What Is The Mark Of The Beast? Why 666 Isn’t What You May Think It Is.

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Johnny Ova

Senior Pastor of Sound of Heaven Church

What You'll Learn

Often shrouded in mystery and misinterpretation, the Mark of the Beast, symbolized as ‘666’, is far more than a simple numerical representation. It holds a profound and enigmatic significance within the biblical prophecies, the deciphering of which continues to perplex scholars and theologians alike.

The Mark of The Beast is one of the most widely spoken about and controversial topics of Christianity. Everyone is trying to “decode” what this mark is as it seemingly has a tremendous impact on our future. I’ve seen it taught that ATM’s were the mark of the beast, that microchips are the mark of the beast, tattoos, and even now I’m seeing people saying that the COVID-19 vaccine is the mark of the beast. What I want to propose is let’s not let our imaginations run wild. Let’s see what the Bible says the mark of the Beast is.

What makes blogs like this so hard is that there are so many interpretations of topics like these. Some of it is good and others are not so good. All of the interpretations can make the water mirky for sure, but I will let the facts dictate the information. Whatever we may believe about the beast and the mark of the beast, there should be some factual information to explain why we interpret it the way we do.

Mark Of The Beast In The Bible

The mark of the beast is only mentioned in the Book of Revelation. To understand the mark of the beast and who this may be, we will have to untangle this tricky letter that the Apostle John wrote on the island of Patmos to 7 Churches in Asia around 68-69 B.C.

I believe if we take a further look into the scriptures, we can see the audience receiving this letter has a lot to do with why it is the only book of the Bible that mentions the mark of the beast.

Here are all of the verses that mention the phrase “mark of the beast.”

Revelation 13:17-18– and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either  the name of the beast or the number of his name.Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
Revelation 14:9-11-  Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Revelation 16:2– So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and a harmful and painful sore afflicted the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.
Revelation 19:20– And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire, which burns with brimstone.
Revelation 20:4– Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Let’s examine these a bit further…

Historical context of numbers and symbolism in biblical times

In Biblical times, numbers were not just mere quantities; they carried a symbolic significance and were often used to convey deeper spiritual truths. Therefore, to comprehend the meaning of ‘666’ in the Book of Revelation, it is essential to understand this symbolic aspect of numbers in the biblical context.

The number ‘666’, referred to as the number of the beast, is particularly intriguing. Some scholars suggest this number is a code for a particular historical figure, while others see it as symbolic of humanity’s imperfection, as the number 6, being one less than 7 (the number of completion and perfection), is often associated with lacking or falling short.

Moreover, the use of symbolism is also prevalent in biblical times. Symbols were used to represent concepts or entities in the spiritual realm that were challenging to describe in words. The ‘beast’ in the Book of Revelation is a classic example. It is portrayed as a grotesque creature, symbolizing the embodiment of evil and opposition to God. Significantly, the mark of this beast, ‘666’, is received on the forehead or the hand, which further deepens its symbolic connotations.

It’s worth noting that symbolic language, including numbers and imagery, was a common literary device in apocalyptic literature, like the Book of Revelation. This type of literature often communicated messages about future events or spiritual realities using symbolic language that was heavily coded and veiled. This style served both to comfort the faithful readers while concealing the message from outsiders. Such a layered approach to communication is reflective of the complexity and depth of the biblical texts, and it necessitates careful and thoughtful interpretation.

Other ancient books that use apocalyptic language (not literal) are:

  1. The Book of Enoch: This ancient Jewish religious work, attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, is rich with apocalyptic language and imagery. It contains prophetic visions of the end times, including the coming of the Messiah and the final judgment.
  2. The Sibylline Oracles: These are a collection of oracular utterances written in Greek hexameters. Originating from various periods, stretching across the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD, these oracles are filled with apocalyptic themes, predicting the downfall of certain empires and the end of the world.
  3. The Apocalypse of Zerubbabel: This is another Jewish apocalyptic piece of literature from the seventh century. It contains prophetic visions about the end times, including the emergence of a Messianic figure known as the Prince of the House of David, and the destruction and subsequent restoration of the Temple.
biblical prophet enoch
The Biblical Prophet Enoch

Numerology and the Bible

Numerology, a belief in the significance of numbers, is a crucial aspect in interpreting the ‘Mark of the Beast’ within the biblical context. The number 666, often associated with the ‘Mark of the Beast’, carries a rich layer of symbolic implications. By understanding the biblical numerology behind this number, we can gain a deeper insight into its true meaning.

In the discourse about the ‘Mark of the Beast’, it’s important to approach the subject with an objective viewpoint, focusing on what the original text of the Bible says and how it has been interpreted by scholars. While the ‘Mark of the Beast’ is seen as a symbol of evil forces at work, it’s essential to understand that its significance lies in its symbolic representation rather than any physical or literal interpretation.

