The Number of the Beast

14 Jun
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I think that of all the people who never read the Bible or know much about the Bible, the one thing they are most likely to know about the Bible is some misconception of 666. Undoubtedly, their misconception is founded upon their attending one of the creations of the equally ignorant Hollywood productions like the Omen series. Did you ever wonder how we would know the number of the so-called Beast? Would the number be written 666 beneath the hair of his scalp like it was done in the Hollywood production? If so, why does the Bible say we must calculate his number (Revelation 13:18)? In the 1970s I remember that some folks thought Henry Kissinger was the Antichrist, because someone calculated K-I-S-S-I-N-G-E-R and came up with 666!

In the Bible, the Greek word used to show how the number 666 is derived is psephizo (G5585) and means “to use pebbles in enumeration; (generally) to compute.”[1] It is also the word used to decide a matter by casting one’s vote (casting pebbles into an urn). So, how would any of us, today, decide who this Beast is, if we had to identify him by ‘counting’ the number of his name? Would we use his English name? What if he is French, Italian or German etc.? How would we count his name, and in what language would we compute it, because his name would be spelled differently in each language (cp. Jesus)? The Bible does not help us here does it? I think this is a significant factor. How would anyone compute the number of the Beast today? In what language would we understand its calculation? It seems to me that, if we are using the Bible, we would need to use its languages (Greek, Hebrew or possible Aramaic) to calculate the number of the Beast’s name, otherwise everything is arbitrary, and what we could calculate in English would not be so in French or German etc. In other words KISSINGER (et al) is not the name of the Beast.

Gematria is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person’s age, the calendar year, or the like.[2] This is the system that John uses in Revelation 13:18. The Greek letters chi, xi, and stigma are used to express the number 666. Each letter of the Greek alphabet is given a number. The first 10 letters (alpha to iota) are given the values of 1-10 respectively. Then each following number is expressed by counting by 10s (20 to 90 or from kappa to omicron). The final eight letters of the ancient Greek alphabet or from rho to omega are counted in hundreds from 100 to 800 respectively.

Using this formula one could count the value of a single Greek word or even of phrases in the New Testament. For example, and since we are interested in the number 666 in this study, the Greek word wonders in 2Thessalonians 2:9 has the value of 666, so does merchandise in 2Peter 2:3 (except that its value is 666 x 2). The phrase in the world in 1John 1:9 has the value of 666, as does the value of the phrase merchants of the earth in Revelation 18:3. The phrase: The man of sin, the son of perdition in 2Thessalonians 2:3 is 3996 which at first means nothing to our study until we find that this same number can be expressed as 666 x 6.[3]

One of the most interesting things I discovered in my studies on this subject is that of all the nouns in the New Testament only two in their nominative case (this is the case one finds all nouns in dictionaries and concordances such as Strongs and Thayers) have the value of 666. The two nouns are euporia (G2142 meaning wealth) and paradosis (G3862 meaning tradition).[4] These two nouns have a relation to the right hand (wealth) i.e. what we do; and the forehead (tradition) relating to what we believe. This is pretty significant, don’t you think? Only two Greek nouns of all the nouns used in the New Testament have the value of 666, and, taken together, they correspond to the Mark of the Beast![5]

So, what does all this mean? What should we think of these things? Well, I believe it is rather obvious that it would be arbitrary, to say the least, if we think we should calculate the number of a man’s name today. In what language would we make our calculations? It seems clear to me that, if we are going to understand what 666 means and to whom it refers, it must refer to someone or something in the past, viz. the 1st century AD.

Early Christians understood the number referred to Nero Caesar. In the Aramaic language (a language of the Bible) his name added up to 666. I also think it is quite significant that Annas, the high priest who had so much to do with Jesus’ crucifixion and the first three persecutions against the church, also has this number engraved upon his life. He was murdered by Jewish rebels at the beginning of the Jewish war with Rome. He died on the 6th day of the 6th month, after having been high priest for 60 years.[6] Looking back in the manner in which we have come to calculate time, he was made high priest in the year 6 AD and was killed in the year 66 AD. Admittedly, this calculation is the result of an error in determining Jesus’ birth, but could this human error be by divine design in order to point to this evil man? Just a thought!

