Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 13:18

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.
New American Standard Version
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Adam Clarke Commentary

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 - In this verse we have the very name of the beast given under the symbol of the number 666. Before the invention of figures by the Arabs, in the tenth century, letters of the alphabet were used for numbers. The Greeks in the time of Homer, or soon after, are thought by some to have assigned to their letters a numerical value corresponding to their order in the alphabet: thus, α was 1, because the first letter; and ω 24, being the last. It is in this manner that the books of the Iliad and Odyssey are numbered, which have been thus marked by Homer himself, or by some person who lived near his time. A system of representing numbers of great antiquity was used by the Greeks, very much resembling that afterwards adopted by the Romans. This consisted in assigning to the initial letter of the name of the number a value equal to the number. Thus Χ, the initial of χιλια, stood for a thousand; Δ, the initial of δεκα, for ten; Π, the initial of πεντε, for five, etc. Herodotus, the grammarian, is the only writer of antiquity who has noticed this system, and the chronological table of remarkable events on the Arundelian marbles the only work extant in which this method of representing numbers is exhibited. The system now in use cannot be traced to any very ancient source. What can be proved is, that it was in use before the commencement of the Christian era. Numerical letters, denoting the year of the Roman emperor's reign, exist on great numbers of the Egyptian coins, from the time of Augustus Caesar through the succeeding reigns. See Numi Egyptii Imperatorii, a Geo. Zoega, edit. Romans 1787. There are coins extant marked of the 2d, 3d, 14th, 30th, 35th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st, and 42d years of Augustus Caesar, with the numerical letters preceded by L or Λ for λυκαβας, year, thus: LΒ, LΓ, LΙΔ, LΛ, LΑΕ, LΛΗ, LΛΘ, LΜ, LΜΑ, and LΜΒ . The following is the Greek alphabet, with the numerical value of each letter affixed, according to the generally received system: -

α - 1 ι - 10 ρ - 100 β - 2 κ - 20 σ - 200 γ - 3 λ - 30 τ - 300 δ - 4 μ - 40 υ - 400 ε - 5 ν - 50 φ - 500 ζ - 7 ξ - 60 χ - 600 η - 8 ο - 70 ψ - 700 θ - 9 π - 80 ω - 80

The method just described of representing numbers or letters of the alphabet, gave rise to a practice among the ancients of representing names also by numbers. Examples of this kind abound in the writings of heathens, Jews, and Christians. Where the practice of counting the number in names or phrases began first to be used, cannot be ascertained; it is sufficient for the illustration of the passage under consideration, if it can be shown to have been in existence in the apostolic age. Seneca, who was contemporary with St. Paul, informs us, in his eighty-eighth epistle, that Apion, the grammarian, maintained Homer to have been the author of the division of his poems of the Iliad and Odyssey into forty-eight books; for a proof of which Apion produces the following argument: that the poet commenced his Iliad with the word μηνιν, that the two first letters, whose sum is 48, might indicate such division. Leonidas of Alexandria, who flourished in the reigns of Nero, Vespasian, etc., carried the practice of computing the number in words so far as to construct equinumeral distichs; that is, epigrams of four lines, whose first hexameter and pentameter contain the same number with the other two. We will only notice two examples; the first is addressed to one of the emperors, the other to Poppaea, the wife of Nero.

Θυει σοι τοδε γραμμα γενεθλιακαισιν εν ὡραις,��<-144 �Καισαρ, Νειλαιη Μουσα Λεωνιδεω.

Καλλιοπης γαρ ακαπνον αει θυος· εις δε νεωταπ

Ην εθελῃς, θυσει τουδε περισσοτερα.

"The muse of Leonidas of the Nile offers up to thee, O Caesar, this writing, at the time of thy nativity; for the sacrifice of Calliope is always without smoke: but in the ensuing year he will offer up, if thou wilt, better things than this."

From the numerical table already given, the preceding epigram may be shown to contain equinumeral distichs, as follows: θυει 424, i.e., θ 9, υ 400, ε 5, ι 10; in all 424: σοι contains 280, i.e., σ 200, ο 70, ι 10. In like manner τοδε will be found to contain 379, γραμμα 185, γενεθλιακαισιν 404, εν 55, ὡραις 1111, Καισαρ 332, Νειλαιη 114, Μουσα 711, Λεωνιδεω 1704. The sum of all these is 5699, the number in the first distich. In the second distich, Καλλιοπης contains 449, γαρ 104, ακαπνον 272, αει 16, θυος 679, εις 215, δε 9, νεωτα 1156, Ην 58, εθελῃς 267, (the subscribed iota being taken into the account), θυσει 624, τουδε 779, περισσοτερα 1071. The sum of all 5699, which is precisely the same with that contained in the first distich.

Ουρανιον μειμημα γενεθλιακαισιν εν ὡραιςπ

Τουτ 'απο Νειλογενους δεξο Λεωνιδεω,π

Ποππαια, Διος ευνι, Σεβαστιας· ευαδε γαρ σοιπ

Δωρα, τα και λεκτρων αξια και σοφιης.

"O Poppaea, wife of Jupiter (Nero) Augusta, receive from Leonidas of the Nile a celestial globe on the day of thy nativity; for gifts please thee which are suited to thy imperial dignity and wisdom."

In this epigram each of the distichs contains the number 6422, viz., Ουρανιον 751, (i.e., ο 70, υ 400, ρ 100, α 1, ν 50, ι 10, ο 70, ν 50, the sum of which is 751), μειμημα 144, γενεθλιακαισιν 404, εν 55, ὡραις 1111, τουτ ' 1070, απο 151, Νειλογενους 893, δεξο 139, Λεωνιδεω 1704; the sum of all 6422. The numbers corresponding to the words of the second distich are, respectively, 322, 284, 465, 919, 415, 104, 280, 905, 301, 31, 1305, 72, 31, 988; the sum of which is also 6422.

This poet did not restrict himself to the construction of equinumeral distichs. The following is one of his distichs in which the hexameter line is made equal in number to its corresponding pentameter: -

Εἱς προς ἑνα ψηφοισιν ισαζεται, ου δυο δοιοις,

Ου γαρ ετι στεργω την δολιχογραφιην.

"One line is made equal in number to one, not two to two; for I no longer approve of long epigrams."

In this distich the words of the hexameter line contain, respectively, the numbers 215, 450, 56, 1548, 534, 470, 474, and 364; the sum of which is 4111. The numbers corresponding to the words of the pentameter line are, respectively, 470, 104, 315, 1408, 358, and 1456; the sum of which is also 4111. The equinumeral distichs of Leonidas are contained in the second volume of Brunck and Jacob's edition of the Greek Anthology. It appears from ancient records that some of the Greeks in the early part of the second century, if not in the apostolic age, employed themselves in counting the numbers contained in the verses of Homer to find out what two consecutive lines were ισοψηφοι or equinumeral. Aulus Gellius, the grammarian, who lived in the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, gives us an account (lib. xiv., cap. 6) of a person who presented him with a book filled with a variety of information collected from numerous sources, of which he was at liberty to avail himself in writing his Attic Nights. Among the subjects treated of in this book, we are informed by Gellius, was that of Homeric equinumeral verses. None of the examples are given by the grammarian; but Labbeus says, in his Bibl. Nov. MSS., p. 284, that the equinumeral verses are marked in the Codex 2216, in the French king's library. Gronovius, in his notes on Gellius, p. 655, has copied what he found in a MS. (No. 1488) upon this subject, viz., two examples out of the Iliad, and one in the Odyssey. The examples in the Iliad are lines 264 and 265 of book vii., each line containing 3508; and lines 306 and 307 of book xix., each containing 2848. The verses in the Odyssey (ω, 110, 111) stated to be equinumeral in the MS. cited by Gronovius have not now this property, owing possibly to some corruption that may have taken place in the lines from frequent transcription.

For other examples of the computation of the number in words or phrases, the reader is referred to the Oneirocritica of Artemidorus, lib. ii. c. 75; lib. iii. c. 34: and lib. iv. c. 26. See also Martiani Minei Felicis Capelhae Africarthaginensis, De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, lib. ii. and vii.; Irenaeus adversus Haereses, lib. i., ii., and v.; Tertullian. de Praescriptionibus Haeret., tom. ii., p. 487; Wirceburgi, 1781; Sibyll. Oracul., lib. i., etc.

Having thus shown that it was a practice in the apostolic age, and subsequently, to count the number in words and phrases, and even in whole verses, it will be evident that what is intended by 666 is, that the Greek name of the beast (for it was in the Greek language that Jesus Christ communicated his revelation to St. John) contains this number. Many names have been proposed from time to time as applicable to the beast, and at the same time containing 666. We will only notice one example, viz., that famous one of Irenaeus, which has been approved of by almost all commentators who have given any sort of tolerable exposition of the Revelation. The word alluded to is Λατεινος, the letters of which have the following numerical values: λ 30, α 1, τ 300, ε 5, ι 10, ν 50, ο 70, ς 200; and if these be added together, the sum will be found to be equivalent to the number of the beast. This word was applied by Irenaeus, who lived in the second century, to the then existing Roman empire; "for," says he, "they are Latins who now reign." Though it is evident, from the notes on the preceding part of this chapter, that the conjecture of Irenaeus respecting the number 666 having some way or other a reference to the empire of the Latins is well founded; yet his production of the word Λατεινος, as containing 666, is not a proof that it has any such reference. Bellarmin the Jesuit objected against Λατεινος being the name intended in the prophecy from its orthography; for, says he, it should be written Λατινος . That the objection of the learned Jesuit has very great force is evident from every Greek writer extant, who has used the Greek word for Latinus, in all of whom it is uniformly found without the dipthong. See Hesiod, Polybius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Strabo, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, Photius, the Byzantine historians, etc., etc. It hence follows that if the Greek word for Latinus had been intended, the number contained in Λατινος, and not that in Λατεινος, would have been called the number of the beast. We have already observed that the beast is the Latin kingdom or empire; therefore, if this observation be correct, the Greek words signifying the Latin kingdom must have this number. The most concise method of expressing this among the Greeks was as follows, Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, which is thus numbered: -

Η π = 8 The Λ π = 30 L απ = 1 A τ π = 300 T ι = 10 I ν = 50 N Β = 2 K α = 1 I σ = 200 N ι = 10 G λ = 30 D ε = 5 O ι = 10 M α = 1 666

No other kingdom on earth can be found to contain 666. This is then ἡ σοφια, the wisdom or demonstration. A beast is the symbol of a kingdom; The beast has been proved, in the preceding part of this chapter, to be the Latin kingdom; and Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, being shown to contain, exclusively, the number 666, is the demonstration.

Having demonstrated that Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, The Latin kingdom, is the name of the beast, we must now examine what is intended by the phrase in the 17th verse, the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Bishop Newton supposes that the name of the beast, and the number of his name, mean the same thing; but this opinion is totally irreconcilable with Revelation 15:2, where St. John informs us that he "saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name, stand upon the sea of glass, having the harps of God." In this passage it is evident that the beast, his image, and the number of his name, are perfectly distinct; and therefore no two of them can mean the same thing. Hence what is meant by the name of the beast is entirely different from that intended by the number of his name. But how can this be, when it is expressly declared that the number of the beast is 666, which number is declared to be that of his name? The solution of the whole mystery is as follows: Both beasts of the Apocalypse, we have already shown, have the same appellation; that it to say, the name of the first and second least is equally Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, the Latin kingdom; therefore, by the name of the beast is meant the Latin kingdom, and by the number of his name is also meant the Latin kingdom. Hence only one of the beasts is numbered; the name of that which is not numbered is termed the name of the beast, and the numbered Latin empire is denominated the number of his name, or 666, exactly agreeable to an ancient practice already noticed, of representing names by the numbers contained in them. Therefore the meaning of the whole passage is, that those whom the false prophet does not excommunicate, or put out of the pale of his Church, have the mark of the beast, that is, are genuine papists, or such as are actively or passively obedient to his Latin idolatry. Those also escape his ecclesiastical interdicts who have the name of the beast, or the number of his name. By a person having the name of the beast is evidently meant his being a Latin, i.e., in subjection to the Latin empire, and, consequently an individual of the Latin world; therefore those that have the name of the beast, or the number of his name, are those that are subjects of the Latin empire, or of the numbered Latin empire, viz., who are in subjection to the Latin empire, secular or spiritual. All that were in subjection to the secular or spiritual power were not papists in heart; hence the propriety of distinguishing those which have the mark from those which have the name of the beast or the number of his name. But which of the two beasts it is which God has numbered has been not a little contested. That it is the first beast which is numbered has been the prevailing opinion. On this side are Lord Napier, Whiston, Bishop Newton, Faber, and others. Among those that have supposed the second beast to be the one which is numbered are, Dr. Henry More, Pyle, Kershaw, Galloway, Bicheno, Dr. Hales, etc. Drs. Gill and Reader assert that both beasts have the same number, and that the name is Λατεινος . Though it has been demonstrated that the name of the beast is the Latin kingdom, it is impossible from the mere name to say whether it is the Latin empire, Secular or Spiritual; hence the necessity of determining which of the two beasts God has computed. That it is the second beast which is numbered is evident from three different passages in the Apocalypse. The first is in Revelation 13:17, where it is said, "that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Here the name of the beast is mentioned before the number of his name, which is a presumptive evidence that the name of the beast refers to the first beast, and the number of his name to the second. The second passage is in Revelation 15:2, where mention is made of "them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name." That here styled the beast is evidently the secular Latin empire, for it was to this that the two-horned beast made an image; consequently there can be no doubt that the number of his name, or the numbered Latin empire, is the two-horned beast or false prophet. To feel the full force of this argument, it must be considered that the saints of God are represented as getting the victory over the beast as well as over the number of his name, which is a proof that two distinct antichristian empires are here spoken of, for otherwise it would be tautology. That the two-horned beast is the one which is numbered, is farther evident from a comparison of this passage with Revelation 19:20. In the latter passage the words are: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image." Here nothing is said of the number of his name, which is so particularly mentioned in Revelation 15:2, and in that chapter nothing is mentioned of the false prophet, the reason of which can only be, that what is termed in one passage the number of his name, is in its parallel one called the false prophet. Hence the two-horned beast, or false prophet, is also designated by the phrase the number of his name; and consequently it is this beast which is numbered. But what adds the last degree of certainty to this argument is the passage in Revelation 13:18; : "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath a mind count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is six hundred threescore and six." Here is the solution of this mystery: let him that hath a mind for investigations of this kind, find out a kingdom which contains precisely the number 666, for this must be infallibly the name of the beast. Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, The Latin Kingdom, has exclusively this number. But both beasts are called by this name; which is, therefore, the one that is numbered? It is said the number of the beast is the number of a man; consequently the numbered beast must be A Man, that is, it must be represented elsewhere in the Revelation under this emblem, for in no other sense can an empire be denominated a man. Therefore, it is not the ten-horned beast, for this is uniformly styled The Beast in every part of the Apocalypse where there has been occasion to mention this power. It can therefore be no other than the two-horned beast, or Romish hierarchy; which, on account of its preaching to the world its most antichristian system of doctrines, and calling it Christianity, is likewise named in Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; and Revelation 20:10, The False Prophet.

John Edward Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Here is wisdom - That is, in what is stated respecting the name and the number of the name of the beast. The idea is, either that there would be need of special sagacity in determining what the “number” of the “beast” or of his “name” was, or that special “wisdom” was shown by the fact that the number could be thus expressed. The language used in the verse would lead the reader to suppose that the attempt to make out the “number” was not absolutely hopeless, but that the number was so far enigmatical as to require much skill in determining its meaning. It may also be implied that, for some reason, there was true “wisdom” in designating the name by this number, either because a more direct and explicit statement might expose him who made it to persecution, and it showed practical wisdom thus to guard against this danger; or because there was “wisdom” or skill shown in the fact that a number could be found which would thus correspond with the name. On either of these suppositions, special wisdom would be required in deciphering its meaning.

Let him that hath understanding - Implying:

(a)that it was practicable to “count the number of the name”; and,

(b)that it would require uncommon skill to do it.

It could not be successfully attempted by all; but still there were those who might do it. This is such language as would be used respecting some difficult matter, but where there was hope that, by diligent application of the mind, and by the exercise of a sound understanding, there would be a prospect of success.

Count the number of the beast - In Revelation 13:16 it is “the number of his name.” The word rendered here “count” - ψηφισάτω psēphisatō- means, properly, to count or reckon with pebbles, or counters; then to reckon, to estimate. The word here means “compute”; that is, ascertain the exact import of the number, so as to identify the beast. The “number” is what is immediately specified, “six hundred threescore and six” - 666. The phrase “the number of the beast” means, that somehow this number was so connected with the beast, or would so represent its name or character, that the “beast” would be identified by its proper application. The mention in Revelation 13:17 of “the name of the beast,” and “the number of his name,” shows that this “number” was somehow connected with his proper designation, so that by this he would be identified. The plain meaning is, that the number 666 would be so connected with his name, or with what would properly designate him, that it could be determined who was meant by finding that number in his name or in his proper designation. This is the exercise of the skill or wisdom to which the writer here refers: substantially that which is required in the solution of a riddle or a conundrum. If it should be said here that this is undignified and unworthy of an inspired book, it may be replied:

(a)that there might be some important reason why the name or designation should not be more plainly made;

(b)that it was important, nevertheless, that it should be so made that it would be possible to ascertain who was referred to;

(c)that this should be done only in some way which would involve the principle of the enigma - “where a known thing was concealed under obscure language” (Webster‘s Dictionary);

(d)that the use of symbols, emblems, hieroglyphics, and riddles was common in the early periods of the world; and,

(e)that it was no uncommon thing in ancient times, as it is in modern, to test the capacity and skill of people by their ability to unfold the meaning of proverbs, riddles, and dark sayings. Compare the riddle of Samson, Judges 14:12 ff. See also Psalm 49:4; Psalm 78:2; Ezekiel 17:2-8; Proverbs 1:2-6; Daniel 8:23.

It would be a sufficient vindication of the method adopted here if it was certain or probable that a direct and explicit statement of what was meant would have been attended with immediate danger, and if the object could be secured by an enigmatical form.

For it is the number of a man - Various interpretations of this have been proposed. Clericus renders it, “The number is small, or not such as cannot be estimated by a man.” Rosenmuller, “The number indicates a man, or a certain race of men.” Prof. Stuart, “The number is to be computed more humano, not wore angelico”; “it is a man‘s number.” DeWette, “It is such a number as is commonly reckoned or designated by men.” Other interpretations may be seen in Poole‘s Synopsis. That which is proposed by Rosenmuller, however, meets all the circumstances of the case. The idea is, evidently, that the number indicates or refers to a certain man, or order of people. It does not pertain to a brute, or to angelic beings. Thus it would be understood by one merely interpreting the language, and thus the connection demands.

And his number is six hundred threescore and six - The number of his name, Revelation 13:17. This cannot be supposed to mean that his name would be composed of six hundred and sixty-six letters; and it must, therefore, mean that somehow the number 666 would be expressed by his name in some well-understood method of computation. The number here - six hundred and sixty-six - is, in Walton‘s Polyglott, written out in full: Ἑξακόσιοι ἑξάκοντα ἕξ Hexakosioi hexakonta hexIn Wetstein, Griesbach, Hahn, Tittmann, and the common Greek text, it is expressed by the characters χξς = 666. There can be no doubt that this is the correct number, though, in the time of Irenaeus, there was in some copies another reading - χις = 616. This reading was adopted by the expositor Tychonius; but against this Irenaeus inveighs (Liv. v. 100:30). There can be no doubt that the number 666 is the correct reading, though it would seem that this was sometimes expressed in letters, and sometimes written in full. Wetstein supposes that both methods were used by John; that in the first copy of his book he used the letters, and in a subsequent copy wrote it in full. This inquiry is not of material consequence.

