What Does The "666" Mean?
"Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six." (Revelation 13:16-18 RSV)
The Mysterious "666"
A tremendous amount has been written about the Bible's one and only reference to the mysterious number "666." Using various methods of equating numbers with letters of words or names, a wide variety of interpretations have been made. A few are reasonable guesses (e.g. Nero Caesar, Romulus, Lateinos, Vicarius Filii Dei), while numerous others are extremely unlikely.
Although it's not entirely clear, yet, what the "666" itself means, the Bible does provide many Scriptures relating to the "beast" that the number represents:
- A "new" world economic and
military superpower that will represent the final prophesied revival of the ancient "Holy Roman Empire" (Daniel 2:31-45, Revelation 13:1-3, 17:9-14) (see Daniel's Statue and Birth Of A Superpower), which has actually existed in Europe for many centuries.
- A Satan-possessed human who will eventually become its absolute ruler, while claiming divine status (Revelation 13:4-6). The "beast" is a term used to describe both this human, and the great political/religious superpower that he will lead (see Emperor and The Antichrist).
- A great religious leader who will support the beast. He will perform spectacular Satan-powered "miracles" that will deceive a majority of the citizens of every nation on earth into obeying and actually worshiping the "beast." (Revelation 13:4, 7-8, 12-14) (see Emperors and Popes). Because of this worldwide deception, undeceived Christians in even the most strongly-defended countries will not escape persecution because, in most cases, it will not come from foreign invaders, but from fanatically-deceived "Christians" of their own nation. The deceived masses will think that they serving God while they are actually martyring His people (e.g. John 16:2-3, Revelation 13:7).
- The right and ability to buy, sell and work (Revelation 13:17).
- The personal acceptance or refusal of the "mark" of the beast (Revelation 13:16).
The time will come when there will be no doubt about who and what the "666" symbol is all about. Why? Because the end-time account of the true church is about choices that every genuine Christian then living will have to make, and the consequences of those choices.
God's people can choose to obey Him and reject the mark of the beast, but then be persecuted by the beast and deceived humans (Revelation 13:7,10,15 and 17:6), or accept the mark of the beast and face the wrath of God that will come upon those who do so (Revelation 16:2). It will be a deliberate, knowing choice, and at that time there will be no doubt what it means.
Fact Finder: What great event will occur at the time that the "beast" is
Matthew 24:30-31, Revelation 19:11-20