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Holy Spirit Interactive Youth: Bible Geek: 666: Mark of the Beast?

666: Mark of the Beast?

What is the significance of the number 666? It is found in the book of Revelation, and I was just curious.

I’m so glad you asked this question. Over the centuries, the following verse from Revelation has been one of the most frequently quoted and most often misinterpreted verses within the Scriptures:

“Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.” - Rev. 13:18

Numbers carry heavy symbolic meaning in the Bible. They are used to convey certain truths and to “make a point” when necessary. That being said, numbers are not, in and of themselves, intrinsically “evil”. Certainly, the thoughts, deeds and desires behind numbers can be evil, like someone who does satanic deeds or rituals “in the name of 666” - again, that doesn’t mean that the number is terrible, but that the intention behind the deed is evil.

Why is the number “666” significant?

Well, the number 3 is seen as perfect. Think about the Trinity, the fact that He rose on the third day, the three theological virtues, etc. At the same time, the number 7 is seen as the perfect number. The seven days of the week, the seven Sacraments, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven works of mercy, the seven last words on the Cross, etc.

To be one “short” of 7 is seen as being imperfect. Thus, to fall short of 7 three times (666) is perfect imperfection. In the verse from Revelation (above) the number is characterized as a person (a beast, actually), which can mean more than one person but a group of people. The “name” of the beast is the summation (adding up) of the different numerical values of letters – that final sum equals out to six hundred sixty six. If you’re scratching your head right now and thinking, “Huh?” Keep reading.

You see, while numbers carry symbolic meaning in Scripture, they also carry numeric value, ascribed to letters. In Greek and Hebrew, letters are used for numbers and there is a value (numeric) that corresponds to every letter in those alphabets. In our alphabet, A would be 1 or Z would be 26 – you get the idea. When you add up the numbers values in a name or a word, they will equal a sum total, for instance. Say “A” did equal 1 and “N” equaled 14…the name “anna” would equal (1 + 14 + 14 + 1 = 30). Make sense?

That being said, the number six hundred-sixty six carries a different significance depending upon who you choose to listen to on the subject. Over the years, people have used the number to point to Napoleon Bonaparte, to corrupt Popes, to religious reformers like Martin Luther, to people like Mussolini, Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Not long ago, people were doing loose math to ascribe the number to Osama bin Laden.

Most Biblical scholars attribute the number to Nero Caesar, if you take the values of the Hebrew consonants in his name, it equals 666. Nero was a vicious Roman emperor and murder of many Christians in the early Church. It is said that “Nero fiddled, while Rome burned”. It would stand to reason, too, since Revelation was a apocalyptic book of symbolism and vision given to St. John (writer of the 4th Gospel and beloved disciple of Jesus) while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. He was encouraging the churches under persecution in a time when most of his counterparts and fellow disciples had been martyred for the faith.

It’s important that you never don’t mess with the devil, for Scripture warns us:

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour.” - 1 Peter 5:8

That being said, you need not fear the devil, either, he is not Jesus’ equal, he is an angel, he is not equal with God. When you are feeling attacked or if you feel the presence of evil, you need only call upon the name of Christ and He will send His angels to surround you and protect you.

St. Michael kicks the devil’s forked tail each and every time:

“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.” - Rev. 12:7-9

God has the devil’s number…He wins the war.

God has your number, too. Whether or not you respond when He calls…well, that’s up to you.

I have faith in you…seven days a week.

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