It need not be said that much has been written on this mysterious “number,” and that very different theories have been adopted in regard to its application. For the views which have been entertained on the subject, the reader may consult, with advantage, the article in Calmet‘s Dictionary, under the word “antichrist.” It was natural for Calmet, being a Roman Catholic, to endeavor to show that the interpretations have been so various, that there could be no certainty in the application, and especially in the common application to the papacy. In endeavoring to ascertain the meaning of the passage, the following general remarks may be made, as containing the result of the investigation thus far:

(a) There was some mystery in the matter - some designed concealment - some reason why a more explicit statement was not adopted. The reason of this is not stated; but it may not be improper to suppose that it arose from something in the circumstances of the writer, and that the adoption of this enigmatical expression was designed to avoid some peril to which he or others might be exposed if there were a more explicit statement.

(b) It is implied, nevertheless, that it could be understood; that is, that the meaning was not so obscure that, by proper study, the designed reference could not be ascertained without material danger of error.

(c) It required skill to do this; either natural sagacity, or particular skill in interpreting hieroglyphics and symbols, or uncommon spiritual discernment.

(d) Some man, or order of men, is referred to that could properly be designated in this manner.

(e) The method of designating persons obscurely by a reference to the numerical signification of the letters in their names was not very uncommon, and was one that was not unlikely, in the circumstances of the case, to have been resorted to by John. “Thus, among the pagans, the Egyptian mystics spoke of Mercury, or Thouth, under the name 1218, because the Greek letters composing the word Thouth, when estimated by their numerical value, together made up that number. By others, Jupiter was invoked under the mystical number 717; because the letters of ̔Η ΑΡΧΗ HEĒ ARCHEE- “Beginning,” or “First Origin,” which was a characteristic of the supreme deity worshipped as Jupiter, made up that number. And Apollo under the number 608, as being that of ηυς ēusor ὑης huēswords expressing certain solar attributes. Again, the pseudo-Christian, or semi-pagan Gnostics, from John‘s time and downward, affixed to their gems and amulets, of which multitudes remain to the present day, the mystic word αβρασαξ abrasaxor αβραξας abraxasunder the idea of some magic virtue attaching to its number 365, as being that of the days of the annual solar circle,” etc. See other instances referred to in Elliott, 3:205. These facts show that John would not be unlikely to adopt some such method of expressing a sentiment which it was designed should be obscure in form, but possible to be understood. It should be added here, that this was more common among the Jews than among any other people.

(f) It seems clear that some Greek word is here referred to, and that the mystic number is to be found in some word of that language. The reasons for this opinion are these:

(1)John was writing in Greek, and it is most natural to suppose that this would be the reference;

(2)he expected that his book would be read by those who understood the Greek language, and it would have been unnatural to have increased the perplexity in understanding what he referred to by introducing a word of a foreign language;

(3)the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and not those of the Hebrew, are expressly selected by the Saviour to denote his eternity - “I am Alpha and Omega,” Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:11; and,

(4)the numerals by which the enigma is expressed - χξς - are Greek. It has indeed been supposed by many that the solution is to be found in the Hebrew language, but these reasons seem to me to show conclusively that we are to look for the solution in some Greek word.

The question now is, whether there is any word which corresponds with these conditions, and which would naturally be referred to by John in this manner. The exposition thus far has led us to suppose that the papacy in some form is referred to; and the inquiry now is, whether there is any word which is so certain and determinate as to make it probable that John meant to designate that. The word Λατεινος Lateinos- “Lateinos, the Latin” (Man) - actually has all the conditions supposed in the interpretation of this passage. From this word the number specified - 666 - is made out as follows:

d Λ Α Τ Ε Ι Ν Ο Σ



d 3013005105070200

d = 666



In support of the opinion that this is the word intended to be referred to, the following suggestions may be made:

(a) It is a Greek word.

(b) It expresses the exact number, and corresponds in this respect with the language used by John.

(c) It was early suggested as the probable meaning, and by those who lived near the time of John; who were intimately acquainted with the Greek language; and who may be supposed to have been familiar with this mode of writing.

Thus it was suggested by Irenaeus, who says, “It seems to me very probable; for this is a name of the last of Daniel‘s four kingdoms; they being Latins that now reign.” It is true that he also mentions two other words as those which may be meant - ευανθας euanthasa word which had been suggested by others, but concerning which he makes no remarks, and which, of course, must have been destitute of any probability in his view; and Τειταν Teitanwhich he thinks has the clearest claims for admission - though he speaks of the word Λατεινος Lateinosas having a claim of probability.

(d) This word would properly denote the Roman power, or the then Latin power, and would refer to that dominion as a Latin dominion - as it properly was; and if it be supposed that it was intended to refer to that, and, at the same time, that there should be some degree of obscurity about it, this would be more likely to be selected than the word “Roman,” which was better known; and,

(e) there was a special propriety in this, on the supposition that it was intended to refer to the papal Latin power. The most appropriate appellation, if it was designed to refer to Rome as a civil power, would undoubtedly have been the word “Roman”; but if it was intended to refer to the ecclesiastical power, or to the papacy, this is the very word to express the idea. In earlier times the more common appellation was Roman. This continued until the separation of the Eastern and Western empires, when the Eastern was called Greek, and the Western the Latin; or when the Eastern empire assumed the name of Roman, and affixed to the Western kingdoms one and all that were connected with Rome the appellation of Latin. This appellation, originally applied to the language only, was adopted by the Western kingdoms, and came to be that by which they were best designated. It was the Latin world, the Latin kingdom, the Latin church, the Latin patriarch, the Latin clergy, the Latin councils. To use Dr. More‘s words, “They Latinize everything: mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, canons, decretals, bulls, are conceived in Latin. The papal councils speak in Latin, women themselves pray in Latin. The Scriptures are read in no other language under the papacy than Latin. In short, all things are Latin.” With what propriety, then, might John, under the influence of inspiration, speak, in this enigmatical manner, of the new power that was symbolized by the beast as Latin.

The only objection to this solution that has been suggested is, that the orthography of the Greek word is Λατινος Latinos- “Latinos,” and not Λατεινος Lateinos- Lateinosgiving the number 661, and not 666; and Bellarmine asserts that this is the uniform method of spelling in Greek authors. All that is necessary in reply to this is to copy the following remark from Prof. Stuart, vol. ii. p. 456: “As to the form of the Greek word Λατεινος Lateinosnamely, that ει eiis employed for the Latin long 4, it is a sufficient vindication of it to cite Σαβεῖνος Sabeinos Φαυστεῖνος Fausteinos Παυλεῖνος Pauleinos Αντωνεῖνος Antōneinos Ατειλιος Ateilios Μετεῖλιος Metei̬lios Παπεῖριος Papeirios Ουεῖβιος Oueibiosetc. Or we may refer to the custom of the more ancient Latin, as in Plautus, of writing i by ei; e. g., solitei, Diveis, captivei, preimus, Lateina, etc.” See this point examined further, in Elliott, 3:210-213.

As a matter of historical interest, it may be observed that the solution of the difficulty has been sought in numerous other words, and the friends of the papacy and the enemies of the Bible have endeavored to show that such terms are so numerous that there can be no certainty in the application. Thus Calmet (Dictionary, “Antichrist”), after enumerating many of these terms, says: “The number 666 is found in names the most sacred, the most opposite to antichrist. The wisest and best way is to be silent.”

We have seen that, besides the name “Lateinos,” two other words had been referred to in the time of Irenaeus. Some of the words in which the mysterious number has been since supposed to be found are the following:

d נרון קסר Neron Caesar.
50 + 200 + 6 + 50, and 100 + 60 + 200 =


d Diocles Augustus (Dioclesian) = DCLXVI.


d C. F. Julianus Caesar Atheus (the Apostate) = DCLXVI.


d Luther - לולתר
200 + 400 + 30 + 6 + 30 =


d Lampetis, Λαμπετις
30 + 1 + 40 + 80 + 5 + 300 + 10 + 200 =


d ἡ Λατινη Βασιλεια hē Latinē Basileia
8 + 30 + 1 + 300 + 10 + 50 + 8 + 2 + 1 + 200 + 10 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 1 =



d Ἰταλικα εκκλησια Italika ekklēsia
10 + 300 + 1 + 30 + 10 + 20 + 1 + 5 + 20 + 20 + 30 + 8 + 200 + 10 + 1 =



d Ἀποστατης Apostatēs(the Apostate)
1 + 80 + 70 + 6 + 1 + 300 + 8 + 200 =


d רומיית (Roman, sc. Sedes)
200 + 6 + 40 + 10 + 10 + 400 =


d רמצנושׁ (Romanus, sc. Man)
200 + 40 + 70 + 50 + 6 + 300 =



It will be admitted that many of these, and others that might be named, are fanciful, and perhaps had their origin in a determination, on the one hand, to find Rome referred to somehow, or in a determination, on the other hand, equally strong, not to find this; but still it is remarkable how many of the most obvious solutions refer to Rome and the papacy. But the mind need not be distracted, nor need doubt be thrown over the subject, by the number of the solutions proposed. They show the restless character of the human mind, and the ingenuity of people; but this should not be allowed to bring into doubt a solution that is simple and natural, and that meets all the circumstances of the case. Such a solution, I believe, is found in the word Λατεινος Lateinos- “Lateinos,” as illustrated above; and as that, if correct, settles the case, it is unnecessary to pursue the matter further. Those who are disposed to do so, however, may find ample illustration in Calmet, Dictionary “Antichrist”; Elliott, Horae Apoca. iii. 207-221; Prof. Stuart, Com. vol. ii. Excursus iv.; Bibliotheca Sacra, i. 84-86; Robert Fleming on the Rise and Fall of the papacy, 28, seq.; DeWette, Exegetisches Handbuch, New Testament, iii. 140-142; Vitringa, Com. 625-637, Excursus iv.; Nov. Tes. Edi. Koppianae, vol. x. b, pp. 235-265; and the Commentaries generally.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Revelation 13:18

Six hundred three score and six.

Sixes and sevens

I. The beast whose number is 666. The beast is not one, but three. It is evident the last verse sums up the two chapters, and gives its total number like the answer in an addition sum.

1. The first beast is the “great red dragon” of chap. 12. He has “seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” He appears in heaven in open revolt against all authority, and with special enmity against the man child. Who is this daring, determined fiend who disturbs heaven’s peace, and is thirsty for the blood of the saints? In Revelation 12:9 we are told he is “that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan.” That point is clear enough at any rate; we have heard of him before.

2. The second beast rises up out of the sea, and is Daniel’s four beasts (Daniel 7:1-8) rolled into one. Unto this beast the “great red dragon,” the devil, “gave his power, his throne, and great authority.” A throne means kingship and a kingdom. He takes up the rebellion against God, heaven, and the saints, and extends his authority over all kindreds and tongues and nations. “The prince of this world.” A title thrice given by Jesus Christ to His adversary.

3. The third beast rises up out of the earth, and in many respects differs from its fellow beasts. Instead of being a combination of terrors, it is meek and gentle in its appearance. Its mild and innocent looks are belied by its words, which carry its real character; they are fierce, treacherous, and cruel. This lamb-like dragon has no throne, neither does it rule over conquered peoples. It is the servant of the beast-royal. It is zealous for his honour, wields his authority, works miracles for his glory, makes men worship his image, and rejoices to lose itself in the splendour and glory of its lord.

4. Here, then, we see “the great red dragon,” and two beasts, varying in form and sphere of operation, but one in nature and purpose. And their relationship to each other is such as to suggest at once the evangelist’s conception of a trinity of evil in deadly conflict with the Divine and holy Trinity of good.

II. What is the significance of his number 6 6 6? The numbers are signs, and must be taken, not in their literal or numerical value, but in their symbolic sense. They stand for something altogether outside arithmetic. For instance, three is a number of mysterious sanctity, and refers to deities; four represents the earth in all its four corners; and six is everywhere the unlucky number. The Jew dreaded it, and to this day there linger many superstitions about the sixth day (Friday), the sixth hour, etc. The reason given is that it falls fatally below seven, the emblem of completeness, perfection, totality. Six is nearest to seven, but always falls one short of completeness.

III. The highest possible point of attainment, apart from God, is 666. This admits that without God six can be reached. In Church life we can do a great deal without God. Crowded Churches and overflowing coffers are no infallible sign of the Divine Presence. In individual reform much can be done without God. I have known men give up drink, gambling, lust, swearing, and almost every form of vice, and reform so completely that they have been held up in “reports” as miracles of grace; and afterwards they have confessed there was no grace in it, they had never prayed, nor sought help from God. Science has wrought wonders in the last fifty years. If any one had told our grandfathers of the achievements of steam and electricity they would have thought him mad But wonderful as science is, its number is only 6. Coming from America in the Augusta Victoria, a clever fellow with whom I had had several talks came up to me on Sunday morning. Seeing I was reading my Bible, he expressed surprise that I read “that book.” I told him I was surprised to hear him say so. “Oh!” he said, “the world has grown out of that long since.” “Indeed,” I replied; “and into what has it grown?” Then he extolled the work of science. And I asked him the simple question, “Whence did you and I come?” And he took me through the mysteries of evolution, performing two or three intellectual somersaults in the course, and at last put his finger on the first form of organic life, and said proudly, “That’s where we began!” “Indeed,” I said, “and where did it begin?” Then he said, “We come now to what is variously described as the First Cause, Eternal Force, and the Unknowable.” “It won’t do,” I said; “your explanation does not explain.” His science was only 6. I turn to my Bible, and I find the missing link. “In the beginning God!” Life has no explanation with Him left out. So long as He is absent the “one thing needful” is lacking. It is the same with philosophy. It is only 6. It needs God to tell me whence I came, what I am, and whither I go. He alone can supply what lies between “6” and “7.” The modern gospel without God is only 6. Reform is popular. Politicians of all grades vie with each other in their zeal for the uplifting of society. All this is very well as far as it goes; but its number is only the number of the beast. The gospel of to-day, apart from Christ, is expressed in three words: economics, sanitation, education. I believe in all three. I have been too long in the ranks of the toilers not to sympathise with their struggle for better conditions of work and life. But when you have given the workman the eight-hours day and the living wage, who is going to give him a pair of legs that will carry him past the first public-house? So also with sanitation. By all means let us have clean dwellings, pure air, and good drains. But good sanitation does not make saints. It is not the stye that makes the pig, but the pig that makes the stye. As a reforming power sanitation is good as far as it goes; but it gets no farther than the skin and the sewer. Its number is only 6. Education touches the man more directly; but experience has amply proved how insufficient it is to effect such radical change in men as will make them just and good. The fact is, this generation has fallen in love with the social conditions of the kingdom of Christ. It has become the great ideal--the age’s utopia. But it has not adopted Christ’s method to bring it about. It wants a shorter cut. Christ’s method is: make men good, and the “new creature” will produce a new social order and a new world. But to make men good is such slow, hopeless work; so we will try making the world good, and then surely men must be good. It did not work in the garden of Eden. Neither will it now. Jesus Christ is still the only Saviour. He will reconstruct society by regenerating the individual; and the host of Christian workers, despised preachers of the gospel, Sunday-school teachers, and old-fashioned people, who still go to prayer meetings, are, after all, the best social reformers this world has. They have the one complete gospel; all others are but 6 6 6.

IV. What is your number? Apply this to your own life. What is your number? Is it 6 or 7.? You can get a good deal out of a life of sixes. You may get a lot of real pleasure out of life without religion. But the best of the world’s pleasure is only 6. The provoking thing about it is that there is always something short. It never quite satisfies. Jesus Christ said of it, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again”; and the more he drinks the more he thirsts. But He gives the water of life that leaves no thirst; and, after all, you never know what happiness is till you drink of that stream. In character, too, you may be good without Christ. I admit it. But your goodness is only 6. A fine specimen of the “6” order came to Jesus one day. He had kept the commandments; he was greatly respected; so excellent was he that when Jesus saw him “He loved him.” But He said unto him, “One thing thou lackest.” Only one, but it was the one thing needful. (S. Chadwick.)

The number of the beast

The opening words of this verse, “Here is wisdom,” seem almost ironical in the light of the subsequent treatment that the verse has received, for it has been chosen as one of the favourite spots where sober understanding shall be forgotten. The people that have been busiest in reckoning up the number of the beast have, far from revealing the wisdom of which the passage speaks, only served to show us how foolish and fantastic even some good and earnest men can be. The name of anything, when used in the ideal and symbolic way in which it is used in this passage, is used to denote its real and essential being, The ideal function of a name is to express accurately and completely what the thing is. In actual life names are very far from doing this, but symbolic pictures deal with the ideal, and not the actual. So the name of the beast denotes its true nature, its living collection of qualities. The number of the name gives mystic indication of the fate that lies hidden in and for such a character. It is the destiny of the life written in the name. Therefore, while it is called “the number of the name of the beast” in one verse, it is simply called “the number of the beast” in another. It is not an external label, an arithmetical puzzle, but is vitally related to the life and character of the beast. Now, I don’t think there can be the slightest doubt that the “beast” is a general expression for the kingdom of evil. The aptness of the term needs no exposition. Ferocity and baseness and all else that is included in brute-force serve well to symbolise the fierce and lawless power of evil.

I. The kingdom of evil, though apparently strong, is essentially weak, This is the first truth symbolised by the number 666. It is eternally incapable of becoming 777, and therefore eternally incapable of imperilling the supremacy of God.

II. The height of its power is the certain hour of its downfall. How vividly the symbols point out this! 666 almost the summit of attainment; but when it seems almost on the point of scaling the heavens and seizing the throne, out flash the fierce lightnings from the heart of regnant truth and purity, and the black mass is scattered to the earth crushed and impotent. It is the curse of evil that it cannot stop, that it must go on trying to swell itself out into the dimensions of God, and because it has eternal incapacity for reaching such a magnitude, it necessarily follows that after it has swollen to a certain point, like the frog in the fable, it bursts and collapses. Just like a bubble, the more it swells the nearer it is to destruction. The larger its dimensions, the less power it has to hold itself together. The most effectual way of crushing a weak and ambitious man is to load him with power and responsibility, for the weak spirit will not be able to sustain the burden, and will fall under it. Then his inherent weakness will be made manifest, and the number of his name be revealed. So beastism, or the kingdom of evil, can go so far and no further. It is fatally flawed by the fact that its own power is its own destruction. (John Thomas, M. A.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Revelation 13:18". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six.

Here is wisdom ... This remark seems to indicate that no little study will be required in order to understand it!

The number of the beast ... the number of a man ... Six hundred and sixty and six ... More people probably know about this verse than of any other verse in the whole book; and the theories of what it means are almost unlimited. This writer is not at all certain of what it means, beyond the cautious conclusion given under the preceding verse. Its identification with the second beast is certain, and probably also with the first beast as represented in his "image."

The ancient science of numerology seems to have influenced a number of passages in this prophecy; and perhaps the most probable meaning relates to the symbolic value of the number itself. Seven is the number of perfection. Six is the number of imperfection, of falling short, of forever being below what is perfect. The number 777 is said to be "the number of God, Christ, grace and salvation for men."[85] The number 666 is therefore the crowding out of perfection "in Christ," and the contradiction of all that is indicated in 777. Many scholars have stressed this line of thought. Our own conviction is that this "number" is not a literal number at all, but the symbol standing for a "spiritual likeness."

We note some of the "explanations" that are offered:

The position of the Seventh Day Adventist religion is that Sunday, or the observance of it as a day of worship, is the mark of the beast. As Pieters said, "For vicious denominationalism, this is unsurpassed."[86]

"Preston and Hausen suggest that the mark of the beast was a parody of the practice of making the sign of the cross on the forehead of the new Christian."[87]

The making of the "sign of the cross" by "crossing one's self" was once thought to be the mark; and this accounts for the omission of that practice in the Protestant Reformation. In some ways, this seems to fit, but not in others.

