What is the Number of the Beast?


In Revelation 13:1, John sees in a vision a fantastic beast rising out of the sea, which has SEVEN HEADS and TEN HORNS. It is like a leopard, with feet of a bear and a mouth of a lion (Revelation 13:2). In the book of Daniel, chapters 2, 5, 7 and 8, we are told that, beginning with the ancient Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, there would arise FOUR world-ruling empires on this earth—the Babylonian Empire (Daniel 2:36), the Medo-Persian Empire under Cyrus, Xerxes and others (Daniel 5:28), the Greco-Macedonian Empire under Alexander the Great and his four generals (Daniel 8:20-21), and finally, a fourth Empire (Daniel 2:33; 7:7). In Daniel 7:3-24, these four empires or kingdoms are compared with a lion, a bear, a leopard with four heads, and a terrible beast with TEN HORNS (Daniel 7:7).

Comparing these four beasts in the book of Daniel with the one beast in Revelation 13, we can see that the beast in Revelation is a conglomeration of those four beasts in Daniel. It has SEVEN HEADS, because it combines the HEAD of the lion, the HEAD of the bear, the FOUR HEADS of the leopard, and the HEAD of the fourth beast with ten horns. Virtually all Bible scholars confirm the historical fact that this fourth beast was the Roman Empire. It would have TEN successive resurrections or revivals, symbolized by the TEN HORNS.

The first three resurrections or revivals of the Roman Empire after its fall occurred under Geiseric of the Vandals; Odoacer of the Heruli; and Theodoric of the Ostrogoths. The fourth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire occurred under Justinian in 554 A.D. Historians refer to this event as the “Imperial Restoration.”

The fifth resurrection occurred under Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse) in 800 A.D.; the sixth under Otto the Great in 962 A.D.; the seventh under Charles V of Hapsburg in 1530 A.D.; and the eighth under Napoleon (which lasted from 1804 A.D. until 1814 A.D., when Napoleon abdicated at the battle of Leipzig). The ninth resurrection happened under Mussolini and Hitler. We are observing right now the beginning of the tenth and final resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire in continental Europe, under German leadership.

Revelation 13:17 tells us that no one will be able to buy or sell if he does not have the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name, which is 666.

The number 6 has great meaning in the Bible. It is the number of a man who is far from God or alienated from Him. The most famous combination of the number six is perhaps the number of the beast in the book of Revelation, namely 666. In the Greek, this number is written as 600 and 60 and 6. This number stands for total separation from God and the unconditional submission to Satan the Devil. Most people will be so deceived that they will worship Satan and his human instruments—the beast and the false prophet—while rejecting the true God and His Law.

The sixth commandment forbids murder in all of its different forms (Exodus 20:13), but man, separated from God, thinks that some kinds of murder are permitted, such as killing in war. Those who will worship and follow the beast and the false prophet will be so deceived that they will not only want to fight against other human beings in war, but they are even willing to fight the returning Jesus Christ, thinking perhaps that He is an Alien or “the Antichrist.” (For a correct understanding of the concept of “Antichrist,” please read our Q&A on that subject).

We were also told in Revelation 13:17 that the nations will accept the NAME of the beast and the number of his name.
The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary states that the “‘number of his name’ [implies] that the name has some numerical meaning.” The NAME can refer to a literal name, to an adopted name, or to a well-known expression associated with or describing the beast (such as “Heil Hitler” or “Il Duce”). In addition, when people accept his name, they accept what he stands for and what he does.

Revelation 13:18 continues that the famous “NUMBER of the beast” is the “number of a man.” We are told to “calculate” the number, which is 666. King Lateinos was the founder of Rome and the Roman Empire. In the Greek, every letter has a numerical value. The numerical value for “Lateinos” is 666. Therefore, the beast is clearly identified as the Roman Empire, as the number 666 identifies the founder of the Roman Empire–Lateinos. Iraeneus, a pupil of Polycarp (disciple of the apostle John) understood the 666 to  be the Greek word “Lateinos.” Clement stated that 666 applies to the “Latin Kingdom,” as written in Greek.

