can not distinguish between someone is speaking from the Scriptures or talking through their hats unless we check what they say.. In fact, we are required to test them just as the Bereans tested the things Paul taught them, "so they checked the scriptures to see if what Paul said was true" [Acts 17:11].
Also See Chapter XI Excuses for Gullibility
We must only hold on to that which is true… “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” [1Thessalonians 5:21]. Remember Jesus’ approving words in Revelation.. "And thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars" [Revelation 2:2].
Also note these teachings from 2 Peter…
God has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” [1:3], but we have to be diligent [1:5]. This diligence outlined in verses 5-7 is necessary to make their calling and election sure so they will not stumble. Peter exhorts them to remember his words after he is gone, since they (the original apostles) “did not follow cunningly devised fables” [1:16] which is the work of false prophets. No prophecy ever came by the will of man [1:21] Those who privately introduce their own teachings are false teachers [2:1] who twist the scriptures and re-interpret the meaning [3:16], but the believers have been forewarned to avoid being “carried away with the error of the wicked” [3:17].
The Charge to Leaders:
Paul charges men to preach God's word only… [Emphasis Added]
I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. [2 Timothy 4:1-2]
holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers. [Titus 1:9]
…because the day will come when Christians will gather around themselves teachers who will teach in accordance with their own selfish desires and who turn their listeners ears away from the truth. In other words they will entrust their faith to others without question.
For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. [2 Timothy 4:3-4]
Accountability: While the Bible certainly does talk about accountability, 1 Thessalonians 5:11-14 point to a dual accountability. Verse 11 tells believers to “encourage one another” while verse 12 asks them to know and “exceedingly” esteem those who are “over you in the Lord”, who are obviously being leadership or elders whom God holds responsible to care for His flock and who are responsible for the spiritual well being of the local church.
Authority: When it comes to authority the NT shows that Paul had authority given him by the chief priests, Ananias had authority over his own property, the Corinthians had authority over various aspects of their lives … eating, drinking, and being married [1Corinthians 9:4-5]. And Paul and Barnabus had the authority to abstain from labor, but no verses speak of one believer having "authority" over another, regardless of their position or prestige.
Obedience: Regarding obedience, a careful perusal of the New Testament finds that we ought to obey God, the Gospel and the teaching of the apostles. Children are instructed to obey their parents and servants their masters etc. Conspicuous by it’s absence is the directive that believers are to "obey" church leaders.
Leaders: While there is no question that elders have a leadership role and deserve a great deal of respect, When Jesus spoke about “leaders”, He said they should not take a leaf out of the Gentile’s book, lording it over people but should be as servants. Both Peter and Paul also spoke of not lording it over believers.
The men that have the “rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7 were the ones that “spoke to you the word of God”. This had absolutely nothing to do with status or position, but was recognition of their knowledge and understanding of the scriptures. A study of the Greek in Hebrews 13:17 leads to the conclusion that the word “obey” is used along the lines of … after being persuaded that what the leaders are saying is true, one listens to or obeys them.
In other words, while Christians must not think themselves too wise, too good, or too great, to learn from their leaders, we are to obey only those who speak God's word, so we won't follow strange doctrines. And to distinguish between the two we are to check what they say with the word of God.
Paul charges the leaders men to preach God's word only… since men who teach a different doctrine KNOW NOTHING, which has been well emphasized in the current widespread teaching on Dominionism.
Section VI: Do Miracles Produce Faith?
A preoccupation with mystical phenomena such as visions and dreams characterizes much of the Third Wave. Third Wavers are persuaded that merely preaching the gospel message will never reach the world for Christ and unbelievers must experience the supernatural in order to be brought to full faith. In fact one gets the impression that no Christian outside of the Third Wave/Signs and Wonders/ Dominionist system is even regarded as a bona fide member of the Kingdom of God. But is it true that evangelism, to be most effective, must be accompanied by miracles?
All URL’s Accessed December 2009
 J. Hampton Keathley, III. Mark #16: Accountability. http://bible.org/seriespage/mark-16-accountability
 Steve Atkerson. The Ministry of Elders. http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=2