“Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:18).
The Bible teaches that the antichrist will gain total economic and religious control of the entire world. All people will worship him and receive a mark on their hands or upon their foreheads in order to buy or sell. Those who refuse to take the mark will be hunted down and eliminated.
The number 666 is seen as an evil number. This is no doubt because of its appearance in occult films and upon the bodies of certain rock musicians. The number almost puts terror in the hearts and minds of some believers.
In this study we are going to discuss the facts surrounding the “the mark of the beast” but avoiding speculation. It is important to free ourselves from the myths that have grown up around this issue and to concentrate on what the Bible actually says. What we will present is no new revelation, we will simply accept only what the Bible actually says. Great care and attention must be taken when trying to understand or interpret prophecy (including this one). The key to all Biblical prophecy is: Interpret prophecy as literal unless it is obviously symbolic, but understand that there must be a literal meaning behind the symbolism. If we do not do this we will fall into the same trap as the cults and some Christian groups. For instance, the Seventh-day Adventists believe that the mark of the beast is actually worshipping God on Sunday. I don’t think that those who worship on Sunday have any more boils as those who worship on Saturday (see Revelation 16:2). The interpretation is obviously foolish, but do you realise that some have been just as unbiblical in the past? We may even at this time hold views that, though they may sound plausible, do not hold any weight in the light of Scripture. Unless we approach this subject in the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit we will end up with mere idle speculation. Vance Havner once said after hearing the silly interpretation regarding last day events that it made him “Sick, sick, sick!”
It’s all Greek to me!
Please read the following verse carefully:
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:17)
Did you notice the three things mentioned?
(1.) A mark (2.) A name (3.) A number.
The three are not the same. This is proven by the use of the word ‘or’. So the number 666 is not ‘the mark of the beast’. Scripture is informing us that the numerical value of his name will add up to six hundred and sixty six. The ‘mark’ that will appear on the antichrist will be a literal mark (emblem or insignia). He will not walk the earth with 666 on his forehead. So to recap what we’ve seen up until now: The ‘mark’ is not the ‘name’ or the ‘number’; the three are separate from each other. Therefore the ‘mark of the beast’ is not 666.
The ‘name’ of the antichrist is not revealed anywhere in Scripture, so this is why his ‘number’ is given. No one will know who the antichrist is prior to his revealing. Because of this we can safely assume that nobody can receive ‘mark of the beast’ until the beast arrives on the world scene. We do not know his ‘name’ because we do not yet have the wisdom and understanding of how to work out his ‘number’
It is the ‘number’ that has so intrigued believers throughout the centuries. Unfortunately this has resulted in many weird and wonderful revelations. Various numerical codes have been devised to calculate the ‘name’ of the antichrist. The following persons have been identified as the beast only to be proven wrong; Nero, popes, Luther, Calvin, Napoleon, Hitler, and even Henry Kissenger. Others have shown that the word ‘computer’ adds up to 666 using a special code. The fact is that names have been manipulated in the past to reveal a person as the antichrist. To arrive at 666 usually English is used. If that does not work out then they will use any other language. If is still does not calculate then a twisting of the spelling or an addition of a title may work. Such practices are ridiculous and unscriptural.
Daniel’s description of Nebuchadnezzar’s image has been used to illustrate 666. This is how it goes: The statue was 60 cubits high, and 6 cubit wide, and there were six kinds of instruments used in the ceremony (see Daniel 3:1,7). So there you have it, 60+6+6=666. That’s poor arithmetic according to anyone’s standards. I found that to come to 72 even without a calculator!
As an ex-Roman Catholic I believe that the religion of Rome is antichristian, and that her popes are antichrist. I believe that there is a great possibility that the antichrist or his false prophet will be a pope, but I object to the use of Latin (and its numerical value) to reveal the popes as antichrist. This last statement may surprise you, but read on.