[1] From Strongs Concordance

[2] From “The Free Dictionary”

[3] All calculations in this paragraph come from Theomatics by Jerry Lucas and Del Washburn; ISBN 0-8128-6017-9.

[4] This information in greater detail can be found in the commentary Jamieson, Fausset & Brown at Revelation 13:18.

[5] See my previous studies on this subject: The Mark of the Beast and The Mark of the Beast and 666.

[6] Josephus dates Annas’ priesthood to 6 AD (see Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.2 [026]) and puts his death at the beginning of the Jewish war with Rome in 66 AD (see Wars of the Jews 2.17.9 [441-442]. He sets a more exact date in the previous paragraph (2.17.8 [440]) when he says the fire was set to the Roman camp on the 6th day of the month of Gorpieus / Elul (6th month). For a more detailed analysis of this, see my comment below which is dated October 29, 2015.


Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Mark of the Beast


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26 responses to “The Number of the Beast

  1. Robert

    July 28, 2016 at 22:14

    In your opinion, can the meaning of the 666 be known?

    • Eddie

      July 29, 2016 at 09:48

      This number is a fascinating number which has occupied multiple hours of my studies. If it identifies a man, it must certainly have been a man in the first century AD. If not, how would we count to identify his name today? In what language would we count? The languages of the Bible use letters to formulate its math. It was easy to ‘count’ a man’s name in the first century AD using Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic–all languages of the Bible. Nero Caesar could be counted to 666 in Aramaic. Is it he? Don’t know.

      An interesting book on this subject is “Theomatics” by Jerry Lucas and Del Washburn. The book concerns itself with much more than 666, but there is a chapter on that number. For example: “In the world” (John 1:9), “merchants of the earth” (Revelation 18:3), “where the harlot sits” (Revelation 17:15), “the kingdom” (Revelation 17:17), “those days” (Matthew 24:19), “great wrath” (Revelation 12:12); wrath of God (Colossians 3:6) and “made clay” (John 9:14) each add up to 666, according to the book. The study also goes into multiples of 666, like 666 x 5 = “powers of the heavens” (Luke 21:26). An interesting read, if you don’t already have it in your library.

      At the end of the day, however, I don’t think the number has as much significance for us as it had for believers in the first century AD.

      Lord bless.

    • Robert

      July 30, 2016 at 15:15

      Absolutely. The Bible states let him that has understanding count the number. The wisdom and understanding needed to accomplish this is not education (earthly), but spiritual wisdom.

      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.
      Rev 13:18 (KJV)

      If we cannot truly understand the meaning of the 666, then God would be taunting us. However, we know this is not the nature of God. We know our Father gives us wisdom and understanding freely.

      6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
      Prov 2:6 (KJV)

      The main problem is figuring this riddle out is most people look outside of the Bible, but the answer is in the scriptures.

      • Eddie

        July 30, 2016 at 15:45

        We can agree that at least in most cases (personally, I know of none to the contrary) the Bible interprets itself. We simply need to agree with what God says. Often we are taught by men to believe differently, and, as a result, some folks find it difficult to read the Scriptures in any way other than they were taught by men. God does, indeed, promise wisdom to him who asks, but I think this also requires a yielded heart to God. I think of how difficult it was to get through to the disciples who had such a difficult time ridding themselves of the doctrines of men. Eventually, they became wise, but it wasn’t overnight. :-)

        Lord bless you in all you do for him, Robert.

    • Robert

      August 2, 2016 at 22:16

      The number does not identify an individual. The Bible doesn’t work that way. It is a spiritual book and the 666 has a spiritual significance. It is just a important today as it was when John wrote about it.

      We don’t need a common language to count the number. Arithmetic is common to all basic languages. We need the wisdom and understanding that comes from God and the ability to count. Wisdom and understanding will allow us to see what has been hidden in scriptures for centuries. As long as people look outside the Bible for the answer it will remain a mystery. For there is no wisdom outside of God.

  2. Bill

    October 29, 2015 at 14:14

    Thank you for the information. I found your study of Acts in the midst of our sunday school class studying it. Your second study of Acts takes a stunning turn when you found the information regarding who Theophilus likely is, through the Dahl study you cite.

