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What does 666, the number of the Beast, mean?

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The number of the Beast, 666, is associated with the mark of the Beast and the name of the Beast in Revelation 13:17 Revelation 13:17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
American King James Version×
. We are told to “count the number” and that it is “the number of a man” (Revelation 13:18 Revelation 13:18Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.
American King James Version×
). One early explanation is attributed to John's disciple Polycarp, who, according to his student Irenaeus, said this number is derived from adding together the numerical equivalents of the letters in the word Lateinos, the Greek word for “Roman”—this being the name of the Beast empire, its ruler and everyone in it. So the number may well denote this general distinction, though it could also be more specific.

Another explanation is that the Bible associates the number six with man; God made him on the sixth day of creation week. The number 666 is a triple repetition of the number of man and emphasizes that this beast represents a government whose base is human authority, as opposed to God's authority.

As with the mark of the Beast, God's people will reject it. They will “have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name” (Revelation 15:2 Revelation 15:2And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
American King James Version×
). However this prophecy is fulfilled, it is clear that accepting the mark or number will involve compromising and contradicting God's commands. Having proof that one is officially associated in some way with the Beast will be necessary for one to be allowed to engage in commerce (Revelation 13:17 Revelation 13:17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
American King James Version×

The Book of Revelation Unveiled Exactly how the end-time number of the Beast, 666, will be used and applied is not yet clear. But in some way it will be associated with the Beast's name and applied to his evil activities.

Please see our Bible study aid booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled for more information about this beast power.


Watch the Beyond Today video: 666 and You!
This infamous prophetic number involves not only one's freedom to buy and sell but much more. Discover the important biblical facts.

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  • John Stefanyszyn

    You are incorrect in your understanding because you are working with an incorrect literal tranlation from the greek text.

    X= self / oneself
    E= to support / magnify
    S= to serve / in servitude to

    ….to serve and magnify oneself.

    Christ is not describing a “numerology puzzle”. Christ is describing the spiritual state of man during the rulership of this way of the last beast (world leader).

    You are blinded by your worship of freedom of self-rights to. see the truth.

    Christ said that we are to SERVE the WILL of the One True Creator Father and not to serve our will / our self rights.

    The mark and the image of the beast is the worship of freedom of man’s “rights”.

  • Steven Britt


    Christ says very clearly in Revelation 13:18 that it is indeed a number:

    “Let him who has understanding calculate the NUMBER of the beast, for it is the NUMBER of a man: His NUMBER is 666.”

    The NUMBER 666 is indeed formed by 3 Greek letters, chi-xi-stigma, and a cursory internet search yields a wide variety of speculative analyses like the one you’ve given, none of which seem to agree with each other. Even if there were some credible source ascribing the meanings that you give to each of these letters, it wouldn’t matter because Christ stated plainly that it is a number.

  • John Stefanyszyn

    cont. Re XES:

    -to know good and evil
    … establish and justify for oneself what is “right”
    …..freedom from the Will of the Creator so as to be free to do one’s own will.
    …..freedom of self-rights/ human rights/ freedom of all religions/gods.

    XES….to serve and magnify oneself
    ….to serve and magnify one’s rights
    ….to worship this image
    ….to receive willfully this mark on one’s forehead or on one’s hand.

  • John Stefanyszyn

    It is true that the translators have interpreted the original Greek word of “arithmon” as “number”, which is one of its literal meanings.

    But “arithmon” has also other meanings…such as”worth”, “value”, “mark of a station”.
    An example of these meanings can be seen today when one says to someone that “they are number 1”. It is clear that this is a reference to one’s worth/value/station and not to a literal “number”.

    The Greek words “name” and “mark” also have other meanings:
    “name”…onoma…=title,reputation, character
    “mark”…charagma…=nature of, characteristic, quality

    As you can see, all three words ( arithmon, onoma, charagma) refer to one’s value, character, quality…which depend on one’s belief / way of life.

