3 Things to Know About the Number 666
It’s more than just the number of Satan.
By Megan Bailey
According to the last book in the Bible, 666 is the number, or name, of the wild beast with seven heads and ten horns that comes out of the sea (Revelation 13:1, 17-18). It’s something that has confused Christians, scared them, and not be chatted about in most circles. However, taking the time to learn more about what the Bible says can put the mark of the beast into perspective.
It’s a Name
The number 666 is actually the name of the coming antichrist. The names given by God have meaning, and this is seen elsewhere in the Bible. For example, God gave the name Abraham, which means “Father of a Crowd (Multitude)”. This makes sense, because God promised that He would make Abraham “a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). Likewise, God named the beast 666 as a symbol of its defining attributes.
Contrary to what you may have heard, the number 666 is mentioned in the Bible. Revelation 13:8 says “Let the one with understanding reckon the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.” The English word “reckon” comes from the Greek word for “calculate” or “solve”. For some scholars, it’s as if the Bible is saying the number is a riddle.
Giving a number to a name is called “gematria,” which is the Greek practice of adding up the letters in someone’s name. Each letter in the Greek language has a numeral equivalent. Add up the letters and you get the number of the name. There is a similar practice in Hebrew. When you actually look at the original text, we see that in this passage the letters of 666 are actually written in Hebrew, which places a higher significance on numbers meaning words and words meaning numbers than ancient Greek.
When we translate the number 666 out of the Hebrew alphabet, it spells out Neron Kesar – the Hebrew spelling of Nero Caesar. Given the hatred of the Roman Empire at the time, and particularly its leader, Nero Caesar, who was considered to be especially evil, it’s no surprise some people believe the antichrist has already come.
The Number “6” Has Meaning in the Bible
Numbers in the Bible often are used as symbols. For example, the number 3 often correlates to the Holy Trinity, and the number 7 is considered the perfect number, representing completeness. The number “6” in the Bible is often associated with man. Being one short of 7, the number 6 can denote something incomplete or flawed in God’s eyes, and it can be associated with God’s enemies (1 Chronicles 20:6; Daniel 3:1). Because it represents man, it can be seen that God views human “man” as flawed creatures. He knows they will be unable to bring lasting peace and security—things that only God’s Kingdom will achieve.
666 is thus a number that consistently falls short of triple perfection: 777. The Bible sometimes stresses a matter by stating it three times. The number also refers to the “unholy trinity,” Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet.
The Mark of the Beast
The Bible refers to the number as the mark of the beast, and people can receive the mark when they follow it “with admiration” to the point of worshipping it (Revelation 13:3, 4; 16:2). They do so by worshipping their country or other false prophets. This beast is a symbol of the worldwide political system, which rules over “every tribe and people and tongue and nation” (Revelation 13:7).
Regarding His commands to the nation of Israel, God said: “Bind them as a reminder on your hand, and they should be like a headband on your forehead” (Deuteronomy 11:18). This didn’t mean that the Israelites were to mark their literal hands and foreheads, but that God’s Words would guide all their actions and thoughts. Likewise, rather than being something literal such as a 666 tattoo, the mark of the beast symbolically identifies those who let the political system rule their lives. Those with the mark of the beast place themselves in opposition to God (Revelation 14:9, 10; 19:19-21).
The number 666 is something that confuses most Christians, but it shouldn’t be something to worry about. The more you learn about the book of Revelation, the antichrist, and the mark of the beast the more confident you can feel for Jesus’ second coming. Continue to learn what God wrote for us and don’t be afraid to ask Him questions.