1. Is it in the Bible?
2. What do we believe it means?
God has given authority (power) to the leader of the local church--the pastor. All believers need to be under this authority.
3. What does it really mean?
The concept of "ministerial authority" that exists in the Christian church is a completely wrong tradition and in fact a complete contradiction in terms. A "ministry" is a servant and specifically someone who des not exercise authority over other believers... ..
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them,
Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles
exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45)
The simplest biblical cross-reference shows us that a "pastor" is a minster.. ..
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (ephs 4:11-12)
(this is the one and only reference to "pastor" in the new testament!)
So, where did the pastor get his authority?
If one dared to be inquisitive enough to ask a pastor about this subject, you might be referred to the Levitical priesthood of the old covenant. the tribe of Levi in Israel was the "anointed-apointed-delegate-authority" to do the ministry of the temple. The Levitical priests had authority from God to do their ministry in the temple (which was largely to make the needed sacrifices of animals and grain as sin offering to God--we suspect your pastor doesn't do this!) this definition is the "typology" that runs the Christian church--or at least has been running the church for probably about 1700 years. the historical origin of pastoral authority goes back to the roman church. the church of this day may have simply imitated the system of the Jewish synagogue.
The product of this became the system of "shepherds" in the catholic church. The priest of the local church considered the "shepherd of the flock" (one of the pope's titles is "only official shepherd" of Christians). this system was enforced on Western Europe for over 1,000 years (talk about experience!). At the time of the protestant reformation, while many Biblical truths were restored tot the church, the structure of the local church remained largely the same. The "church" a type of human government.
The "pastor" of the protestant church is the "priest"
of the catholic church, and hence--"pastoral authority".