    Christ is not refering to a literal “number” but to the belief ,values, and character of man which he describes as being man’s mark of his forehead…the mark of self-liberty as President Obama has confessed and praised recently.

    John Stefanyszyn
    **Personal information removed to comply with comment policy**

  • Steven Britt

    Every other instance of this word in the New Testament is an unambiguous reference to a literal number. Furthermore, Revelation 13:17 seems to make a distinction between the mark, the name, and the number of the beast as if they are 3 distinct identifiers which can be used to represent the beast, whereas your interpretation would mean that the same thing is being stated 3 times. If all 3 of these words, “mark,” “number,” and “name” are all intended to mean “character,” then it would make more sense to use a single Greek word that actually conveys that meaning.

    Another questionable aspect of your interpretation is the meaning of the individual Greek letters. I did some searching and didn’t find any legitimate sources that ascribed meaning to the individual letters. Among the illegitimate sources that I found (mysticism/witchcraft type websites with no scholarly references) had different meanings for each one than what you gave. Even if you were correct concerning the translation of “arithmos” (I’m no Greek expert, so this is possible) I still wouldn’t be ready to accept your explanation based on what you’ve provided.

  • andreas1n
    I believe that “666” indicates a man making himself a “god” therefore when Christians hear of a man declaring himself to be a god they will know who he is and what he is.
  • pololoy
    There was a pope named Sixtus V who reigned in 1585 to 1590. I am wondering if a future pope or anti-pope will take the name Sixtus VI. Sixtus means “the sixth” or 6th. And VI is the Latin numeral 6. What could be other “6”?
  • Ricardo
    What about the fact that there are actually several (copies of) manuscripts of the book of Revelation and that they refer to different numbers (not only 666)? That is, there are other copies of Revelation that refer to other numbers. For example, the oldest copy says 616 instead of 666. Wouldnt this possibly mean that each copists identified a different individual as the beast in his/(her?) own time and code it with a different number? Best, Ricardo
  • United Church of God
    Ricardo, the very few manuscripts which have 616 are not a major concern. There are about 300 samples of 666 and only four or five of 616. The early exegetes such as Irenaeus and Polycarp (A student of John the author of Revelation) knew of this and were unconcerned believing it was a scribal error. They and many others understood 666 as the correct text. In more modern times, biblical researchers have suggested another solution. Dr. Bruce Metzger, a recognized authority on manuscripts and Chair of the New Revised Standard Version Committee, says 616 and 666 can refer to the same entity. In Greek, 666 can yield “Nero Caesar” (Perhaps an exemplar of the Roman Empire) but 616 in Latin when transliterated into Hebrew also gives us “Nero Caesar” Therefore the difference may be a moot point. (See “A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament,” Page 676) Regardless as to whether we know the exact meaning; we should accept only God’s precepts and not be deceived by the cunningness of this coming “beast” power.
  • rwp_47
    It says that “the beast” and “a man” have a number (and evidently it is the same number). It says to count this number. But how does one “count a number”? What does that even mean? Take the number 4 for instance … how does one count the number 4? We know how to count to 4. But to count 4 and to count to 4 would seem to be two different statements with different meanings … just like the words SHELL and HELL have a number of things in common but have very different meanings. The article at the top of the page suggested that Polycarp thought adding the numerical values of the letters in one’s name (evidently in the Greek language?) is what is meant by … to count the beast’s number. But is that actually what counting a number means? And if that is what it means then how is it authoritatively established that this is what counting a number means? What if its a nonsense statement? For instance … What’s the difference between a duck? Go ahead … tell me. And go ahead … count the number. And then prove that what you did is indeed counting the number. It strikes me that unless one knows for certain what to “count a number” means … then trying to find the meaning of counting 666 will be a lost cause.
  • STU
    we cannot fully know and understand the number 666… You should read from Daniel 7:24-25 Daniel 7:24-25 24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. 25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
