What is the mark of the beast? This is a question that has been on the mind of Christians since the beginning of the movement. Is it the number 666? What about social security numbers? In recent times, even barcodes have been suggested as possibly being the mark of the beast. Even the COVID-19 vaccine has been suggested as a possibility. So what is the mark of the beast?
Where Does This Come From?
The reference to the mark of the beast is found in Revelation 13:18. Let’s take a look at it and the preceding verses to get an idea of what the mark actually is, and is not.
15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. Revelation 13:15-18.
So whatever the mark of the beast is, it has a few characteristics.
- It is a physical mark
- It will be on their right hand, or their foreheads
- No one will be able to buy or sell without the mark or the number
- The number is that of a man, and that number is 666.
Do Any Of These Ideas Meet The Criteria For The Mark Of The Beast?
In looking at the requirements for the mark of the beast, we quickly see that many of the suggestions from our original list do not meek the criteria. Social security numbers are not a name. Barcodes can be used to buy and sell, but they are not the only means to buy and sell. Even a vaccine card is not a name or a physical mark on your right hand or forehead. So most of these possibilities disqualify themselves outright.
But Is 666 Truly The Mark Of The Beast?
There has been much debate on the number 666 itself. Some of the older manuscript evidence seems to indicate that the number may not in fact be 666, but 616.
Many people have tried to calculate the number of the beast by use of Greek isopsephy and Hebrew gematria. These systems that assign a number to each letter of the Greek or Hebrew alphabets, and then calculate the “Number” of a person’s name by adding up these letter values. Using this method, the emperors Nero Caesar and Caligula have been suggested as “The Beast”.
The Mark Will Be Obvious
We have already seen that all of the suggestions for the mark of the beast fall short of meeting the requirements stated in Revelation 13. The requirements are very clear. And when the mark of the beast does present itself, it will clearly meet these characteristics. It will not be vague, and we will be able to clearly identify it.
One last warning. Revelation is apocalyptic literature. It can be difficult to understand without careful study. We should use care when we make assumptions based on this type of writing without a clear understanding of the context and real world applications, or we can get things very wrong.
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