The Mark Of The Beast: Revealed!

The Mark Of The Beast: Revealed! June 21, 2018

When it comes to the book of Revelation there are ultimately two camps: Futurists (who believe the book tells us something about future events that have not happened yet) and Preterists (who believe the book told First Century Christians about events that would “soon come to pass” in their lifetime).

I am not a Futurist. As such, I read the book of Revelation as a prophecy about events that have already taken place (from our perspective) and were fulfilled soon after John wrote them during the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Because of my perspective, I do not believe that the “Mark of the Beast” has anything to do with current or future events. So, when friends of mine post links to Facebook about a new computer chip that allows people to store their medical records, or purchase products by placing the chip under a scanner, I do not equate this with the end of the world, the rise of the Anti-Christ, or the Mark of the Beast.

Since people seem to be very interested in this topic, I wanted to at least provide a different perspective to help balance things out a bit.

The Mark of the Beast

When John wrote the epistle of Revelation to the seven churches, he made it very clear – on numerous occasions – that the prophecies contained in his letter were to take place “soon”.

For example: In verse 1, John says: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place….”

In verse 3 he says: “…. and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.”

John uses specific words in the Greek throughout his epistle which mean: “Shortly”, “Without delay”, “Soon”, “In a short time”, “Near”, “About to”, etc.

There can be little doubt, therefore, that the First Century Christians who received and read John’s letter understood at least one thing: They were reading about events that were about to happen very, very soon.

Keeping this in mind, let’s see if we can identify “The Beast” from Revelation. First, since John is writing to First Century Christians about events that were about to happen quickly, then we can be sure that “The Beast” was a contemporary of John.

Secondly, John describes this as either a person (Rev. 13:18), or as several people (Rev. 17:10), or as a government or kingdom (Rev. 17:9).

First Century Christians would have been very familiar with Old Testament references in Daniel to the Four Beasts (Dan. 7:17) which corresponded to Four Kingdoms or Empires. Therefore those readers would have known that John’s references to “The Beast” in his letters pointed to the Empire of their own day – The Roman Empire.

But what about the person who is referred to as “The Beast”?

Since the Apostle John was writing this letter from captivity on the Island of Patmos, he reverted to code which his readers (Jewish Christians) would understand easily but his captors (The Romans) would not. Note also that, as a prisoner of Rome, he wouldn’t want to come right out and write anything negative about the Emperor or the Government that held him captive – for obvious reasons. This is why, when he wants to let Christians know that “The Beast” is the Emperor Nero, he would say:

“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” (Rev. 13:18)

The Hebrew spelling of “Nero Caesar” was NRWN QSR. Since Hebrew letters doubled as numbers it was a simple thing to take that name and add them together which adds up exactly to 666. [Example: N = 50 R = 200 W = 6 N =50 Q = 100 S = 60 R = 200]

One fascinating variant of this same passage notes that “Some manuscripts read: 616” rather than 666. Why? Because when Revelation was later copied into Latin the name Nero Caesar didn’t add up to 666, it added up to 616. So, to make it easier for those later Latin-speaking (non Hebrew reading) Christians to arrive at the same conclusion the number was changed to 616 in certain translations.

Want more proof? Ok. In Revelation 17:9-10 John tells us:

“Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.”

You’ve probably heard that the “seven mountains” correspond to the seven hills of Rome. However, did you know that the seven kings also point to Nero as “The Beast”? They do. Because John tells us that: “Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come and when he comes, he must remain a little while.”

According to Josephus, the Roman historian, Julius Caesar was the first king, followed by August, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. The sixth king? That was Nero. So, he is the “one (who) is”.

The seventh king – the one who followed Nero – was Galba, and as John prophesied, he reigned for a short time (about seven months).

Nero, as the sixth king of Rome, was the first to persecute Christians in the First Century. He started persecuting them in November of 64 AD and ended on June 8, 68 AD when he killed himself. That was 42 months of persecution. Notice what John says about “The Beast”:

“And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given him.” (Rev. 13:5)

Coincidence? I think not. Clearly John is going out of his way to let his readers know that “The Beast” had a name that, in the Hebrew, added up to a number (666) and that he was the sixth, and current king of Rome, and that his persecution would last exactly 42 months. What could be more clear than this?

Extra-Biblical Proof

Nero was also called “The Beast” by contemporary pagan writer Apollinius of Tyana, who said of Nero:

“In my travels…I have seen 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 gorged himself on this diet.”

Note that Nero murdered his own parents, and his brother, and his pregnant wife, in addition to several other family members.

We also have evidence from the Romans that Nero enjoyed dressing up as a wild beast and raping male and female prisoners.

Still not convinced? Consider that all of the earliest Church Fathers from Irenaeus in the First Century, all the way through to St. Beatus in the 8th century agreed that “The Beast” was Nero.

Buying and Selling?

Roman citizens were required to publicly claim allegiance to Caesar by burning incense in his honor and proclaiming that “Caesar is Lord”. Those who did this received a document that allowed them to buy and sell in the marketplace. Without it, no one could purchase anything. Therefore, the “Mark of the Beast” – or the document that showed your allegiance to Nero as Lord – was required to buy and sell if you lived during the time when John wrote his epistle to the seven churches.

None of those Christians who read Revelation were confused about what John meant by this. It was already happening to them.

