666 The (approximate) number of the Beast

When I was a new Christian in the 80’s, there was a lot of talk about the end-times and the anti-christ. And it was here that the Bible was very clear, we could identify him by “the number of the beast” – 666.

People found the number 666 everywhere, I remember my cell-group leader showing us a credit-card and saying “look if they just add 2 numbers it will have 3 groups of 6 digits.” It was said that all bar-codes on products in the supermarket had the number 666 in them, because the code for 6 was 2 thin-lines || and this was in all bar-codes at the ends and middle.

Bar-code 1

Here are the hidden numbers – yikes 666 !!!

Bar-code 2

But what we never heard in the 80’s was that some texts were ambiguous – many had 616 as the number of the beast. And in 2005 the earliest text we have of Revelation was analysed with computer imaging and found that it had the number 616.

So which number should we look out for in order to know whether we are living in the last days? Which number should we refuse to put on our hand and forehead, 666 or 616 ? If the real number was 616 many sermons, books, videos etc would have to be changed, not to mention bad heavy-metal albums by Iron-Maiden.

Later I read more widely and found that many scholars believe that Revelation was also commenting in code on events of its own day. In that culture readers were used to rulers and people being referred to in code, often with numbers from numerological codes of their names. They were referred to in that way because powerful rulers would persecute them if they used the real name. So the number 616 could have been referring to the Emporer Nero or a number of other leaders of the day.

So what does this mean for our interpretation of Scripture on other matters? If something as straight-forward as the number of the beast could be debatable and controversial, what about other matters? Should we go back and check the translations of words that may be in question? Should we check the manuscripts and see if some have different words? And should we try to understand the culture of the day – what could the writers have been referring to that might be different in their day than ours?


11 thoughts on “666 The (approximate) number of the Beast

  1. In scripture it’s defined as three possibilities – the mark, or the name, or the number of his name, and the number is given as six hundred, sixty and six.

    The Greek is given as ‘khee xee stigma’, the last part said by some to represent a mark or a cross, from stigma – ‘a mark pricked in or branded upon the body. To ancient oriental usage, slaves and soldiers bore the name or the stamp of their master or commander branded or pricked (cut) into their bodies to indicate what master or general they belonged to, and there were even some devotee’s who stamped themselves in this way with the token of their gods ‘

    But we are told to ‘calculate, ‘count’, or ‘compute’, the number of the name, which is the name of a man.

    Until the Arabic numerical system was adopted, numbers were represented by letters of the alphabet, in Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Calculating from these is obviously meant here, but there is also a serious reference to a mark in the body, in the forehead or the wrist.

    And the need for the mark was as identification with both the ‘beast’, whose mark was represented, and with commerce, that is, buying and selling.

  2. It is generally agreed by scholars that the original number of the beast was 616 ‘chi, iota, stigma’, as in 2005 they used advanced imaging techniques to find that this was as written on Papyrus 115 the earliest known copy of Revelation.

    616 is also the number written in the Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus which are generally regarded as the best texts of Revelation.

  3. Looks like Hal Lindsay was wrong.

    Brings back memories!

    I can clearly remember the disgust of my High School History teacher upon discovering I was reading the Late Great Planet Earth, back in the early 1980’s. I well remember the bar code controversies! Most amusing.

    Absolutely, going back and checking words in question is valuable. We should also definitely check the culture of the day, or risk misunderstanding much. I think that sort of thing is fascinating, in any case.

    I think that modernising translations where words have changed their original meaning can and should be done too. For example, where ‘man’ originally refers to generic mankind but now is often read as referring specifically to men. Not saying this occurs with every use of the word, but it would be useful to have the distinction clearly made, rather than have such potential for ambiguity. Particularly when our language is such a mobile thing.

  4. You forgot to mention the Illuminati and the well known fact that the Queen deals in heroin and hard drugs.

    Oh, and what about those powerful elite who can shape shift into reptillian form?

    Further hard evidence on crank dot net. See if you can get this site referenced.

  5. The scriptures were written from the world view of the writer. I think it is important to attempt to understand the world-view of the writer (which in the new testament is universally a Hebrew world-view as I understand it).

    It is fine to get all black and white about what means what but unless there is scads of evidence from multiple verses et al then it is best to be cautious.

    Some of us can get a bit high and mighty about what means what but when it comes down to it knowing Jesus and having the correct doctrine are not the same thing. We should be choosing the tree of life and not the tree of the knowledge of right and wrong.

