mark of the beast has been the focal point of more rhetoric, ridicule,
argumentation, and speculation than possibly any other single item in the
Bible. Christians and non-Christians alike have argued between each other and
among themselves about its numerical nomenclature. But what does the text of
Scripture say and not say?
The Tribulation Trademark: 666?
core issue of the tribulation is: Who has the right to rule - God or Satan? God will demonstrate that He has the right to
rule. For the only time in history people will have a deadline for declaring
their allegiance to the gospel. Throughout the past 2000 years, people have
been at different stages in deciding for or against acceptance of the gospel.
People accept or reject this message at various points of their lives: some in
childhood, some as young adults, some at middle age or as seniors. On this
occasion the process will be accelerated or forced because of the mark of the
beast, so that all humanity will be consciously divided into two segments. The
polarizing issue is the mark of the beast.
Bible teaches that it will be the false prophet, who is related to false
religion, who will head up the campaign of the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:11-18).
Revelation 13:15 makes it clear that the key issue in all of this is
"worship of the image of the beast." The mark of the beast is simply
a vehicle to force people to declare their allegiance- to the Antichrist or
Jesus Christ. All people will be polarized into two camps. It will be
impossible to take a position of neutrality or indecision on this matter.
Scripture is very clear that those who do not receive the mark will be killed.
classes of humanity will be forced to take sides: " the small and the great, and
the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves" (Rev. 13:15). Dr.
Robert Thomas notes that this language " extends to all people of every civic
rank, . . . all classes ranked according to wealth, . . . covers every cultural
category, . . . The three expressions are a formula for universality." 
Scripture is very specific. The false prophet will require a " mark" of loyalty
and devotion to the beast and it will be " on their right hand," not the
left, "or on their forehead" (Rev. 13:16).
the Bible the word " mark" is employed. For example, it is used many times in
Leviticus as a reference to a mark that renders the subject ceremonially
unclean, usually related to leprosy. Interestingly, Ezekiel 9:4 uses " mark"
similarly to the way it is used in Revelation: " And the Lord said to him, ' Go through the midst of the city, even
through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the
abominations which are being committed in its midst.' " Here the mark was one
of preservation, similar to the way the blood on the doorposts spared those in
the Exodus from the death angel. In Ezekiel, the mark is placed on the
forehead, which anticipates Revelation's use of the term. All seven instances
of the word for " mark" or " sign," charagma, in the Greek New Testament appear in Revelation and all refer to
"the mark of the beast" (Rev. 13:16,17; 14:9,11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).
Dr. Thomas explains how the word was used in ancient times:
The mark must be some sort of branding similar to
that given soldiers, slaves, and temple devotees in John's day. In Asia Minor,
devotees of pagan religions delighted in the display of such a tattoo as an
emblem of ownership by a certain god. In Egypt, Ptolemy Philopator I branded
Jews, who submitted to registration, with an ivy leaf in recognition of their
Dionysian worship (cf. 3 Macc. 2:29).
This meaning resembles the long-time practice of carrying signs to advertise
religious loyalties (cf. Isa. 44:5) and follows the habit of branding slaves
with the name or special mark of their owners (cf. Gal. 6:17). Charagma (" Mark" ) was a term for the images or names of
emperors on Roman coins, so it fittingly could apply to the beast's emblem put
on people. 
wonder why an exclusive term- " mark" - is used to designate Antichrist's mark.
Antichrist's mark appears to be a parody of the plan of God, especially God's
"sealing" of the 144,000 witnesses of Revelation 7. God's seal of
His witnesses most likely is invisible and for the purpose of protection from
the Antichrist. On the other hand, Antichrist offers protection from the wrath
of God- a promise he cannot deliver- and his mark is visible and external. Since
those receiving the mark of the beast take it willingly, it must be a point of
pride to have, in essence, Satan as one's owner. Dr. Thomas says, " It will be
visible and the point of recognition for all in subjection to the beast." 
The Treacherous Ticket
addition to serving as a visible indicator of devotion to Antichrist, the mark
will be one's ticket required for commercial transaction during the last half
of the tribulation (Rev. 13:17). This has been the dream of every tyrant down
through history- to so totally control his subject that he alone decides who can
buy or sell. Historian Sir William Ramsay notes that first century Roman
Emperor " Domitian carried the theory of Imperial Divinity and the encouragement
of ' delation' to the most extravagant point; . . . that in one way or another
every Asian must stamp himself overtly and visibly as loyal, or be forthwith
disqualified from participation in ordinary social life and trading." 
A future Antichrist will perfect such a practice with the aid of modern
have tried down through history to mark certain groups of people for death.
Yet, there have always been ways for a certain number to escape. As technology
becomes more advanced, it seems that greater potential will exist to close up
virtually every means of escape. Just such a picture is supported by the Greek
word dunétai " provides" (Rev.
13:17), which is used to convey an idea of what " can" or " cannot" be done. The
Antichrist will not allow anyone to buy or sell without the mark, and the
coming cashless society will be the means that he will use to enact such a
policy. Control of the economy at the individual level through the mark fits
hand and glove with the Biblical picture of Antichrist's control of global
commerce as outlined in Revelation 17 and 18.
second half of verse 17 describes the mark as " either the name of the beast or
the number of his name." Precisely this means that the " number of the beast's
name is one and the same with the name, . . . The equivalence means that as a
name, it is written in letters, but as a number, the name's equivalent is in
numbers."  The Antichrist's name will be
expressed numerically as " 666."