Here’s a good question for you (you’ll get top marks if you get it right). What language was the New Testament written in? Yes, that’s correct, the New Testament (including Revelation 13:18) was written in Greek. Then why use English or Latin to calculate the ‘name’ of the antichrist? Greek has its own personal numerical value. Since the New Testament was written in Greek the number 666 must be decoded in Greek. The wisdom to calculate 666 must be according to the Greek language not any other. If we use English or Latin to work out the ‘number’ then it must also work out in every language. Since this is impossible (because each language has its own numerical values) is it not better to do things God’s way?
Simply put, if the antichrist is from Rome his ‘name’ must be first translated into Greek before the ‘number’ can be decoded. Therefore the Greek equivalent must add up to six hundred and sixty six.
What’s in a number?
Is the number of the beast six six six or six hundred and sixty six? The answer to that question is more than obvious, but many interpreters speak of 6-6-6 as the number of the antichrist. They say that since ‘6’ is the number of man, 6-6-6 must represent a false trinity. The number of the antichrist is not three sixes but a single number 666. Unless we see the number in hundreds, tens, and units we will not understand the prophecy correctly. If tomorrow you went to the bank to withdraw £111 you would not accept £3 instead. You know that £1+£1+£1 does not amount to £111. Yet this is what we are asked to accept regarding 666. This method of Bible interpretation is flawed at the outset.
While the number 6 may be the number of man it does not follow that 666 is the number of a false trinity even if we used the faulty understanding mentioned above. Six hundred and sixty six is not the number of any ‘man’ or even ‘three men’, “it is the number of the beast”, meaning that it applies to one person in particular. Only the antichrist’s name will add up to 666.
The mark of the beast which will be placed upon all who worship the antichrist will more than likely be an adaptation of our DNA. Every man, woman, and child (in fact all living things) have their own personal DNA. This cannot be shared with anyone else. DNA can be reduced to a kind of line picture resembling the common barcode. It is not beyond our imagination to see that a series of numbers could be applied to these lines to represent the DNA lines. Such a number would be totally individual to ourselves.
This does not mean that the antichrist’s DNA will add up to 666 because it is his name that amounts to that figure.
Who then is the Beast?
If you have not noticed yet, this is the very point of the Revelation 13:18. I have not offered you any grids to work it out for yourself because I do not believe we have the wisdom or understanding to do so until the time is right. Yes, go ahead and keep watching what is going on in the world. If you must try to work out who 666 represents then make sure you use the Greek language.
No one can be sure who he is at this time. To speculate (and speculation is all it would be) can lead to foolishness. If you believe that John Paul II is the antichrist then be prepared to be 100% wrong.
The ‘wisdom’ to work out the number will be given to those (maybe us) living at the time of the rising of the beast. Suddenly what we have been reading will make sense. The mystery will be ended. The very fact that John writes “Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast…” shows that not everyone has such wisdom or understanding.
We believe in something that theologians call “progressive revelation.” This means that certain Bible truths regarding last day events are revealed more fully as the events approach. For instance, few people spoke of the ‘rapture of the church’ before the 1800s. Even though it was always there in the Bible few understood it or thought about it. It was only at the beginning of this century that light was shed more intensely upon this subject. Now we understand what Luther, Tyndale, Wesley and others did not grasp. The same is true regarding the number six hundred and sixty six.
The Bible says that whoever takes the mark, the name of the beast, or worships him will be damned for eternity. That ‘mark’ will probably be the insignia of the antichrist, but we can be certain that the ‘mark’ is not the ‘name’ which adds up to 666. Therefore the ‘mark of the beast’ is not 666. The ‘number’ is the count of his ‘name’.
I do not believe that we should look for a man wearing 666 on his head. Nor do I believe that such a number is going to be inscribed on people’s bodies. If you receive a Income Tax form that has the number 666 on it will you believe that it comes from antichrist? Would you be as quick to cast away a £50 note that has the number 666 on it somewhere?
As I stated earlier, correct Bible interpretation is vital in understanding Scripture, especially prophecy. We do not need to twist Scripture to make it fit. God has spoken to us in His word, let’s just allow Him to speak.