    Working backwards in time, all of the timelines fall in line with the Daniel 9 prophecy of the 70th week. Your insights on the Daniel prophecy, through your study, is truly compelling and, quite frankly, fun. When one studies the Jewish betrothal and marriage tradition, and compares it to the language Jesus uses regarding His return for His bride, the pre-post-mid stuff doesn’t fit at all. Plus, when Clarence Larkin, who wrote Dispensation Truth, admits all of that was made up by Jesuit Ribera, the Daniel prophecy being revealed in Acts becomes thrilling to read. Seeing it fulfilled shouldn’t make us any more or less ready for the return of our bridegroom. I’m amazed that it causes so much anxiety amongst God’s professing people. The great news of waiting on our savior to come is that He is interceding on our behalf to the Father in the meantime. What a blessing to rest within.

    I have begun reading Josephus, mostly because of your extensive use of his work, but also because Matthew Henry cited him extensively also.

    I found a site (it’s the internet, so it must be true, right?) that says Josephus was St. Luke or Ignaceous (sp?). Josephus himself indicates he is a relation of the Annas family, but could there be any chance he was a follower of Christ trying to persuade his own family to change the direction of the High Priestly leadership?


    • Eddie

      October 29, 2015 at 16:34

      Greetings Bill, and I am thrilled to be a part of your Sunday school class. I love studying and sharing God’s word, and it really makes my day to find out that you consider my study helpful to your own. Thank you for that encouragement. Nevertheless, keep in mind that I will disappoint at some point, but it is fun to discuss it all with brethren who also consider studying God’s word fun! :-)

      I was really amazed when I stumbled upon how the days in Daniel and Revelation match up with the ministry of Christ. It really freed me of the idea that I should try to find out when Christ will return. Now, I simply wait on him and try to be about the business he called all of us to be a part of. It is so much more peaceful this way.

      Concerning your reference to the Bride and Christ’s return, I’ve heard of that analogy, but I never pursued it. I’ll have to consider doing so, but for now I am in the midst of other studies. I fell in love with Acts and now I’m falling in love with Luke all over again. I studied this Gospel once before, but I’m in the midst of a much deeper study now. I hope to begin posting it sometime next spring.

      Concerning Josephus, I don’t believe he was Christian, although I have read that some thought he was an Ebionite, i.e. someone who believed Jesus was the Messiah, but not God in the flesh. I doubt his being an Ebionite too, but whatever the truth is, it probably won’t affect how we should understand his work. I believe he had a copy of Luke’s Gospel and Acts. Most folks on the internet, however, believe the other way around—Luke had a copy of Josephus. There are similarities between Josephus and Luke’s works that is difficult to deny. The problem for folks who believe Luke copied Josephus is: they cannot show how he acquired such a copy. This is one of the reasons why they keep trying to make Luke’s works very late, near or into the 2nd century. Nevertheless, knowing Theophilus was Josephus’ uncle, and Luke wrote both his Gospel and Acts to Theophilus, I am able to reasonably place both of Luke’s works into the hands of Josephus well before he began writing Wars or Antiquities. This logic is even more reasonable, when it is understood that Josephus admits in “Life” that Titus gave him all the holy books (Luke and Acts would have been among them), when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed.

      Lord bless you, Bill. It is a pleasure to discuss these things with you.

    • Bill

      October 29, 2015 at 17:48

      Blessings to you Eddie. I re-read Luke’s gospel in light of learning about Theophilus. I will look forward to the insights of your study.


      • Eddie

        October 29, 2015 at 22:26

        Thanks Bill, I feel very good about what I am doing. I hope the Lord uses it for his glory.

  3. Bill

    October 28, 2015 at 18:12

    Ed, I appreciate your studies of Acts. They have shed great insight for me.

    In this blog, you state the death date of Annas. Would you be willing to share where you collected that information, please?

    • Eddie

      October 29, 2015 at 07:32

      Greetings Bill, and thank you for reading my blog. I’m sorry that I didn’t post the data where I found my information. I didn’t mean to neglect to support my claim. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Once I’m finished with my reply, I’ll edit my post and supply the data.

