What does it mean when the text say that this 666 number is the number of a man? To what aspect of the symbolism does this phrase point?
QYN-u-NTN = Cain & Nathan = Get & Give = buy & sell = 666
The mark of the beast is the mark placed on Cain
QYN-u-TN = 616. This is the source of the name Jonathan.
In Greek the letters 666 form an image of a whale
At Pompeii (c79 AD), there was some graffiti on a wall that says “I love the woman whose number is 545.”
This is contemporary to revelation and refers to a “person’s number”.. it is likely similar to this. Many have linked 666 and 616 to the sum of the letters in a hebrew version of “Caesar Nero.”
Greek and hebrew did not have a separate number system. They used letters for numbers. So summing a word or words gives a resulting number.
There are many who interpret the 153 fish in John 21 similarly as gematria. This happens to be the sum of the Hebrew word pair for “Children of God.”
There is no text of the Apocalypse that has generated more wasted ink than Rev 13:18 and the mysterious number 666. I note the remarks of the Pulpit commentary:
the solution would have been known to the early Christians; but it was not known, according to Irenaeus. Dr. Salmon then adds (p. 300), "Pages might be filled with a list of persons whose names have been proposed as solutions of the problem. Among the persons supposed to be indicated are the emperors Caligula, Trajan, and Julian the Apostate, Genseric the Vandal, Popes Benedict IX. and Paul V., Mahomet, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Beza, and Napoleon Bonaparte. There are three rules by the help of which I believe an ingenious man could find the required sum in any given name. First, if the proper name by itself will not yield it, add a title; secondly, if the sum cannot be found in Greek, try Hebrew, or even Latin; thirdly, do not be too particular about the spelling." The above objections also hold good very generally with regard to the suggestion of λατεινος, by which may be indicated the Roman or Latin power, either pagan or papal.
The above all usually depend upon the Kabbalistic practice of Gematria. The problem with Rev 13:18 is that such practices would either be unique to this verse alone and could be argued were very likely unknown in the time of John. In any case, the text for the number is undoubtedly, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ = six hundred sixty six and NOT χξς’ which might imply the use of gematria.
Then there are a raft of expositors who try to interpret 666 as a time prophecy (with extremely flimsy and imaginative basis) to arrive at a series of dates. Again, this depends on the imagination and mental gymnastics of the expositor and not Bible hermeneutics.
Rev 13:8 - Here is wisdom. The one having understanding, let him count the number of the beast; it is [a/the] number of humanity, and the the number of it - six hundred sixty six. (My translation).
In attempting to understand this difficult text, one normally seeks other Bible passages to provide context and precedent; none have been found.
Many will object saying they have a "very neat" solution to to this but that is the problem - hundreds of such "neat" solutions exist that all depend on the imagination of the exegete and not on Biblical interpretation.
My personal solution to this problem is a non-solution; it is one of the texts about which Jesus said:
John 13:19 - I am telling you from this time, before it comes to pass, so that when it comes to pass you should believe that I Am.
That is, the purpose of Bible prophecy (as Newton remarked) was NOT to make men prophets but to confirm their faith after the events predicted have come to pass.
The proper way to approach this verse is to understand the rest of chapter 13 - and only then can the number 666 be approached. However, an exegesis of Rev 13 is outside the scope of this question.