God first of all is Sovereign and this is expressed in his Power and Providence. He creates all things and governs them with an absolute supremacy.
A particular act of an authority is the dispensation or delegation of authority to another to act in his stead or for some good. God does this first in creation by imbuing into things their own natural powers to act. He nevertheless is absolute Sovereign and his act can and does overcome such natural powers. This is contrary to the theological error of occassionalism that would limit God’s power to himself rather than admitting his Providence and Wisdom so great that he can bring about his ends through intermediaries.
Man stands as a particular example in creation. God delegates the power of reason by which man is granted dominion and authority over nature. In virtue of man’s nature, he can order things as God does in his Providence but in a limited scope of jurisdiction. This is a sort of relative sovereignty, where God’s is absolute.
This sovereignty is logically and actually over all things under man’s power, that is other men, living and non-living objects. The division of authority over things and over men is logically implied by the difference in objects, but these are actually part of the same general sovereignty and authority that man possesses in ordering things to some good.
Man’s jurisdiction is not over the nature of things. He cannot change or order the natural inclination of a thing to something else. However, man does have the power to make use of those natural inclination to his own designs.
At the level of the family there is no distinction between authority and ownership, because the parents possess the property and order the conditions and goods of the common life of the family. Private property arises when multiple families form a community.The sovereignty over this gathering arises from or is grounded in the common good of the community.
The sovereignty over the community arises not from a dispensation of authority or a delegation, but rather in virtue of the community coming together. The common good is the final cause, goal or end that unifies the community and the sovereign is the efficient cause that brings it about. Since this authority proceeds not from the top down but from the bottom up, it has a sharper distinction of jurisdiction.
The community’s sovereign does not have authority over the inner workings of the family as such. Indeed, it is a grave injustice for the sovereign to interfere in the family except in times of grave necessity or serious injustice. The interactions between families and within the community are within the jurisdiction of the sovereign and he has thus authority over the markets and exchanges between families.