      I get all of my information concerning the time of Annas’ service in the priesthood from Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews 18.2.1 (026) shows that Annas was appointed high priest by Quirinus in what has been determined as 6 AD. He was killed at the beginning of the Jews’ war with Rome, and that began in 66 AD according to how we date Josephus, and I’ll try to prove this momentarily.

      We know that this Annas (also spelled Ananus and Ananias in Josephus) was alive in 62 AD when James, the brother of Jesus, was killed. He was slain by Annas’ son, who is also called Ananias (see Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1 [197-198]). Notice there that Josephus makes a point that both the elder (father) and the younger (son) high priest have the same name, and that five of Annas’ sons had already served in the office of high priest, the younger Ananus being the fifth. So, we know Annas was alive four years before the beginning of the war.

      Josephus tells us in Wars of the Jews 2.17.9 [441-442] that the elder Ananias was slain when he was found hiding in an aqueduct. This was on the 6th day of the 6th month (Gorpieus / Elul), according to Wars of the Jews 2.17.8 [440]. While Josephus does say that Ananias’ death occurred on the day after the fire was set to the Roman camp, I presume the fire was set during the night, and, if so, the next day would be the same day for the Jews (sunset to sunset). If this cannot be true, then my argument falls, for Ananias would have been killed on the 7th day of the 6th month instead of the 6th day.

      That this was the elder Ananius is understood in that the younger wasn’t killed until sometime later (cir. 67-68 AD). Josephus records his death in Wars of the Jews 4.5.2 [314-318]. This man is referred to by Josephus as the son of Ananus (Annas in the Gospel) in Wars of the Jews 4.3.9 [160].

      This is what I presume to be true concerning the Jewish high priest, Annas, of the Gospels. All the dates are verifiable according to how we date Josephus. The only ambiguous part of the idea is the actual day Annas died. Was it the 6th or the 7th day of the 6th month of the year 66 AD? If the 7th, then my understanding falls short. However, I believe so much else falls into place concerning this man, that I presume the 6th day of the month for his death. I don’t think it can be proved conclusively for either the 6th or the 7th day, so I hang my hat on the 6th.

      Lord bless you, Bill.

  4. Josh

    December 7, 2013 at 14:41

    Agrippa II’s coin = 666

    “the coin was in the market in year 6 of Agrippa II’s reign, i.e. A.D. 66.”

    Here’s the explanation:

    • Eddie

      December 7, 2013 at 19:44

      Greetings Josh, thank you for your comment and your link to your website. I see some things a little differently, but I’m willing to let our differences stand without comment. Let those who read decide for themselves. All in all, I think your interpretation is quite refreshing and well worth the read.

      Lord bless you.

  5. Derrick

    June 22, 2011 at 15:04

    Ed, so in a sense those peole like us whom have accepted tradition and wealth (so-called normal way of life) will be judge but those tribes that still live in rain forrest that are excludes themselves from the normal way of life may not be judged?

    • Derrick Smith

      June 23, 2011 at 10:58

      Ed, thanks for clearing that up. You’re right. No man knows the whole truth. We probably don’t have the brain capacity to know the whole truth. We just have to keep faith and do the things that reveal our faith. Things such as your writings. :)

      • Ed Bromfield

        June 23, 2011 at 12:18

        You are very kind, thank you. But you are correct in that we need to keep the faith by doing those things the express our faith in him.

        Lord bless,


  6. Derrick

    June 22, 2011 at 15:00

    Also, I would like to add I truly enjoy your teachings. I will be studied a lot more of your work on this page.

    • Ed Bromfield

      June 22, 2011 at 15:22

      Derrick, thank you for your kind words of encouragement, but please don’t just take my word for things. Pray about these matters, consider them in your heart and study what God’s word says. Men make mistakes, and I am a man. God will help everyone who asks, and we will be taught by God via the Holy Spirit. This is not to say we should never believe what men say, but we need to remember that men are imperfect and Paul tells us that all men know only in part. None of us have the whole truth.

      • Ed Bromfield

        June 22, 2011 at 15:41

        Hi Derrick, I am happy to respond to your questions, so don’t hesitate to ask me about anything I have written that isn’t clear to you.

