What is the Mark of the Beast?
Revelation 13:16-18 – “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.”
This topic indeed calls for wisdom. The mark of the beast is a way to identify those people who have sworn allegiance to the Anti-Christ. Previous generations have thought this might be some sort of tattoo placed on the right hand or forehead, or else a cloth band one would wear. In our age of technology, we can imagine a microchip being embedded beneath the skin, similar to how we “microchip” our pets today in case they get lost.
The chip identifies the owner of the animal. In the same way, microchipping a human could identify their loyalty - willing or resigned - to the Anti-Christ’s government. It could contain such information as the individual’s identity and/or access to their finances, thus taking the place of a social security card and bank/credit cards. Without this type of chip, persons will be unable to access their finances, thus placing a serious economic constraint on anyone who has not submitted to the beast’s administration. This microchip idea is how many imagine the mark of the beast to work now, but it also may come in a form we would never have suspected.
What does the Number 666 Mean?
Theories abound and none are particularly satisfying. The most popular is that the letter values in the name Nero Caesar equal 666. Emperor Nero was the ruler who caused the greatest outbreak of persecution of Christians up to that time. He is the one who ordered the Apostles Peter and Paul to be put to death.
The problem is that Nero is dead and that Christ obviously hasn’t come back yet. There are those who speculate that Nero will return from the dead in the end times, thus fulfilling the prophecy that the Anti-Christ will be someone who has survived a fatal injury (Revelation 13:3, 12, 14). I suppose this is possible, but I tend to read the prophecy as referring to someone whose injury should have killed him, but didn’t. A miraculous recovery, so to speak.
Another theory is that the Anti-Christ’s social security number, or other identification number, will add up to 666. This would be “man’s number”, a numbering system created by humans to individually identify other humans.