This is part of a reply to a question asked by one of my readers from Africa about the mark of the beast and 666.
To start with, I have to say that certain ancient manuscripts have ‘616’ in the text. So there is some uncertainty about the real “number of the beast”. But the number 666 is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, in connection with the “wise” King Solomon. He had 666 talents of gold…
14 And the weight of the gold that came to Sol´o·mon in one year amounted up to six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, 15 apart from the men of travel and the profit from the traders and all the kings of the Arabs and the governors of the land. (1Kings10)
So 666 is possible, this might not be a coincidence. Another aspect is the language. I know Greek and while not many Bible translators actually took the following reasoning into the text (the KJV has), from a linguistical standpoint, even the following is possible…
_Wde h` sofi,a evsti,nÅ o` e;cwn nou/n yhfisa,tw to.n avriqmo.n tou/ qhri,ou( avriqmo.j ga.r avnqrw,pou evsti,n( kai. o` avriqmo.j auvtou/ e`xako,sioi e`xh,konta e[xÅ
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (KJV)
18 Here is where wisdom comes in: Let the one that has intelligence calculate the number of the wild beast, for it is a man’s number; and its number is six hundred and sixty-six. (NWT)
In this case wisdom is needed: Let the person who has understanding calculate the total number of the beast, because it is a human total number, and its the sum of the number is 666. (ISV)
In this situation wisdom is needed. Let the person who has insight figure out the number of the beast, because it is a human number. The beast's number is 666. (GWT)
The word translated “its” or “his” is “autou” a reflexive pronoun which can refer to the noun “beast” or to the noun “man”. You see the point; it does not make too much sense to ask as to “calculate” the number and then telling us the result of this calculation as “666”. So maybe the number of the beast is something else and the one who has intelligence and does this calculation has the number 616 or 666... In any event there is ambiguity here and God always uses ambiguos statements to tell us more than one thing or even different fulfillments for different times.
Then I have to say that the “mark of the beast” and “666” are two different things. The one is the mark of the beast; the other is the “number of its/his name”.
So while I do not know how this mark will “technically” look like (micro chip, tattoo, ID card…), we do know from the Scriptures that no one will be able to buy and sell without that mark. We also know that true believers will not be able to accept the mark. We read…
16 And it puts under compulsion all persons, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, 17 and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name. (Revelation13)
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the wild beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, 10 he will also drink of the wine of the anger of God that is poured out undiluted into the cup of his wrath, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever, and day and night they have no rest, those who worship the wild beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. 12 Here is where it means endurance for the holy ones, those who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation14)
So we see that we cannot either take this mark (maybe an ID card), nor accept the name of the beast (probably signing an agreement), nor accept the number of it (maybe a PIN, an authorization number). Why? Most likely because the agreement that needs to be signed in order to get any of these three things, will have some idolatrous clauses in it. We cannot do obeisance to that “beast”, swear our alliance to it or trust in it as saving the world.
Only Jesus will save it!