Examining the Number 666

Posted on January 31, 2020


By David Ettinger

It’s Only Fitting
Since this is my 666th blog, and seeing how I am a student of prophecy, it’s only fitting I should briefly examine the number 666 in the Bible.

The number is found in Revelation 13:18, a chapter which speaks of the coming Antichrist (the beast out of the sea) and his prophet (the beast out of the earth). These two personalities will be human, but will receive supernatural power by Satan in the final 7 years of this era of human history.

We are then told that in order for the citizens of Earth to function in society, the two beasts will impose upon them a particular restriction.

It [probably the second beast] also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name (vv. 16-17).

We don’t know what that mark will be, but verse 18 indicates it could be a number: “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”

Just who or what is 666?

Candidate List
Let me cut to the chase: We don’t know “who” 666 is, and if anyone claims to know, they are fibbing.

Over the centuries, many have been nominated as the Antichrist, the possessor of the number 666. Topping the list right now is U.S. President Trump. Before him was President Obama. So much for that.

A depiction of Nero

The most popular candidates from history have been the Emperor Nero, one of the many Popes, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolph Hitler, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, and, of course, several U.S. Presidents.

The basis for these presumptions range from the speculative to the ridiculous. One of the criteria for identifying the Antichrist is figuring out whose name “adds up” to 666. In the Hebrew and Greek languages, letters are often assigned a numerical value, hence every person’s name equals a particular number.

The problem, of course, is which language to use: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic are the languages of the Bible, but which one to pick? Besides Nero, none of these languages apply to the candidates above. And no, for you proponents of the Pope, Latin doesn’t count. Nor do German, French, Russian, and English (the language of the other candidates).

Zeroing In On the Number
As you can see, trying to figure out what individual “adds up” to 666 just won’t work, and quite frankly, is a waste of time. What makes more sense is to determine why the apostle John – writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit – was given this infamous number.

What is it about 666? Verse 18 tells us, “it is the number of a man.” But what does this mean? We can assume if there is a number of man, there must be a number of God. And indeed there is. In the Bible, the number 7 represents perfection, and can therefore be regarded as “God’s number.” Perhaps we can even say that the number of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit – is 777, or God-God-God, or 7-7-7.

By contrast, there seems to be a false, or evil, trinity that will be on Earth in the end-times. Perhaps this evil trinity will be Satan, the Antichrist, and the Antichrist’s prophet, and hence 666. The problem with this, however, is that Satan is not a man.

However, just as 6 falls short of 7, so 666 could represent how Satan and man fall short of deity and can never attain to it. With this in mind, we can look at 666 as signifying not-God, not-God, not-God, or 6-6-6.

Don’t Sweat It
So, there’s my 2 cents on the matter. If we can conclude anything from this study, it’s what the Bible tells us, which is not very much. We have a number – 666 – and “it is the number of a man” – almost certainly the Antichrist.

Don’t get swept up in the maddening current of prognosticators claiming to identify the Antichrist based on this number. It is doubtful that 666 is the numerical value of someone’s name. Speculation is foolish, so don’t spend time doing it.

What is wise, however, is to obey the words of Jesus, who said regarding the end of the age: “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (Mark 13:37).