    American King James Version×
    ….Revelation 12 and 13 and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you to the deep understanding of what that number(666) represent.
  • Naresh Nelagondarashi
    I think 666 means… 1st 6 is indicating a Human/created by GOD on 6th day, 2nd 6 is indicating a JESUS CHRIST, 3rd 6 is Indicating a anti-Christ, he will be come between JESUS CHRIST and Human for to try to confuse the human.
  • marco855
    I believe the passage is misinterpreted. It states (paraphrasing) that one needs wisdom and understanding, and then a calculation is necessary to discern the number of the beast. It continues, it is the number of a man, and his number is 666( or 616). This is my question; why is wisdom and understanding necessary, and why is a calculation needed when the number is provided in the text? Everyone believes that 666 is the number of the beast, but it’s not possible if you correctly interpret what is written. When it states that wisdom and understanding are needed, then the number is given to you, how does that make sense? Why would any calculation be necessary if the number is given to you? I believe that everyone repeats what they hear, without thinking about what is written. The number of a man is 666, and from that basis, we have to determine the number of the beast. It’s a difficult riddle, because it doesn’t seem to follow logically. What is needed then, is to determine what the relationship is between the man and the beast, and how the mans’ number relates to what the beasts’ number is. That accomplished, we should then have enough information to make the calculation that is mentioned. If you think in these terms, it’s clear that wisdom and understanding are needed because the answer is not necessarily straight forward. Each word has a meaning, so you have to define each one and ask why that particular word is used versus a synonym or other. The word understanding is very interesting to me. if i have wisdom, why then must i also have understanding? somewhere in that conundrum lies the answer, I believe……………
  • Confuse_us
    There are many interesting comments on this board! John, have you noticed that if you reverse the Greek letters they spell ‘SEX’ (in English)? What better way to ‘magnify and serve oneself’? Perhaps the mark of the beast is unadulterated sexuality! Where we even kill our babies and make them pay the price for our ‘service’ (in the vein of Moloch, via abortion). In the U.S. today, the push to accept homosexuality is the latest incursion into ‘sexual freedom’. There are no limits on who (or, I wouldn’t be surprised to see, WHAT) we have sex with! Among the arguments I have seen repudiating the mainstreaming of homosexual ‘marriage’ is the possibility of extending the argument to children and animals! And, as we all know, pornography is as accessible as the internet these days. Perhaps computers and the internet represent the ‘beast’. This technology has risen from the ‘sea’ (meaning ‘the people’). You can say whatever you want ‘anonymously’ adding to the collective thought, while remaining hidden. In this way, the number can represent EACH person who reads, or posts, on the internet, while representing the cumulative thinking of humanity as a whole! The internet is becoming a major shopping tool as well (the number will allow you access to the markets). Perhaps ALL commerce will flow through the internet, and without a computer you will not have access. Each person who uses the net also is assigned a number (IP address)! Despite feeling protected and free to say what you want, everything can be visible to those who have the means to eavesdrop, giving godlike power and authority to the ‘over seer’. You must admit, the internet has created an explosion in knowledge as prophesied for the end times. We can ‘call fire out of the sky’ to fall down on our enemies in ISIS via satellites and the internet, too! It will enable ‘the world’ to view the deaths of the prophets of revelation, as well as their resurrection! Think about it…
  • Breckenridge85
    KJV says “six hundred threescore and six”, I was thinking about it and had an idea, Kind of off the wall, but I guess anything is possible! What if it is the number of the leader who becomes the beast, and you literally “count the number”, and he will be the 666th leader supporting the new world order? Sounds like a lot of people, but maybe going back to pharaoh in moses’ day, and including all of the leaders in the past century who have helped start this NWO…political and spiritual. I don’t know if there really are that many, just speculating. It would be a task to find out who all has been involved, esp with the secrecy. But, it does say “count the number” and it “is the number of a man”. Time will tell…I love reading everyone’s interpretations!! God bless you all!!

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