  6. The mark of the beast is not going to affect us… We’ll be gone, (to much of the world’s delight). 🙂

    Here have been my thoughts on this irrelevant topic:

    I can’t help but think that the number has something to do with the satanic trinity.
    Dragon, anti-christ and false prophet (beast). Just how in Christ we see the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, through the cross, so to do we see the Satanic trinity. May I point out that Christ’s name Jesus, meant saviour. So to does this beastly figure. Just like the action and power of the trinity, this satanic trinity also performs a death and resurrection stunt. One is fatally wounded, the other brings the other to life. Another brings life into something that is not living (image).

    All so that they can be worshiped. Those marked with the 666 and labour were ‘everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead’.

    That verse reminds me of Paul saying that those in Christ ‘being great or poor, free and slave, etc,’. This indicates to me Satan will try to be e truer church.
    As the church was sealed by the Holy Spirit to be in the will of God, so too were these people sealed to do the will of the beast. The church, those in Christ, were able to enter into Christ’s rest. (Now God rested on the 7th day of creation).

    Now let’s look at the name and number. Christ was the son of man. So the slain beast represented a type of Christ as he took part in being killed then resurrected. One that won the world to worship these beings as they did these feats. Man’s number is six. We know sin’s number is six. Apparantly, under Jewish belief, 6 also stands for ‘work’. The beast forced people to buy and sell under this name of approval, which I tend to conclude that they worked hard for the beast.

    So this nation or church was under the ‘divine’ rule and authority of the Satanic trinity.

  7. someone made a comment that the babylonian statue that the Jews were told to worship, goliath’s weight or height had something to do with the image of the statue and number of 666.

    I also had the belief a while ago that the mark given was the same mark given to Cain after he had killed Abel. Lamech who lived to 777 killed a man who I think he believed was Cain. Next thing you knew, the flood happened.

    We know that towards the end of revelation, the second worldly judgment will take place as the world will be engulfed in fire.

    I’m not here to say my view is right, I’m just throwing my old silly understanding sout there. Some may like it, others may not. What do you guys think and what have you heard people believe about 666?

    Some Islam sites unite under the 666. Maybe they purposely do that to get CHristian’s to hate them.

  8. I think anyone who ventures an opinion on this topic is brave, so good on you. Revelation is not meant to be easily understood, but it is part of scripture, and thus important, even if much of the meaning is not obvious.

    I think the letters to the churches are so interesting, and the debates about which church is represented today are interesting too.

    Perhaps that might make another good post.

  9. The reason why everyone likes to think they know the meaning of 666, is because they would like to consider to be wise and possibly worshiped.

    In terms of the book itself, it is very translatable to those who understand Old Testament prophecy and Jewish symbology. There are some small aspects to it that remain mysterious. But you can get a general picture of what is to come.

    I think it is an important book for any Christian to understand. The reason why is because so many people have twisted it to suit their own agenda- ‘The Final Witness’, ‘Third Reich’, ‘New Age’, ‘Anti-christs’, etc.
    All have elements of truth to what they say, but if you know your end times stuff, you’ll be able to counter their bluff.

    RP says:
    I think the letters to the churches are so interesting, and the debates about which church is represented today are interesting too.

    The last church represents this day. I think you’ll find that each church acts as a prophetic time line of what the church has gone through and is going through today.
    When all is said and done, John is ‘raptured’ to where the ‘saints’ meet Christ in the air. After this scenario in heaven, it’s the tribulation. World, Jew’s and the Satanic influences.

  10. There are many key elements that direct a person to what and who the beast and its mark is. One element is an image is made that people bow down to and worship and another is it has a name. Bio-chips, social security numbers, government brandings, and other concoctions do not fit. If you take the number 666 and write it in the Hebrew numbering system using letters you come up with vstr, or vav samech tav resh. Vav is a prefix while the root str means secret or hidden. If you then look up the symbols of the letters they are nail, prop, cross, and head, and mean nail, prop, mark or sign, and head or leader. If you put these together it is the crucifix, the image of the beast. If you then take the name of the image, jesus, and add it up it comes to 616. The True Messiah warned that if another came in his own name he would be accepted, and he said many will come saying they are him. He gave us the tools to figure out who this deceiver would be and said that he would sit in the temple of God making himself out to be God and that the whole world would be deceived.

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