The Name of the Beast (Part 1) – Revelation 13:17-18

W is the 6th Hebrew Letter

If there is a single element of the book of Revelation which is universally known in contemporary culture it is the mark of the Beast, 666. Virtually everyone in western culture thinks that 666 is the “devil’s number” or that the triple-six is a pernicious sign to be avoided. Several times I have bought something and the price came up $6.66, and the clerk wanted to know if I wanted to buy a pack of gum so I could avoid that particular price. I used to buy a particular combination of coffee and snack at one of my favorite coffee shops which always rang up to $6.66. (I referred to it as the “Devil’s breakfast” and tasty it was!)

But there is nothing in Revelation that says this number is the devil’s number, or Satan’s address in Hell. It is not an unlucky number nor is someone cursed if they somehow accidentally ring up $6.66 at the local Taco Bell. (Actually, you might be cursed if you eat the food at Taco Bell, but that is another issue altogether!) The number does not refer to Satan at all, verse 18 says that 6 is the “number of man,” presumably because man was created on the sixth day. 666 refers to the name of the beast, either a person (the anti-Christ) or the kingdom of the beast described in the rest chapter 13.

What does is mean to “calculate the name”? There are no numbers in many ancient languages, so letters sometimes substituted as numbers. A=1, B=2, etc. There is a bit of graffiti found in Pompeii that reads “I love her whose number is 545.” Potentially one might convert their name to numbers in Greek, Hebrew or Latin and come up with a number. That number could be used as a cipher, or perhaps one might have a “lucky” number for a name. For example, my “number” in Latin is 152 (using just the letters which have values in Roman numerals). In Greek, I get 908. Neither is particularly interesting, but I suppose if I paid money to a numerologist, they could come up with something profound.

John invites the reader to figure this out, in fact, he almost baits us into trying to figure it out! Knowing that the name adds up to 666, to what might the name refer? In the early church there were several suggested names, including a Greek word meaning “to deny”, meaning that the name of the Beast was denial of the Lord.  It is possible to use the initials of the Roman emperors from Julius to Vespasian one gets 666, but you have to skip the minor emperors to make this work. The full Latin title used on coins of Domitian, the emperor at the time of John, allegedly adds up to 666. The most common suggestion is that the number 666 refers to Nero Caesar, but in a the Hebrew spelling of the name. Some writers see the number more generally, showing that it is one short of the perfect number, three times. “Failure upon failure upon failure.”

It may be best to conclude that John and his readers knew the clue that unlocked the mystery of the number and who it referred to, and that we are unable to figure it out with any certainty today.  Despite this, people are still fascinated with the name of the beast and try to figure out who he might be.  I will have more to say about this in part two of this post.

What does the number prophesy? Whatever the mark is, it represents a final declaration of loyalty, whether for God or against him. By accepting this name, you are declaring your loyalty to the beast and the empire of the beast.

11 thoughts on “The Name of the Beast (Part 1) – Revelation 13:17-18

  1. The name of the beast.
    I found that the beginning of this blog post was quite comedic, so thank you for that. But it is so true, people see these numbers as a curse and to be always avoided. When it comes to finding out what means is a whole other story with little to no evidence in what the name is meant to be.
    With the misconception that this number is satanic and cursed and we should always avoid it, I was surprised to find out in my reading of revelation that the number six just means man. And then I just found out in this blog post that man is number six because we were created on the sixth day. So maybe This number isn’t so bad and we shouldn’t fear it as much. While that is true, it is still something I wouldn’t want to mess with because it is the name of the beast and it will be written on our foreheads of those who chose to follow this beast. So I am okay with avoiding this number.
    But the real concern is what will this name look like when it happens? Will it be 666? Or something else. That was a vision that John saw and so it could easily be something else someday.
    so the number isn’t really that bad, but it is also not bad to avoid. and when it comes to what that name could be? we won’t really know until that day comes.

