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What does 666 mean?

Today’s question has been asked by every generation. It is about the meaning of the number 666. Is this an evil or unlucky number? Is 666 the devil’s number? In order to answer our question, we will have to take a look at the book of Revelation.

Let’s start with the difficulty of the apocalyptic nature of the book of Revelation. The apostle John speaks in metaphor about what he sees and hears in this vision from God. This means that careful interpretation of the book of Revelation should be followed in gleaning the meaning and application for today. With that said, there is a direct statement about the number 666 by the apostle John in Revelation 13:18, “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.”

In order to answer our question today, we need to understand the context of the false prophet’s role in the evil regime of the Antichrist. Just prior to verse 18 John says there is a mark that the Antichrist will demand everyone to receive and the false prophet will carry out the will of the Antichrist by setting up an image of the beast throughout regions of the world that will issue this mark in order to buy and sell. The key link between the number 666 and the mark of the beast is found in verse 17 where John equates “the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” So, whatever the number 666 means it is equal to the mark and name of the Antichrist.

One further line of thought is needed before we come to a conclusion on the meaning of the number 666. The Bible has special meanings behind numbers—and no, it’s not a “code” but a unique symbolism that I think will help us answer our question. For example, the number 7 has a special meaning in the Bible that speaks to the perfection of God (in the 7 days of creation or “the seven-fold Spirit of God” in Revelation). At times, the Bible highlights numbers that point to a message and I believe this is true of the number 666. As you recall, man was created as the pinnacle of God’s creation on day 6. The apostle John affirms the number 6 as man’s number in our verse by saying, “for it is the number of man.” If the symbolism is accurate that the number 6 is the number of man then what can we say about there being a repetition of the number 6 in describing the name, mark, and number of the Antichrist? Repetition is used by God in the Scriptures to provide emphatic emphasis such as “Holy, Holy, Holy”—meaning the God is the ultra holy. Repetition here with the number 6 would also have the same meaning—the Antichrist will be the greatest man on earth. Think about it, there will be a propaganda machine that the false prophet will lead in receiving the mark of the Antichrist because he is the greatest man in the world—can’t you hear it now!

So at the end of the day, the number 666 serves to describe the Antichrist as the best man on earth—nothing more, nothing less. Praise God that no matter the greatness of the Antichrist on earth, we serve the sovereign holy God of Heaven who is the Eternal King of all! Amen!

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