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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?

  • youtu.be/UkZqFtYtqaI – Dan Sep 16 '13 at 13:54
  • I decided to (finally) write an answer giving more context for that video. Also, I disagree with the highest-voted answer (since it ignores the plain sense of the text as to who the subject is). – Dan Jun 14 '15 at 7:05
  • “Beast” represents “flesh”, and stands for a person who doesn’t know Jesus Christ. That is, doesn’t know how to crucify the flesh. – Constantthin Jan 21 at 0:38
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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 context of the passage points to the second beast. Chapter 13 begins with the beast who comes up out of the sea (ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης θηρίον ἀναβαῖνον). However, the subject changes to 'another beast' in v. 11, who was 'coming up from the earth' (ἄλλο θηρίον ἀναβαῖνον ἐκ τῆς γῆς). It is within the context of this second beast where discussion of its number occurs.

But who (or what) is this second beast? This second beast may also be alluded to as 'the false prophet' in 16:13. 13:18 states that its number is to be calculated (ψηφισάτω), and the readers are told that 'it is a number of a man' (ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν). A small textual discrepancy in this passage gives a strong clue about its intended referent. From the NET footnotes:

55 tc A few MSS (𝔓115 C, along with a few MSS known to Irenaeus {and two minuscule MSS, 5 and 11, no longer extant}), read 616 here, and several other witnesses have other variations. Irenaeus’ mention of MSS that have 616 is balanced by his rejection of such witnesses in this case. As intriguing as the reading 616 is (since the conversion of Nero Caesar’s name in Latin by way of gematria would come out to 616), it must remain suspect because such a reading seems motivated in that it conforms more neatly to Nero’s gematria.

The Greek gematria value of Nero Caesar (Νέρων Καῖσαρ) would be 1,005, but the Grecized Hebrew (נרון קסר‬) value equates to 666 as indicated above. Metzger elaborates:

When Greek letters are used as numerals the difference between 666 and 616 is merely a change from ξ to ι (666 = χξς and 616 = χις). Perhaps the change was intentional, seeing that the Greek form Nero Caesar written in Hebrew characters (‮נרון קסר‬) is equivalent to 666, whereas the Latinized Hebrew form Nero Caesar (‮נרו קסר‬) is equivalent to 616.1

Along with the historical and literary context of the Apocalypse of John, this strongly suggests that "Nero Caesar" was the second beast and the intended referent of this cryptogram.

However, it is worth noting that Wallace (among others) contests translating ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν as 'it is a number of a man', arguing instead for 'it is the number of humankind':

If ἀνθρώπου is generic, then the sense is, “It is [the] number of humankind.” It is significant that this construction fits Apollonius’ Canon (i.e., both the head noun and the genitive are anarthrous), suggesting that if one of these nouns is definite, then the other is, too. Grammatically, those who contend that the sense is “it is [the] number of a man” have the burden of proof on them (for they treat the head noun, ἀριθμός, as definite and the genitive, ἀνθρώπου, as indefinite—the rarest of all possibilities). In light of Johannine usage, we might also add Rev 16:18, where the Seer clearly uses the anarthrous ἄνθρωπος in a generic sense, meaning “humankind.” The implications of this grammatical possibility, exegetically speaking, are simply that the number “666” is the number that represents humankind. Of course, an individual is in view, but his number may be the number representing all of humankind. Thus the Seer might be suggesting here that the antichrist, who is the best representative of humanity without Christ (and the best counterfeit of a perfect man that his master, that old serpent, could muster), is still less than perfection (which would have been represented by the number seven).2

Given the context, the second beast appears to be the referent of the number, and the second beast may be an allusion to Nero and/or the antichrist (who could have been believed to be Nero or a future person, depending on how you interpret the historical context and date the composition).


1 Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament, 4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 676.

2 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 254.

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  • A meaning that is only derived by changing the text is a perverse meaning. Perhaps the change to make it 616 is intentional. – David May 26 at 10:21
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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
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Peace.

