The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Testament manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew. Most likely originated in Egypt. Also part of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (P. oxy. 2) Currently housed in: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
In order to understand the nature and scope of this “great authority,” we have to understand what authority means. Let’s look at the definition:
The power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
“he had absolute authority over his subordinates”
synonyms: power, jurisdiction, command, control, charge, dominance, rule, sovereignty, supremacy
As we can see, the definition of authority alone is pretty strong. So to be ‘great’, the authority must acquire an additional attribute, an additional level of power that makes ‘authority’ above other authorities. There are a few bible verses that provide clues as to the scope and context of authority that may help:
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. (see also Matthew 8:9, Mark 10:42 and Acts 8:27)
Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests. (See also Acts 9:14 and 26:10)
The symbols of Revelation (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)
The first verse describes secular Gentile authority, which is usually associated with the beast in New Testament bible prophecy. The second verse describes a religious-spiritual based authority that Paul had from the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. This Jewish authority represented the power of a state within a state, whereby Paul was able to travel outside Jerusalem and persecute the early Church anywhere in the Roman world. Jesus Christ was described as having authority
1. to cast judgment (John 5:27)
2. to explain the mysteries of scripture (Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22)
3. to control the weather (Matthew 8:26)
4. to cast out demons (Mark 1:27, Luke 4:36)
5. to give His authority to His servants (Mark 13:34, Luke 9:1, Luke 19:17)
6. to conquer all earthly authority (1 Corinthians 15:24)
7. to cure diseases (Luke 9:1)
Beast and the Harlot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So we have a description of (1) secular authority and (2) religious authority. Now imagine a hierarchical system that combined secular with religious (or pseudo-religious) authority. Revelation 13 describes such a system. Satan, who as Lucifer wanted to be like God the Father, copies the Lord’s power, and Revelation 13 gives us a description of this system. There is the beast with great authority ruling over the seas (the people). And on top of this beast, high above and almost out of the site of the peoples is Harlot, “Mystery Babylon the Great.” She rides this beast out of site of the people, greatly influencing the beast with her pseudo-religious authority in order to complete the deception of the people by every channel of authority possible, including modern methods of control such as modern bureaucracies that aggregate ever increasing powers over every aspect of life, mass media, worldwide military power through great alliances, commercialism and the absolute control of buying and selling. And just as God the Father put it in Jesus’ mouth what He should speak (John 12:49-50), so the dragon (Satan) gives communication authority to the beast, and the beast gives it, in turn, to its image to speak on its behalf and reinforce authority with the death penalty (Rev. 13:4-17).
May the Lord bless us to persevere under such great, anti-Christ authority!
Rev. 13:10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.