Many commentaries agree that the number of the beast—666—refers to Lateinos, the founder of Rome. In the Greek, L stands for 30, A for 1, T for 300, E for 5, I for 10, N for 50, O for 70, and S for 200. These total 666. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary states that the beast “may have a close connection with Rome, and so the name ‘Lateinos’ (666) may apply to him.”

Many claim that the number 666 is a reference to Nero, but there are several problems with this. Dummelow, “A Commentary on the Holy Bible,” explains: “It has been found that if ‘Neron Caesar’ be written in HEBREW letters, the sum of the letters is 666… to get 666, ‘Caesar’ has to be written defectively. If spelt, ‘Nero Caesar,’ the sum of the letters is 616…” In addition, to arrive at 666 even in the Hebrew letters, an artificial change for “Nero” to “Neron” has to be made. If it is spelled “Nero,” one does not reach the numerical value of 666.

In any event, we need to focus on Greek letters, not letters in Hebrew, Latin or any other language. The New Testament was written in Greek. Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains that it is indeed the Greek language and the numerical value of its letters that need to be consulted to determine the number, as John wrote in Greek; the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet are expressly selected to denote Christ’s eternity, i.e. Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8, 11); and “the numerals by which the enigma is expressed… are Greek.”

Further, the number 616 is incorrect. Barnes explains that the number is indeed 666, and not 616, as sometimes proposed, as 616 is only contained in some falsified and corrupted versions.

Although the designation “beast” in Revelation 13 describes the Roman Empire, it can also refer to the representative or ruler of that Empire and especially to the end-time leader of the final revival of the Roman Empire (compare Revelation 16:13; 19:20). Likewise, the NUMBER of the “beast” may not only refer to the original founder of the Empire (i.e. Lateinos), but it is likely that the numerical value of the name of the final human leader—referred to as a MAN (compare again Revelation 13:18)—will also be 666.

The Ryrie Study Bible states that “Somehow, unknown to us, the number will play an important part in the identification of the Antichrist [the beast] in a future day.” And J.H. Blunt’s commentary writes that “the true and full application of it is not likely to be discovered until the personal Antichrist [the beast] himself has arisen, and then it may prove to be one of the signs by which he is to be readily identified.”

We need to emphasize that the number refers to a “man.” In other words, the reference is to a male and not to a female. Even though the general term “man” could refer to a human being in general (male or female), this is not the meaning in Revelation 13. For instance, we read in Revelation 13:8 that “All who dwell on the earth will worship HIM whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

The Zuercher Bible points out that one would expect the statement that people would worship “IT”—rather than “HIM.” But saying that all the earth will worship HIM indicates that a MALE person is meant. We find the same expression in Revelation 13:14 where reference is made to the “beast WHO [not “it”] was wounded by the sword and lived.” This might also indicate the fact that not only the Roman Empire received a deadly wound and was healed (Revelation 13:3), but also, that the end-time human leader (“the beast”) will suffer a political defeat (so that one may think he has no future), but that he then will arise again from the historical abyss, so that many will marvel and follow him (compare again verse 3).

The Elberfelder Bible confirms in two footnotes their understanding that in verses 8 and 14, a MALE person is meant, as the pronoun is masculine (“he”), not feminine (“she”) or neuter (“it”).

It is also important to note that the number refers to the beast—the political military leader—and not to a religious figure. Therefore, all the calculations which in one way or another apply the number to a religious person, including the Pope, are not in accordance with Scripture.
However, the understanding of the beast’s “name” and “number” won’t be a sign that will be readily discernable by most, since we specifically read in Revelation 13:18: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast…”
One will need to have godly wisdom and understanding to figure out and calculate the number of his name. Most people will not be able to do so, and they will not believe it when it is revealed, because they will be deceived by Satan and the false prophet to believe a lie.

For further information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy,” “The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”  and “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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