Finally, exploring the context of the ‘Mark of the Beast’ can provide a more holistic understanding of its implications. Since the concept is exclusive to the Book of Revelation, appreciating the historical and cultural context of this apocalyptic text can provide a more nuanced interpretation of the ‘Mark of the Beast’. By understanding the symbolism and numerology associated with it, we can form a more informed perspective of this enigmatic biblical concept.

Examples of Numerology in the Bible

  1. The Number 7: One of the most significant numbers in the Bible is the number 7. It often represents completion or perfection. For example, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, making it a holy day (Genesis 2:2). There are seven deadly sins, seven virtues, and the book of Revelation is full of sevens (seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven stars).
  2. The Number 40: The number 40 is a significant number in the Bible and it generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial, or probation. For instance, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (Numbers 14:33), Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18), and Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:1-2).
  3. The Number 12: The number 12 is often used in the Bible to symbolize God’s power and authority, as well as the perfect government foundation. There were 12 tribes in Israel, Jesus had 12 apostles, and the New Jerusalem described in the book of Revelation has 12 gates guarded by 12 angels (Revelation 21:12).

Who is the beast? Can he be identified?

In Revelation 13:17-18 we get a few clues right away.
  • None would be able to buy or sell without the mark
  • There is a name of the beast and a number of his name. (History explains what is meant by this. I will get into it a bit below)
  • We are told we can calculate his name
  • We are told that it is a man
  • We are told this number to calculate is 600 and 66.
When I first did my study on this, I personally went back into history to see if there are any references to anything or anyone around a beast, but I needed to make sense of the list above.
When the scripture states that the beast has a name and a number of his name, it confused me at first until I did a bit of digging. In antiquity, numbers can also be expressed by letters. The easiest example to cite that I believe we all would know and understand is Roman Numerals. Even today our modern day numbers are all derived from Arabic letters.
Since every letter of ancient languages had a number value to it, it was commonplace to also have a numerical value to your name. You just calculate your letters up. It’s an interesting study for sure to understand how ancient cultures used numbers and letters.
The number most commonly used in the Bible as the Mark of the Beast is 666 (technically 600 and 66). Wee see it in the Bible, pop culture, movies etc. In the book of Revelation, the audience receiving John’s letters are told to calculate it so they can know who it is. As previously explained, in antiquity, letters were also assigned a numerical value and this is exactly how the readers would be able to calculate it. The name would be a literal name and a number, just like the scripture says.
Numerical cryptograms were very popular in ancient culture. Among the Greeks it was called “isopsephia” (numerical equality), to the Jews it was called gimatriya (mathmatical). Any word can be calculated to a number value.
Let me give you an example of this. In 79 AD, there was a volcanic eruption in Pompeii. There were excavations done and a cryptogram was uncovered beneath the ashes. In Greek, the found an inscription that read, ” philo es arithmos ph m e” which is translated to, ” I love her whose number is 545″. This is just one of countless examples that can be found in ancient Jewish culture.
what mean these stones pg 270
This is page 270 of Millar Burrows archeological book, What Mean These Stones.
Now if we take Nero’s name in the Greek, which is (Νέρων Καῖσαρ) and add the letters from his name up as is, it adds up to 1005. That doesn’t quite match 666. 
What we need to remember is that John was a political prisoner and in custody of Greek-speaking Romans. If he had any iwsdom (which he did), he would’ve used another language like Hebrew which was not as common at the time. He wouldn’t want to be caught talking bad about Nero to the common Greek speaking prison guards. In the Hebrew language, Nero’s name is (נרון קסר), and when transliterated into English it spells “Nrwn Qsr.”
This is the exact way Nero’s name is found to be spelled in Hebrew Rabbinical writings and the Talmud. Now the crazy part, when you convert that to numbers, Emperor Nero’s name adds up exactly to 666.
rivalnations.org has put together this great graphic below.
What Is The Mark Of The Beast? Why 666 Isn't What You May Think It Is. 1
So we know from scripture the beast is a man, and his number is 600 and 66…or is it? This point I am about to share blew my mind! Did you know that every ancient Latin Bible has the mark of the beast not as 666…but as 616!?
If you look at the pictured fragment that was uncovered in the late third century (or early fourth century) to the right, we see number of the beast of Revelation adding up to 616. The numbers chi (600), iota (10), and stigma (6) are visible in the 3rd line.
The quick answer is that in latin, Nero Ceasar’s “number of his name” is 616! I go deeper into 666 or 616, which one is the number of the beast in this other blog. As for here, lets move on to the mark in itself. 
616 mark of the beast
This small papyrus fragment (P115), which is dated to the late third or early fourth century, is from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri at Oxford University.
On a quick side note, it’s pretty funny that counting the number of “the beast Nero” was a popular past time of even first century pagans. According to Suetonius, that it was very common to see graffiti on the walls of the empire that wrote things like this:
Count the numerical values,
Of the letters in Nero’s name,
And in “murdered his own mother”:
You will find their sum is the same.
In Greek, the letters of Nero’s name totaled 1005…and also do the numbers of the phrase “murdered his own mother.” Coincidence? I think not! It also shows how common it was to “calculate names” during the time period of the first century. The language used in the book of Revelation, although unfamiliar to us, was very familiar to them.