The interpretation of the number by gematria has yielded all kinds of answers. Gematria is the assignment of numerical values to certain letters of the alphabet, as for example: M, D, C, X, L, and I have commonly recognized values as used on clocks. Both the Greek and Hebrew languages, as perhaps also others, used similar systems; and these were diverse, the same letter having one value in one language and another value in another language. This, of course, led to many names having a numerical value; and the attention granted to this type of thing was evidently extensive when John wrote; and this could have caused him to adopt this reference to it as a symbol of the reality depicted. Roberson believed that it was actually this gematria calculation that John had in mind,[88] but that it is now impossible for us to know what it was, or to whom he referred. He pointed out, for example, that it is simply unknown what specific values were assigned to certain letters in that period. As we have the number, and following the common values often assigned, "There are an indefinite number of names that will yield it; and there are too many which are plausible for any one to be the probable meaning."[89]

Earle, like so many others, called attention to the imperfect "six" as related to the perfect "seven," and identified 666 as the full symbol of imperfect, fallible, and sinful man. "This 666 indicates that this age will end in the worship of man, instead of the worship of God."[90] The 666 might not mean this, but it appears to be true anyway.

Roberts, like so many, found Nero in the number 666,[91] but even if he did, Nero is the wrong answer. Nero was not the beast; he was not the wounded head; he did not rise from the dead; and it is absolutely untenable to interpret this prophecy as predicting any such thing as that! The device of getting "Nero" out of this number is as devious and illogical as anything ever resorted to in order to bolster a false theory. Caird explained how they do it: "They start with the hypothesis that Nero is the name."[92] This derives from their conviction that a myth is the basis of this chapter. "The name Nero in Greek (the language in which John wrote) adds up to 1005![93] So they translate it into Latin, and that does not work either, so they transliterate it into Hebrew (leaving out the vowels because Hebrew has no vowels); and then, by leaving out a lot of the letters and throwing in Nero's title of Caesar, and misspelling that, they force it to yield 666! It is truly amazing that any Christian scholar could be brainwashed into receiving any such alleged explanation. That's certainly going a long way around to get the wrong answer. Bruce's comment on this shenanigan was:

The three rules for making any name yield the desired 666 are: (1) if the proper name itself will not yield it, add a title; (2) if the sum cannot be found in Greek, try Latin, or Hebrew; (3) if that does not work, misspell it![94]

Dummelow's explanation is sound Scripturally, whether or not it is "correct":

The number of Jesus in Greek in 888, and the meaning is that the beast falls so far short of seven (perfection and holiness) as Jesus goes beyond it.[95]

The late, highly respected Frank L. Cox took a similar view:

The number 666 represents worldliness at its zenith, "expressing all that is possible for human wisdom and power, when directed by an evil spirit, to achieve." This man cannot be identified as an individual, but as a type, a kind.[96]

The scholars, of whom there are a large number, who worked "Nero" out of this number should take a look at two or three other "solutions" which are quite natural, unforced, open, and plainly demonstrable. We include them here because, at least, they do apply to the beast, which is what the number is said to identify:

1. Stauffer took the full title of one of the emperors (Domitian) in Greek: AUTOKRATOR KAISAR DOMETIANUS GERMANICUS, as abbreviated on Roman coins; and it duly yields 666. However, no single coin has ever been discovered on which the entire abbreviation occurs, although coins with each part of it have been found.[97]

2. The Latin expression VICARIUS FILII DEI, meaning "in place of the Son of God" and said to be one of the titles used by certain popes, was cited by Ray Summer:



It will be noted that U is counted as V, after the archaic manner, as it is still used in inscriptions. For example, over many Court Houses, the title reads: COVRT HOUSE. Summers stated that "It is reported that this expression encrusted in jeweled letters on the pope's crown is used in his ceremony of coronation."[98]

3. A third explanation was first proposed by Irenaeus, being the oldest calculation on this subject that has come down through history. He used the letter-values assigned in Greek, which explains the difference from those cited in 2, above. It is based on a word which means "The Latin Kingdom":[99]



This is a favorite explanation by the historical school of interpreters, and fits well the Catholic apostasy idea of this group.[100] It must be admitted that "the Latin kingdom" describes a salient feature of the apostasy; namely, the public services in Latin all over the world throughout the ages.

These three "explanations" cited here are a hundred times more logical and reasonable than the contrived application of the 666 to Nero; but our reluctance to affirm any certainty on this point derives from the inherent difficulty of the verse itself. Rist thought that John intended it to be "something of an enigma";[101] and so it has remained whether or not John so intended it.

Affixing the meaning of this 666 to any man is wrong, for it is primarily the number of the beast (Revelation 13:17). The notion that Nero, or any man, is meant could not possibly be correct. The number has been confidently assigned by scholars to literally dozens of historical persons, by far the most reasonable of such assignments being the three cited above, because they, at least, have the quality of being connected with the beast. However, any confidence that even these, or any one of them, is "the answer" fails because of the problem involved in every person following the beast also having the number in his forehead or his right hand. For awhile, in his early ministry, this writer accepted number 2, above, as the true explanation; but while true enough that it applies to a prominent feature of the apostasy; namely, the blasphemous title of the popes, nevertheless, that was not a number or title worn by all of his followers in either head or hand. Furthermore, there is the additional light on what is meant here which comes from the truth that the very next verse in this prophecy (Revelation 14:1) speaks of God's name being written on the foreheads of his followers. Can that be a literal number? No! Therefore this is not a literal number. What must be meant is "a spiritual likeness" to the beast in his followers and a "spiritual likeness" to God among his followers. Any thought of absolute certainty on this question is disclaimed.

[85] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 412.

[86] Albertus Pieters, op. cit., p. 212.

[87] Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 262.

[88] Charles H. Roberson, op. cit., p. 101.

[89] Ibid.

[90] Ralph Earle, op. cit., p. 578.

[91] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 115.

[92] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 174.

[93] Ibid.

[94] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 653.

[95] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 1084.

[96] Frank L. Cox, op. cit., p. 87.

[97] Stauffer as quoted by Caird, op. cit., p. 175.

[98] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 176.

[99] John T. Hinds, op. cit., p. 204.

[100] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 176.

[101] Martin Rist, op. cit., p. 466.

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Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Here is wisdom,.... Not only in the above description of the two beasts, but in what follows as to the number of the beast, these two now coalescing in one, and have one and the same number; and to wrap it up, and conceal it in such an obscure manner, shows great wisdom in God, as it requires much in men, and serves greatly to exercise all his intellectual powers to find it out:

let him that hath understanding count the number of, the beast; whoever has skill numbers, let him make use of it, that he may know the name and nature of the antichristian beast, and the numerical letters of his name, or the number of him, and of the time when he arose, and when he will expire:

for it is the number of a man: either a number that may be reckoned by man, or which is in common use among men; see Revelation 21:17; or that which is contained in the name of a man:

and his number is six hundred threescore and six: which some think refers to the time of the rise of antichrist, in the year 666; but that seems rather to be in the year 859, when the bishop of Rome obtained the name of universal bishop; others have been of opinion that it refers to the expiration of the beast, which they thought would have been in the year 1666, the number of the thousand being dropped, as it is in our common way of speaking; as when we say the Spanish invasion was in 88, meaning 1588, and the civil wars began in 41, that is, 1641; but time has shown that this was a mistaken sense; the more prevailing opinion is that of Mr. Potter, who has wrote a peculiar and learned treatise upon this passage, who makes the counting of this number to be no other than the extracting of its root, which is the number 25, which when multiplied into itself, and the fraction in working it 41 is added, makes up the square number 666; and now 25 being added to A. D. 33, make 58, which was the time of the beast's conception, to which if 666 is added, it brings us to the year 724, when he arrived to his age of manhood, and when the war about the worshipping of images broke out: but others think that the numeral letters in some man's name which amount to this date, and which agrees with antichrist, are intended; and here various conjectures are made; some have observed, that in genealogical arithmetic the number of Adonikam's posterity is 666, Ezra 2:13; whose name signifies "a lord rising up", or "risen"; and suits very well with antichrist, who is risen up, and assumes a lordly domination over the kings of the earth; and it is further observed, that the Hebrew word רומיית, which signifies "Roman", and, having the word beast or kingdom joined to it, designs the Roman beast, or kingdom, consists of numeral letters, which make up this sum; and so the Hebrew word סתור, "Sethut", which is the name of a man, Numbers 13:13, and signifies "mystery", in its numeral letters comes just to this number, and one of the names of the whore of Babylon is "mystery", Revelation 17:5; but the name "Lateinos" bids as fair as any, which is mentioned by so ancient a writer as Irenaeus, who was a hearer of Polycarp, a disciple of John, the writer of this book; now the numeral value of the letters of this word makes up exactly 666, thus; λ 30. α 1. τ 300. ε 5. ι 10. ν 50. ο 70. ς 200. in all 666; and it is well known that the church of Rome is called the Latin Church and the pope of Rome the head of the Latin church, and his seat is in the Latin empire, and the service of the beast is in the Latin tongue, and the Bible is kept in that language, from the reading of the common people: it has been observed that the numeral letters in Ludovicus, or Lewis, which is a common name of the French kings, and is the name of the present French king, make up this same number; and may denote the destruction of antichrist, which will quickly follow the downfall of the kingdom of France, under a king of this name; and the rather, since this was the last of the ten kingdoms that was set up, and in which the primitive beast subsists, and the only one that has not yet been conquered, or in which a revolution has not been; and since this is the tenth part of the city which shall fall a little before the third woe comes on: and that it may fall under Ludovicus, or Lewis, the present French kingF1The reader will bear in mind that the original edition of this work was published in the year 1747. --Ed. , may be hoped for, and is desirable.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

27 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the 28 number of a man; and his number [is] Six hundred threescore [and] six.

(27) That is, in this number of the beast consists that popish wisdom, which to them seems the greatest of all others. In these words John expounds the saying that went before the number of the beast, what it has above his distinctive mark and his name. These things, says John, the mark and the name of the beast, is wisdom: that is, only the wise and such as have understanding, can come by that number: for they who would attain it must be knowledgeable doctors, as the words following declare.

(28) How great and of what denomination this number of the beast is by which the beast accounts his wisdom, John declares in these words, "Do you demand how great it is?" It is so great, that it occupies the whole man: he is always learning, and never comes to the knowledge of it: he must be a man in deed that does attain to it. You ask what denomination it is? Truly it is six throughout, all the parts of it in their denominations (as they term them) it stands of six by units, tens, hundreds, etc. There is not one part in the pontifical learning and order, which is not either referred to the head, the top of it, or contained in the same: so fitly do all things in this hierarchy agree with one another, and with their head. Therefore that cruel beast Boniface the eighth, does commend by the number of six those Decretals which he perfected: in the sixth book. "Which book (he says) being to be added to five other books of the same volume of Decretals, we thought good to name Sextum the sixth: that the same volume by addition of it, containing a senary, or the number of six books (which is a number perfect) may yield a perfect form of managing all things, and perfect discipline of behaviour." Here therefore is the number of the beast, who empowers from himself all his parts, and brings them all back to himself by his discipline in most wise and cunning manner. If any man desires more of this, let him read the gloss on that place. I am not ignorant that other interpretations are given in this place; but I thought it my duty, with the good favour of all, and without the offence of any, to propound my opinion in this point. For this cause especially, since it seemed to me neither profitable, nor likely to be true, that the number of the beast, or the name of the beast should be taken as the common interpreters take it. This number of the beast teaches, gives out, imprints, as a public mark of those who are his, and esteems that mark above all others, as the mark of those whom he loves best. Now those other expositions seem to be far removed from this property and condition of that number: whether you respect the name Latinus, or Titan, or any other. For these the beast does not teach, nor give forth, nor imprint, but most diligently forbids to be taught, and audaciously denies: he does not approve them, but reproves them: and hates those that think so of this number, with a hatred greater then that of Vatinius.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

wisdom — the armory against the second beast, as patience and faith against the first. Spiritual wisdom is needed to solve the mystery of iniquity, so as not to be beguiled by it.

count  …  for — The “for” implies the possibility of our calculating or counting the beast‘s number.

the number of a man — that is, counted as men generally count. So the phrase is used in Revelation 21:17. The number is the number of a man, not of God; he shall extol himself above the power of the Godhead, as the MAN of sin [Aquinas]. Though it is an imitation of the divine name, it is only human.

six hundred threescore and six — A and Vulgate write the numbers in full in the Greek. But B writes merely the three Greek letters standing for numbers, Ch, X, St. “C reads” 616, but Irenaeus, 328, opposes this and maintains “666.” Irenaeus, in the second century, disciple of Polycarp, John‘s disciple, explained this number as contained in the Greek letters of Lateinos (L being thirty; A, one; T, three hundred; E, five; I, ten; N, fifty; O, seventy; S, two hundred). The Latin is peculiarly the language of the Church of Rome in all her official acts; the forced unity of language in ritual being the counterfeit of the true unity; the premature and spurious anticipation of the real unity, only to be realized at Christ‘s coming, when all the earth shall speak “one language” (Zephaniah 3:9). The last Antichrist may have a close connection with Rome, and so the name Lateinos (666) may apply to him. The Hebrew letters of Balaam amount to 666 [Bunsen]; a type of the false prophet, whose characteristic, like Balaam‘s, will be high spiritual knowledge perverted to Satanic ends. The number six is the world number; in 666 it occurs in units, tens, and hundreds. It is next neighbor to the sacred seven, but is severed from it by an impassable gulf. It is the number of the world given over to judgment; hence there is a pause between the sixth and seventh seals, and the sixth and seventh trumpets. The judgments on the world are complete in six; by the fulfillment of seven, the kingdoms of the world become Christ‘s. As twelve is the number of the Church, so six, its half, symbolizes the world kingdom broken. The raising of the six to tens and hundreds (higher powers) indicates that the beast, notwithstanding his progression to higher powers, can only rise to greater ripeness for judgment. Thus 666, the judged world power, contrasts with the 144,000 sealed and transfigured ones (the Church number, twelve, squared and multiplied by one thousand, the number symbolizing the world pervaded by God; ten, the world number, raised to the power of three the number of God) [Auberlen]. The “mark” (Greek, “{charagma}”) and “name” are one and the same. The first two radical letters of Christ (Greek, “{Christos}”), Ch and R, are the same as the first two of {charagma}, and were the imperial monogram of Christian Rome. Antichrist, personating Christ, adopts a symbol like, but not agreeing with, Christ‘s monogram, Ch, X, St; whereas the radicals in “Christ” are Ch, R, St. Papal Rome has similarly substituted the standard of the Keys for the standard of the Cross; so on the papal coinage (the image of power, Matthew 22:20). The two first letters of “Christ,” Ch, R, represent seven hundred, the perfect number. The Ch, X, St represent an imperfect number, a triple falling away (apostasy) from septenary perfection [Wordsworth].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

People's New Testament

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast. Revelation 13:17 speaks of the {name} of the beast. It has, then, a name. It also speaks of the {number} of its name. Its name, then, is some number. We wish to discover its name, and if we can count the number, we will find its name. "The number of the beast," that is, the "number of its name" is the number of a man, and that number is {six hundred and sixty-six}. It is, then, plain that the number six hundred and sixty-six is the number of the name of the beast, and this is the man's name. Six hundred sixty-six is English. John did not write in English, hence those words in English will not give the word we seek. 666 are the Arab characters for the numbers, but they were unknown until many hundred years after John wrote, and hence afford no help. John wrote in the Greek language for readers who understood that tongue. The number is evidently, then, to be expressed in Greek characters. The Greeks did not express numbers by figures, but by letters, just as among the Romans, X stood for ten and C for one hundred. Six hundred and sixty-six could be expressed by spelling out the words in the Greek language, or by using the letters which were symbols for various quantities. Let us try the latter method: 30=L, 1=a, 300-t, 5=e, 10=i, 50=n, 70=o, 200=s. 666=Lateinos. And what is this name? The number of a man; the Greek method of spelling the name of Latinus, the reputed founder of the Latin race. The Romans were a Latin race and spoke the Latin language. The Romish Church is continually officially called the Latin Church, to distinguish it from the Greek Church, the other branch of the great ancient schism; the Catholic sacred books are written in the Latin tongue; the worship is conducted in every country in the Latin alone, and when a Catholic council convenes, all its conferences are conducted in the tongue of the ancient Latins. There is, then, a Latin Church, whose official and sacred speech is the Latin language, which has for its seat the ancient Latin capital. That Church is the great Apostate Church, upon whose head the names of blasphemy have been written, which has claimed universal dominion upon the earth, and has slain the saints of the Most High. Its name is the number of the beast, and that name, Lateinos, the name or number of a man, is 666. It does not destroy the force of this that these numerals and letters can be so combined as to spell out other names. This name is one that at once points to a power which has displayed every mark which is assigned to the beast.

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Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Here is wisdom (ωδε η σοπιαhōde hē sophia). The puzzle that follows as in Revelation 17:9. See Ephesians 1:17 for “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding.”

He that understands (ο εχων νουνho echōn noun). “The one having intelligence” in such matters. Cf. the adverb νουνεχωςnounechōs (discreetly) in Mark 12:34.

Let him count (πσηπισατωpsēphisatō). First active imperative of πσηπιζωpsēphizō old verb (from πσηποςpsēphos pebble), to count, in N.T. only here and Luke 14:28.

The number of a man (αριτμος αντρωπουarithmos anthrōpou). “A man‘s number.” But what man and what name?

Six hundred and sixty-six (εχακοσιοι εχηκοντα εχhexakosioi hexēkonta hex). Unfortunately some MSS. here read 616 instead of 666. All sorts of solutions are offered for this conundrum. Charles is satisfied with the Hebrew letters for Nero Caesar, which give 666, and with the Latin form of Nero (without the final n), which makes 616. Surely this is ingenious and it may be correct. But who can really tell?

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Here is wisdom

Directing attention to the challenge which follows.

Count ( ψηφισάτω )

See on Luke 14:28.

The number of a man

It is counted as men usually count. Compare Revelation 21:17, and a man's pen, Isaiah 8:1. Some explain, a symbolical number denoting a person.

Six hundred threescore and six ( χ. ξ. ς ')

Each letter represents a component of the whole number: χ = 600; ξ = 60; ς ' = 6. In the earlier MSS: it is written in full, ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἐξ . The method of reading generally adopted is that known as the Ghematria of the Rabbins, or in Greek, ἰσοψηφία numerical equality, which assigns each letter of a name its usual numerical value, and gives the sum of such numbers as the equivalent of the name. Thus, in the Epistle of Barnabas, we are told that the name Ἱησοῦς Jesus is expressed by the number 888. Ι = 10; η = 8; σ = 200; ο = 70; υ = 400; σ = 200. The majority of the commentators use the Greek alphabet in computation; others, however, employ the Hebrew; while a third class employ the Roman numerals.

The interpretations of this number form a jungle from which escape is apparently hopeless. Reuss says: “This famous number has been made to yield almost all the historical names of the past eighteen centuries: Titus, Vespasian, and Simon Gioras; Julian the Apostate and Genseric; Mahomet and Luther; Benedict IX. and Louis XV.; Napoleon I. and the Duke of Reichstadt; and it would not be difficult, on the same principles, to read in it one another's names.” Some of the favorite names are Λατεῖνος , Latinus, describing the common character of the rulers of the former pagan Roman Empire: Nero Caesar; Diocletian; χς ' the name of Christ abridged, and ξ the emblem of the serpent, so that the sublimated sense is the Messiah of Satan.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

His number is Six hundred threescore and six. This mystical number, 666, intended, apparently, to designate, in some way or other, the name of the power described under the similitude of the two-horned beast, has come down through the whole succession of commentators on the sacred volume, a standing enigma on which their research and ingenuity have been exercised in vain. The clew which they have attempted to follow is this: The Greeks, having no separate characters to represent numbers, usually expressed them by the letters of their alphabet, each letter receiving, for this purpose, the assignment of a certain determinate value. Now, by adding together the values expressed by the several letters of a name, a number is obtained which is called the number of that name. Accordingly, it has been generally supposed that the name of the government, or church, or person, or influence, Whichever it may have been, that was intended to be prefigured by this beast, thus reduced to a number, would be 666. A great variety of names have consequently been proposed which answer this condition. Protestant commentators generally, who consider the beast as denoting the Papal power, refer this number to the word Lateinos, the supposed Greek form for the expression The Latin;--meaning the Latin church, by which expression the Roman church was originally designated.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 18. Here is wisdom] That is, work for wisdom, as Revelation 13:10. Here is "the patience and faith of saints."

