What is the Meaning of "666" in Revelation?
- Monday, November 04, 2013
Other interpreters, myself included, view the Book of Revelation as being both historical and predictive of coming future events (This is the double fulfillment principle of prophecy.) According to this view, Nero was indeed an “antichrist” as well as a type or picture of the coming future Antichrist—whose number-name will also add up to 666.
Nero was a despicable man who murdered his own mother. Nero fiddled the night Rome burned. By blaming Christians for the fire, he justified his tortuous murdering of uncounted hundreds of those who proclaimed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He proclaimed his supposed divinity on coins, identifying him as the "Savior of the World." Since Christians have only one Lord, refusing to burn incense and declare Caesar Nero as Lord was like signing your own death warrant. As an aside, since Nero ruled from A.D. 54-68 he would have been the emperor to whom Paul appealed his case as recorded in Acts 25:10-12.
For those who may be interested, I quote below a passage from Tacitus, the Greek historian (c. A.D. 60-120), who preserved in his Annals (XV.44) the viciousness of the Neronian persecutions which give us some idea of the horror the coming Antichrist will inflict on both Jews and Christians.
Nero falsely accused as the culprits [who started the fire] and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class … who are commonly called Christians. “Christus,” from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.… Accordingly, arrest was first made of those who confessed [to being Christians]; then, on their evidence [refusing to worship Nero as Lord], an immense multitude was convicted ... Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed…. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.
The number “6” in the Bible is often associated with man; just as the number “7” is the perfect number and “3” often correlates to the Trinity. 666 is thus a number that consistently falls short of triple perfection: 777. The number also refers to the “unholy trinity,” Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet.
One day I got to wondering what Jesus’ number might happen to be. So I added up the Greek letter-numbers in Jesus name (ιζσους = 10 + 7 + 200 + 70 + 400 + 200 =887). What a shame. 887 is only one digit short of “888” which would symbolize Jesus as consistently one better than perfection.
As I am writing my answer I wonder what “Christ” adds up to? Let’s find out (χριστος = 600 + 100 + 10 + 200 + 300 + 70 + 200 =1480). Well, I don’t find any symbolism in 1480, but it was worth a try.
By the way, some early manuscripts identify the number-name of the Antichrist as 616 (instead of 666). By omitting the final “n” in Nero’s name in Greek, transliterating that name into Hebrew, and then adding up the letters, the number of Nero and of the coming Antichrist both add up to 616. Regardless of the number, Nero is the only name that can account for both 666 and 616. But, 616 is a story for another time.
I hope my answer is both interesting and informative. Thanks for the question.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
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