        Perhaps I could have been clearer about this. First of all, it is a curious thing that the only two nouns in the New Testament that add up to 666 are the Greek words for “tradition” and “wealth”. This does not mean if we are zealous for Christian tradition or are wealthy that we have the number 666 branded upon us. What I meant to say is that “tradition” in the form of men passing their own doctrines off as “Christian” and others believing men rather than God reveals 666 in the persons mind or thoughts. You see, Jesus told the Jewish authorities that they had replaced God’s word with their own traditions and caused other men to obey them rather than God. This was wrong, and this is the implied meaning of the Greek word for “tradition” adding up to 666.

        Concerning the Greek for “wealth”, this is another matter that corrupted the Jewish authorities. Their greed for wealth led them to make God’s house a marketplace. The very House of Prayer smelled like stockyard. Their greed also led to their mistreatment of their brethren in the form of theft and murder. This is what the Greek word for “wealth” adding up to 666 referred to.

        When we look at our own Christian history, we are able to see that the traditions of men and greed for gold have corrupted many in authority in the Church. I don’t think this is coincidental. I believe the fact that these two words have 666 branded on them shows us what to look for and avoid. God has given us good traditions to consider and apply in our own lives; he has also made the wealthy in order that the poor could get relief. It is not wrong to be wealthy, but if we horde our wealth for ourselves, it has no eternal value. But if we allow ourselves to be used of God to help others, we have a reward in heaven. There are many wealthy people who are not corrupt. The Scriptures concern themselves with these two Greek words only in so far as they have corrupted some leaders of God’s people whether Jewish authorities, or later Christian authorities—and those who follow and admire them.

  7. Derrick

    June 22, 2011 at 12:56

    Nice work Ed! I’m an Engineer. I would like to share with you a true story that happened to me. One day while I was in college in a chemistry course. Mt proff was lecturing about the elements and their electron signatures. He moved on to the element of CARBON. Now I have always had a very deep sprirtual back ground. after my proff went on and on about Carbon and how this one particular element is key to creation of physical life. The one thing that struck me most is the fact that this element has 6 – protons 6-Netrons and 6 -Electrons. The first thing that hit me was 666 and how the man with wisdom shall calculate the number of the beast. Isn’t that strange as well?

    • Ed Bromfield

      June 22, 2011 at 13:33

      Hi Derrick and thank you for reading and for your comment. The number 6 is the number of man, and I wouldn’t be surprised how often one could find that number written in creation. However, the New Testament implies that those in the 1st century would understand and be able to calculate the number 666. I think this would exclude chemistry. Moreover, those with the number written on their foreheads and hand would be judged. Since we are all composed of carbon, judgment on the grounds of our chemical makeup wouldn’t be just. Would it?

      • Derrick

        June 22, 2011 at 14:58

        Yes Ed. I agree.

      • Derrick Smith

        June 23, 2011 at 11:14

        Ed, I aslo read were the Hebrew letter for W is Vav and where www could aslo be looked at as 666. How the internet has become tradition that can also be used for gaining wealth. Just something that caught my attention.

        • Ed Bromfield

          June 23, 2011 at 12:30

          Derrick, again, where the number 6 could be found in our world would not surprise me in the least. However, it is not wrong to profit off anything that is not basically evil. The internet, like most things in the world, may be used for good or evil. There is danger and opportunity to do good in most everything. The number 666 points to something intrinsically evil. In particular it points to an individual who is a leader. This leader leads people away from God. He may do it through the seduction of a desire for wealth or through the means of holding others to a certain way (opposed to God) through fear (this would answer to the “tradition’ part). We need only ask ourselves: would Jesus do what I am doing? If we can answer “yes” to this question, what we do cannot be tainted with the number 666.

          Lord bless,


  8. Jason

    June 14, 2011 at 22:16

    What? Not Ronald Wilson Reagan??

    • Ed Bromfield

      June 14, 2011 at 22:50

      Hey Jason, how’s it going. I was about to trash the comment, but then I read it was from you. For some reason, I’m getting a lot of spam.

      Have you any suggestions?


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