Revelation 13 is the pivotal chapter for understanding 666 and the mark of the beast. This piece of writing intends to offer helpful guidance in exploring this topic. It is taken from the book titled “666: The Mark of the Beast Made Simple.“
Is it possible for ordinary Christians, without formal training in prophecy, eschatology, or apocalyptic writings, to truly grasp the mysterious concepts of 666 and the mark of the beast?
In the previous chapter, we laid the foundation for proper context—biblical, historical, and eschatological. In this chapter, you will learn that any Christian can understand Revelation, with proper guidance and without becoming entangled in age-old theological controversies or never-ending end-time prophecy speculations.
Revelation: An Accessible Book
John addressed the book of Revelation to the Christians in the seven local churches in Asia Minor, expecting all the
believers would understand his message, regardless of their theological expertise. He did not directly address his letter to Jewish rabbis, experts in Jewish law, or those skilled in apocalyptic writings.
However, John’s call for wisdom in Revelation 13:18 implies that understanding 666 and the mark of the beast demands greater insight than the average person had in his day. In this book, I provide straightforward guidance that will equip readers with the essential skills to navigate the complexities of 666 confidently.
Acknowledging Revelation’s Complexity
In stating that Christians without special theological training can understand the book of Revelation, I do not intend to undermine the complexity of this book. The book of Revelation is undoubtedly one of the most complex books in the Bible. This complexity implies that we should keep two crucial points in mind as we proceed:
- We should acknowledge and respect the reality that some passages are difficult to understand. God, in His infinite wisdom, has intentionally used symbolic language to conceal certain truths in that book until the end.
- Because some passages and concepts are unclear, Christians have different perspectives about what they mean. Consequently, we should have a healthy respect for these differing perspectives. In this book, we will focus on the aspects that are clear and identify areas with differing viewpoints as needed.
Despite this complexity and ambiguity, there are some common pitfalls we should avoid.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Here are three common errors, framed as guidelines, that we must avoid as we seek to understand 666 and the mark of the beast:
- Do not attempt to identify the Antichrist before the time God has set for him to be revealed to the world. Any attempt to use 666 to identify who the Antichrist is will probably fail, so it is best to steer clear of it. When the Antichrist comes onto the world stage and becomes the worldwide political leader, he will be recognized as such, and the meaning and application of 666 will make perfect sense to those equipped with the knowledge shared in this book.
- Do not seek to predict what the mark of the beast will be before its time. When the beast (the Antichrist) is known, the mark of the beast will be clear to all.
- Do not seek to know what God has concealed until the appointed time. As a master communicator, God has concealed some truths only to be revealed in the last days. For instance, if God has purposefully withheld the exact year of Jesus’s return (which Jesus Himself said he did not know), do not seek to predict it or listen to anyone who claims to know it.
If we avoid these three pitfalls, we can use the tools at our disposal to understand what God wants us to know without the pressure of having to be exact.
Aids to Interpretation
Christians in A.D. 95–96 understood Revelation readily, just as most people today are familiar with smartphones. To understand Revelation today, it is essential to read it as the Christians in the seven churches who received John’s letter did. For this, we need help from experts to bridge the wide gap between us, including cultural, linguistic, and historical differences.
An exhaustive treatment of the aids to understanding Revelation is beyond the scope of this book. Instead, we will focus on three things that will help us, especially concerning 666 and the mark of the beast:
- Context is crucial. In Chapter 1, we discussed the biblical, historical, and eschatological context of Revelation 13:18.
- Symbolism is key. Symbolic language is central to prophecy and apocalyptic writings. God often uses symbols to represent people, places, events, or things in visions shown to prophets. For example, John saw the Antichrist as a beast emerging from the sea, a symbol representing a man. Grasping this concept of symbolism puts us well on our way toward understanding the mark of the beast.
- First steps matter. Begin your interpretation on solid ground; start with what is clear, then proceed to the ambiguous. One of the best clues to understanding what 666 or the mark means is to look for similar passages in Revelation or other biblical books that speak to similar concepts with more clarity. For example, God’s seal or name on His people’s forehead (Revelation 14:1) is a vital interpretative clue.
An additional aid involves questions that help us understand symbolic language:
Two Crucial Questions About Symbols
Understanding symbols is crucial for interpreting Revelation. Here are two questions we must seek to answer about 666 and the mark of the beast (please see Figure 4):
- Is the mark of the beast a symbol that stands for something else, or is it a literal bodily mark in real life?
- If it is a symbol, the next question is, what does the symbol represent?
With the foundation of proper context and the first step in navigating Revelation, the drama is about to begin. In our next chapter, we delve into one of the most intriguing and significant aspects of end-times prophecy: the Antichrist and the rise of a global empire.
- What Does 666 Mean?
- What is the Mark of the Beast?
- 666 and the Mark of the Beast: Confronting Fears and Debunking Myths
- How to Live in the End Times
- Watch Book Trailer. 666: The Mark of the Beast Made Simple
- View all Bible Study Topics, including End Times Articles.
- External Resource: Read Revelation 13 on Bible.com
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