Number of the Beast

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Number of the Beast is a mysterious phrase used in Revelation:

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.[1]
The number seven represents perfection in the Bible. As six is somewhat less than seven, it can be considered beastly. The invitation to calculate implies that a code of some kind is being used. The phrase "number of a man" suggests that the number represents a personal name. The letters of the name "Nero Caesar," emperor at the time Revelation was written, adds up to 666 when written in Hebrew characters. "Many interpreters expect a future, greater fulfillment in a world ruler who is violently opposed to God and his people," according to the ESV Study Bible.[2]

Meaning of the Number

According to the Futurist interpretation of the Book of Revelation it is a mark that will be forced upon the citizens of the world by the government of the Antichrist. The penalty for not accepting the number is either death, persecution, or a lack of financial security. Those who do accept it however, will suffer eternal damnation (Revelation 20:4 "the second death"). According to the Book of Revelation:

And it will cause all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, to have a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and it will bring it about that no one may be able to buy or sell, except him who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of its name.[3]

The Number of the Beast is sometimes also referred to as the "Mark of the Beast".[4] It has been commonly used in popular culture, for example in The Omen series of movies. Some people interested in Bible prophecy have pointed to many parallels between the modern economy (such as the use of bar codes and RFID tags) and the potential for a system such as the one described in the book of Revelation.[5][6]

Many prophecy teachers regard the meaning of the number to represent the timing of when the identity of the Antichrist is revealed. Since most scholars regard the Abomination of Desolation as the point in time in which the Antichrist is revealed, they postulate that Isaiah 66:6 could denote the Abomination of Desolation, since the verse denotes the commotion within the Temple in Jerusalem. The number 666 refers to the numerical denotion of the verse. The verse reads:

"Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve."(Isaiah 66:6)

Starting with Isaiah 66:1 and reading through the chapter, one might consider the reason behind the Abomination of Desolation: The Jews are reverting to the old practice of sacrificing animals- when in actuality, the Mosaic Law was fulfilled in the Atonement of Christ. The Jews have denied Christ and are worshiping in the newly rebuilt temple. In other words, God is using the Antichrist to punish the people for denying his Son, Jesus Christ.

Interestingly, Arabic numbers (1,2,3,4,5,6...) were not added in the Bible until the invention of the printing press, but the letters of Roman numerals were the standard form of numbers in hand copied western manuscripts (I,II,III,IV,V, VI.../ i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi...), and later for chapter number headings in printed books, for example in older King James Bibles printed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and in tables of content in books and for designating major headings in outlines of written material. In Hebrew and Greek Bibles, all the letters of the alphabet−which also have numerical values−are used as chapter and verse numbers.

See also


Revelation, Book of (historical exegesis)


  1. Revelation 13:18, ESV.
  2. Crossway Bibles. ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 330753-330754). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
  3. Revelation 13: 16-18
  4. In some translations the number is 616 rather than 666.
  5. Relfe, Mary S. When Your Money Fails, 1981
  6. Relfe, Mary S. The New Money System, 1982.