A reader writes:

 I thought the following weird news story might interest you. It seems that some Christian groups (predominately Catholic) are claiming the prophecy of the mark of the beast has been fulfilled in the shape of modern smartphones. They argue smartphones are set to replace credit cards as a means of electronic commerce through NFC technology, a feature which they feel fulfils the part of the prophecy which states that “no one can buy or sell unless they have the mark of the beast” Rev 13. They go on to point out the original prophecy of the mark of the beast was based on a parody of the Jewish practice of wearing phylacteries, which are small box-shaped objects worn on the hands and forehead during prayer services to observe Deut 6:4, and assert the shape of these phylacteries resemble the modern use of mobile phones. Another aspect which they use to back such claims is the fact all future electronic commerce through NFC technology will be conducted through the worldwide web – www, and they point out that the numerical equivalent of www once transliterated into Hebrew is six-six-six (since the Hebrew letter waw is the equivalent of the letter w in the Latin alphabet, and is also used as the Hebrew numeral 6). To bolster this arguement, they highlight the fact that the use of a form of Hebrew numerology known as gematria is widely regarded by biblical scholars to be behind the mystery of the number of the beast.

They also claim the timing of the exact fulfilment of this prophecy was specifically predicted by an Italian Catholic priest in 1989 – Fr Stefano Gobbi, who has a huge international following amongst Catholics. Fr Gobbi allegedly predicted that the fulfilment of the prophecy of the mark of the beast would occur in a period of history beginning in 1998 – just a year shy of the release of the first internet enabled WAP phones in 1999.

You can find various pieces of information on this subject, as well as readers’ reactions given in the comments box on the following website.

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  • Grey Pilgrim

    Anyone who thinks tefillin (Jewish phylacteries) look like a cell phone has never seen tefillin. Or maybe they’ve never seen a cell phone. They are worn on the top of the forehead and around the left bicep near the heart. I’ve yet to see a cell phone that is of much use from either of those locations.

    Also, the Bible says the number is “six hundred threescore and six” (in the KJV). That’s not 6.6.6. In Hebrew gematria the letters of a word do not represent individual digits. Rather, the sum of the letters is taken, so “www” would equal 18 by that reasoning, not six-hundred sixty-six.

    Given this information, feel free to strap your cell phone to your forehead when shopping if you like. You do not bear the mark of the beast. In fact, the Hebrew word for “life” also has a numerical value of 18 just like ‘www’, so shopping with your cell phone strapped to your forehead would be a good way to show you are pro-life.

    • Kristen inDallas

      coffee… out… nose.

  • TheRealAaron

    Or we could just get the webmasters of every commerce site to just update their DNS to not require a www at the beginning of their site’s URL. Boom, problem solved!

  • Richard Bell

    I thought that the mark of the beast was an implanted RFID chip that may replace both ATM cards and cash– ie: If you do not have one, you cannot function.

    It threw me for a loop when I saw one of those evangelical programs explain how implantable RFID chips were the mark of the beast, before extolling their virtues. My wife later explained to me that these people are looking forward to the end of times so the arrival of the mark of the beast can only be good news.

  • Ted Seeber

    I wish I had a Phylactery-shaped mobile smartphone! The wrist sensor could be an accelerometer used to control a mouse cursor, the head box could be a pico projector allowing you to use any wall for a screen. NFC & bluetooth could do the rest!

    Could become a new fashion statement.

    BTW, I had an internet-enabled Nokia WAP phone in 1997.

    • Ted Seeber

      Oh, and just to add insult to injury- you could have an ap to display random passages from the Torah as a screensaver.

  • mk

    ummmm…Catholics believe 666 refers to Nero, not cellphones. But whatever.

    • Many Catholics do, but that is only a widely-held opinion, not a part of the Deposit of Faith.