A 2X2 diagram categorizing types of authority into four quadrants with two axes labeled 'Evil to Righteous' and 'Illegitimate to Legitimate.'

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines authority as, “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience”. Here’s a chart to think through different types of authority. In this chart you’ll see two references to the Westminster Larger Catechism. Here are the questions I reference along with links to relevant Bible passages.

Westminster Larger Catechism 130, Bible references

Q. 130. What are the sins of superiors? A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, an inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.

Westminster Larger Catechism 129, Bible references

Q. 129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors? A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.