Question of Authority

Mark 11:27–33 also Matt. 21:23–27; Luke 20:1–8

27 Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. 28 And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?”

29 But Jesus answered and said to them, I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: 30 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.”

31 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘From men’ ”—they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. 33 So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.”

And Jesus answered and said to them, Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”


The Bible Knowledge Commentary – Mark 11:27-33

Jesus’ credentials were questioned by representatives of the Sanhedrin. His response placed them in an embarrassing dilemma (11:27–33) and His Vineyard Parable exposed their rejection of God’s messengers (12:1–12).

11:27–28. On Tuesday morning (cf. v. 20) Jesus and His disciples entered Jerusalem again (cf. vv. 11–12, 15). In the temple courts (heirō; cf. vv. 11, 15) Jesus was confronted by representatives of the Sanhedrin (cf. comments on 8:31; 14:43, 53; 15:1). As guardians of Israel’s religious life they asked two questions: (1) What was the nature of His authority (cf. 1:22, 27); what were His credentials? (2) Who was the source of His authority? Who authorized Him to do this? “This” (lit., these things) refers to His purging the temple the previous day (cf. 11:15–17) and probably more generally to all His authoritative words and deeds which drew much popular acclaim (cf. v. 18; 12:12, 37). Their questions indicate that Jesus had not openly stated that He is the Messiah, a significant point in view of Mark’s “secrecy motif” (cf. comments on 1:43–45; 12:1, 12).

11:29–30. Jesus’ counter questions, a common Rabbinic debating technique (cf. 10:2–3), made His answer to them depend on their answer to Him. It focused the issue: Was John’s baptism and his whole ministry (cf. 1:4–8; 6:14–16, 20) from heaven (of divine origin; cf. 8:11), or from men? (of human origin) Jesus implied that His own authority came from the same source as John’s which indicates there was no rivalry between them. The leaders’ conclusion about John would reveal their conclusion about Him.

11:31–32. Jesus’ question placed these religious leaders in a dilemma. If they answered, From heaven, they would incriminate themselves for not believing John and supporting his ministry (cf. John 1:19–27). They would stand self-condemned for rejecting God’s messenger. They would also be forced to acknowledge that Jesus’ authority came from God (cf. Mark 9:37b). This answer, though true, was unacceptable because of their unbelief.

But if they answered, From men (lit., “But shall we say, ‘From men’?”), the implications were obvious: they would deny that John was commissioned by God and discredit themselves before the people. Mark explained, They feared the people (cf. 12:12) because everyone regarded John as a genuine prophet, God’s spokesman (cf. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18. 5. 2). The people viewed Jesus this way too (cf. Matt. 21:46). This latter answer, though false, was the one they preferred but found unacceptable because of the people.

11:33. Since neither option was acceptable they pleaded ignorance in an attempt to save face. So Jesus was not obligated to answer their question. His question (cf. v. 30) implied that His authority, like John’s, was from God.

By suspending judgment, these religious leaders showed that they really rejected John and Jesus as God’s messengers. Throughout their history most leaders of Israel repeatedly rejected God’s messengers, a point Jesus made in the following parable (12:1–12).


God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?

Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time. And always remember to ask the Father for His help and guidance in all things.


Prayer:   Father, blessed is your Holy name. We praise you for your Son and the Holy Spirit. Human words cannot describe how grateful we are for Your Son and our risen Christ. We praise You for the opportunity to be able to choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to be elect children of Yours. We praise you for the laws You have set down to teach us, keep our lives in harmony , how to treat others and how to live within your boundaries. Please bless those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding. I pray these brothers and sisters have or will come to realize that Your existence is a treasure of grace and love that You have for all Your elect children.

May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Let it be Your will Lord not mine. Please come Lord Jesus.

I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of The Holy Spirit,



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