It is the number of a man] Such as a man, by search, may find out, if he have his wits about him, as we say. Others sense it thus, the whole number of the beast, whatsoever is numbered to belong unto him, is but the number of a man; human inventions and will-wisdom. Men will have it so, and this is the sum of all Popish religion. Or it is called the "number of a man," because men do number. (Mr Cotton.) The philosopher affirms that man is therefore the wisest of creatures because he alone can number, Bruta non numerant. This is an essential difference.

Six hundred threescore and six] Among the many conjectures, that of λατεινος seems to me most probable, as most ancient and authentic. The year of Rome’s ruin is by some held to be 1666. It is plain, saith one, Satan shall be tied up 1000 years; 666 is the number of the beast; Antichrist shall so long reign; these two together make the just number. {a} Luther observeth, that about the year 666, the pope assumed to be αντπευθυνος, uncontrollable. Others observe, that Phocas (that adulterous assassin), Boniface the purchaser of supremacy, and Mahomet the grand impostor, brake forth together about the same time, to the great devastation and hazarding of all Christendom.

{a} Bernardus asseverat Antichristum futurum meridianum daemonem quia a meridie erit, et ibi sedebit. In Cant. ser. 33.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 13:18. As John wants to designate the χάραγμα definitely, and that, too, in the form of the ἀριθμὸς τοῦ ὁνόματος of the beast (Revelation 13:17), he mentions first of all, that wisdom and understanding are required for the comprehension of this mysterious mark. The formula ώδε ή σοφ. ἐστιν receives its peculiar meaning(3385) through the context, especially through the express demand ἔχων νοῦν ψηφισάτω, κ. τ. λ. A reckoning ( ψηφισάτω) is properly required, because the subject has reference to a number, and the value of its letters; yet the invitation to solve the puzzle intelligibly is supported by the explicit remark that the solution can actually be found,(3386) because the number is meant in the ordinary way: ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν. These words do not declare that the number describes the name of any particular human person,(3387)—in order to express which, John would have had to attach a τινὸς, or, after his way,(3388) a ἑνὸς, to ἀνθρ.,—but, as also the γὰρ, and the omission of the art. before ἀριθμ. indicate, that the ἀριθαὸς τοῦ θηρίου express the ὄνομα τοῦ θηρίου in a human way, and therefore according to the value of the letters current with every one. The key to the mystery of the numerical name is, therefore, readily found; but wisdom and understanding are necessary in order to use this key properly. That this is not so easy, the history of the exposition shows, as it(3389) gives the report of hundreds of attempts to solve the puzzle, which failed just because it was not understood, on the part of the large number of men which may contain the names of thousands, how to decipher the only correct name.

With the statement of this riddle John concludes the description of the beast, which thus reaches the most significant climax: καὶ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ χξϛʹ. The αὐτοὺ belongs to the conception τοῦ θηρίου,(3390) just as ψηφ. τ. ἀριθ΄ὸν τ. θηρ. was expressed, yet in the sense that the ἁριθ΄. τοῦ θηρίου is meant as the ἀριθ΄. τοῦ ὀνό΄ατος τοῦ θηρ., Revelation 13:17.

Without all doubt the number to be indicated means χιϚʹ, i.e., 666; for what Irenaeus(3391) reports of those who received the number χιϚʹ, 616, is the less applicable for causing any doubt with respect to the certainty of the received reading χιϚʹ, as Irenaeus himself decidedly advocates the latter reading by asserting for it the authority of all good and ancient MSS., and an express tradition which he derived from the author of the Apoc. himself.

In order to find the interpretation of the enigmatical number commended by John to Christian understanding, the indications afforded by the nearer and more remote context are certainly to be observed, which show the entire class of attempts at interpretation to be impossible, and urge the correct interpretation:—

(1) All expositors enter into an erroneous course who, in spite of the declaration of the text, understand the number not as τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ θηρίου; i.e., who have held it as any thing else than a definite name expressed in numbers. Therefore, not only is such play-work to be rejected of itself, as that of Zeger(3392) and of Coccejus,(3393) but also all Apocalyptic chronology based upon the number 666. With what confidence this was formerly held, is to be seen from the fact that in the Wittenberg Bible of the year 1661, the note (Luther’s gloss) is given: “It is 666 years: so long does the worldly papacy stand.” The master in the sphere of Apocalyptic arithmetic—in which men even like Isaac Newton have erred(3394)—was Bengel, whose piety remains worthy of respect because it believed that even in the spaces of time which are regarded as revealed in the Apoc., the holy ways of God are to be discerned, although not only is the excessive curiosity which muddled that piety reproved by the wording and spirit of Acts 1:7. Matthew 24:36,(3395) but also the entire theory, as it is built by Bengel upon this text, is deprived of a foundation and basis by making the text itself speak of nothing less than of 666 years. Bengel’s system of Apocalyptic chronology depends essentially upon the fact, that, in order to gain first an arithmetical proportion upon which to work, he combines the 666 years, as ordinary years, with the 3½ times or 42 “prophetical months,”(3396) that thereby he may attain the various chronological determinations,(3397) which he then applies to the history of the popes.

(2) Against the method, given in the text, for finding the name of the beast from the number 666, in such a way that the numerical value of the letters forming the concealed name gives that sum, Vitringa and Hengstenb. object, with their peculiar interpretation, rejected already by Vitr. and Coccejus. Because, in Ezra 2:13, a head of a family, Adonikam, with 666 sons, is mentioned, the Apoc. number is therefore regarded as referring to this name, אִדַֹנִיקָם (the Lord sets up), and thus, in the sense of Revelation 13:4,(3398) the antichristian arrogance of the beast deifying itself is indicated. Besides, Hengstenb. finds even in the number 666 itself the sign of that which is contrary to God, because, “as the swollen six,” it always remains a world-number, and can never be reduced to the godly number seven.(3399) But even apart from this last mode of trifling, and without considering that it yields a Hebrew name,—while only a Greek name is to be expected,—a mere play-work would be found therein, entirely spiritless, and not in harmony with the holy earnestness of John, if, without all inner reference to the supposed name, it would be referred to the number of children of Adonikam. Yet the name Adonikam could be meant in the assumed sense if that head of a family had had 777 sons.

(3) We have not only in the wording of Revelation 13:17-18, the clear direction for seeking a name in the enigmatical number; but the Apoc. as a whole, and the context of ch. 13 especially, compel us to reckon that name from no other than the Greek alphabet. A scientific expositor at the present day no longer attempts to introduce the Latin alphabet(3400) or those of modern languages.(3401) It is only either the Greek or the Hebrew alphabet that can enter into consideration. The application of the latter is apparently urged by the O. T. character of the Apoc.(3402) Züllig thus finds the name Balaam in the designation of Joshua 13:33, which,(3403) however, has nothing to do with the θηρίον of whose name it treats. Such interpretations would suit better, as that invented by Ewald for the (false) number 616, רום קיסר, i.e., Cæsar at Rome, or that received by Hilgenf., Renan, etc.,(3404) נרין קסר,(3405) if the presumption that Nero were to be identified with the beast were correct,(3406) and if the introduction of the Hebrew alphabet were not arbitrary. Irenaeus, Primas, Victorin., Beda, Andr., Areth., Wetst., Grot., Calov., Eichh., Ew. i., De Wette, Stern, Rinck, Lücke, Bleek, etc., are correct in their attempt to find the number indicated by the name in the Greek alphabet; for although the Apoc., in its entire mode of presentation and in its style, shows a strongly impressed O. T. type, ye t it is intended for the Greek-speaking reader, and, therefore, takes the formula A and ω(3407) from the Greek alphabet, as also, in its references to O. T. passages, it is not altogether independent of the version of the LXX.(3408) But of the Greek interpretations that have been attempted, most miscarry, because they are either in form intolerable, or without meaning and definite reference. Here belong the solutions εὐάνθας, ἅντεμος,(3409) ἀρνοῦμε,(3410) τεὶταν,(3411) νικητής,(3412) ἁντίδοκος,(3413) οὔλπιος,(3414) λαμπέτης, κακὸς ὁδηγος, ἄμνος ἄδικος, etc.(3415) Ingenious is the solution commended by Märcker.(3416) He reckons, according to the Greek alphabet, the numerical value of the initials of the names of the emperors, from Octavianus to the tenth following, Vespasian, inclusive of the three emperors of the interregnum,

Galba, Otho, and Vitellius,—by reckoning the numerical sign ί as the tenth, and so obtaining the letters οʹ, τʹ, γʹ, κʹ, υʹ, γʹ, οʹ, οʹ, οʹ, ιʹ, which, according to their numerical value, give correctly 666, and besides can be combined in the name of the beast, ὀγκότογιον, so that the result is an indication of the vastness and pride ( ὄγκος), and of the peculiar garment (toga) in the Roman Empire. This solution is a flagrant act of trifling, to which, besides, a counterpart is offered. It is false, therefore, already, because nothing justifies us in taking the names of the ten emperors as a basis, among which the last is figured only as a numerical sign. The combined name of the beast expresses little.

Kienlen, resorting to the Hebrew alphabet, derives the name of Domitian.

Kliefoth says that no name whatever is mentioned, but only the antichristian character of the beast, which, in every gradation of the world-power indicated by the number six, does not, nevertheless, reach the number seven which symbolizes the divine.

Irenaeus already was acquainted with that solution of the puzzle, which alone corresponds to all demands,

λατεῖνος, i.e., according to the value of the letters: 30 + 1 + 300 + 5 + 10 + 50 + 70 + 200 = 666. So Calov., Eichh., Ew. i., De Wette, Ebrard, etc. Irenaeus, indeed, preferred the name τεῖταν, yet said: “But the name λατεῖνος also has the number 666, and it is very probable, since the last kingdom has this name. For the Latins are they who now rule.” Against this interpretation it dare not be objected, that the usual form of the name is λατῖνος; for although this is never found in analogous forms, like σαβεῖνος, παπείρος, etc., the very nature of the case has determined such a departure from what is usual, for the sake of the riddle. Yet, e.g., in the sibylline books,(3417) the name χρὶστος is changed into χρεῖστος, because in the acrostic description of the words ἰησοῦς χρῖστος, θεοῦ υἰος, κ. τ. λ., not ι, but only an ει, can be introduced. But if the name of the beast be λατεῖνος, there is conveyed by this numerical name the most definite designation of the beast as the Roman Empire, not of any individual emperor, and the exposition of ch. Revelation 13:1 sqq., is expressly confirmed. [See Note LXXIV., p. 388.]


LXXIV. Revelation 13:18. ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἑξ

Luthardt: “This number was transmitted also orally from the fathers, but not its meaning; this is a matter of the future, and all interpretations attempted are arbitrary. The best is still the ancient one: ‘The Latin,’ i.e., the antichrist, is the ruler of the Roman Empire. But the number is intended to designate the name of a person.” Alford (Prolegomena): “Even while I print my note in favor of the λατεινός of Irenaeus, I feel almost disposed to withdraw it. It is, beyond question, the best solution that has been given; but that it is not the solution, I have a persuasion amounting to certainty. It must be considered merely as worthy to emerge from the thousand and one failures strewed up and down in our books, and to be kept in sight till the challenge ώδε σοφία ἐστίν is satisfactorily redeemed.” Gebhardt suggests that both λατεινός and Cæsar Nero in Hebrew letters are correct. Farrar (Early Days of Christianity, pp. 468–474) argues with much learning and great ingenuity for the latter interpretation.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 13:18. ἔχων νοῦν, ψηφισάτω, Let him that hath understanding, count) It is not said, He who readeth, νοείτω, let him consider, understand, as Matthew 24:15, but νοῦς, mind, understanding, is presupposed; and he who has mind already, is aroused also to computing the number of the beast, and to make a calculation. νοῦς, the understanding, is contradistinguished from the spirit, 1 Corinthians 14:14; but here it is contradistinguished from wisdom. We must calculate: therefore it is befitting that the numbers should be precisely taken which enter into the calculation, and those which answer to the numbers entering into the calculation. He who has νοῦν, understanding, is ordered to calculate; he ought therefore to bear with calmness another who does not comprehend calculations: only let him not despise and trample upon calculations, especially ὧδε here, where such a remedy [against the delusions of the beast] is necessary for us. Look to the passage, Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:10. What kind of persons are they to whom, in this business, cither diligence and understanding, or negligence, is attributed?— ἀριθμὸς γὰρ, κ. τ. λ., for the number, etc.) Each noun is without an article, in this sense, ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου ἐστὶν ἀριθμὸς ἀνθρώπου. ἀριθμὸς, without the article, is the predicate: and ἀνθρώπου denotes a number relating to a man. Thus μέτρον, not τὸ μέτρον, ch. Revelation 21:17. The particle γὰρ, for, stimulates us, affording hope, nay, even the key, for solving the number. For immediately afterwards both the quality of the number reckoned is indicated, namely, that it is the number of a man; and the quantity of the number reckoning, namely DCLXVI. I have professedly given the more laborious calculation of this number in my German Exegesis of the Apocalypse, and indeed especially in the Introduction, § 43. I will here give some scattered fragments, by means of certain aphorisms, accompanied by their own illustrations: but I should wish the severer demonstration itself to be sought from that exegesis.

§ 1. It is correctly read in Greek ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, in the neuter gender;(148) but in Latin it is also truly read, sexcenti sexaginta sex, in the masculine gender.—Many copies have the numeral letters χξς. This in Latin is DC. LX. VI. There is no vestige of any proof to show, that, in expressing numbers, the prophets and apostles, and first copyists, made use of numeral letters. On the contrary, there is reason to suppose that they did not make use of them: for these numerals would have been a hindrance in the public reading of the lessons. Undoubtedly, whether John denoted the number by χξς, or wrote it out in full, it was necessary for the reader, who was sent from Patmos into Asia, to know, whether it was to be pronounced in the masculine or the neuter gender. It will be worth while to refer to and consider Irenæu(149), Book v. ch. 29 and 30. From thence you may collect, that even then the number of the beast had been described in Greek and Latin by numeral letters, and yet not by all writers. I have shown in the Apparatus, p. 826, that Irenæus wrote his works in Greek, but with this intention, that they might immediately after be translated by others into Latin; and therefore that he had reference alike to the Latin and Greek MSS. of the Now Testament. Wherefore he treated of the number of the beast in such a manner, as that it should agree at once with the Greek and Latin reading. The Alexandrian Copy in Greek, and the Latin translator, as in other places, so in this, agree with one another: for in the former there are ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, and in the latter, sexcenti sexaginta sex. The translator, as I conceive, did not trouble himself as to the sense, in which he either read it masculine in Greek, or rendered it so in Latin: but the Greek copyist seems to have preferred this form, because in the books of the Old Testament he had for the most part been accustomed to the expression of numbers in the masculine gender; for instance, Ezra 2:13, where the same number is used, as applied to men. Thence Irenæus more than once says, sexcentos sexaginta sex. The same writer again, when he writes that the same number had been sought for in the Greek names, ευανθασ, λατεινοσ, τειταν, shows that ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, in the neuter gender, was read in the Greek: for the numerical value of 666, in the abstract, could not have been sought, by means of names of this kind, in the masculine gender, but only in the neuter. In a census of men, for instance in the fourth book of Moses, which from this circumstance has the title, ἀριθμῶν, of Numbers, and in the book of Ezra, the numbers are put in the masculine gender: but when any number is put absolutely, no other gender than the neuter is conveniently employed. Arias Montanus expresses the Greek number in the masculine gender, after the example of the Complutensians; the Complutensians thus expressed it on the authority of the Vulgate: for in the Greek MS. which was used by them in other places, and which closely resembles the Codex Seidelianus, it was χξς, as is plain from the extracts of the Codex Seidelianus, with which a friend supplied me. Many MSS., as I think, retain the neuter gender; and collators may have judged it superfluous to note down their difference from the notation χξς. For it was not until the close of his labour that Mill himself quoted the Codex Covelianus as an authority for the reading, ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἕξ, to which my Apparatus added two others, widely removed from each other, and on that account of sufficient weight.

§ 2. The number 666 is a certain [fixed] one, and is not put for an uncertain one.—We drew this inference a little while ago, in a summary manner, from the very command to calculate. We will hear Joh. March on the same subject. “Carolus Gallus,” he says, “thinks that he has made some important discovery, in believing that the wordman’ is put collectively for men, and then, that a number of men signifies a very numerous multitude. But the Hebrew phrase, which he adduces by way of proof, is altogether opposed to his hypothesis. For they (the Hebrews) use the phrase, ‘men of number’ [Marg. and Hebr. Ezekiel 12:16], for a few, etc. But that opinion appears to be one which ought above all others to be rejected by us, which will have it, that a definite number is here put for an indefinite one, as when 144,000 are given to the Lamb; and that a great number is then denoted, either of blasphemies and errors of Antichrist, which errors make up a body so compact and bound together, that the members depend mutually upon one another; or [as others say] a great number of Papists, followers of Antichrist, in which the Romish beast prides himself, and far surpasses other holy and reformed churches. Gallus prefers this latter sense; but Durham the former, who contends at great length, that the name ought to denote the doctrines by which those devoted to the beast are distinguished, even by reason of the contradistinction to the elect, who have the name of the Father on their forehead; moreover, that the phrase, to number, is sometimes used for, to weigh together with judgment; comp. Daniel 5:27; and that theological wisdom deduces inferences from doctrines and facts, rather than from letters. In reply to these things, it will suffice to have remarked in few words, that when a fixed character is assigned to the beast in the designated number of the name, and when the computation of that number is enjoined upon men, it ought altogether to be understood in a definite sense; and the more so even on this account, because this is not a round number, nor is there in it any allusion to any other calculation of men or opinions, which is elsewhere celebrated. I add, that if it were only a multitude indefinitely that is intended, whether it were of errors, or of persons in error, there would here be need of no such great understanding and attention as that which John requires. I still wonder by what means the number 666 can be taken for a great multitude, and that, too, by comparing it with the elect 144,000, since the latter greatly exceed the former. Gallus acknowledges this, and boldly changes the 666 men into so many myriads of men,” etc.—Comm. on Ap. p. 589, etc. Another interpretation takes the 666 for 6666, the 6666 for a legion, and the legion for a multitude of enemies of the Church. Contrary to this is the opinion of Zeger, who in his Epanorthotes thus comments: “There appears to be an allusion and reference to that name of the legion, which comprises 6666: and while this first number [figure] is taken away, it seems to be insinuated, that very great resources, both of strength and of subjects, have been subtracted from the devil by Christ, so that he cannot now boast and say, as he formerly did, My name is Legion.” Meyer, on Ap. fol. 55, is not at variance with both interpretations; and many things may be advantageously observed, either with reference to both or with reference to either of them. 1) Hesychius, in his Lexicon, is the only one who affirms that the legion consists of 6666 men, unless the copyist intentionally added the lesser sixes [numbers of six]. Weighty writers of military affairs speak otherwise, as Vegetius. l. ii. c. 2, 6. It is certain that the legion cannot be made to consist of 6666 men, so as to fall in with the time of John or the time of the boast. 2) The thousandth number in an epoch, and in the numbers of years from the creation of the world, is not expressed among the Hebrews: and we even now want proof that this custom prevailed among them in the time of John. An anonymous writer, indeed, who is said to have been Tobias Littleton, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and who wrote The Final Downfall of Rome, which was published at London A. 1655, and wished to persuade the English who were living at Rome that the downfall of that city would take place in the 666th year after the thousandth, was mistaken. Among the Romans, whom no one has referred to this point, in a large amount the sestertium [a thousand sesterces] is not expressed. In all other computations, in every nation, it is not the largest, but the smallest part, which is especially accustomed to be omitted. 3) The Hebrews were compelled to use this abbreviation, through want of letters by which they might express thousands; but John had at hand the well-known Greek letters, by which he might, express the whole, σχξς, 6666. 4) The Hebrews supply the defect by a formula expressed by קטון לפרט, to which the formula of our ancestors, nach der mindern Zahl, sometimes answers. But John puts the number absolutely. 5) Without having recourse to the number of a thousand and its ellipsis, without having recourse to the legion and its metalepsis, a tenth part of the legion, the cohort, and thus 666 or 600 (just as six hundred is proverbially used [for any large number]), or 555 or 500 (see Vegetius, as quoted above), might more easily have been put or taken for an indefinite multitude. 6) But neither does one legion nor one cohort always promiscuously represent a great multitude, but according to the given circumstances; for instance, with reference to the one possessed, Mark 5:9. At other times many legions are rather used to express a multitude; for instance, of angels, Matthew 26:53. 7) A multitude would comprise, under the number of the boast, either the seducers only, or the seduced also. But it cannot comprise the seduced, for they are much more numerous, Revelation 13:8 : nor the seducers, for they either have no government at all, or that of a democracy, or an aristocracy, or a monarchy; and any one of these will repel the notion of a multitude. But they have, in my opinion, a government, and that monarchical; and as in a monarchy the denomination is wont to be derived, not from many, much less from very many, but from are that which is especially needed in the case of the beast is, that there may be a place where the seven heads and the ten horns may be fixed. 8) No one who shall have weighed the system of the numbers of this book, the whole picture of the beast, and especially the close of this thirteenth chapter of the Apocalypse, will say that a multitude, whether great or lessened, is indefinitely denoted. The same interpretation of the number of the beast by a reference to the Roman legion, is refuted by the Acta Basileensia, etc., published A. 1730, p. 42, etc.

