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1.1 Background to the Problem
Hermeneutics of a biblical concept evxousi,a-(Exousia) and the
Evangelical mandate in Mathew Gospel tradition became a vital task in view of divergent positions of scholars, different Sitz im leben and the eclectic stance that trail its interpretation by translators.
Categorically, the influence of post modernism, liberalism and inherent abuse of authority as well as power; unbridled level of corruption and waste of human and material resources among the aristocrats as well as privileged class in Africa’s socio-political sphere; and the need for the church in Nigeria as well as African continent as part of her evangelical mandate to arise and spearhead a sustainable socio-
political change motivated this study. After the resurrection, Christ gave the disciples these words of assurance while commissioning them saying:
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, EVEN unto the end of the world. Amen.(Matt 28:18-20 KJV)
Alternately put :
Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).
The above emphatic statement of fact with special emphasis on the Matthew text is among the last words that Jesus spoke to his disciples. It is a statement about his supremacy over all. The disciples had worshiped him before he spoke to them. His words startled them with peculiar authority. Many of them had seen him exercise his power to set up his Kingdom at Jerusalem, power to quell all oppositions, authority over the elements of nature. He was now the risen Messiah who has been endowed with all authority in heaven and earth.
He had stilled the angry waters; he had walked upon the white-crested bellows; and had raised the dead to life. Now that he declared that “all authority is given to me”, his words charged the minds of his disciples above earthly and temporal things to the heavenly and eternal things. They were lifted to the highest conception of his dignity and glory. Clothed with boundless authority, he gave his commission to his disciples saying: “Go ye therefore, make disciples of all nations…”. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were to receive a marvelous power. Their testimony was to be confirmed by signs and wonders. Those who received their message would work miracles. This privilege is not only given to the apostles, but also to those who will later believe in Jesus –the church.
The turning point of the research is that Mathew’s perception of the
given - evxousi,a (authority) bestowed upon Christ, compared to
the same concept of exousia in other gospels takes a deeper excavation within the purview of biblical studies. This construes one of the major problems for which the research intended to solve. As had been stressed, a critical investigation on the pericope, Mathew 28: 16-20 and other related texts reveal a divergent interpretation and significance for Jesus to the Evangelist. This position construes a hard nut for any student of Biblical studies. Unlike other gospels, Mathew had a different Sitz im Leben(situation in life). For instance, Luke, Mark and John made use of the same concept of exousia at different places in their gospels ; yet their perceptions differ. This problem in Biblical studies could be solved through a critical investigation into their respective Sitz im Leben, theological interest and the application of redaction criticism, as a modern tool in biblical studies. The researcher discovered that this is a very critical point in this work.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There is also a growing disagreement among Biblical Scholars as to what is the significance of the use of exousia bestowed upon Jesus for his Church. It becomes a bit dicey when the position is seen from the ground of assumption. Thus, this research is not built on the spectrum of
assumption. It needed a critical exegesis as one of the praxis in hermeneutics as well as biblical interpretation model. This, the research intends to unravel.
Similarly, it is worthy to note that from redaction criticism point of view the same concept, exousia
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