In Conclusion: The Mark of the Beast is not a microchip. It is not a barcode. It is not your credit card. The Beast was Emperor Nero. The Mark of the Beast was “the number of his name” which added up to 666. We’re told that The Beast would reign in terror for 42 months and Nero’s persecution of the Church lasted exactly 42 months.

Questions? Please let me know in the comments below.


NOTE: This article was written with help from a variety of sources, but most notably from an article on The Preterist Archive and Beyond The End Times.

LISTEN: The End Times Conspiracy Exposed [Part 1] – The Heretic Happy Hour LIVE Podcast:

Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Jesus Unbound: How the Bible Keeps Us From Hearing the Word of God”, available July 4th, 2018.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • HematitePersuasion

    This has given me a new appreciation of Rick Riordan’s classical and scholarly sophistication. I doubt that he refers to Nero as ‘The Beast’ by accident.

  • Dan

    While this makes a lot of sense of the text, don’t most scholars think Revelation was written in the 90s instead of the 60s when Nero was alive?

  • Whether predictive [written pre AD 70] or descriptive [written post AD 70], the identity of the Beast remains the same [Nero].

  • RebelRose

    Hi Keith, I was wondering if you would mind me using this blog as an introduction to my post on the Mark of the Beast on DISQUS. Id like to use it in a 3 part series. I am a recent convert to Progressive Christianity after 47 yrs as a evangelical fundamentalist and have committed the rest of my days to bringing PC to anyone willing to listen. I also am a vocal advocate of LGBTQ rights, reform of the church universal and question the existence of Hell as a place of eternal conscious torment.

    You may like to look at my previous posts, just to get a feel for what I represent. I’ve only been posting to DISQUS for about 3 months now and am trying to build up readership with a free account, before buying into my own Channel. Any advice you would like to throw my way, would be gratefully appreciated!

  • The Lowdown on God’s Showdown is that a lot of NT writers (Paul, Gospel authors, the author of Rev.) falsely predicted the final judgment of the world was imminent. Your blog post reads a lot like the first few paragraphs of one of my two pieces on the topic:

  • Betsy Brandt

    Thank you Keith, another excellent piece by you! Context, context, context may we never forget this, just like in real estate its location, location, location!

    I had the extreme privilege to visit the cave on Patmos that John allegedly inhabited while writing the Book of Revelation. The physical evidence also corroborates your study, there were indents in the stone imprinted by his knees as he prayed so fervently. A place chiseled out in the upper stone where he kept his Holy Book. I highly recommend a visit, it was surreal.

    What evidence is there for the book as pre-70 AD versus post 70 AD? Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

  • Bald Humanist

    As an ex-Christian (Baptist) I am fascinated that my denomination was so invested in Revelation when in fact, the book barely made it into canon and was at first roundly rejected by many church leader right up to the 4th century and even beyond.

    That anyone can take it literally astounds me…and yet Hal Lindsay continues to make money off the crowd.

  • Bald Humanist

    Indeed…and it’s even plausible that the author was referring to Domitian who had similar Nero-like qualities. Kind of like how we now compare some politicians to Hitler or Stalin.

  • Bald Humanist

    In studying some modern commentaries, I learned that — when gathering for the feast — no matter how you stab it with your knife, you just can’t kill the beast — St. Donald of Henley.

  • jekylldoc

    Works for me. Jung makes a big deal of how wrathful the letters to the seven churches are (on average). I think it is sad that this bit of triumphalism made it into the canon at all, personally. Like Isaiah and the other Major Prophets, the Revelator brings hopeful conclusions to things, but along the way, God comes off rather badly, IMHO. Is the imagery of trees and cities and casting down their golden crowns really worth all that?

  • Dragonfly

    This explanation of the “Mark of the Beast” kept me reading until you mentioned that in order to buy/sell in the OT, people carried a paper with them. You lost me then because in Revelation 13:16-17, John distinctly said the mark would be on the forehead or the right hand. I find that Progressives use parts of the story to advance their agenda. We are also warned about false teachers. I urge people reading your blog, Mr. Giles, to read ALL of the passages, not just extract what works to make you feel good.

  • Widuran

    I like the iron maiden song

  • John Gills

    I’m sure folks have seen the wisecrack, “665, Neighbor of the Beast.”

  • Illithid

    That would be across the street, of course. 664 and 668 would be next door.

  • Laurel Linc Dunstan


  • You failed to mention the third prophetic hermeneutic, historicism. Historicism views prophecy as beginning its fulfilment ‘shortly hereafter’, but continuing to be fulfilled throughout known history until its climax in the near future, or ‘imminent’ future. Thus the 42 months you mentioned are symbolic of a much ,longer time period, being a day for a year as per the well known prophecy of Daniel 9 and the 70 weeks, being 490 years. So 42 months is equal to the times,time, and half a time and 1260 days elsewhere in both Daniel and Revelation, which all, when taking into account the day for a year formula, equal 1260 years.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    I was told the mark in the hand was action and the mark in the head was thought. But since i dont believe anymore, and since im convinced John the Baptist ate peyote, i guess all i get out of it now is a good chuckle

  • Stephen Richards

    What can we do with the knowledge of 666 meaning Nero Caesar today? In our present lives, who or what is Nero Caesar? How can we live better lives knowing such?