666—Not Just a Puzzle
“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. 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.”—Revelation 13:17, 18.
FEW Bible topics have evoked as much interest and concern as the prophecy about the mysterious mark, or name, of “the wild beast”—the number 666. On television and the Internet, as well as in movies, books, and magazines, the mark of the beast has been the focus of endless speculation.
Some believe that 666 is the mark of the Biblical antichrist. Others say that it signifies some form of compulsory identification, such as a tattoo or an implanted microchip with a digital code that identifies the person as a servant of the beast. Still others hold that 666 is the mark of the Catholic papacy. Substituting Roman numerals for the letters in a form of the pope’s official title, Vicarius Filii Dei (Vicar of the Son of God), and manipulating the figures a little, they come up with 666. It is also claimed that the same number can be calculated from the Latin name of Roman Emperor Diocletian and from the Hebrew version of the name Nero Caesar.*
These fanciful and contrived interpretations, however, are very different from what the Bible itself says about the mark of the beast, as we shall see in the following article. The Bible does reveal that those with the mark will experience God’s wrath when he brings an end to the present system of things. (Revelation 14:9-11; 19:20) Understanding the meaning of 666, therefore, is much more than just solving an intriguing puzzle. Happily, Jehovah God, the very personification of love and the Source of spiritual light, has not kept his servants in the dark on this important matter.—2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 1:5; 4:8.
For a discussion on numerology, see Awake!, September 8, 2002.