Lightfoot arrives at the same conclusion by a different course of argument, when he thus writes:— “The 42 months and 1260 days, also a time, times, and half a time, are SHORT PHRASES taken from Daniel, who, when he employs that made of speaking, describes the rage of Antiochus, and the trampling under foot of Religion, which was about last during the space of three years and six months. Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Daniel 12:11, in which certain times of adversity and affliction (and NOT ANY DEFINITE PERIOD) seem to be marked out. This meaning of expressions of this kind prevailed everywhere among the Jewish writers”.—Chron. N. T. on Ap. xi. The two examples which he there subjoins are foreign to the purpose; and since the numbers in the same, and the very numbers used by Daniel, have a precise meaning, the numbers used in the Apocalypse ought not, as though they merely contained an allusion to those of Daniel, to be weakened, but to be taken with equal precision. Otherwise, in fact, the number of the for LXX. weeks. which Lightfoot takes precisely, would skill, because it is a round number, have to be taken as a certain number for an uncertain one, by some allusion or other (an error, which God forbid that any fall into!)

In short, the indefinite interpretation is as though he should say: A multitude is designed in general terms: there is to need of an arithmetical computation, by which the numbers are solved in a specific sense. But the text says, Count. And since that is not said at random, but to point out the hope of finding, we now proceed to make the computation.

§ 3. Another number adapted to the explanation of the number of the beast by calculation, and that affording proper facility [for counting], both ought to be sought in the text, and is found, viz. that of XLII. months.—The prophecy. 1) bids us to compute; 2) names the numbers of the beast; 3) names the numbers of a Prayer of Manasseh 1:4) and says that it is 666. All these things are pertinent to the subject; and we will look to them in the order of the Apocalypse, that is, in retrograde order.

1) The number is said to be 666, the adjective alone being expressed

Revelation 13:1) The number is said to be 666, the adjective alone being expressed. A number expressed both by an adjective and a substantive (for instance, ten months, a hundred drachmæ, a thousand soldiers), the one of which we call the reckoning number, the other the number reckoned, needs no explanation. But when a number is presented to us which requires solution, then either the substantive is expressed, as, for instance, pieces of money; and the adjective is to be sought for and inferred, for instance, five myriads: Acts 19:19; also Luke 14:28 : or the adjective is given, as 666, and so the substantive is to be sought for which is to be joined to it; a mode which, except in enigmas, and undoubtedly here, in a prophetical enigma, scarcely comes into use. The adjective, 666, I say, is given, and that so plainly, that it needs no further solution. It remains, that there should be traced out, and made up by calculation, not indeed another mere numeral adjective, by which no progress would be made, but a noun substantive, and that of a specific meaning, for which a general term of number is substituted. Be that of whatever kind it may, its ellipsis (the readers being now prepared by the ellipsis of the noun tongue and horsemen, in the first and second woe, to submit more readily to that in the third woe, ch. Revelation 9:11; Revelation 9:16, note),—the ellipsis, I say, is certainly that of a substantive: the only question is, whether the 666 are as it were points, such as are accustomed to be sought in systems of years; or men, or times, or anything else which occurs to the mind. In the meantime there appears to be a great difference between the two computations; for in the former case the subject of inquiry is the reckoning number, which is easily to be explained by arithmetic; but in the other, such as is the matter now under consideration, the subject of inquiry is the reckoned number, requiring a greater amount of the power of interpretation.

Wherefore 2) There occurs the mention of “the number of a man,” which is undoubtedly the cause of a difference: whence it is more fully evident, that the reckoned number is that which we are commanded to search out; for no reckoning number is found in the universe different from “that of a man.”(150) It is of no use to pursue this subject further.

3) It is to be observed, that the number is said to be that of one beast, not of many beasts: and that it is the number of the beast itself, and not that of the name of the beast, which is proposed for computation

A number indeed is both assigned to the name of the beast repeatedly, and in Revelation 13:18, only to the beast itself: and Rupertus Tuitiensis on Ap. p. 380, that I may not appear too minute in my inquiries, has seriously remarked, that the number of the beast is one thing, and the number of his name another; and Potter, in his Interpretation of the number 666, ch. 1, where he quotes many who agree with him, and this is proved by the very peculiarity of the expression. For there occurs, I. The beast; II. His name; III. The number of his name; IV. The number of the beast: and the fourth ought no more to be confounded with the others, than the others ought to be confounded with one another. Since however no number of the name of the beast is indicated apart from the number of the beast, I will readily acknowledge, that the latter is to be investigated by means of the former. In the meantime the prophetic phraseology is to be precisely adhered to, and the peculiarity of the well-weighed expression is to be followed. It is not said that the number of the name of the beast is to be computed, but the number of the beast. Moreover the number both of the beast himself and of one beast only, is a proof, that there is a number or multitude of accidents: for a number indeed of beasts would denote a number which was made up of the substances of many beasts taken together; but the number of the beast is that which is made up of certain accidents of one beast taken together. And since this is the number of the accidents, those accidents are inherent in the beast himself: For as, if the days of the beast were spoken of, I should take those days for a certain duration of the beast himself: so the number of accidents of the beast ought to be looked for in the beast itself, and not outside of him.

4) Here we are commanded not only to number, but to compute. The word is ψηφισάτω, not ἀριθμησάτω, comp. ch. Revelation 7:9. “The peculiar number of the beast,” says Cassiodorus, in his Complexiones on this passage, “is explained under a certain method OF CALCULATION.” Now calculation and computation cannot be carried on in such a matter, except by taking in another number. Potter says, in accordance with reason, “Neither addition, nor subtraction, nor multiplication, nor division, can be carried on, unless two numbers at least are given, so that a third number may be sought out, which must be either their sum, or the remainder, or the product, or the quotient.” Whence the same writer, without noticing another number, which was expressed in a twofold manner, looked to the number 666 itself, endeavouring to extract its square root. See by all means the treatise quoted, ch. 10. What if there should be in the context another number expressed (as Potter required), and that too a more easy one, from which we may elicit a noun adapted to this adjective? Shall we imagine that it is accidentally presented to us? Lo! here are at hand 42 months, Revelation 13:5. Receive that which is produced with a soul desirous of truth, and take it. The 42 months are times: therefore the 666 are also times. For what accidents except times, can one suppose, are possibly contained beneath the number 666?

§ 4. A number is elegantly used for the number of times, for times, years, etc.—This sentiment, the beast has 666 days, years, etc., when it has now been found out, may be suitably expressed in the following words: the number of days, of years, etc., of the beast are 666. But it is a much more suitable expression, compute the number 666, whereby a problem in particular is proposed for solution, so that the sense may be, compute 666, that you may ascertain whether they are days, years, etc.: nor will you be able to devise an easier formula of proposing this problem. What? not even in a categorical enunciation is it foolish to express times either by ellipsis or by trope. For thus the Septuagint, Job 36:26, ἰσχυρὸς πολυσ, God is great, that is, eternal; for it adds, ἀριθμὸς ἐτῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀπέραντος. So 2 Chronicles 30:5, לרב, according to the meaning given by some interpreters, denotes often, much, for many years. In the commencement of his eighth book on the Republic, Plato, describing the period of states with the well-known obscureness of his numbers, uses the words τριὰς πεμπὰς, κ. τ. λ., and the very word ἀριθμὸς, absolutely, meaning times: and among all writers, πεντὰς, δεκὰς, εἰκὰς, τριακὰς, hebdomas, are used for a number of days. Caius says of Cerinthus, according to Eusebius, l. iii. Hist. Eccl. c. 25, ἀριθμὸν χιλιονταετίας λέγει γίνεσθαι. Hesychius, σάρος, ἀριθμός τις παρὰ βαβυλωνίοις. It is a number of years, on which the Ordo Temp, treats, p. 323. Pliny, Hist. Natur. lib. viii. c. 6, says, Seven years being added to the former NUMBER (the 472d year of the city). Orosius, in his Apol. pro Lib. Arb., calls that the number of the world, which he had a little while before called the fulness of the appointed times, p. 753. The phraseology is very similar: The number of the beast, the number of the world. The Latin prologue to Mark: a fast of number, that is, of 40 days. Ticonius, on Revelation 11:3, says, He spoke of the NUMBER of the last persecution, and of future peace, and of the whole time from the Passion of the Lord, etc. Time and place have many points of resemblance. It is a resemblance, that Xenophon in his Cyropœdia says, ἀριθμὸν ὁδοῦ, the number of a journey, for length. Add Eurip. ed. Gr. p. 290, r. 3, ed. Lat. Part II. p. 232; Eus. Præp. Ev. f. 228, ex Afric.

§ 5. The 42 months and the number 666 are equal.—The duration of the locusts, under the first woe, is twice expressed by five months: to the angels of the Euphrates, under the second woe, there is given an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year; and that body of horsemen, two myriads of myriads (200,000,000), is equalled to this space. Thus, under the third woe, 42 months of the power which the beast has, and the number 666 of the same beast, are equal.

§ 6. The form of expression respectingthe number of a manimplies 666 ordinary years, and by way of contradistinction to this, 42 prophetical months.—The number of the beast is said to be the number of a man. This expression, of a man, either denotes a man definitely or indefinitely. If definitely, it has reference either to the beast with ten horns, or to the man computing. There is no need of either of these in a matter which is of itself obvious; and neither would tend to aid the calculation. Therefore it must be used indefinitely, whence the article is not added in the Greek: therefore the genitive singular, of a man, is used for human, as ὀστᾶ ἀνθρώπου, 1 Kings 13:2 (that is, ὀστᾶ ἀνθρώπσα, Numbers 19:16); σωτηρία ἀνθρώπω, Psalms 60:11 [see marg. of Engl. Version]; μάχαιρα ἀνθρώπου, Isaiah 31:8. Moreover it is either human number of times, or a number of human times. It is not the former: for it would then have to be a human number, either of years, or months, or days: but 666 years very far exceed the age of man: but 666 days or months are far too short to express the duration of the beast; and such an ellipsis of days or months is unusual: finally, the word, months, is already preoccupied by the opposite 42 months. Therefore it is a number of times, human, or belonging to man. But the expression, the number of a man, is used for this very conveniently. For as in Galatians 6:11, the greatness [of size] which belongs to the whole epistle is assigned to the letters; and as the curtailing, by which a longer interval is curtailed, is assigned to days, Psalms 102:24-25; and the middle, which belongs to greater times of the world, is assigned to years, Habakkuk 3:2 so, on the other hand, there is sometimes given to a collective noun a predicate, adapted to the individual things separately: Proverbs 30:26, οἱ χοιρογρύλλιοι ἔθνος οὐκ ἰσχυρόν: also, the days of My people are as the days of a tree, Isaiah 65:22,—of the people, that is of the individuals among the people. Among the Romans, Gallia Togata. And this metalepsis was especially befitting in a prophetical enigma, until the units of the times being found out, might themselves support the epithet, human, which was meanwhile sustained by the number, but was properly designed for themselves. Now since it is settled that the epithet, human, is taken indefinitely, and has reference to the individual times, it is evident of itself that such times are even passed by the beast, and, which falls in elegantly with the sense, by the computer of the number. Thus it is also in the case of the measures of the new Jerusalem, which are said, not universally, but each severally, to be the measure of a man, that is, of the angel, ch. Revelation 21:17; and likewise the angel who measures partakes of the measure of a man, which is indefinitely that of an angel.

We have seen in § 5, that the number 666 and 42 months are equal to each other. Therefore the 666 times of man are 666 ordinary years of men; and, on the contrary, the 42 months, inasmuch as in the text they are not said to be the months of a man, are truly prophetical months. Q. E. D.

Thus at length (I use an ad hominem argument) justice is done to the Vulgate translator, who writes, as we have remarked, § 1, sexcenti sexaginta sex. If DIoCLes aVgVstVs, as Bossuet says, or any other name of this kind, would fill up the number of the beast by its 666 points, the Suppositio Materialis [see Append. Techn.] would require sexcenta, etc., the neuter absolute having the force of a substantive; wherefore even Rupertus Tuitiensis, in resolving the word DICLUX, which was invented by Ambrose Ansbert out of DCLXVI, was not able to retain sexcentos, etc., but says that it made sexcenta sexaginta sex: Comm. on Ap. p. 379: which very neuter gender, you may see on this passage, is used by many interpreters willingly, and by Romanists sometimes against their will. Now they ought to bring forward some who read sexcentos sexaginta sex; otherwise they will not be able to absolve the Translator, so highly extolled at Trent, from an error, and that of a serious character (for the subject is both a most weighty one, and the reading in the Latin copies is most unvarying). Those sexcenti sexaginta sex are so many years. Innocent III. long ago interpreted it by years in his Epistle to ALL the faithful of Christ, in aid of the Holy Land, A. 1213, and, to omit others of the intermediate ages, F. Louis S. Francisci, in his Cycle of Secrets, p. 917, edit. Rom. This stricture of Innocent, if there be added to it the parallelism of the 42 months, the length of the first and second woes, which is analogous to these, the intervals after the first and the second woe, the union of the beast and the woman, must persuade even those who depend on pontifical authority, of the true interpretation of the whole prophecy.

We return to the subject itself. The ellipsis of a “year” is of frequent occurrence. Xenophon, οἱ δέκα ἀφʼ ἥβης, who are passing the tenth year from their puberty. Plato, lib. vi. de legib., κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν δὲ εἶναι καὶ μὴ μακρότερον χρὴ τὴν ἱερωσύνην ἐκάστῳ. ἔτι δὲ μὴ ἔλαττον ἑξήκοντα ἡμῖν εἴη γεγονὼς μέλλων καθʼ ἱεροὺς νόμους περὶ τὰ θεῖα ἱκανῶς ἁγιστεύειν. Polybius, ὀκτωκαίδεκα γεγονὼς, of eighteen years. But Dio Cass. appropriately to this passage, τόσα γέγονα, as though he should say, this is my number, that is, of years. The two last instances are contained in the Greek ellipses of Bos; and, from all the instances which he has collected of substantives that are usually omitted, you may perceive that nothing but ἔτος is suitable to this passage. In Daniel mention is made of LXX. weeks, the word, yearly times, being understood. Therefore ἀριθμὸς τοῦ θηρίου is equivalent to ἀριθμὸς τῶν ἐτῶν τοῦ θηρίου, just as ἀριθμὸς γενημάτων is equivalent to ἀριθμὸς ἐνιαυτῶν γενημάτων, Leviticus 25:15-16.

This ellipsis of years is not without advantage. If they had been expressly mentioned by name, the reader would have been liable to confound together times strictly and figuratively denoted, with an error which would create many disturbances; whereas now ordinary years conceal their own title, in sight of the prophetic months. So much the less ought the human times to cause us any difficulty in this book, since they are so sparingly and providently attempered with so many prophetical times, and so therefore without any danger of their being confounded with one another. For we do not pass by a leap, but we are gradually led from the prophetic times to the ordinary years which are here indicated by the ellipsis, and then in succession to the ordinary years, which are expressly mentioned as such in ch. 20. But the ellipsis even contributes to the seasonableness of the enigma, not only with reference to the beast, to whom, in the same mysterious manner as to the king of Babylon of old, the number and consummation of his kingdom is written before his eyes, Daniel 5:26, but also with reference to the saints, who would have been disheartened by the long duration of those most sorrowful times, if they had known it, both on their own account and on account of their friends; for they did not imagine that so many years remained, even to the world itself. But it is evident that they, both before the Reformation and afterwards, were long supported by that hope, that the war against the saints would quickly come to an end. It was plainly to their own great advantage that they did not comprehend the age of the beast (for it was not then at hand). At one time the beast was acquainted with the times, and not with himself; the saints were acquainted with the beast more than with his times: now both the beast and his number, or, in other words, his times, will together become more and more known.

As to what remains, it is a question whether the number of 666 years in the Greek text is to be taken in the masculine or neuter gender. If the former, the reading is ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἓξ ἐνιαντοί; if the latter, it is ἑξακόσια ἑξήκοντα ἓξ ἔτη. But in truth the neuter gender, to which we gave the preference, § 1, is far superior to the masculine, as we shall presently, § 7, more fully ascertain.

§ 7. These 666 years have an appendage.—The 666 and the 1000 years, or ἔτη, are properly opposed to each other. The beast rages 666 years: they who had not worshipped the beast reign 1000 years. Moreover 666 are to 1000 years as nearly as possible in the same ratio as 2 to 3; but precisely as 3 are to 2, so are 1000 expressed years to 666 666/999 2/3, and this fractional number agrees with the ellipsis, leaving the word year to be understood: for each unit of the number of the beast is a figurative year, but is so with the addition of a few hours; which addition does not take away the truth of the ordinary year, but yet makes the title of year in some degree inappropriate. Thus the number 666 and the 1000 years mutually confirm and explain one another. It has occurred to some, doubtless from that hypothesis of the Apocalyptic year which contains 360 days, that is, the same number of years,—that 1000 years may be taken for 360 thousands of ordinary years. And although this thought is very absurd, yet it may have no slight influence with him who has been struck with the accurate analogy of the Apocalyptic times. Now, it is not only in this one place, but also previously in the number 666, that ordinary years and those “of a man” are employed. On the other hand, because the thousand years are said to be ἔτη, the number of 666 years is furnished with the most appropriate word to be supplied, viz. ἔτος, and the confusion between ordinary and prophetical times is thereby the more avoided; for a prophetical year in this book is called ἐνιαυτὸς, ch. Revelation 9:15, but here they are ἔτη, which are partly expressed and partly understood. Indeed ἐνιαυτὸς has something more of a general meaning than ἔτος. Whence the comic writer said, ἐτῶν ἐνιαυτοὺς, and Plato in his Cratylus does not vary much from him. It has a closer reference to this, that the noun ἐνιαυτὸς is used for denoting any positive year, so to speak, while ἔτος is only used to denote the natural year. Apollodorus, lib. iii., speaking of Cadmus, ἀΐδιον ἐνιαυτὸν ἐθήτευσεν ἄρει· ἦν δὲ ἐνιαυτὸς τότε ὄκτω ἔτη. And the LXX., Deuteronomy 31:10, μετὰ ἑπτὰ ἔτη, ἐν καιρῷ ἐνιαυτοῦ τῆς ἀφέσεως: and thus continually, Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 25:52; Leviticus 27:18; Judges 10:8. Whence it comes to pass, that in innumerable places the noun ἔτη is construed with any cardinal number whatever, and often a large number; whereas ἐνιαυτὸς is never so used, but for the most part indefinitely, or in the singular number: Genesis 47:28; 2 Samuel 21:1 : compared with 1 Kings 14:21; 2 Kings 24:18; 2 Chronicles 22:2. And this difference between the words ought not to be neglected, because it is peculiar to the Greeks, and not customary with us.

