http://www.mclaurinbaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/logoacceptjesus.jpg 235 819 Mclaurin Church http://nychehost.com/mclaurinbaptistchurch/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/ogo.jpg Mclaurin Church2017-07-05 00:01:452017-06-26 19:08:46Blog #34: The Mark of the Beast, 666
By John Cline
The number 666 “freaks” people out. Let’s consider what it means. Reading from Revelation 13:11-18: Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 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, 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. 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.
It’s worth pointing out at the start here that “666” is not necessarily even the number, because “616” appears in the earliest manuscript we have of Revelation 13:18 but “666” is most common among most manuscripts. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the most common explanations as to what the number “666” means.
1. 666 represents a person or symbol in the future. This view is sometimes called the “futurist view”, because it views the “mark of the beast” as something that’s not yet happened, and relates to a future Antichrist who will prepare the way for Jesus’ return. In this understanding, the writer of the Book of Revelation, the apostle John, is talking about something in the future, and therefore 666 doesn’t represent anything that would apply to his own time. This is popular in many churches, and particularly holds weight with the dispensational-leaning crowds, who view almost all of Revelation as a depiction of future events.
Some theories have suggested that “the mark of the beast” could be some sort of worldwide currency or designation. So, they would say that this mark might be referring to a certain type of microchip that people would need to wear or own to spend money, or it might be a way of claiming citizenship or allegiance to a particular worldwide government. So, “666” might or might not be the literal number, but this “mark” has something to do with the future and is a sign that Christ would be returning soon. In short, this view holds that “666” is part of a key to unlocking when and how Jesus will return.
2. 666 represents Nero, the hostile Roman Caesar. This view is sometimes called the “preterist” view. The idea here is that “666” is referring to a particular person or object in John’s time of writing the book. This view situates 666 within the direct context of Revelation’s writing and immediate audience. This is where the variant numbers of 666 and 616 come into play a little more. This view involves an approach called “gematria,” which is the practice of assigning numbers to letters. The idea, then, is that each letter in a name has a numerical value (like, B = 10 and T = 200), which gives your name a numerical value when all the letters are added up. So if G = 10 and O = 5 and D = 5, the word “God” would equal 20, and that’d be the numerical value of his name. So a Christian could say, “I worship the number of a being, and his number is 20.” This view points to “666” representing Nero, the Roman Emperor who was notoriously evil and violent. In a few different ways, gematria points to N + E + R + O = 666. Nero might’ve been dead by the time Revelation was written but his reputation was felt throughout Rome for long after his death. Depending on if John was using the Hebrew, Greek, or Latin spelling of “Nero” or “Ceasar Nero,” there are various ways you can add up the letters in his name to reach the numbers 666 or 616.
Proponents of this view also point out a few pieces of context in this passage. For example, it’s mentioned in Revelation 13 that this mark has something to do with buying and selling. This is similar to a point those of the first view make—it must have something to do with economy or government, Roman coins contained the face and name of the Emperor on them, and so John could be trying to get across the idea that Roman coins had the “mark of the beast,” Nero’s name, on them, and so Christians should beware of being too involved in the economic or governmental rule of an anti-God government. And depending on which side of the kingdom you’re on, it’s possible Nero’s name was spelled differently, thus meaning that manuscripts from different areas of the Roman Empire might use 616 instead of 666.
3. 666 represents an unholy Trinity. This view is often called the “idealist” or “figurative” view and says that “666” has universal or symbolic significance. So it’s not about some future code to break before Jesus returns, but it’s also not a code to break to understand which person the number might have represented in the past.
Many proponents of this view would say that “666” is used intentionally in contrast to “777”—the number understood to be complete perfection. So God’s number is 777, and 666 is some sort of unholy Trinity, three numbers added together that are just short of 777, and thus just short of perfection. The repetition of six three times seems to indicate what might be called the “completeness of sinful incompleteness” found in the beast. The beast epitomizes imperfection, while appearing to achieve divine perfection. Three sixes parody the divine Trinity of three sevens. … the beast as a counterfeit Christ and the second beast as a counterfeit prophet. When believers successfully resist the beast’s deception, they avoid being identified with the essence of his name, which is imperfection personified.
Whichever view one takes, it must be understood that there is a code to broken here—John tells his readers to “calculate the number of the beast”. So, it can be understood. The big point is this: Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. Don’t bow down to false gods or false governments, but rather place your hope in the triune God who is redeeming all things. Nothing can thwart him, and no beast can devour him.