What does the number 666 in Revelation mean? Who is the dragon? Who is the Beast and what is the mark of the beast?
The book of Revelation is an enigma to many. In the first place it is not the Revelation of the Apostle John. It is Jesus Christ’s revelation to John who in turn recorded it for our sakes. Revelation 1:1-2 says that it is “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him [John] to show his servants [the church] what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” So the book of Revelation is not of human origin and this includes the Apostle John – it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to John. But what is this mark of the beast and the number 666 speaking about in Revelation chapter 13?
Revelation 13:1 says that “The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.” The dragon is none other than Satan himself. He is called a dragon many times in the Bible. In Revelation 20:2 this is made clear: “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”
The beast combines features from four beasts (Dan. 7:1-8, 17-27) and represents idolatrous kingdoms. The beast could also represent the Antichrist. Now several antichrists are mentioned by John in his letters (1 John 2:18, 2 John 1:7). But there is a difference between antichrists (small “a”) and the Antichrist (capital “A”). The antichrist (small “a”) is anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ and is God as John says in 2 John 1:7, “I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” And in 1 John 2:18, “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” Since there are “many antichrists” coming, this means that this is not the antichrist John mentions in Revelation 13. This is understood to be true because many antichrists had already come in John’s day (2 John 2:18).
The Antichrist has also been called the “man of lawlessness” or sin and is mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 where he speaks of the last days just before Christ‘s return, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness [sin] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God [see Revelation 13:4 & 8]. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 1and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.”
The “one who now holds it back” I believe is the Holy Spirit and the Spirit must be taken out of the way, with what most believe will be the church’s rapture, before the man of sin (or the Antichrist) is revealed. Satan is the power behind this beast which could be an end-times ruler of evil and darkness (Rev 13:2). This beast will have such power that he will control the world’s market and the ability for anyone to purchase or sell anything (Rev 13:17).
666 – The Mark of the Beast
The beast apparently can control who can and cannot buy and sell. If they do not have the beast’s mark, then they have no power to buy or sell since “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” (Rev 13:16). This mark was “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 [literally the number of humanity]. That number is 666” (Rev 13:17-18). The number 666 falls one short of God’s number of perfection which is 7. This number is like a false trinity of sinful origin and reflects an imperfection times three.
Many people have falsely had the number 666 assigned to someone or others by using the old Roman Numerals system where X = 10, V = 5 and so on. Over the years many have tried to take the letters of human leader’s names and total their numbers to six hundred and sixty-six. These attempts have obviously been wrong. They ascribed this mark or number to various Popes, to Hitler, and to Rome itself (in the manner using “Latin Man”) but to no avail. The number 666 may simply be a number like everyone has for their Social Security card or their driver’s license and this same number will need to be memorized (thus on their forehead) or be implanted in their hand somewhere (Rev 13:16). No one is certain about this but the number is of human origin. The main thing is that the number 666 is anti-Christ or anti-God and is supremely carnal and sinful. The source of this number and all evil in the world is Satan or the Devil (Rev 12:9).
Because the Bible reveals so little about the number 666 it is unwise for me to speculate. The important thing is that anyone who is not Christ’s is susceptible to this beast and the Antichrist but those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life have nothing to fear from the beast nor anything to worry about the number 666 and having the mark of the beast be on them (Rev 13:8).
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