Recently I have received questions about whether an implanted computer chip could be the infamous “666 Mark of the Beast.” Pictures show this chip being implanted in the fatty part of the back of an arm and in the back of a hand. John specified a person’s right hand and forehead for the “Mark of the Beast in (see Revelation 13:6).
To understand what the Mark of the Beast is, one must first understand that it refers to spiritual identification and not a literal one. How we know this is by the way the Bible uses similar markings. The most famous of these is found in the Jewish “Shema” (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Jesus said that the Shema’s proclamation of there being only “One God,” is the “greatest commandment” in the Bible (see Mark 12:28-29). In Deuteronomy 6 we also find that its believers were to “bind” its great truth on their forehead and hand as a “sign.” The word “sign” here can also be rendered “mark.” Through the ages Jews have literally done this with a phylactery. A phylactery is a leather strap that includes a leather box that houses certain Old Testament scriptures. The strap is wrapped around its wearer’s left arm, and the leather box is placed on their forehead. Though pious Jewish males have taken this command to bind this Truth on their left arm and forehead literally, the command carries a deeper meaning than a leather strap and box, for it speaks of keeping the “One God” truth close to all one’s doings (hand) and in all their thoughts (forehead). The Strong’s Concordance illustrates this further when it defines “bind” as: “to league in love, to conspire, to join together.” This is what this command says to do with this great one God truth; to league with love to the one God of the universe, and to conspire (act or work together) to be joined to Him in all your ways. Such meaning agrees with what Jesus said in the continuance of His first commandment teaching in Mark 12: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with ALL THY MIND, and with ALL THY STRENGTH: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).
Seeing the similarities between the “mark” found in Deuteronomy 6 and the “mark” found in Revelation 13 is unavoidable. Also, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 7:3, and Revelation 14:1, all show the righteous in Christ receiving a marking of the Father’s name in their foreheads. How they overcome all their persecution was through doing service to the One God (hands), and through thinking on Him always (foreheads). Remember, Jesus said, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” In the same chapter He said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 10:32). These markings illuminate the marked man for blessing (Father’s Mark), which is derived from that man’s righteous thoughts and actions, and the marked man for the curse (Beast-nature), which comes from that man’s unrighteous thoughts and actions. To be consistent, if a person teaches that the 666 mark is a literal tattoo or computer chip, they should teach the same about the marking of the Father’s name. To date I have not found any who do this. Such inconsistency can only lead to more bad exegesis of Scripture.
The judgment foretold in Revelation 13 is for carnal persons. This is a man or woman who lives unregenerate in their thoughts and their actions. As a result, they remain in their rebellious beast-like nature. This type person does not acknowledge the One True God of Deuteronomy 6:4, and instead lives in rebellion against Him and His ways. This is what Paul was referring to when he wrote: “For to be carnally minded is death [cursed beast-nature]; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace [blessed Christlike nature]. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8). In this verse Paul explains that a carnal mind (forehead) produces carnal actions (hand). Such traits cause enmity (division) with God, and thereby mark such a man for judgment. This enmity is “antichrist.” But the cure for this is the “anti-antichrist” verse found in the 6th book, 6th chapter, and 6th verse of the New Testament. “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6). This passage describes a new man who no longer is marked with a beast-nature, but is instead marked with a new Christ-nature.
As far as this 666 being the “number of a man,” Nero was a perfect personification of this beast nature. We know that his name, Nero Caesar, did equal 666, and in his day he was even known as a “beast.” Nero Caesar would be rendered as “Neron Kesar” (Nero Caesar), which in Hebrew has the following numerical values: N/50; r/200; w/6; n/50; Q/100; s/60; r/200. When you add these together they equal 666.
The fact that Nero is the personification of a “beast” is well documented. Apollinius of Tyana, a contemporary of Nero, specifically called Nero a “beast”: “In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many, many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs. . . . And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mother, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet.” Nero murdered his parents, brother, aunt, wife, and many others. He was a torturer, a homosexual rapist, and a sodomite. He castrated two young boys and paraded them around as his wives. Nero is also relevant to the Revelation narrative because he took personal control of Judea around 65 AD, and under his watch, the Church was persecuted for three and one-half years. This persecution included much inhuman persecution, torturing, and murder; of these are the Apostle John’s banishment to Patmos (where he wrote the book of Revelation), the beheading of the Apostle Paul, and the crucifixion (reportedly done upside down) of the Apostle Peter. Nero also was the Emperor who gave the command to take and destroy Jerusalem, which, after Nero’s death, was completed by Titus in 70 AD.