    Like

  2. The one thing that makes me curious about saying that the number 666 is not the devil’s number is, if this is the mark of the beast and the beast is from the devil, then why wouldn’t it be the devil’s number as well? Anyway, the fact that the number is actually a name in fascinating. Jamie Davis says, “In ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, letters were used for numbers, and fun could be had in giving numerical values to words and names” (120). To have the ability within other languages to convert your name to a number seems odd to us, but probably had some benefits in biblical times, even during times of persecution. With the understanding that 666 is the name of someone, it does change the meaning of the text and make it seem more real. However, to figure out who the beast is according to his number may prove to be more difficult. As the post has stated, many people have tried to figure out who the numbers are referring to and a lot of guesses have fallen on Nero. If John actually knows who this number is as suggested, then that would be saying that John knows who the beast is, thus saying that particular part of Revelation has already come to past. If John, however, does not know who the beast is, then the number could still apply to anyone now in the twenty-first century as well. I honestly think that we will not figure out who the beast is solely upon this number and there will need to be other pieces of evidence beyond the fact that they are disliked people to make judgments and accusations.

    Like

  3. This set number does fascinate people, I too, whenever the total came to $6.66 I tried my best to avoid it and unfortunately, I was that person buying an extra gum to change my destiny at the store. LBD refers the number to be a specific person that is behind the imagery. In the symbolic view, it sees the number 666 as a representative to the fallen humanity. Dr. Long makes a valid point, “the number of the beast was a denial to God,” a final declaration of loyalty to God or against him. I thought this was a legit answer to the mystery of this number. Most times, people tend to use this number to put fear in others, or a leverage to control the fear of the people. Hopefully, we are wise to seek the Lord in prayer and meditation to understand at some degree the mystery of this number. I say this number does presents man, and most likely this beast may be in the form of a man who is against good and God.

    Like

  4. Our culture has definitely created a stigma around the number 666. In fact, just today I noticed that the number of points I had in my Chick-Fil-A rewards was 666, and I said something along the lines of “not in my good christian restaurant”. When I was younger I think I fully believed that it was a bad number or had something to do with satan, not having a full understanding of the actual passage in Revelation that this idea comes from. I think the mystery around the name of the beast is something that many people find intriguing and have made attempts to come up with an answer for, and I find it pretty interesting myself. The whole idea of numbers representing letters is interesting because there are so many different ways that it could be interpreted going that direction that it doesn’t even really narrow down the list of options that much. Maybe this is another thing that the people of John’s time had more context for giving them a better understanding than we do today. It seems like the name of the beast is treated kind of like the identity of the anti-christ is in today’s culture: people are willing to identify it as whatever the current big thing is that they hate, ever changing as time and culture goes on.

    Like

  5. That was probably the funniest post I’ve eve read, Im sorry but iI just felt like I had to get that off of my chest, anyway I see today that a lot of people are scared of the number 666 like you were saying, however, I think there is a flip side and people take it as sort of a joke and even some Christians could say something like its just a number and it can’t hurt me, and I would respond with its what is, behind that number that can hurt you. I think that there is a flip side in some people that mock it in a way, and I don’t think that we should play around with it. I do know that if you are a child of the one true king that you should not worry, and nothing can truly hurt you.

    Like

  6. 666 has been a number I have heard many times over the years and it is a number that most people say that we should never say because it resembles the name of Satan. I have encountered the number many times and laugh when it comes up when I am working at a register. I get many customers that freak out when that number appears and so they decided to add another item to their order. Why is it that people are afraid to hear that number? Some people might believe that the number is a curse if it is brought up, but the number should not be scary. It is not a curse. It is just the name of the beast. And the name of the beast is marked on the people because they choose to follow him instead of God. The beast has two horns and has authority over the earth like the first beast. It placed the mark on the people’s right hand and/or their forehead, claiming them.

    Like

  7. It is a really interesting thought to me that John and his readers may have known what the number of the beast meant and who it refereed to. In our world today there has been so much debate over both what the number 666 means (oh the many ways it has tried to be deciphered!) and what the mark of the beast truly will be. By and far there is much more that we don’t know about the mark than what we do know. One can only hope that when the time comes what we do know about the mark is enough to identify it. Though, in a more positive note, while not having the mark does prevent one from making purchases, at the very least getting the mark seems to be voluntary.

