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16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
Rev 13:16-18 (NIV)

Revelation 13 talks about 2 beasts; one rising out of the sea, and one out of the earth. Then mentions the infamous "mark of the beast", but doesn't seem to say which "beast" this represents.. the one that came from the sea or the one from the earth. Can Biblical Hermeneutics answer this question?

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youtu.be/UkZqFtYtqaI –  Dan Sep 16 '13 at 13:54
Cool video, thanks for sharing! –  Nick Rolando Sep 16 '13 at 19:24
I'm glad you enjoyed it. And it's a good historical explanation of the meaning of 666 as early readers would have understood it. –  Dan Sep 16 '13 at 19:26

4 Answers 4

Contextually, the Mark of the Beast refers to the beast which has the fatal wound on one of its heads. This would seem to be the beast arising from the sea. Verses 12, 14b, 15 seem to support this in that the second beast will make the earth worship the first beast (v12), commanded the people to make a statue to honor the first beast (vv14b, 15). It would follow, then, that the mark and the number are in reference to the first beast since everything the second beast does is to bring honor to the first beast.

We see further clarification of this in Rev 19:20 in which the beast whose image was worshiped and mark received was cast into the fire. This same verse seems to identify the second beast as the character known as the false prophet. This can be inferred by the description "performed signs on [the first beast's behalf]", referencing the description of the second beast's actions in Rev 13:13-14a.

Please note, this is only exegeted from a contextual viewpoint, no interpretation, prophetic or historical, is intended nor should any be inferred.

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The answer is not very complicated: the mark of the beast is his "New Covenant."

In other words, the false Christ will "write" his law on the minds and hearts of his followers in the same way that Jesus Christ (in the bona-fide New Covenant) had written his law on the minds and hearts of his followers (please see Heb 8:8-12 and Heb 10:16-17, and then compare to Deut 6:5-8 where the right hand is equivalent to the heart in the context of writing laws on hearts and minds).

Unlike the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, however, the Antichrist's "New Covenant" will be both political and religious. Thus for those who possess the name of the beast (Rev 13:17), they embrace the Antichrist as their religious leader (please see Rev 14:1 in this regard), while those with the number of his name (Rev 13:17) embrace him as their political leader. In either case, both categories fall under his economic power (since one can neither buy nor sell without the mark), which unites the religious and political categories. Thus possession of the mark indicates that you are "sealed" in the kingdom of the beast; that is, you are part of his New Covenant of blessing.

Now what does the 666 signify? If the Anitchrist is publishing his law on the hearts and minds of his followers, then this New Covenant is comprised of 613 Mizvot (Law of Moses for Jews) in addition to fifty-three "Parashat Mishpatim," which are 23 imperative commandments and 30 prohibitions found between Ex 21:1 and Ex 24:18, and which are binding on non-Jews. (Please click here for more information.) In other words, this New Covenant (613 + 53 = 666) is for both Jews and Gentiles (written on minds and hearts!), and is in fact which unites them under one leader. It is a play off of the real New Covenant, which unites Jews and Gentiles -- please see Eph 2:14-16, where the "two groups" in context are Jews and Gentiles in the real New Covenant. In other words, the 666 represents the perfect (number of man x 3) unification of man independent of God, which is why the 666 is actually the "law" of the Antichrist (or better his "New Covenant"). This antichrist therefore will be seen as the mediator and unifier of Jews and non-Jews (which would include Muslims), where no one in past history has been able to achieve in the political sense. In other words, Muslims will also embrace him as a prophet from God.

Of course the false Christ has his false prophet, whom I refer as the "Anti-Elijah." Please click here to compare and contrast the meaning and chronology of this herald vis-à-vis the Biblical concept of the New Covenant. The false prophet will anoint the head of the beast (at the beginning of the seven year tribulation) and thereby heal his fatal head wound, and thus the Antichrist will be "resurrected by God." Again, we are using copy-cat imagery from the bona-fide New Covenant of Jesus Christ to show how the Antichrist is the Satanic counterfeit...

In summary, the appearance of the false Christ (Antichrist) with the false prophet (Anti-Elijah) will herald the golden age of the history of the world, which of course is the Satanic version of the New Covenant. That is, the very first half of the Tribulation (three-and-one-half years) will be the greatest prosperity the world has ever known. Please click here for more information.

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Thank you for the thorough answer. I will have to look at links you provided when I find the time. +1 –  Nick Rolando Aug 29 '13 at 20:54

"In this case wisdom is needed: Let the person who has understanding calculate the total number of the beast, because it is a human total number, and the sum of the number is 666." (Rev 13:18 ISV)

How your question is answered will depend upon:

  1. whom you ask, and
  2. if they believe the events recorded in the book of Revelation might have already occurred.

Theories abound regarding the interpretation of Revelation. One theory is that "the total number of the beast" referred to in 13:18 is the sum of the Roman numerals seen on the rear of a crucifix purportedly worn by Roman Emperor Nero, the ruler of both land and sea within the realm of the Roman Empire during his time in office.

Is that true? Did Nero wear a crucifix with Roman numbers on it? I don't know. It's just one of several theories which, to me, makes as much sense as some I've read and heard.

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When God called Abraham, he created a "social" model of the world. Instead of a "physical" land and sea, Israel and the nations would be a "social" land and sea. When Israel sinned, the Gentile armies would come in like a flood (as they did under Nebuchadnezzar and Vespasian).

In the Revelation, the Land beast is the Herods and the Sea beast is the Caesars (note that the correct translation of "earth" in this context is actually "Land."

The 666 is a reference to Solomon. Moses gave Israel three laws for kings: don't amass gold, don't amass wives and don't amass horses and chariots (gold, girls and guns). The amassing of 666 talents in one year was the beginning of Solomon's fall.

Hence, the reference to "wisdom" in Revelation 13. The man is an "Adam," that is the High Priesthood in the Sanctuary, sponsored by the Herods. The Herods continued to build their Temple as self-styled Solomons, "sitting in the Temple of God."

How do we know all this applies to the first century? Because Jesus says it would be happening soon. Plus, the Revelation mimicks the structure of the book of Ezekiel, which was about the destruction of Solomon's Temple.

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