We have thus far discussed the subjects which we proposed, § 3. For the subject, viewed in this light, plainly, 1) consists of ψήφοι, elements of calculation, and contains division, multiplication, subtraction, and addition; and by means of those elements of calculation, first, its noun, years, is connected with the adjective itself 666; and then many other computations also are made from these. 2) It squares with the number of the beast, properly so called. 3) It introduces the number of the times of a Prayer of Manasseh 1:4) and the 666 years.

§ 8. Hence several lesser periods of times are resolved.—After the analogy of 42 months, other periods, for instance, the five months of the first woe, the hour and day and month and year of the second woe, are easily resolved; and the history corresponds, as we have shown at the proper places. But the question respecting the precise length of the Apocalyptic hour itself separately, of the day, the month, and the year, might be omitted. If, however, it is inquired into, it is easily deduced from those things which we have said. A month is the twelfth part of a year; a year has 365 97/400 days; a day has 24 hours: and with this natural division the prophetical corresponds. Moreover, since the 42 prophetical months are 666 2/3 ordinary years, the length of the prophetical times readily presents itself. In short, each measure of ordinary time is with reference to prophetical time, as 190 1/2 0/1 to 1, or as 4000 to 21.

§ 9. In the same manner greater periods also of time are resolved.—We propose this progressive system:—

A Half-time contains of ordinary years,

111 1/9

A Time ( καιρός),

222 2/9

The Number of the beast,

666 6/9

Time 1, 2, and 1/2,

777 7/9

A Short Time,

888 8/9

A Millennium,

999 9/9

A Chronus (period),

1111 1/9

An Age,

2222 2/9, etc

The connection of the prophecy and the series of events confirm this as approximating to the length of periods thus increasing: but this exact length is recommended first of all by the analogy of the number 666 and of 1000 years; and in the next place it is confirmed by the system of septenaries resulting from it. For if, with astronomical strictness, you should resolve all the steps of this progression into days, the second step will give pure weeks of days, whilst the first will give as many half weeks (and this is the peculiar reason why the first is called ἥμισυ καιροῦ, half a time, and not until the second is there said to be καιρὸς, a time): then, as is the ratio either of the first or of the second step, so is that of the others, which are multiplied out of the first or even out of the second. Thus the System of sevens, which Moses and the Prophets so frequently employ in times, and the Apocalypse in actions, unexpectedly displays itself also from the times of the Apocalypse affording thus a remarkable test of true analysis. But the proper place for this demonstration is in the Order of Times, c. 11 and 12.

§ 10. This analysis of times, though intermediate, ought not to be thought foreign to the subject.—The prophetic day of about six months, for instance, ought not to be thought to be inconsistent with the sense of a day of the heavens, or an ordinary day. The Apocalypse itself suggests half times: ch. Revelation 8:1, Revelation 11:9, Revelation 12:14; and other interpreters, proceeding from different ways, have long ago arrived at half forms of times. Seb. Meyer calls the 42 months, the 1260 days; and the 1, 2, and 1/2 times, the half of a week of years; but without. any further explanation. John Napeir endeavours to resolve the seven periods of time which he lays down from the destruction of Jerusalem to the end of the world, from the fact, that there are seven great Jubilees; not entire, of 490 years: therefore the HALVES consist of 245 years. See Expl. Apoc. Part i. Prop. 5. Molinæus thinks, that the 1260 years of the beast in the exercise of his power are a week; so that the half week of the two slain witnesses denotes a persecution of 630 years, which are the HALF of 1260 years. See Accompliss. des Proph. p. 357. Nor are these influenced so much by the truth of the reasons, as by the probable appearance of the fact alone. Aretius on this passage proceeds more speciously, mutually comparing the 1335 days of Daniel and the number 666. A space of six months is not only a part of a time, but it is also a time: and as the Indians, according to Curtius, had their month divided into 15 days (whence the Malabars at the present time account the 14 semicircles of the 7 planets for fourteen worlds); and the Chinese fix 24 semi-solar months in the year: so some of the ancients not unskilfully marked out one year by summer, and another by winter, as Pliny remarks, l. vii. c. 48. And Plutarch, Censorinus, and others, remark that the year was also terminated in six months among the Egyptians, and from them among the Greeks, and undoubtedly so among the Carians and Acarnaniaus, between whom Patmos was situated, and indeed it was very near to Caria. See Jo. Hiskiæ Cardilucii T. I. Evang. Naturwissenschaft in Præf., and Fabricii lib. de Mensibus, pp. 7, 8, and 153. The history of Thucydides is arranged by winters and summers. The ancient Saxons divided the year into two Malinas, autumnal and vernal, as Martinius remarks from Scaliger in his Lexicon Etym. col. 1438. And in all the intercourse of civil life a space of time consisting of six months was of very frequent occurrence. There were many magistracies of six months’ duration, as, for instance, the tribuneship mentioned by Pliny, Ephesians 4, l. 4. The fasces of the consuls were formerly given for six months: and at the present day, Academic officers and others. The Romans had rings for summer and winter: whence the six months’ gold, in Juven. Sat. vii. Those skilled in civil law cite six-monthly counsels of princes. See P. Fabri Præf. to his Semestria; for by this title he and other civil lawyers, and Dorscheus of divines, inscribed some of their writings: and at the present day Semestria are in existence among the French in forensic practice. James Cappellus suspects that the patriarchal years before Abraham were held by the Alexandrians to be of six months, when he is comparing the Alexandrian era of the creation of the world with the Jewish. Disp. Sedan. T. I. p. 1048. Comp. the things related by Calvis. upon A.M. 3185, taken from John George Herbart of Hohenburg. With astrologers sometimes, when they conjecture future things from celestial phenomena, a day by a mystic calculation denotes six months. See Zimmermann’s Tr. on the Comet of the year 1680, p. 101. With this especially agrees that solemnly observed division of the year into two equal parts among the Israelites, that is, into two periods of six months, one of which parts was reckoned from the beginning of the months, the other from the beginning of the year, viz. in spring and in autumn. See Ord. Temp. pp. 19, 27 [Ed. ii. pp. 16, 23]. Nor is it in the first month that the Jews increase the age by the addition of the year; but it is in the beginning of the seventh month, for instance, that they would begin to write A.M. 5500, instead of 5499, with the approbation of Moses: Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22. At any rate, from the time of Moses a period of six months was always very remarkable among the Israelites in life and its vicissitudes: and the courses of the priests divided the year into two periods of about six months. Moreover there was an interval of six months between the forerunner John and Christ Jesus Himself: Luke 1:36. R. Ase had his disciples with him six months in every year; he ordered them to be at home six months. We have not collected these things to demonstrate the precise length of the prophetical day, but only for the purpose of showing that that length ought not to appear so strange to us. We have derived the demonstration itself from a different source.

§ 11. Nay, it is only thus that interpretations branching off into intricate and extreme points are avoided.—The year-day, which many Protestants have long defended, is longer, and much longer, than truth permits; the ordinary day, which is maintained by Romanists and some of our more recent writers, is shorter, and much shorter, than truth permits. I have demonstrated both these points in my German Introduction, § 38, etc. It is evident that these are the two chief sources from which so many false interpretations have flowed. The truth lies between the two. Whoever is able to entrust himself to this will be in safety. See on Revelation 13:1, Prop. 10. Obs. 29.

§ 12. Therefore both the months of the beast and his number, and the number of his name, have a system free from difficulty.—The 666 2/3 years, which equal the months of the beast and the number of the beast (see Erkl. Offenb. p. 133), had their commencement, when the event was proceeding from the beginning of ch. 13 to the middle of Revelation 13:5, at the commencement of the pontificate of Cœlestine II. on September 25th A. 1143. Gregory VII. began to be independent of the Roman Emperor, Cœlestine II. of Rome itself, during the flourishing period of which the beast is not. At that time, therefore, power was given absolutely to the beast. The number of the name of the beast began from Gregory VII., who claimed for the Roman Pontiff alone the name of Pope, in the most exalted sense. They have that name who embrace and approve of the most disgraceful novelty of Gregory as something divine. Thus the number of the name of the beast is known from the number of the beast, and somewhat exceeds it. This method is easy and simple, by which the number of the name of the beast is explained. But there are some who think that it may possibly be the case that, as the name ιησουσ, that is, Jesus, is equivalent to 888 (see Estius on this passage), so the name of His adversary has the number 666 according to the numeral value of letters. “Nor is that to be passed over in this place,” says Neuhusius, “which historians have remarked, that the Number of the name assumed by the Pope is generally ominous of the duration of his life and reign. Certainly Alexander II. departed this mortal life in the second year of his pontificate, Clement III. in the third year, Victor IV. in the fourth, Pius V. in the fifth, Leo X. in the tenth, Gregory XIII. in the thirteenth, Sixtus V. in the fifth. By a like fatality, Benedict II., Sixtus II., Anastasius II., John II., Martin II., Nicholas II., died in the second year of their reign. Stephen III., Martin III., Clement III., Nicholas III., in the third year of their supreme power. Felix IV., Martin IV., Nicholas IV., Paul IV., Benedict IV., Clement IV., in the fourth; Boniface V. in the fifth; Innocent VIII, in the eighth, ceased to be among the living.”—Lib. ii. Fatid. Sacror. c. 31. G. Burius, in Notitia Pontificum, sect. xvi., has noticed similar instances, not only in years, but also in months. It was with this feeling that many have long since sought for the number 666 in many names. We have before brought forward some things from Irenæus; and of these, who has not spoken of λατεινοσ? And we may conjecture how this might, even at that time, have occurred to any one. In the Sibylline books, which the ancients greatly regarded, it is said, lib. viii., λίνος αὐτὸν ὀλεῖται. Now in many sovereignties, the first and the last sovereigns are found to have been distinguished by the same name; and the first Bishop of Rome was not Peter, but Linus: and therefore, although an ancient error speaks of a second Peter, as the last, a more ancient opinion seems to have fastened upon a second Linus (with what amount of truth, does not affect the argument). In Latin, LInVs seCVnDVs might perhaps be equivalent to 666: but such signatures are accustomed to be noticed among their subjects at the first time, whence some regard them as omens, and not at the last. However that is, λινοσ is equivalent to 360. There is therefore wanting the number 306, that is, TEA. By a combination of the letters TEA and λινοσ, the well-known word λατεινοσ was formed. Or else they had heard that the name of the beast would be Latin, as about to occur in the Latin language, and not in Hebrew or Greek; and by a “Suppositio Materialis” [See Append. Techn. Terms], they interpreted that of the name λατεῖνος itself. Whether the former or the latter was the case, λατεῖνος ought not to have been put with E for the Greek EI, with a consonant following, is expressed in Latin by I, as εἰκὼν, icon: but the Latin I does not pass into ει in Greek, nor is λατεῖνος borne out by analogy: for it is not written ἀκυλεῖνος, κ. τ. λ., but ἀκυλῖνος, ἀλβῖνος, ἀκραγαντῖνος, ἀλεξανδρῖνος, ἀντωνῖνος, ἀρκτῖνος, ἀρχῖνος, βροντῖνος, καλουῖνος, καρῖνος, κολλατῖνος, κρατῖνος, κρισπῖνος, κουαρτῖνος, κωνσταντῖνος, λεοντῖνος, λευῖος, λιβερτῖνος, λογγῖνος, ΄ακρῖνος, ΄αξιμῖνος, ΄αρῖνος, νερυλλῖνος, νιγρῖνος, ξιφιλῖνος, πισῖνος, σαβῖνος, σατορνῖνος, στασῖνος, ταραντῖνος, τιγελλῖνος, φιλῖνος, φλωρεντῖνος. It would be tedious to collect more instances. In Irenæus himself, ἰουστῖνος, οὐαλεντῖνος, ὑγῖνος, φλωρῖνος, are uniformly written with the simple I: and thus also λατῖνος, which very word is used in the Sibylline books with I, at one time long, and at another time short. And thus in one MS. of Andreas, λατῖνος is replaced by the copyist, correcting the text, contrary to the design of Andreas: in a second, at the word λατεῖνος there is added διὰ διφθόγγου, with an open acknowledgment of the license which is frequently used by the Greeks in Greek chronologies, as it is by the Germans in German. For on account of the same number 666, they made τειτὰν out of τιτὰν, παπεῖσκος out of παπίσκος, ἀρνοῦμε out of ἀρνοῦμαι. But there ought to be no place for a license of this kind in a matter of such great importance. Andreas of Cæsareia, or they who have enlarged upon his works, have added other names, for the sake of exercise, after the example of Hippolytus. Among these, BENEDICTUS is especially remarkable, not only in the Augustan Codex, which superadds one name upon another, but even in the Sylburgian edition: nor however does that Benedict of Nursia, of whom Andreas might have heard, and whom Nic. Mulerius brings forward on this place, appear to have been the person intended by any Greek copyist: for the Menologia of the Greeks also preserves his memory on the 14th of March; but the person meant was Benedict IX., Pontiff of Rome. sILVester seCVnDVs, who occurs to Caspar Heunischius, is not a dissimilar instance: for Silvester was on the Papal throne, when the 1000th year from the birth of Christ was reckoned; Benedict, when the 1000th year from His death; and at one or the other of these thousandth years, as though the thousand years mentioned in ch. 20 had elapsed, the ancients expected the kingdom of the beast (as it is plainly seen from Andreas, for the name βενεδικτοσ, as it appears, furnished some ingenious reader of his with the number 666): nor has the fame of that Benedict the support of such authorities at the present day, as that of Silvester. We have, as I think, bestowed sufficient labour upon the consideration of the opinions of the ancients. Scherzer, above others, in Syst., p. 865, has thought it worth while to recount even more recent inventions, or rather trifles; and Wolf., in vol. iv. Curar., p. 545. Therefore we may pass them by: that however may be added, which Christopher Seebach, in his Germ. Key to Ap., p. 309, ἐπαῤῥησιάσατο: but the name LUDoVICVs has been certainly less forced [to yield the 666], which a treatise, published in Belgic and German, with the title, The Faith and Patience of the Saints, ch. 23, has applied to this, although even that disastrous persecution of the Reformers in the kingdom of the Gauls did not attain to the great force implied in this number; and evidently the name to which this number is given ought to be found, if anywhere, in the series of the Popes. Some, with Vitringa, who, on Ap. p. 629, quotes that writer who is in other places unnamed, and his book, question the numeral power of the Latin letters: but Baudius, Ep. 79, cent. 1, proves that they all have that power, except D Scaliger, following Priscian, in his book respecting causes, L. L., ch. xli., proves that they all without exception have it. We think that these subtleties may be omitted. The number, even of the name of the beast, has, as we have seen, another meaning.(151)

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Here is wisdom; that is, Herein is the wisdom, the unsearchable wisdom, of God seen in the trial of his church; or, (which is more probably the sense), this is a point will exercise the wisdom of men.

Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; let him that is spiritually wise count the number of the beast.

For it is the number of a man; it is such as may be numbered after the way men use to number.

And his number is Six hundred threescore and six: what this meaneth hath exercised the wits of the greatest divines in all ages. A late learned and valuable writer thinks that 666 doth not signity a certain definite number, but an indefinite number, and that not of years, but of pernicious errors, by the broaching and upholding of which antichrist may be known. But the most interpreters think a number, and that a definite, certain number, of years is to be understood here: but they are again divided; some thinking them determining the time of the fall of this beast; others judging them to determine or define the year or time of his beginning to reign, the time from whence his period and term of forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and sixty years, commenceth: most of those who think this number determinative of the time when he should fall, understood by it the year 1666, which raised the expectation of many good and some learned men (though we see in this thing they were deceived) upon that year. A countryman of our own, who hath written an English Dissertation about the Name, Number, and Character of the Beast, hath with much more probability judged this number definitive of the time when he began to reign under the title of "universal bishop," which was about the year 606; but there seemeth to be a want then of sixty years; to answer which objection, the aforesaid author (N. Stephens) undertaketh to make out, that the year which according to our account was 606, was according to Daniel’s chronology 666; for it is the six hundred and sixty-sixth year of the Roman monarchy, which, saith he, is to be counted from the time when that empire first invaded the church, which was when Cicero and Antonius were cousuls, about sixty years before Christ; for then the Romans first subdued the Jews, the ancient church of God. As to this notion, there is nothing to be proved, but that 666 must be counted from that epocha; for admitting that, the time of the beast’s reign, as to the beginning of it, fell much about the year 666. I shall only say of it, that I do not judge it a contemptible notion. This makes this prophecy a prediction of the time when this beast should begin to show his power, and therefore it is called the number of his name (name in Holy Scripture often signifying dominion and power). But there is yet another notion, which is the most learned Dr. Potter’s, in his book called The Interpretation of the Number Six Hundred and Sixty-six; a book justly valuable both for the great wit and learning in it, and much magnified both by Dr. More, and Mr. Mede, whose judgment of it is prefixed to it; in which he saith: It is the happiest tract that ever yet came into the world, —and though at first he read the book with much prejudice, yet when he had done it, it left him possessed with as much admiration. The foundation on which he goeth is, that this number is to be interpreted by the opposite number of 144, Revelation 21:17, as the measure of the wall of the new Jerusalem; which is to be understood of square measure, as he proveth, Revelation 6:1-17; for the wall could not be 144 cubits high, nor 144 cubits broad; but in square measure so much, that is 12 cubits high and 12 cubits broad (for the length cannot be understood); it being impossible that a wall 144 cubits long, should encompass a city 91 furlongs about. In like manner he thinks 666 ought to be counted by the square root of that number, which is 25??? Hence he concludeth, that as 12, the square root of 144, is God’s number, so 25 is the square root of antichrist’s number 666; and by this enigmatical expression we are taught that antichrist should be a political body, that should as much affect the number of 25, as God seemeth to have in his church affected the number of 12. Under the Old Testament God built his church upon twelve patriarchs, it was made up of twelve tribes: Jerusalem, mentioned by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 48:31, and in this book, Revelation 21:12, had twelve gates; Revelation 21:21, these were twelve pearls; at the gates, Revelation 21:12, were twelve angels; the wall, Revelation 21:14, had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles; Revelation 21:16, the measure of the city was twelve thousand furlongs; Revelation 22:2, the tree of life had twelve manner of fruits: by all which it appears that 12 was the number God affected to use with reference to his church, and the square root, both of the 144 cubits, which were the measure of the wall, Revelation 21:17, and likewise of the 144 thousands, mentioned in the next chapter as the number of Christ’s retinue. On the contrary, 25 is the square root of 666, (adding the fraction), which is the beast’s number; and that learned author proves, that the pope and his clergy as much affected the number of 25 in their first forming their church, as God did the number of 12. They at first divided Rome into 25 parishes, (instead of the old 35 tribes), over which they set 25 cardinals, (which were their first number), who had 25 churches: they made 25 gates to the city; at last they also brought the articles of their creed to 25. This that learned author abundantly proveth, Ezekiel 17:1-20:49 22:1-31, He also, Ezekiel 24:1-26:21, showeth how in a multitude of things of lesser moment they affected this number of 25. This seemeth a very probable notion. I further refer my reader to the learned author’s book, where he enlargeth upon these things with great wit and learning. In this variety I shall positively determine nothing, but have shortly mentioned the senses I think most probable, as to this mysterious number 666.

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

число его шестьсот шестьдесят шесть Шесть – число сущности человека. Цифра отличается одной единицей от совершенной Божьей цифры 7 и, таким образом, выражает человеческое несовершенство. Антихрист, самый могущественный из всех когда-либо живущих, все же будет несовершенным человеком. Конечным для человеческой и бесовской силы является число 6, а это несовершенно. Совершенством является Бог. Троекратное повторение цифры 6 намеренное, чтобы подтвердить человеческую личность и акцентироваться на ней. Когда, наконец, антихрист будет открыт, будет какая-то возможность опознать его с помощью этой человеческой цифры, или, возможно, его имя будет эквивалентно цифре 666. Во многих языках, включая иврит, греческий и латинский, буквы имеют цифровые эквиваленты. Поскольку этот текст очень мало говорит о значении цифры, неразумно размышлять сверх того, что сказано.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Here is wisdom; wisdom is required, in order to determine to whom the above representations apply, and who is meant by them.

Let him that hath understanding; of this matter.

Count the number; of the name of the beast.

