Revelation 13:18 – “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)
Revelation 13:18 – “You need wisdom to understand the number of the beast! But if you are smart enough, you can figure this out. Its number is 666, and it stands for a person.” (CEV)
[Note: This author is a pre-Tribulation rapture believer, and this article reflects that view.]
In this study, I was initially looking to find out what the Greek was saying in regard to the number itself. My main concern was whether the number of the beast was the more common, accepted view of three digits of six: in other words, “six, six, six” which we so often hear and say (I myself have referred to the Mark of the Beast as “six, six, six” for decades). Or, was it more in line with the KJV written out in words as “six hundred sixty six?”
In my investigation I found what I was looking for. Below is what the Greek actually says with the definition.
chxs: abbreviation for six hundred sixty six
Original Word: χξϛ
Phonetic Spelling: (khee xee stig’-ma)
Definition: abbreviation for six hundred sixty six
I also learned that in Greek the word for “six” is stigma (and yes, it’s meaning is perfect for the Mark of the Beast, as it means “a mark or brand”) and looks like ς. If the verse were to read “six, six, six,” the verse would, in the Greek, be ςςς. Instead, it reads χξϛ and the definition is an “abbreviation for six hundred sixty six.”
When I looked into the rest of the verse, I found the KJV translation was very accurate. It became clear to me that the number of Antichrist is not 666 (three digits of sixes – six, six, six), but rather 666 (six hundred sixty six).
Next, when putting everything together with the rest of the text, it became clear that the verse is saying that, somehow, Antichrist’s name will be calculated to 666 (six hundred sixty six).
This part of the verse reads: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man.” We know the man to be the beast, or the Antichrist, and we know his number is 666 (six hundred sixty six).
How this will be done is speculation.
The most prevalent interpretation – staying true to the text – is some variation of the following:
Calculating Antichrist’s name based upon the Greek and/or Hebrew languages, as both languages have numerical values to their alphabet. (Maybe, even distinctly possible, the Antichrist’s name could add to 666 when interpreted into any language using the process of “word value” i.e., 1=for the first letter of the alphabet, 2=for the second, etc., for a language that didn’t have numerical values for their alphabets.)
Again, all conjecture.
So, why is the calculation needed between the rapture and the middle of the Tribulation? Could it be to warn and convince some of who the Antichrist is and all he is about to do? It would be another witness against those who would take the Mark as well as a witnessing tool to lead others to Christ.
I would like to offer an addendum interpretation, with the above reason as to why this would be needed.
I was pondering who would have the “wisdom” to “count” the number of the Antichrist’s name from the rapture of the church until the middle of the Tribulation – and a number dawned on me: 144,002.
The 144,000 Israeli Witnesses (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5) who will be witnessing throughout the world and the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:1-13) witnessing for three and a half years in Jerusalem could very well – with the guiding of the Holy Spirit – have the “understanding” to proclaim to the world the “number of the beast” and warn the world of who he is and what he will do before the Abomination of Desolation (Daniel 9:27).
Granted, this is speculation (as is most future prophetic interpretation), but I believe this to be quite plausible and the best interpretation available this side of the rapture.
We don’t know how all this will take place and the details behind it, but we do know it will happen – God’s Word says it will happen.
One thing I do know: I will no longer be calling 666 “six, six, six,” but will be identifying 666 as “six hundred sixty six.” That is, “The number of the Beast is 666 [six hundred sixty six].”
It’s the Biblically right thing to do.