666 is the number of the first beast that arises out of the sea as the dragon now makes war with those who keep God’s commandments and have the testimony of the real Jesus Christ….the Lamb. (Revelation 12:17).

The number 666 is presented as symbols in Revelation: chi xi stigma.

“Chi” = abbreviation for Christ “Xi”= abbreviation for “xulon” which means “a tree or a beam from which any one is suspended, a gibbet, a cross” “Stigma” = to pierce.

We have the symbols representing the true Christ being crucified here in Revelation 13:18. Every eye shall see Him even those who “pierce” Him.

Revelation 13:18 KJV (18) 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.

The dragon in his war effort against the saints of the true Lord Jesus Christ has his own version “Jesus” being preached by his own false prophets and this “Jesus” is the first wild beast who is not pictured as a gentle Lamb (that is slain) but a combination of predator, brute beasts (leopard, bear and lion) whose deadly wound is healed and not slain like the real Jesus…the Lamb.

Revelation 13: KJV (1) And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (2) 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.

This beast arising from the sea is the “sea” of false Christs that are being preached today.

It only takes one to deceive each of us…yet there are many out there being preached by false prophets and many use their own wisdom and understanding (their own minds) to choose which one to worship by serving the false Jesus’s particular handwriting of church dogmas (dogma = that which seems right to one's self) that seems right and wise to keep.

The handwriting of church dogmas is the image of the beast that they judge others as “good” or “evil” as supposed judges for God (you shall be as “gods”) using their particular handwriting as a basis for thereby serving the original lie of the serpent. They “kill” others with false accusations of being "evildoers" for not keeping their particular handwriting….the doctrines and commandments of men written by church scribes who were not holding the Head…the mind of Christ.

They (the beast arising from the sea) are “another Jesus” being preached. There are many being preached by many earthly-minded false prophets (the second beast from the earth who acts in behalf of the first).

Upon the heads of the first beast is the name (singular) of blasphemy as they...the false prophets... are calling their version of “Jesus” the one called Christ when he is really “Jesus” the antichrist…..Jesus the instead-of-Christ... being preached by them.

False Christs arise (the first beast out of the sea) as the real Jesus Christ had warned us about in Matthew 24 and they are being preached by the many false prophets (the second beast out of the earth) who are saying to us “Lo, here is the Christ”…. here is the true Christ being preached when it is not but is Jesus the antichrist….the Jesus the instead-of-Christ.

Matthew 24:23-25 KJV (23) Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. (24) For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (25) Behold, I have told you before.

The false prophet is preaching the dragon’s version of his own “Jesus”…the false Christ… and the false prophet is there in accordance with the power of Satan to deceive those who do not receive the love of the Truth so that they may be saved.

He deceives them will all power (the handwriting of dogmas) and signs (performing outward, visible signs of supposed inward realities) and lying wonders (flattery with person’s admiration in mind) so that they are deceived into serve THE lie of the serpent thinking that they have peace and safety to “kill” others with evil speaking in the name/authority of God for not serving their particular church handwriting. This is a now thing for the mystery of iniquity is already at work.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 KJV (9) Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

They choose/vote the false Jesus the antichrist (“Lo, here is the Christ") over the true Jesus Christ and we see this pictured in the choosing of Jesus Barabbas to release over Jesus who is called “Christ” who is then crucified.

Jesus “Barabbas” (meaning “son of father”) was a wild beast of a man….a murderer, insurrectionist and robber. But Jesus the one called Christ was a Lamb that was crucified by the vote of the people who were led astray/persuaded by the “chief priests and elders”.

Matthew 27:15-23 KJV (15) Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. (16) And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. (17) Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? (18) For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. (19) When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

They want us to vote for their Jesus and destroy the real Jesus out of our own lives.

(20) But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. (21) The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

The vote for the wrong Jesus lead to the crucifying of the real One out of our own lives... “let Him be crucified” = 666.