Six hundred threescore and six; the letters which compose the Greek word Lateinos, signifying the Latin man, when used as numerals, make the number six hundred threescore and six. This is the case also with some other names. But in order to be sure that any one is the true name, it must, not only in this, but in other respects, answer the description given of the beast.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


IN reading this Chapter, well may the child of God, cry out with the Apostle, how doth the mystery of iniquity already work! What an awful account is here, of him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders? And how hath the Lord, for this cause given the ungodly up, and sent them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie!

Can the imagination conceive any view of the dark and ignorant state of the human mind, as great in point of self deception, as is here stated? That men should be brought to worship the beast, and with him the devil, to hear his blasphemy, to receive his mark, and to call him by names which belong to none but God. And that this delusion should descend from father to son, in a regular succession; from one age to another; no man being able to deliver his soul and say, is there not a lie in my right hand? Blessed Lord Jesus! be thou adored, and loved, and praised, and delighted, in that thou hast kept thy people, and secured them from the possibility of worshipping the beast, for thou hast marked all their names in thy book of life. Oh! the blessedness of electing, preserving, redeeming, regenerating grace! Lord! do thou keep my soul in the hour, and from the power of temptation that is coming on the earth! Lord! give me to see the sure cause of rejoicing, in that my name is written in thy book of life.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

(5) The mystic number of the beast--13: 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." The fact that the mystic number was assigned to the first beast, or sea-beast, shows that the second beast, or land-beast, had no independent power or authority, but was the minion of the emperor. This land-beast, as previously indicated, represented the Jewish persecutors in Jerusalem and Judea, but performed no official acts without the consent, permission and authority of the sea-beast, the Roman emperor.

The introduction to verse 18, Here is wisdom, points to the cryptic character of the following statement, let him that understandeth count the number of the beast--that being the code number of six hundred sixty six. It is a basic truth that the book of Revelation was written in code, on the same principle that the army communicates messages in code intended only for the military personnel, but to be withheld from the public. For the same purpose the contents of Revelation were composed in code for the vital information and concealed instruction to the churches facing the impending persecutions; but to be withheld from the pagan Roman world. There were in all of the churches the spiritually endowed teachers, who possessed the "spiritual gifts" of the inspiration era, as recorded in chapters twelve and thirteen of First Corinthians. In the catalog of such gifts were listed the special endowments of "wisdom," "discernment," and "understanding." This agrees with the words of the text, here is wisdom, and let him that hath understanding count the number. These supernaturally endowed teachers in the churches could certainly decipher the cryptogram. It has been established that the beast was the Roman empire, personified in the living emperor. It is so evident as to be patent that to mention the name of the living emperor in these connections would have been disastrous to the church--it would have precipitated a premature onslaught against Christians which could have resulted in their complete obliteration in every part of the Roman empire.

A cryptogram is a writing in ciphers, or secret letters, with symbolic figures and representations having a hidden significance. Cryptography is the art of writing in secret characters. A cryptographer is one who has mastered the skill of deciphering or decoding the mystic letters.

The prophets and teachers in the New Testament churches were not professional cryptographers, but being the recipients of "spiritual gifts" by apostolic impartation, they possessed inspired powers to discern that which the ordinary mind could not discover. It is not without reason that 1 Corinthians 12:8 and 1 Corinthians 13:2 would include the necessary power to decipher the code of Revelation 13:18 to the members of the churches involved in these calamitous developments and trying experiences, which were so immediately present with them, but so remotely past to us.

There have been almost a legion of names in many different languages that have been deciphered in the efforts to find solution for Code 666, ranging from the merest conjecture to a frantic religious fanaticism that borders on lunacy. The names of ancient political war lords, medieval papal pontiffs, together with nineteenth and twentieth century dictators, have been juggled to yield the sum 666. But a far-fetched and fantastic solution is neither satisfying nor sufficient. It must be relevant to the text and the context.

There is such a solution in the official appellation of Nero Caesar. The designation of this emperor as yielding the 666 code is actually found in the rabbinical writings. Inasmuch as John was writing for the information and instruction of Hebrew Christians, it is appropriate and expediential that the code name for the Roman beast should be hidden in Hebrew ciphers, thus less likely to be discovered by the pagan authorities into whose hands the Revelation might come; and whereas the Roman empire was the beast of verses 1-8, the numerical name must of contextual necessity designate the one in whom the empire was personified. No name could be more conclusive and decisive than that of Nero Caesar--the ruling emperor.

The Hebrew tongue was employed in chapter 16:16 in the symbol of Armageddon, and for less reason than justifies Hebrew ciphers in this case. In chapter 17:11 the beast was visualized as the sixth ruling emperor in succession from Julius Caesar. Though Julius was the head of the Republic, before the empire was actually formed, nevertheless the Republic merged into the empire; and it was from Julius Caesar, the first of the imperial rulers of Rome, that the title Caesar passed to his successors. Josephus mentions Julius as the first in the line of Caesars. The eminent Philip Schaff, in his Bible Dictionary, records that the imperial title descended from Julius Caesar. The original Speaker's Bible Commentary, published by the order of the English Parliament, states that Professor Bryce, of Oxford, had justly placed Julius Caesar, from whom the name Caesar passed on to his successors, as first of the imperial rulers of Rome. These and many other ancient and modern historians and scholars count the imperial rulers from Julius Caesar. This fact has a decisive bearing on the pre-destruction-of-Jerusalem chronology of Revelation.

It is a rather strange process that would omit the original Caesar in order to qualify another than Nero for the ruling emperor when Revelation was composed. The line of the first six Caesars was as follows: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. The sixth emperor, according to chapter seventeen, was ruling--and he was Nero, as will be later propounded.

It is so signified as to be conclusive that the Hebrew consonants in the official name Nero Caesar form the exact numerical figure of six hundred sixty six. It is also factual that Irenaeus in the early second century mentioned this solution to the numerical appellation. He further mentioned that some of the old manuscripts computed the number to be six hundred sixteen, and a current abbreviated form of writing the name of Nero among the Hebrews formed exactly that figure--six hundred sixteen.

These facts are but further proof that it was the common understanding among the Hebrews that Nero was the intended character.

The proof of the numerical meaning of the Hebrew letters is available in the Hebrew alphabet, and they are not difficult to decipher. In the order of the official title of Nero Caesar it would be as follows numerically: 50-200-6-50- 100-60-200 = 666.

The International Critical Commentary on Revelation states, along with other scholars quoted, that the solution is to be found in Hebrew, not in Greek, and that Nero Caesar is the man of the number.

There could have been no way more effective or plausible for John to withhold the meaning of this code from the public, but also to bring it within the perception of the oppressed churches, than to conceal it in their native Hebrew, to be deciphered by the spiritual discerners in the churches, who were evidently signified in verse 18: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast and here is wisdom--that is, the answer to the mystic number is in the imparted wisdom of the spiritually gifted prophets and teachers in the churches.

So in the search for a figurative beast to fit the symbolic numerical name--why skip that old Roman beast! He was there in the midst of it all, and he is relevant to the text and context. To ignore that period and assign these events to the future, is the same mistake committed by the modern pseudo-prophets, who gather an armful of Old Testament prophecies, skip the New Testament fulfillment completely, and assign the prophecies by sheer assertion to a future fulfillment. Essentially the same process is employed, inadvertently and unintentionally when the symbols of Revelation are assigned to future centuries.

There could be no more natural application of this symbolic number than the name of the Roman emperor, and the most exacting analyst could not demand a more fitting solution. But the historical "dark ages" interpretation is not only unconvincing, it is lacking in relevancy and coherency, and is anachronistic.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". 1966.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John indicated that it would take wisdom (Gr. sophia) to figure out the number of the beast (cf. Revelation 17:9). This wisdom is the understanding and skill necessary to solve the problem (cf. Daniel 9:22; Daniel 12:10). By identifying the beast"s number believers in the Tribulation will be able to recognize him for who he is. Calculating or counting (Gr. psephisato) is the key to the puzzle.

The number666 has, of course, been the subject of much study by interpreters.

"Most students work from the fact that in the ancient world (where men lacked our convenient Arabic numerals) it was usual to employ letters to denote numbers. In Greek the first nine letters of the alphabet were used for the units, the next for the tens, and so on. The problem then is to find a name which gives a total of666 when the numbers signified by its letters are added together." [Note: Morris, pp173-74. Cf. Smith, A Revelation . . ., pp206-7.]

Some people identified Nero and Hitler as the beast by this method, called gematria. [Note: See Barclay, The Revelation . . ., 2:131-33, for how they did it.]

"The sheer disagreement and confusion created through the years by the gematria method should have long ago warned the church that it was on the wrong track." [Note: Johnson, p534.]

On the other hand, this disagreement and confusion may be due in part to the fact that the meaning of this number may not be evident until the Antichrist appears. [Note: Thomas, Revelation 8-22, pp182-85.]

"As to the man whom the number "Six hundred and sixty and six" represents, God will give full "understanding" when it is needed, in those three and half [sic] years of horror and danger." [Note: Newell, p205.]

Another approach takes the Numbers 666 as Scripture uses them symbolically elsewhere. [Note: Walvoord, The Revelation . . ., p210; Ladd, p187.] The number seven frequently occurs in Scripture. The Israelites understood seven to represent a completed work of God (e.g, the seven days of creation, etc.). The number three often stands for the fullness of something (e.g, the Trinity, etc.). Consequently777 would indicate something authenticated as divine. However "666" would appear as a deficient counterfeit to a believer who knows the significance of these numbers. This is especially true since the number six often connects with human rather than divine activities in Scripture (e.g, man works six days a week, etc.). Revelation 13:18 says666 is the number of "man." The article "a" is absent in the Greek text, and though the reader may supply it legitimately here, it seems best not to do so.

I think that neither the identity of the Antichrist nor the number of his name will be evident until he appears and fulfills prophecy. Then wise believers will be able to calculate his number as well as identify his person. Until then both aspects of Antichrist"s identity will remain a mystery. [Note: See Stephen J. Nichols, "Prophecy Makes Strange Bedfellows: On the History of Identifying the Antichrist," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society44:1 (March2001):75-85.]

"I would suggest that we not waste our time trying to identify a person by this number. Instead, we need to present Jesus Christ that we might reduce the population of those who have to go through the Great Tribulation Period and who will therefore know what the number of the Beast is." [Note: McGee, 5:1005. Cf. Philippians 3:10.]

The dragon and the two beasts mentioned in chapters12,13are a counterfeit of the divine Trinity. [Note: See Vern Poythress, "Counterfeiting in the Book of Revelation as a Perspective on Non-Christian Culture," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society40:3 (September1997):411-18.] The dragon seeks worship that belongs only to God. The first beast seeks to rule the world, which is Jesus Christ"s prerogative. The second beast glorifies the first beast, which is a counterfeit of the Holy Spirit"s ministry of glorifying Christ. [Note: See Pentecost, Thy Kingdom . . ., pp302-9, for further helpful discussion of the beast and the false prophet.]

Chapters12,13paint a picture of the Great Tribulation in which there is finally one government, one religion, and one economic system for the whole world. This will be a time of great persecution and martyrdom for believers. Rather than getting better and better, as postmillennialists believe, the world will get worse before Jesus Christ"s second coming. As we see world events shaping up for this scenario, we should allow them to motivate us to redeem the time before the Rapture or death terminates our ministries here. On the other hand, we should also rejoice that our Savior"s second coming is drawing near ( Matthew 6:10).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 13:18. At this point the Seer pauses, and we meet those words which have been so great a puzzle to the Church of Christ in all ages of her history. Here is wisdom.—The test of wisdom is then set forth in the following clause: He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred sixty and six. ‘It is the number of a man,’ that is, the number of the name of the beast is one which, when transferred according to the fashion of the time into the letters designating them, will give the name of the beast. ‘The number is six hundred sixty and six,’ that is, it is a number which consists of three numerals, the lowest 6; the second 6 multiplied by 10, or 60; the third 60 multiplied by 10, or 600. ‘Let him count the number of the beast,’ that is, let him note or weigh carefully the import of these three numerals.

To treat the point now before us with anything like the fulness which it deserves is unfortunately out of the question. The limits of this commentary forbid the attempt. Instead, therefore, of endeavouring either to examine the various interpretations that have been given of the verse, or to trace the history of the inquiry, we shall confine ourselves as much as possible to one interpretation which seems to have been first proposed half a century ago by several German scholars (Fritzsche, Benary, Hitzig, Reuss, etc.; see Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, new edition, vol. ii p. 846) who each claimed to have discovered it, and which has of late been accepted as an unquestionable solution by not a few who have paid most attention to the subject and are best entitled to be heard. If we succeed in showing that this particular solution is untenable, we shall not only determine one point at least to which, in its bearings on the Apocalypse as a whole, too much importance cannot be attached, but we shall, in doing so, indicate the lines upon which it appears to us that a solution must be sought. The interpretation to which we refer understands the number ‘six hundred and sixty and six’ to represent the words ‘Neron CAESAR.’ The argument is that, when written in Hebrew characters, the letters of these words stand as follows: NRON KSR, and that, taken according to their numerical value in the Hebrew alphabet, they supply the following figures: 50+ 200+6+50+100+60+200, or in all 666. The conclusion is obvious, and the ‘beast,’ alike of our present passage and of chap. 17, can be no other than the Emperor Nero, the foulest monster that ever stained the page of history with deeds of cruelty and lust and blood. We believe that this solution is mistaken, and we offer the following considerations in connection with it.

(1) Every inquirer allows that the ‘beast’ spoken of is not the second but the first beast of the chapter. Sufficient attention, however, has not been paid to the fact that a distinction must be drawn between that beast in itself and in each of the various forms in which it was manifested under its successive ‘heads’ (comp. on Revelation 13:2). Properly speaking, the beast itself is no one of these heads singly. It is rather the concentrated essence of them all (comp. on chap. Revelation 17:11). Whatever of evil there is in each of them flows from it, and must be restored to it when we would form a true conception of what it is. We know it only fully when, gathering into itself every previous element of its demoniacal power, it is about to exert its last and fiercest paroxysm of rage before it goes ‘into perdition’ (chap. Revelation 17:8). By the confession even of those against whom we contend it is ‘the eighth’ mentioned in chap. Revelation 17:11; it is ‘of the seven,’ and yet it is so far to be distinguished from them. That this is the correct view of ‘the beast’ in the present chapter as well as in chap. 17 is clear, not only from the fact that the beast is spoken of as distinct from any one head, and from the impossibility of interpreting chaps. 13 and 17 unless we suppose the beast of both chapters to be essentially the same, but also because in Revelation 13:14-17 of this chapter we have the whole work of the second beast in its service, as well as its own work, set before us as fully and finally accomplished. ‘The beast,’ therefore, to which our attention is here called, cannot be Nero, for, even on the supposition that the seven ‘heads’ of Revelation 13:1 or the seven ‘kings’ of chap. Revelation 17:10 were personal kings and not, as we have already shown, kingdoms, it must be more than any separate individual of the series. (2) The interpretation makes it necessary to have recourse to the letters of the Hebrew instead of the Greek alphabet. But the improbability that St. John had Hebrew letters in his mind is very great. He writes in Greek. On other occasions he employs the letters of the Greek alphabet in order to give, by means of letters, an expression to his thought (chaps. Revelation 1:8, Revelation 21:6, Revelation 22:13). When he uses the Hebrew he expressly notifies that he does so (chaps. Revelation 9:11, Revelation 16:16; comp. John 5:2; John 19:13; John 19:17; John 20:16). Few things are more certain than that the Christians of Asia Minor, for whom he wrote, had little or no acquaintance with Hebrew. It is urged indeed that the Seer resorted to the Hebrew alphabet for the sake of more effectually concealing a name the disclosure of which might have been attended with danger. The assumption is wholly gratuitous. The obvious intention of the Seer is not so much to conceal as to reveal the name, although in a manner that shall illustrate its solemn import. He is dealing, in short, not with a human puzzle but with a Divine mystery, the most essential conditions of which would have been destroyed had he concerned himself about the half-concealed name of an individual. Nor, if his object be to avert danger from the Christian Church, is he consistent with himself. It will not be denied that if the numbers before us point to Nero, the words of chap. Revelation 17:9; Revelation 17:18 point to Rome, and in that case a city, the naming of which must have been as dangerous as the naming of its Emperor, could not have been designated with greater clearness. (3) It is only by force that the letters of the Hebrew alphabet can be made to accomplish the end for which they are referred to. The names of Ewald and Renan stand at the very head of Semitic scholarship in Europe, and neither scholar can be suspected for a moment of any leaning towards the traditions of the Church. Yet both of them have pronounced it almost, if not altogether, impossible to believe that the words Nero Caesar could in the first century have been spelled in the way demanded by the proposed solution. The former, accordingly, first inserts an additional letter in the KSR, then substitutes Rome for Nero, and lastly obtains the number 616 (of which we have still to speak) instead of 666 (Johann. Schrift. 2 p. 262). The latter, agreeing with Ewald as to the spelling but not as to the number represented, gives it as his explanation that the author of the Apocalypse has ‘probably of design suppressed the additional letter in order that he may have a symmetrical cypher.(1) With that letter he would have had 676 (L’Antechr. p. 416). It is surely too much to expect that men shall readily receive an explanation so heavily encumbered.

Another circumstance has yet to be noted which has been adduced by a well-known and influential writer of the day in the following words:—‘If any confirmation could possibly be wanting to this conclusion (that afforded by the reference to Neron Caesar), we find it in the curious fact recorded by Irenaeus, that in some copies he found the reading 616. Now this change can hardly have been due to carelessness. But if the above solution be correct, this remarkable and ancient variation is at once explained and accounted for. A Jewish Christian, trying his Hebrew solution, which would (as he knew) defend the interpretation from dangerous Gentiles, may have been puzzled by the n in Neron Kesar. Although the name was so written in Hebrew, he knew that to Romans, and Gentiles generally, the name was always Nero Caesar, not Neron. But Nero Kesar in Hebrew, omitting the final n, gave 616, not 666; and he may have altered the reading because he imagined that, in an unimportant particular, it made the solution more suitable and easy’ (Farrar, The Early Days of Christianity, vol. 2 p. 298). At first sight the argument is plausible, but it breaks down on the fact that the ancient father to whom we owe our earliest information as to the reading 616 instead of 666 knew nothing of the proposed explanation. Although himself offering conjectures at the time as to the meaning of the mysterious symbols, he makes no allusion to either Neron Caesar or Nero Caesar; and, after mentioning one or two solutions, he concludes that St. John would have given the name had he thought it right that it should be uttered. It is a curious fact, illustrating the little importance to be attached to the argument under consideration, that the father to whom we refer preferred another rendering Teitan (T=300, E=5, I=10, T=300, A=1, N=50, in all 666), from which, if we drop the final n, we get Teita, numbering 616, and a better representation than Teitan of the Emperor Titus by whom Jerusalem was overthrown. When we find therefore that, notwithstanding the desire to penetrate into the meaning of the enigma which marked the early Church, this solution was not discovered, we have a proof that the discovery has been made by a false process, and is worthless. (5) We venture to ask whether in conducting this discussion sufficient attention has been paid to St. John’s use of the word ‘name,’ and to the precise manner in which he makes the statement of this verse. In all the writings of the Apostle the ‘name’ of any one is much more than a designation by which the person receiving it is identified. It marks the person in himself. It tells us not only who he is but what he is. It has a deep internal signification; and importance belongs to it, not because the name is first attached to a person and then interpreted, but because it has its meaning first, and has then been affixed, under the guidance of God, to the person whose character or work it afterwards expresses. Keeping this in view let us carefully note the manner in which the statement of this verse is made. It is not the name, it is the numbers that are emphatic—not the name deduced from the numbers, but the numbers deduced from the name. Upon these numbers we are mainly to fix our eye. But there must be a bond of connection with the name deeper and stronger than the bare fact that the numbers were yielded by it. Familiar as the writer snows himself to be with the method of transposing letters and numbers then in vogue, he must have known that many names would yield the number 666, probably quite as many as the long list which swells the history of the interpretation of this text. Of what use would it have been merely to call attention to this? The questions would instantly arise, Which is the true solution? Wherein is one name so given better than another? There must be some additional element in St. John’s thought. Let us endeavour to discover it by making the supposition that he had been dealing with the human name of the Redeemer, ‘Jesus’ He cannot fail to have known that the letters of that name in Greek give the number 888 ( ι= 10, η=8, σ=200, ο=70, υ=400, ς=200), but many other names must also have done so. What would lend peculiar importance to the fact that the correspondence existed in the name of Jesus? The combination of two things does it; first, the meaning of the figures; secondly, the meaning of the divinely-bestowed name. The two correspond; behold the expression of the Divine will! The figure 8 had a Divine meaning to the Jew. It was upon the 8th day that circumcision, the initiatory act of a new life, was performed. The 8th day was ‘the great day’ of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37). What in Matthew 5:10 is apparently an 8th Beatitude is really the beginning of a new cycle in which that character of the Christian which had been described in the seven previous Beatitudes is thought of as coming out in such a manner before the world that the world persecutes. Upon the 8th day our Lord rose from the grave, bringing His Church with Him to her true resurrection life. But the name ‘Jesus’ has also a Divine meaning (Matthew 1:21). In the very spirit of this passage St. John might have spoken of ‘the number of the name’ of Jesus as eight hundred, eighty, and eight. As it is, he is occupied with one who, in his death, resurrection, and second coming, is the very counterpart of our Lord. He has a ‘name,’ a character and work, the opposite of Christ’s. That name may be translated into numbers yielding 666. Ominous numbers! falling short of the sacred 7 to the same extent as the eights went beyond it; associated too with so much that had been most godless and impious in Old Testament history. The nations of Canaan had been 6 in number (Deuteronomy 20:17). The image set up by Nebuchadnezzar, and for refusing to worship which the three companions of Daniel were committed to the fiery furnace, had been sixty cubits high by six cubits broad. The weight of gold that came to Solomon every year, in token of the subjection of the heathen nations around him, had been 666 talents (1 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 9:13). On the sixth day of the week at the sixth hour, when Jesus hung upon the cross, the power of darkness culminated (Matthew 27:45). What dread thoughts were connected with such sixes! The argument then is,—these numbers correspond to the name of the beast when its meaning, otherwise known, is taken into account. Both tell the same tale; behold how God expresses Himself regarding it! Now for all this the words Nero Caesar were utterly useless. The second of the two words might have a meaning, but the first was meaningless. It was simply the name of an individual. Merely to count up the numerical value of the figures obtained from Nero Caesar would not have answered the apostle’s purpose, and could never have filled his mind with the awe that is upon him in this verse.