    Like

  8. The number 666 is something that comes up in conversation for various reasons a lot in our country whether the person is christian or not. There is such a stigma around this number and almost has people afraid of it! When they see it as a purchase price, or a page number that things automatically becomes cursed or bad. It is a bit funny. People believe it is the devils number and is cursed or sinful to have anything to do with that number, but the interesting thing is, they are just numbers. They represent the name of Satan but they are not some taboo numbers that we need to avoid at all costs. The numbers come with many different interpretations on what the actual letter name is and P Long named some of those in his post. One that I found the most interesting was “to deny.” I feel like this one is very fitting just on word choice. Satan is a very defiant being, so saying his name means to deny would be appropriate. I find this topic very interesting and I would be curious and excited to learn more about this topic in the future.

    Like

  9. One thing that always facinates me is in our many discussions of the meaning of the “mark”, so called by John, we never make a connection to verse 8 of Rev. 13 which is “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, (except) everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” True Christian, Disciple and Follower of Christ, Christ commandment keeper, washed and regenerated one, child of God, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO TAKE IT, whatever the mark might be. You were sealed, remember? God marked you with his mark. The Beast is marking those that worship the Beast, which is most of the world. Not you. So don’t worry. You will not be able to hide. Why? Because you don’t worship the Beast, the Dragon. Your father is not the Devil. You have a Heavenly Father, who by the way, chose you, before you chose him. Don’t fear. But just know by the virtue of your life, you will be known by the world. Read Daniels experience with King Darius. It is a similar situation to Rev 13. God prospered Daniel, who was a captive in Babylon. He was a God fearing man. He was an upright man. Natives were very jealous of his success so they tried to entrap him. Since they were unable to blame his character, they chose to use his worship instead. It was ordered that the entire kingdom bow down to the statue of the King, an image of the king. Sound familiar to the Beast in Rev 13 being an image of it’s king, the Dragon, whom the entire world was decreed to bown down and worship? Daniel would not because he prayed and worshiped the true and living God. When the king found this out, that Daniel refused to bow down to the statue and worship, he was committed to the lions den. And we all know that story. He was not harmed. God saved him. The lion = Jesus. Jesus saved him from death. Sounds like the gospel to me. We will be discovered. We cannot hide. And remember why this is all happening in the first place. It is for the glory of God. This is how we will be judges over the whole world. Rev 12:11 “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

    Like

  10. Second post….

    What is the name. When we read the bible we know that a prophet is subject to prophets. One prophecy will always be followed up by another to define it or clarify it. Revelation is a prophecy. Revelation 17 is a continuation, or a further detailed explanation of chapter 13. We find the Beast having joined with the false prophet, who has many names. (It seams that the Beast keeps growing and at some point before it’s destruction, carries away the church, not the real Church, but false church. It is a church that kills it’s own people, or at least what looks like it’s own people, the real people of God.)

    “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.”

    Notice the names were “blasphemous”? The word blashemous means one who come in the name of another, falsely. It is all a lie. The jews convicted Jesus of blasphemy because he claimed to be equal with God. Not a lie.

    If you read Revelation closely, you can find many similarities of the Beast compared to Jesus. One example is Jesus is called “The one who is, who was, and is to come”, Rev 1:4. Jesus has always existed, was born in flesh, died and rose again. Try reading Revelation 13 with this in mind. You will find the language John uses describes a Beast having a head wound. It appears as though the Beast had died and came back to life. It died and rose again which makes it like the one who is, who was, and is to come. Not pefect, but similar. A fraud.

    The character we begin with in chapter 12 is the Dragon. After being thrown out of heaven, he becomes the Beast. After having a head wound he takes on yet another form. Read Rev 13. Then in Rev 17 he shows his true nature and intent, which is the one the Devil had from the very beginning. He aligns himself with the church as the head of the church. Sounds like competition for Jesus on earth. Will the real Jesus stand up please!

    The Devil has always wanted to be God.

    His name is blashemous. He is a fraud. A perpitrator of all that is real.

    We see this all the time. People say, “I am a Christian.” But their lives don’t demonstrate them us such. I am not talking about being perfect, but rather the totality of a person’s direction and belief about all of life. A Christian has a radically diffetent view than the world. We are seperate from them.

    The names of Jesus….

    Rev 19:11 “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True…”

    Rev 19:13 “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.”

    The Devil, whatever form he takes, is not faithful and he is not true, either is he the Word of God, but a liar.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.