Saturday, September 8, 2012

Who is the Anti-Christ? What is the Mark of the Beast? What does the Number 666 Mean?

Who is the Anti-Christ?

Who is the Anti-Christ who now becomes “King of the North”? The Bible gives us several clues.

1. First, we know that the Anti-Christ will gain his power from Satan.

Daniel 8:24 – “He will become very strong, but not by his own power…”

2 Thessalonians 2:9 – “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan…”

Revelation 13:2 – “…The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.”

This last verse says that “the dragon gave the beast his power.” Revelation 12:9 explains that the dragon is symbolic language for Satan where it reads, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan…”

2. Second, we know that the Anti-Christ is someone who was fatally wounded but lived.

Revelation 13:3One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.” (See also Revelation 13:12.)

Revelation 13:14 – “…the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived…”

3. Third, we know what his mark will be.

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 access to their finances, thus taking the place of a social security card and bank 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 will work, but it also may come in a form we would never have suspected.

What does the Number 666 Mean?

Theories abound, but the oldest interpretation remains the most satisfying. 666 is a code for the Anti-Christ’s name. Each letter in Hebrew is given a numerical value. It would be similar to a code that worked like this:

A = 1, B = 2, etc.

Using this type of code, the earliest Christians interpreted 666 to stand for “Nero Caesar.” 

The problem with this interpretation is that Emperor Nero is dead. He committed assisted suicide on June 9th, 68 AD, and was buried in the Mausoleum of the Domitii Ahenobarbi. So, how could Nero be the future Anti-Christ?

Revelation 13:14 – “…the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived…”

2 Thessalonians 2:9 – “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan…”

For centuries, Christians believed that Nero had died but that Satan had raised and healed him and that he had escaped to the east (somewhere in the former Babylonian Empire) and that he would one day return as the Anti-Christ.

Indeed, Nero is the pinnacle of what it means to be Anti-Christ.

He set fire to Rome in order to clear space for his new palace, and then, when the fire got out of control, he blamed the Christians for starting it.

During the resulting persecution, both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul were executed, as well as many other professing Christians. He even burned Christians at the stake in his private garden to serve as torches at night.

He was a prideful singer and songwriter. His last words before his supposed death were, “What an artist dies in me!"

Nero even ordered the assassination of his own mother in order to ensure his own rule.

When Nero supposedly died, many Romans celebrated. As we will see in the next section, the Anti-Christ will destroy Rome by burning it to the ground before he conquers it. This would be fitting revenge in Nero’s mind. He accidentally burnt Rome once, but in the future, he will do it again to avenge himself on the city that rejected him and to take it for his own once again.

Daniel 11:21 reads, He [the King of the North] will be succeeded by a contemptible person who has not been given the honor of royalty. He will invade the kingdom when its people feel secure, and he will seize it through intrigue.”

This seems to say that the Anti-Christ is not someone of royal blood, meaning that because Nero was Emperor, he could not also be the Anti-Christ. But I don’t believe this verse is saying that the Anti-Christ is not royalty but rather that he is not a part of Babylon’s royal family. He is an outsider, an invader, as the verse says, which Nero would be. He is royalty, but has no right to claim the throne of this Northern Empire.

Finally, what better false Christ could Satan produce than someone whom had been raised from the dead? Both Christ and the Anti-Christ came back from death, one raised by God’s power, the other by Satan’s; one to rule in justice, the other to reign in terror.

In summary, then, Christians first believed that Nero was the Anti-Christ. They believed Satan had raised and preserved him and that he would one day regain power and reign as the Anti-Christ.


This blog post is included in my book, Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times.

Last Days: A Biblical Guide to the End Times by [Wilson, Rev. Stephen R.]
Kindle $4.99, Print $7.99

Read the answers to more interesting questions on my Theology 101 - Simple and Surprising Answers to Your Questions! page.

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