Other proof that Nero is the beast mentioned in the Book of Revelation

  1. Nero’s Persecution of Christians: Nero is infamous for his brutal persecution of Christians, which aligns with the description of the beast in Revelation, being an enemy of the Church. Following the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, Nero blamed the Christians, leading to their violent persecution, which included brutal methods such as being crucified, burned alive, or torn apart by dogs.
  2. The Number 666/616: As discussed earlier, when we calculate the numerical value of Nero’s name in Hebrew (Nrwn Qsr), it adds up to 666. Similarly, in Latin, Nero Caesar’s name calculates to 616, a variant found in some early biblical manuscripts of Revelation. This numerical alignment with the ‘Number of the Beast’ strongly suggests Nero as the beast.
  3. Nero’s Reign and the Seven Heads of the Beast: Revelation 17:9-10 refers to seven heads of the beast as seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. When we consider the Roman emperors, starting with Julius Caesar, Nero is the sixth emperor, directly aligning him with the beast that ‘is’.
  4. Role in the Destruction of Jerusalem: The beast is associated with violence and destruction in Revelation. Nero played a significant role in instigating the Jewish War that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, an event that had a devastating impact on early Christianity.
  5. Nero’s Suicide and the Beast’s Deadly Wound: Revelation 13:3 speaks of one of the beast’s heads having a deadly wound that was healed, causing admiration among the earth’s inhabitants. Some scholars interpret Nero’s suicide (a self-inflicted deadly wound) and the subsequent chaos, known as the ‘Year of the Four Emperors’, followed by the stabilizing reign of Vespasian (healing of the wound), as fulfilling this prophecy.
  6. Nero’s Depraved Character: The beast is depicted as morally corrupt and wicked in the Book of Revelation. Nero, known for his cruelty and debauchery, fits this description well. His tyranny included murdering his own mother and wife, extravagant spending that nearly bankrupted Rome, and alleged participation in the Great Fire of Rome.
  7. The Beast’s Blasphemous Names: In Revelation 13:1, the beast is described as having blasphemous names on its heads. Nero was known for his blasphemies, including proclaiming himself as a god, building a colossal statue of himself, and participating in the emperor worship cult.
  8. The Beast’s War with the Saints: Nero’s persecution of Christians can be seen as a fulfillment of Revelation 13:7, where the beast makes war with the saints and conquers them. Nero’s reign marked the first government-sanctioned attempt to suppress Christianity.
  9. The 42 Months of Authority: In Revelation 13:5, the beast is said to exercise authority for 42 months. Interestingly, the most intense period of Nero’s persecution of Christians, following the Great Fire of Rome, lasted approximately 42 months, from the middle of 64 AD to his death in June 68 AD.
  10. The Global Influence of the Beast: The beast in Revelation has influence over “every tribe and people and language and nation” (Revelation 13:7). As the Roman Emperor, Nero ruled over a vast empire stretching from Britain to Africa and from Spain to Syria, with a diverse population of many tribes, languages, and nations.

Conclusion on the Mark of the Beast

The evidence strongly suggests that Nero, the infamous Roman Emperor, is the Beast referred to in the Book of Revelation. His brutally violent persecution of Christians, his blasphemous self-deification, and his reign marked by cruelty and debauchery all align with the biblical depiction of the Beast. The numerical value of his name, in both Hebrew and Latin, corresponds directly to the ‘Number of the Beast’ as mentioned in Revelation. Moreover, his role in the brutal destruction of Jerusalem and his reign during a particularly tumultuous time in Roman history further bolsters this theory. The Beast’s prophesied actions and characteristics, as described throughout the Book of Revelation, seem to closely mirror Nero’s life and reign. While interpretations may vary, the historical and textual evidence seems to overwhelmingly point to Nero as the Beast of Revelation.

Pray With Me

Dear Heavenly Father, we come before You today, seeking Your divine presence and guidance. We acknowledge our fear and the misconceptions we have held about You. We ask for Your mercy and illumination to understand Your true nature, which is that of unconditional love, rather than a source of fear and anxiety. We ask that You replace our fear with faith, understanding, and a deeper love for You.

Lord, we know that Your love is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear. We pray that the truth of Your sacrificial love, demonstrated through Jesus Christ, will wash over us, dispelling the fear that has held us captive. As the scripture says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” Help us to grasp this truth, to internalize it, and to live our lives in the liberating light of Your perfect love.

Finally, we pray for the strength to accept You as our loving God and Father, who cares for us more deeply than we can fathom. May Your love transform our hearts, renew our minds, and guide our actions. As we move forward on our walk with You, let us do so with the confidence and peace that comes from knowing You are a God of love, not of fear. We thank You for hearing our prayer, and we ask these things in the powerful name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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lead Pastor of Sound of Heaven Church
Johnny Ova

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