(22) Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. (23) And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

Hence, we have a “vote”. To “Count” is to vote by casting pebbles. Let him that hath understanding count/vote with pebbles the number of the beast.

“psēphizō”

Definition 1. to count with pebbles, to compute, calculate, reckon 2. to give one's vote by casting a pebble into the urn 3. to decide by voting

We either vote for the real Jesus and be saved or vote for the false Christ as preached by the false prophet and crucify (666) the real Christ out of our own lives. If we rely on our own human wisdom and understanding and the wisdom of our “rulers”, we vote for their version of Jesus that they are currently preaching and crucify (666) the real One.

Revelation 13:18 KJV (18) 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.

If we rely on man’s wisdom (the number of man) with all of their PHD's and bible college understanding, we vote for their “Jesus” and crucify the true Prince of Life out of our own lives by doing so. We are “denying” the true Jesus and are asking for the wild beast “Jesus”…a murderer…to be granted unto us.

Acts 3:13-17 KJV (13) *The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. (14) **But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto yo***u;

If we vote for the wrong Jesus, we kill the Prince of Life out of our own lives when God has already raised Him from the dead so that we might have His eternal life in the here-and-now and not after we "die and go to heaven" as universally preached in ignorance.

(15) And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. (16) And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (17) And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

Yet, their Jesus the “antichrist” denies that the true Jesus IS COMING in our mortal flesh to give our mortal bodies His eternal life in this earth.

You will not hear this being preached at all among the many false prophets who are gone out into the whole world. They are not confessing (preaching in acknowledgement of this fact) that the true Jesus Christ IS COMING now in our mortal flesh to give us His eternal life in this earth by the keeping of His daily sacrifice in our mortal bodies.

1 John 4:1-3 KJV (1) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

We are to keep His daily sacrifice (ALWAYS bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus ….the Lamb) so that the (eternal) life of the true Jesus might be made manifest (shine) in our body….in our mortal flesh. This is not being preached among the many false prophets. Jesus IS COMING in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 KJV (10) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (11) For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

Yet, the many false prophets are preventing His eternal life from ever appearing in this earth in flesh of anyone by the preaching of their “Jesus” (the many Jesuses) who is supposedly coming in some future time and is not now coming in our mortal flesh.

You have heard that “Jesus” the “antichrist” (the instead-of-Christ) SHALL COME.

This is what the many false prophets are preaching that their “Jesus” SHALL COME and is not coming NOW in our mortal flesh There are many Jesuses the “antichrists” being preached by many false prophets and they are all preaching the same thing we have all heard from them: that their Jesus SHALL COME some day in the future. their Jesus is not coming NOW in our mortal flesh to give us His eternal life in this earth.

1 John 2:18 KJV (18) Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

If they do not have this teaching that the true Jesus Christ IS COMING in the flesh now…His eternal life in our mortal flesh…then we are not to receive them. They are preaching "another Jesus" in another spirit (the antichrist spirit) and another gospel (Jesus SHALL COME some day rather than IS COMING now in our mortal flesh.)

2 John 1:7-11 KJV (7) For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (8) Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

If they do not have this teaching of the true Christ (the doctrine of Christ) that He IS COMING in the flesh they do not have God nor the true Son. The “son” that they are preaching then is the son of their father…the devil...who they are acting in behalf of.

(9) Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (10) If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (11) For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

The many false prophets come to destroy and they preach that their prince..their "Jesus"... SHALL COME some day as they take away the keeping of the "daily sacrifice" of the Lamb out of our lives so that the eternal life of Jesus shall "go away". They are not looking for the true Prince of Life coming now in our mortal flesh in this earth to give us His eternal life in the here and now.

Daniel 9:26 KJV (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Let us overcome the number of the beast and vote with the stone that is white for the real Jesus who is the Christ.

Revelation 2:17 KJV (17) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

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"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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