What is the Mark of the Beast? Can Christians Be Marked?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is the mark of the beast? What does Scripture say about it?

End Times

What is the mark of the beast? What does Scripture say about it? We can read about the Antichrist in Revelation 13 in the two beasts, one that comes from the sea and the other from the earth. These two beasts stand together as one in the service of the dragon, who is the Devil. The first beast from the sea is the culmination of the world powers who oppose the kingdom of Jesus Christ and His church. The second beast from the earth represents the false church that serves the Antichrist and the first beast. He does this by enforcing the worship of the Antichrist, the beast. This worship he enforces by miracles and by false teaching (Rev 13:13).

Mark of the Beast

So what is “the mark of the beast?” It is where he “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” (Rev 13:16-17) As if John were concerned with having the wrong person identified as the beast, he writes that “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666” (Rev 13:18). There is a call for wisdom in discerning who are false teachers and those who are godly. Since we need wisdom, we can’t look at the national news or headlines or people…we must look to the source of all wisdom and that is God and His Word, the Bible. All other human ideas are speculation.

Who is the Beast?

I’ve heard so many different things that the mark of the beast might be. A microchip implanted in people, a thumb print that now let’s shoppers buy products, a GPS senor, a visible tattoo, Social Security cards, credit cards, and even bar codes on products. Some have even identified the Pope as the beast, other former president Barrack Obama, but this list is endless and they have all been wrong. Wisdom tells us that none of these can be the beast, not to mention giving the mark of the beast. While it is true that all forms of technology will be at the disposal of the Antichrist, the mark itself is not identified in the passage so we don’t want to guess about it.

Number of Man

People have tried to identify the Antichrist by taking as a hidden code the letter-value of different things and different people. Some think they have unlocked this mystery by identifying the Antichrist as Nero, or as the Pope, and some have even said Barney the purple dinosaur (Yes, I’m serious!). The fact is the mark of the beast simply represents something. It is not literal but neither is it a hidden code. We must let Scripture interpret Scripture. John writes that it is “the number of a man, and his number is 666” (Rev 13:18b). That is six hundred, sixty-six. We do not know what the mark is. We do not know what the name of the beast is, but we do know what the number is.

The Sixth Day

It was on the sixth day that God created man in contrast to the seventh day in which God rested and man was to put away all his labor and the labor of the earth in order to find his rest in God, so six represents man and the entire created world without its rest in God. That speaks of unregenerate man. It is man set apart from God by his sin. It is man’s missing the purpose and the goal for which God created him and that was to bring God glory (Psalm 115:1).

Man of Lawlessness

The ways of man is just what the kingdom of Antichrist is all about: man’s peace, prosperity, and pleasure. That is the spirit of Antichrist that will rise in the end and is driven by human desires. The Apostle Paul wrote that “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way” (2 Thess 2:7). That lawlessness is already at work today in the world and it’s not getting better but worse! Imagine when “He is out of the way,” meaning the Holy Spirit. Then, all hell will literally break lose on earth. In a sense, it already has because the Apostle John shows us that the mystery of the lawless has been at work for the last 2,000 years, saying “that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). This proves that this mark is not a specific thing that we are to identify, but represents the character of Antichrist and his kingdom.

Marked by Satan

In the passage we see that this mark is received in the forehead and the right hand of many, but clearly, it’s not to be taken that literally. Rather, it is a figure of a branding someone or something. Branding something is a sign to everyone that it belongs to someone or taken as a sign of possession. Farmers brand their cattle so people will know who owns them, and so we see this also in the Scriptures as the mark being a sign of a servant belonging to his master. A servant would receive a mark in his ear that showed that he or she was a slave of his or her master, belonging only to him, so the mark of the beast represents those who worship the beast and his image and belong to him. Jesus, John and Paul said that they were children of the Devil and the children of wrath (John 8:44; Eph 2:3; 1 John 3:1). They are those who belong to Satan and his kingdom. They receive this mark on their forehead and in their hand, meaning they are branded for him and he owns them.

Marked by God

It’s interesting that God marks those who obey Him. This reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:8 which says, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” This was after God gave the law to His people and tells them that they should be “as a sign” on the hand and “as frontlets” between the eyes. That is clearly a mark! The mark shows that they belong to God and serve Him alone. Of course, this is not literal but it is a symbol of God’s people worshiping Him by obeying His law and keeping His law always in their mind (their foreheads) and in their deeds (their hand). Just the opposite is true of those who have the mark of the beast.

The Last Days

In the last days, it will be very plain who has the Lord’s Mark on them and who is on the Lord’s side and those who have the name of the Devil and the beast on them…the so-called “mark of the beast.” This is not something that God’s people will accidentally receive or be forced to receive. The mark of the beast is received in their head and their hand; their minds, their worldview, their thoughts, and their purposes, all given over to the beast. The point is this that if you do not support the kingdom of man and if you do not worship the Antichrist, you also will not receive the benefits of that kingdom. There will be no buying or selling, and in light of all the technological developments of our day, we can easily understand how such restrictions will be placed on Christians.

The Antichrist’s Purpose

The mark is for the purpose of the Antichrist in distinguishing people from one another in that final day so that he can persecute the people of God. That persecution will be a persecution such as there never was before in the history of this world. The results of that persecution will be not only that Christians will be ostracized from the social and the economic aspect of society, but the witness of the church will be silenced by the unbelieving world.


I pray you’ve already trusted in Christ, but if not, you’re still a child of Satan and will face severe punishment that will never end. It is time to repent and trust in Christ or face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:12-15), whichever comes first, and He could come at any given moment. Choose today…choose life (2 Cor 6:2).

Here is some related reading for you: What Does 666 Mean? A Bible Study

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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