Calculating the Number
Apostle John at this point in the prophecy (Rev. 13:18) shifts from one who is
recording what he sees to one who now advises his readers in how to interpret
what has been reported. A reading of Revelation demonstrates clearly that the
wicked will not understand, because of their rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord
and Savior. In contrast, wisdom and understanding will be given to those
during the tribulation as to who the Antichrist is, so that they will not take
his mark. The Bible makes it clear that anyone taking the mark of the beast
cannot be saved (Rev. 14:9,11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4) and will spend eternity in the
lake of fire. The fact that John provides wisdom and understanding to
believers at this crucial point, relating to a matter of eternal importance,
shows that God will provide the knowledge His people need to follow Him
does this wisdom and understanding allow the believer to do? The passage says
he will be able to " calculate." Calculate what? He will be able to calculate
the number of the beast.
primary purpose for warning believers about the mark is to let them know that
when it is in the form of numbers the " name" of the beast will be 666. Thus,
believers who are going through the sequence of events of the tribulation, when
offered the number 666 for their forehead or right hand are to reject it, even
if it means death. This also means that anything prior to this future time
period is not the mark of the beast that is to be avoided.
Christians in our own day do not need to act superstitiously about the number.
If our address, phone number, or zip code includes this number, we do not need
to be afraid that some satanic or mystical power will impact us. On the other
hand, we do recognize that many occultists and satanists are attracted to the
number because of its relation to future evil. However, the number does not contain
mystical powers. To believe that it does would mean that a believer has fallen
prey to superstition. The Bible teaches that there is no basis for attaching
any superstitious powers to the number 666.
Jumping the Gun
have tried to figure out the identity of the Antichrist through numerical
calculations. Such approaches will always fail and should not be attempted.
Phone books are full of names that might add up. The wisdom of " counting the
name" is not to be applied in our day, for that would be jumping the gun.
Instead, it is to be applied by believers during the tribulation.
2 Thessalonians 2, Paul teaches that during the current church age the
Antichrist is being restrained (v. 6). Antichrist will not be " revealed" until
" his time." The Holy Spirit's selection of the word " revealed" indicates that
the identity of the Antichrist will be concealed until the time of his
revelation at some point after the rapture. Thus, it is not possible to know
before " his time" the identity of the Antichrist. Revelation makes it clear
that when the time comes the identity of the Antichrist will be clear to
noted above, Revelation makes it clear that every believer during the
tribulation will know that to receive the mark of the beast means the rejection
of Christ. This will be universally understood by Christians at that time.
None of the suggestions of the past or any before the tribulation have merit.
13:17,18 clearly says that the number 666 will be the mark proposed for the
right hand or forehead. No one in history has even proposed such a number in
anything like tribulation conditions, so past guesses as to his identity can be
nullified on this basis.
better part of wisdom is to be content that the identification is not yet
available, but will be when the future false Christ ascends to his throne. The
person to whom 666 applies must have been future to John's time, because John
clearly meant the number to be recognizable to someone. If it was not
discernible to his generation and those immediately following him- and it was
not- the generation to whom it will be discernible must have lain (and still
lies) in the future. Past generations have provided many illustrations of this
future personage, but all past candidates have proven inadequate as
Technology and the Mark
have suggested that the mark of the beast will be the universal product code, a
chip implanted under the skin, or an invisible mark requiring scanning
technology to recognize it. Such applications do not align with what the Bible
actually says. The mark of the beast- 666- is not cashless technology or
biometrics. The Bible speaks precisely about what the mark will be. It will
• the Antichrist's
mark, identified with his person
• the actual number
666, not a representation
• a mark, like a
• visible to the
• on you, not in you
• recognized, not
• voluntary, not
involuntary, thus not given through deception
• used after the
rapture, not before
• used in the second
half of the tribulation
• needed to buy and
received by non-Christians, but universally rejected by Christians
• show worship and
allegiance to the Antichrist
• promoted by the
• the destiny of all
receiving the mark will be eternal punishment in the lake of fire
no other number in history or in Biblical studies has captivated the minds of
both Christians and non-Christians as "666." Even those who know
nothing of the future plan of God as revealed in the Bible know there is
significance to this number. Secular and religious writers, filmmakers,
artists, and cultural critics allude to, portray, and expound upon it. It has
been used and abused by evangelicals as well as others and has been the subject
of much fruitless speculation. Too often sincere students of prophecy have
tied the number to contemporary technology and its potential in an effort to
demonstrate the relevance of their interpretation. Yet to do so is to put the
"cart before the horse," for prophecy and the Bible do not gain
authority or legitimacy because of culture or technology.
coming cashless society will be used by the Antichrist, but it will not be used
as the identifying mark of 666. Whatever technology is available at the time
of the Antichrist's ascent will be used for evil purposes. It will be used by
the Antichrist, in conjunction with the mark, to control the buying and selling
(as mentioned in Revelation 13:17) and it is likely that chip implants, scan technology,
and biometrics will be used to implement the Antichrist's cashless society as a
tool to enforce his policy that one cannot buy or sell without the mark. As
with other developments in our day, we see many trends setting the stage that
will facilitate the future career of the Antichrist. Maranatha!