markbeast02I received the following question:

What do you make of the mark of the beast, 666?

The mark of the beast is found in Revelation 13:17-18.

17. and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

Most scholars are in agreement that this is referring to gematria, wherein in ancient days there was no separate set of symbols for numbers, and so each letter in the alphabet also had a numerical value. One example of this that we are aware of in modern times is Roman numerals. Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet had a corresponding number, and it seems that the letters, or at least the consonants, in the name of the beast add up to 666 by gematria. There is more than one name that could do this, however, so it is not really possible to identify in advance what that name will be.

The Bible also tends to use numbers thematically, as Dr. E.W. Bullinger so excellently argued in both his Companion Bible and in his book Numbers in Scripture. This is not a matter of superstition, for we are not saying that if you count the bricks on your wall it means something (unless God Himself built your wall). The filmmakers who made the movie “The Matrix” (which is very humanist so I am not recommending it) used colors thematically, with green predominating inside the matrix and blue outside of it. So if filmmakers can create themes with colors, surely the Lord can do it with numbers.

The number 6, when the Lord uses it as a theme, seems to be the number of man or of humanity. Three sixes together magnifies that. It is as if the Lord is having a little joke on the beast. He claims to be Christ, but the Lord through this number is saying “He is a man, he is a man, he is a man.”

It is also possible that the number six repeated three times is a reference to the “unholy trinity” of Satan, the anti-Christ (beast), and the false prophet. If so, the Lord is saying the same thing of them: that they are merely men (or created beings) and not God.

I do not know how you found my site and if you are aware of my prophetic teaching, or of that of Mr. Otis Q. Sellers, whose ideas regarding prophecy I largely follow. We believe that there is a premillennial Kingdom of God that precedes the thousand-year parousia of Jesus Christ. We believe that this premillennial kingdom includes the entirety of the seventy weeks of years in Daniel’s prophecy. Mr. Sellers also taught that he believes that the kingdom is seven hundred years in length. Thirty-three or so of those years took place in the past in the book of Acts. That means that about 666 years remain, so he thought that the number is a reference to the fact that the death of the beast will take place in the 666th year of the premillennial kingdom. He believed the reason we are to calculate or count the number of his name is that we are to count from the start of the premillennial kingdom, and we will be able to calculate the year of his death. I think this is an interesting idea, and since I believe in the premillennial kingdom I think it could be true. However, I find it to be a stretch, since I see no strong reason to think that counting years is meant, or that the start of the kingdom should be the starting point. Yet it is one possible idea.

That is about all I can say of that number, other than that I reject the line of thinking that would put a lot of superstitious significance on it. I do not think it to be an “unlucky number,” an “evil number,” or anything of the sort. Some who style themselves Satanists have taken it on as their favorite number, but that is their own fancy and I do not suppose that Satan takes much notice of it.

666 is merely the number that comes after 665 and before 667. When it is used as a number like any other number, there is no significance to it. When the beast uses it in the future, it will be significant only because of the use he makes of it. Ultimately, though, I think it is a number that the Lord uses against him, and that signifies his pride and his doom.

Thanks for the great question. Keep studying the Word!