Summary: Maybe each one of us is capable of embracing the spirit of antichrist, though we would never want to become the Antichrist. When we do so we are paving the way for evil to enter. We must, instead, actively embrace the Spirit of Christ.
v. 16 and it causes all the small and the large and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves that they should all be given a mark (scratch) on their right hand, or on their forehead
v. 17 and in order that they would not have the ability to buy or sell if they don’t have the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
v. 18 Here is wisdom. The one with mind/understanding let him count the number of the beast, for the number is a man’s, and his number is six hundred sixty six.
v.16-17 mark literally a scratch, or engraving. The technology exists today to “scratch” the skin and place a “smart” chip under the skin with all financial, medical, and psychological records of an individual. No time in history before now was such a system possible.
v.18 666 may be simply the ultimate of human rebellion, 6 as the number of man. May be symbolic, of incomplete dominion. 7 is complete, 6 is almost there, 666 is simply not complete deity. It may refer to Caesar Nero. There are a few ways of writing his name which add up to 666. Caesar Nero-transliterated into Hebrew the letters (which double as numbers) add up to 666. Only someone knowing Hebrew would have figured this out Nero Ceasar looks like this in Hebrew: ???? ??? nrwn qsr, 50 + 200 + 6 + 50 + 100 + 60 + 200= 666 (it is probably important to keep in mind that John’s Greek: ??a??s??? ??????ta ?? is writing in words the number six hundred sixty six so our usual way of saying 666 as if it is a series of sixes may be deceptive (a small thing, i know-not 6 6 6, but six hundred sixty six). Or, Caesar Nero may be a type of the great evil to come.
How to Recognize the Beast
John points us to Nero as a type of the Antichrist. Antichirst means against and/or in the place of Christ. Like Lucifer wanted to be in the place of God, the antichrist wants to be in the place of Jesus. John puts the message in code quite likely to keep himself out of further trouble with the Roman government. Though Nero had been dead twenty years by the time the book of Revelation was written, the memory of his evil was fresh in the minds of John’s contemporaries. A look at Nero may help us understand how we might recognize the Antichrist when he comes:
Nero had his own mother murdered. He was in love with the wife of another man, so, he divorced his own wife, then later had her killed as well. Nero had coins minted which said “Caesar Nero, Savior of the World”. He was vilified by historians and political critics, but was pretty popular among the Roman people, having built roads and sports arenas (if he lived in India today he would own a cricket team). Nero hated Jews. Nero hated Christians, and had thousands of both killed. He had Christians rounded up, and had them hung naked on gibbets around evening, had them covered in pitch, then set on fire to provide the lighting for his evening festivities.
In all of these things Nero provides an image of the future-wht the Antichrist will be like-hating Jews & followers of Jesus, embracing his own lusts above all relationshiops, being pretty popular among his own people, and presenting himself as the savior of the world-the one who can fix everything that is wrong. When we see leaders in the world who demonstrate these behaviors we should realize we are living in the last days. There is another lesson I believe as well.
John said there are many antichrists (1 John 2). I think in our own reflections we need to question ourselves. Do I hate? Do I embrace my own desires, allowing relationships to be broken so I can get what I want? Do I have prejudice in my heart against those who are different? Do I think I’m the solution to the problems I see around me? Maybe each one of us is capable of embracing the spirit of antichrist, though we would never want to become the Antichrist. When we do so we are paving the way for evil to enter. We must, instead, actively embrace the Spirit of Christ.
Prayer for Today
(by Terry Talbot)
"Create in me a clean heart, O God
Let me be like you in all my ways
Give me Your strength,
Teach me Your song
Shelter me in the shadow of your wings
For we are Your righteousness
If we die to ourselves and live thorugh your death
Then we shall be born, again to be blessed in Your love"
Let me reject all within me that is antichrist, and fill me with the Spirit of Christ
In the name of Christ Jesus our Lord