But more than Nero, “666” stands for the sixth day on which both beast and man were created. Just like the time of Eden, today’s man can also chose whether to live in rebellion against their creator, or to live in obedience to stand as a child of God. No wonder at Simon’s house in Acts 10, Peter saw a sheet loaded with all kinds of unclean beasts. God told him to “Rise, kill, and eat.” Peter discovered that God wasn’t telling him to eat an unkosher ham sandwich; rather God was showing Peter that “what God hath cleansed,” he should not call “common” (Acts 10:15). Peter explained the meaning of this phraseology when he said: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). Peter defined the beasts in this sheet as represented men of other nations. God was showing Peter that He would cleanse these beasts/men and make them new. This cleansing and making new is the promise of Jesus’ Gospel! No wonder believers are commanded to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
What does Revelation’s statement about a person refusing the “Mark of the Beast” have to do with them not being able to buy and sell? First, remember that John opened the Book of Revelation by writing: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelation 1:1). John ended that same epistle with the following: “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). John’s opening and closing statements clearly show that his prophecies in Revelation were expected to be fulfilled in the lifetime of those living during the 30-70 AD generation of Jesus Christ. To further see this, first understand that John’s Book of Revelation was his detailed account of Jesus’ Mount Olivet Discourse. Each of the synoptic gospel accounts includes a chapter for Jesus’ Mount Olivet Discourse (see Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). But John oddly failed to record this all-important sermon in his gospel account…or did he? The synoptic gospels give one chapter each to Jesus’ Mount Olivet sermon. However, John (the apostle that Jesus greatly loved) penned an entire epistle about the Mount Olivet Discourse, to give the Church a detailed picture of all that Jesus said was to “soon take place” in their generation. As a result, Revelation mostly focuses on the 70 AD judgment of Jerusalem. This destruction came against those who rejected the New Covenant of Jesus Christ and thereby rejection the one true God.
Where the “buying” and “selling” comes in has to do with how a believer in Jesus during that generation was treated because of his or her conversion. Those who accepted the New Covenant did so with threat of financial ruin, physical persecution, and possible death. This is why rejecting the Mark of the Beast would not allow a person to buy or sell. Their financial persecution came about when the apostate Jewish leadership of their day made an edict that those who followed the Nazarene, Jesus, would lose their place in the synagogue (see John 9:18-34, John 12:42, John 16:2; Luke 6:22; Acts 4:18, Acts 5:40). Losing their favorite pew was not what was at stake here. Instead it was their conversion meant they became a non-Jewish member of society. As a result they lost their jobs, their incomes, their houses, their lands, their societal standings, and their Jewish families. Therefore, to stand with those who stood against Jesus was to remain in an unregenerated beast-like nature. But to be “born again” in Jesus to become a “new creature in Christ” would cause a person to be rejected from all that they once were. This meant, as a Jewish convert to Jesus, you would no longer be welcome in the market place, Temple area, Synagogue service, or among your own Jewish family. This all-inclusive rejection would have made it tough, if not completely impossible, for a Jewish believer to buy or sell among non-Christian Jews. Such dedication is the price Jesus said it costs His follower: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
The “marks” mentioned in this study already happened over 2,000 years ago. Thus they are not for our time, or for a time yet in the future. Any human numbering system that would someday oppose the sacred things of God would be wrong. But such a system could not be the “mark” mentioned in Revelation 13, because that “mark” is now a past reality. What is always current is the biblical truths of the one true God. His Truth is to be enacted in a believer’s everyday thoughts and actions, for Born Again believers are called to love God with their entire “mind” and with all their “strength” (see Mark 12:30). Such devotion is an identifying mark for those who are part of God’s Kingdom.
© 2004 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.