These considerations seem sufficient to show that the mere equivalence of value between the letters of Nero’s name (as of many other names of that and every following age)(1) and the number 666 is no proof that the Roman tyrant is mysteriously indicated. When we add to this some of the other points previously spoken of, more especially that the beast is before us in its complete development, and that the homage it receives is paid to it as a beast that had died and risen from the dead (facts never asserted of Nero at that time), we are justified in concluding that the whole Nero theory will most probably prove but an illustration of the manner in which exegetical, not less than other, fancies have their periods of temporary revival as well as decay.

It is scarcely necessary to allude to an interpretation of an altogether different kind which has found favour with many, and which depends on the form rather than the numerical value of the figures. Written in letters rather than in words the figures 666 are the following ϰξς,—the first the initial letter of the name of Christ, the last the first double letter of the Greek word for cross, in the middle the twisted ‘serpent.’ There is nothing inconsistent with the ideas of the time in what may appear to be only too fanciful to be true. It is a sufficient argument against it that the verse which we have to explain was addressed to the ear rather than the eye.

All other proposed solutions may be omitted. We have confined ourselves to that which is by far the most plausible, and the consequences of which, could it be established, would undoubtedly make this verse the keystone of apocalyptic interpretation. Our readers, we believe, will not ask more. It will be noticed, too, that we have indicated, in what has been said, the most important condition to be fulfilled by any solution which is to obtain general acceptance. The ‘name’ of the beast represented by the figures must have itself a meaning expressive of the beast’s position or character or work. Only if this were the case could the coincidence of its name with its number be of consequence to those who were to learn from it.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 13:18. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast — In saying, Here is wisdom, the apostle shows that it is not a vain and ridiculous attempt to search into this mystery, but, on the contrary, that it is recommended to us on divine authority. For it is the number of a man — It is a method of numbering practised among men, as the measure of a man (Revelation 21:17) is such a measure as men commonly use. It was a practice among the ancients to denote names by numbers; of which many instances might be given, if it were necessary to prove it. It has likewise been the usual method in all God’s dispensations, for the Holy Spirit to accommodate his expressions to the customs, fashions, and manners of the several ages. Since then this art and mystery of numbers was so much used among the ancients, it is less wonderful that the beast also should have his number; and there was this additional reason for this obscure manner of characterizing him in the time of St. John, that no other manner would have been safe. Several names possibly might be cited, which contain this number; but it is evident that it must be some Greek or Hebrew name, and with the name also the other qualities and properties of the beast must all agree. The name alone will not constitute an agreement; all other particulars must be perfectly applicable, and the name also must comprehend the precise number of six hundred threescore and six. No name appears more proper and suitable than that famous one mentioned by Irenæus, who lived not long after St. John’s time, and was the disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John. He saith, that “the name Lateinos contains the number of six hundred and sixty-six; and it is very likely, because the last kingdom is so called, for they are Latins who now reign: but in this we will not glory:” that is, as it becomes a modest and pious man in a point of such difficulty, he will not be too confident of his explication. Lateinos with ei is the true orthography, as the Greeks wrote the long i of the Latins, and as the Latins themselves wrote in former times. No objection therefore can be drawn from the spelling of the name, and the thing agrees to admiration. For after the division of the empire, the Greeks and other orientalists called the people of the western church, or Church of Rome, Latins: and they Latinize in every thing. Mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, canons, decretals, bulls, are conceived in Latin. The papal councils speak in Latin. Women themselves pray in Latin. Nor is the Scripture read in any other language under Popery than Latin. Wherefore the council of Trent commanded the vulgar Latin to be the only authentic version. Nor do their doctors doubt to prefer it to the Hebrew and Greek text itself, which was written by the prophets and apostles. In short, all things are Latin; the pope having communicated his language to the people under his dominion, as the mark and character of his empire. They themselves indeed choose rather to be called Romans, and, more absurdly still, Roman Catholics: and probably the apostle, as he hath made use of some Hebrew names in this book, as Abaddon, (ix. 11,) and Armageddon, (xvi. 16,) so might in this place likewise allude to the name in the Hebrew language. Now Romiith is the Hebrew name for the Roman beast, or Roman kingdom: and this word, as well as the former word Lateinos, contains the just and exact number of six hundred and sixty-six.


λ 30

α 1

τ 300 ε 5

ι 10

ν 50

ο 70

σ 200 666


ר 200

ו 6

מ 40

י 10

י 10

ת 400 666

It is really surprising that there should be such a fatal coincidence in both names in both languages. And perhaps no other word, in any language whatever, can be found to express both the same number and the same thing. See Bishop Newton.

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George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Six hundred sixty-six. The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number. (Challoner)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

The numbers seven stood for something perfect or complete. Summers suggests six represented evil and three sixes together would stand for evil raised to the ultimate. Some would make much of the fact that John says it "is the number of a man." However, the original has no definite article in front of it. It is simply a human number as the measure of Revelation 21:17 is a human measure.

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E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Here, &c. See Revelation 17:9.

wisdom. Compare App-132.

Let him that = He that.

understanding. Greek. nous. See 1 Corinthians 14:14.

count = calculate. See Luke 14:28.

man. App-123.

Six hundred, &c. The Greek for this number is three letters which by gematria (App-10) = 600, 60, 6 = 666. It is the number of a name. When the name of the "beast" (antichrist) is known, it will doubtless be recognized by both computation (see above) and gematria. The three letters SSS (= 666) formed the symbol of Isis and the secret symbol of the old "Mysteries". That ancient "mysteries" and modern "beliefs" are becoming closely allied, witness the rapid growth and spread of Spiritism, Theosophy, and Occultism of every kind. (Some ancient authorities read 616, used by the Jews of the worship of the Emperor.)

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Wisdom. Spiritual wisdom is needed to solve the mystery of iniquity, and not be beguiled by it.

Count ... for - implying the possibility of our counting the beast's number.

The number of a Prayer of Manasseh 1:-1 :e., counted as men generally count. So Revelation 21:17. The number of a man, not of God; he shall extol himself above the Godhead, as the MAN of sin (Aquinas). Though it imitates the divine name, it is only human.

Six hundred threescore and six. A, Vulgate, write the numbers in full; B, merely the three letters standing for numbers, Ch, X, C reads 616; Irenaeus, 328, disciple of Polycarp, John's disciple, maintained 666, which he thought to be contained in the Greek, Lateinos (L, 30; A, 1; T, 300; E, 5; I, 10; N, 50; O, 70; S, 200): or else Teitan. Latin is the language of Rome in all official acts: the forced unity of language in ritual being the counterfeit and premature anticipation of real unity only to be realized at Christ's coming, when all the earth shall "in a pure language ... serve the Lord with one consent" (Zephaniah 3:9). The last Antichrist will have a close connection with his Romish predecessor, and will arrogate all Rome's pretensions, besides others. The Hebrew letters of Balaam amount to 666 (Bunsen): a type of the false prophet, whose characteristic will be spiritual knowledge perverted to Satanic ends.

Revelation 2:14 favours this: also, the fact that the Antichrist here has been shown primarily to oppress the Hebrews. Six is the world-number: in 666, in units, tens, and hundreds. It is next to the sacred seven, which it mimics (Revelation 13:1), but severed from it by an impassable gulf. The wounding to death of the seventh head leaves the beast's world-number six disclosed. It is that of the world given over to judgment: hence, there is a pause between the sixth and seventh seals, the sixth and seventh trumpets. The judgments on the world are complete in six: by the fulfillment of seven, the kingdoms of the world become Christ's. As twelve is the number of the Church, so six, its half, symbolizes the world-kingdom broken. The raising of the six to tens and hundreds indicates that the beast, notwithstanding his progression to higher powers, can only rise to greater ripeness for judgment. Thus 666, the judged world-power, contrasts with the 144,000 sealed and transfigured ones (the Church-number, twelve, squared and multiplied by 1,000, the number symbolizing the world pervaded by God; ten, the world-number, raised to the power of three, the number of God) (Auberlen).

The mark [ charagma (Greek #5480)] and name are the same. The first two radicals of Christ, Ch and R, are the first two of charagma, the imperial monogram of Christian Rome. Antichrist, personating Christ, adopts a symbol like, but not agreeing with, Christ's monogram, Ch, X, St: whereas the radicals in 'Christ' are Ch, R, Papal Rome has substituted the Keys for the Cross. So on the papal coinage (the image of power, Matthew 22:20). In 'Christ,' Ch R represent seven hundred, the perfect number. The Ch, X, St represent an imperfect number, a triple falling away (apostasy) from septenary perfection (Wordsworth). A friend, E. L. Garbett, has calculated the numerical value of 3,000 nouns in the Greek Testament, and found just two represent 666 [ paradosis (Greek #3862), 'tradition,' the great engine of doctrinal corruption; and euporia (Greek #2142), 'wealth,' that of practice]. Euporia occurs only once (Acts 19:25): in Ephesus, one of the seven towns addressed in Revelation.

The only uncontradicted entry of 666 is (1 Kings 10:14; 2 Chronicles 9:13) the 666 talents of gold that came in yearly to Solomon, and which were among the corrupting influences that misled him. The two horns of the earth beast represent the two phases of idolatry which ever corrupt the Church, literal and spiritual, image-worship and covetousness (Psalms 17:14; Psalms 49:12; Psalms 49:20; Colossians 3:5). The seven heads of the first, the sea-beast, are the totality of capital sins (Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15), the "mountains" which lift themselves up against God (Revelation 17:9). Idolatry is the wounded and revived head. Gold, silver, brass, the materials of the first three empires in Nebuchadnezzar's image, and the medium of wealth, have in the fourth kingdom iron added, as the prominent metal of civilization. The children of Adonikam (Ezra 2:13) are 666, but in Neh. 7:18; 667: Nehemiah 10:15 . Adonijah rose against the Lord's anointed, and so is a type of Antichrist: his name is changed into a curse, Adonikam. The forehead is the seat of avowed intention. The act and the intention are the two ways of worshipping the beast (Revelation 13:16). The heart-worship of money bearing "the image" of the world-power (Luke 20:24) fulfils Revelation 13:15-17. E. L. Garbett takes Revelation 13:5 'Power was given to IT (the mouth) to work forty-two months:' the mouth is not yet given. He quotes Pelletan ('Profession of Faith in the Nineteenth Century'), wherein wealth is addressed, 'Divine Son-Messiah-Redeemer-dumb confidant of God-begotten by mysterious conception, who hast saved man from misery, redeemed the world,' etc. E. L. Garbett denies the identity of the scarlet-coloured beast (Revelation 17:3) and the leopard-like beast here (Revelation 13:2).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) Here is wisdom . . .—Translate, Hither is wisdom. This most difficult verse is introduced by this word of preface. Wisdom—indeed, the highest wisdom—is needed for those who would understand it. Two or three points ought to be noticed. (1) The verse surely implies that the understanding of this name and number is attainable; it warns us that wisdom and understanding are needed, but it as certainly leads us to believe that to wisdom and understanding a solution of the problem will be granted. (2) There is a variation in the MSS. respecting the number. Some MSS. read six hundred and sixteen; but the probability is in favour of the reading six hundred and sixty-six. In an excursus (Excursus B) will be found a short account of the various interpretations which have been given. (3) The clause “It is the number of a man,” has been rendered “For number is of man.” The number, then, is the combination of three sixes; there is a wisdom and understanding which may grasp its import, and that import is to be guided by the principle that it is the number of a man, or that number is of man—is, that is to say, a method of computation which is used by man, and used by God in order to symbolise something made thus more intelligible to man. Is the wisdom which is to solve this, then, the mere cleverness which can guess an acrostic or an enigma? or is it rather that the true heavenly wisdom, which is moral rather than intellectual, is needed to unite itself with understanding to solve the problem? Surely the dignity of the Apocalypse is sacrificed when we search for its meaning like children playing with conundrums rather than like men being guided by its principles. There is a wisdom which brings its sevenfold beam of heavenly light to the children of men—a wisdom pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy, without partiality, without hypocrisy—and when this wisdom rests on men in the fulness of its seven-fold perfection they may read the number of the beast, and see that, with all its vaunted strength, it is but weak; with all its vaunted perfection, it is imperfect; that though it vaunts itself as rich, increased in goods and needing nothing, it still lacks that “one needful thing”—faith in God, or the love by which faith works. Without this it will never attain even the appearance of that perfect heavenly number symbolised by seven; it may multiply itself in earthly strength—the power of worldliness into the power of worldly wisdom, and this again by the power of a hundred-fold satanic subtlety—but it will remain still short of the tokens of the kingdom of God; and the number when read will be, however godlike it looks, but the number of a man after all.

I am disposed, therefore, to interpret this “six hundred and sixty-six” as a symbolical number, expressing all that it is possible for human wisdom, and human power, when directed by an evil spirit, to achieve, and indicating a state of marvellous earthly perfection, when the beast-power has reached its highest development, when culture, civilisation, art, song, science and reason have combined to produce an age so nearly resembling perfection—an age of gold, if not a golden age—that men will begin to say that faith in God is an impertinence, and the hope of a future life a libel upon the happiness of the present. Then will the world-power have reached the zenith of his influence; then will only a wisdom descended from above be able to detect the infinite difference between a world with faith and a world without faith, and the great gulf which the want of a little heaven-born love can fix between an age and an age.

At the same time, I feel bound to place here, as well as in the Excursus, two other views—one because it has recently been advanced with conspicuous ability; the other because it is perhaps the most generally adopted, as it is certainly the most ancient, view. Both these interpretations are based upon the theory that the letters of the name, when added together, according to their numerical value, will make up six hundred and sixty-six. The first of these alluded to finds the word in Nero Cæsar. The second, and more ancient, finds it in Lateinos: this last was mentioned by Irenæus. It will be seen that both these solutions are at one in making the number point to the great Roman Power; and this was the great embodiment of the terrible spirit of self-sufficiency, tyranny, and utter godless worldliness with which St. John was familiar. These interpretations are interpretations in example, and as such probably true; but they are only types, as it seems to me, of that fuller and deeper view which takes the number as symbolical of that power which, whether directed by Nero, or inspired by Emperor or Pope, or false teacher, or military tyrant, has dazzled mankind by a fictitious glory, a fictitious civilisation, and a fictitious religion, or deceived them by holding out the promise of splendour and happiness without the knowledge and obedience of God, without law, without faith, and therefore without true joy. (Comp. Note of the “Three Frogs,” Revelation 16:13-14.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
1:3; 17:9; Psalms 107:43; Daniel 12:10; Hosea 14:9; Mark 13:14
the number
21:17; Deuteronomy 3:11; Romans 3:5 Reciprocal: Isaiah 8:1 - a man's pen;  Daniel 8:15 - sought;  Acts 8:30 - Understandest;  Revelation 13:17 - the number;  Revelation 19:20 - the beast

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 13:18. — "Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding let him count the number of the Beast; for it is a man's number; and its number (is) six hundred (and) sixty-six." Expositors have brought skill, learning, and in some instances great research to the elucidation of the question: What is meant by the number 666?

There is divine wisdom wrapped up in this symbolic numeral — the only instance of its occurrence — and it requires spiritual understanding to unlock the mystery therein. No doubt its full, precise, and final solution will be apparent to the wise or godly in the near crisis when the Beast power under the craft of Satan will exhibit the highest human development in pride, impiety, and in combined religious and political opposition to God and to His Anointed, for such, in general, is the moral significance of 666. The meaning being obvious to the saints to whom it immediately concerns will call for prompt repudiation of the Beast and his claims, who will be the political minister of Satan in blasphemous opposition to God.

Six hundred and sixty-six (666) is man's number; the unit six being impressed upon him at his creation and on his subsequent history. Man was created on the sixth day. His appointed days of labour and toil are six. The Hebrew slave was to serve six years. For six years the land was to be sown. Under the sixth Seal an appalling and universal catastrophe upon mankind ensues. As the numeral seven denotes what is perfect or complete, six being short of that signifies human imperfection and toil. But in the growing development of man's history he goes from bad to worse, hence six combined with six increases in moral significance, till man is witnessed in open and direct opposition to God. Goliath and his brother giant were men of abnormal strength and height, and open enemies of God and of Israel. The numeral six is stamped upon both (1 Samuel 17:4-7; 1 Chronicles 20:6).

In the yet further development of man in his progressive evil history the culmination is reached in the ominous signification of 666, the number of the Beast. There is an obvious connection between the first and the last of the world powers. In character they are identical, save that the last is the worst. The image of gold set up by Nebuchadnezzar for his own glorification was sixty cubits high and six cubits broad (Daniel 3:1-30). No doubt the image on the plain of Dura was meant to consolidate and unify the numerous and diversified religions of the mighty Babylonian empire, Under threats of an awful death the image of gold must be worshipped. Surely Daniel 3:1-30 points forward to the yet even deeper and truly satanic evil of Revelation 13:1-18. The one foreshadows the other. In both Scriptures the pride, self-will, and haughty independence of God by men placed above human law is the sad picture. It only remains to ask: What is the signification of this trinity of six? It is the fullest, highest development of man under direct satanic control. It is the combination of civil, religious, and political power satanically inspired. It is, so far as man can do it, the complete setting aside of God as the Supreme Ruler and a man taking His place, not in heathendom, but in Palestine itself, and in the wider range of Christendom. Beyond what is signified in this trinity of evil — 666 — man cannot go. We here reach the height of human folly, of human pride, of human arrogance, of human unbridled will. Such, we believe, is the meaning of this mystic numeral — 666. It is not a conundrum to be solved by ingenious minds, but it contains a wisdom which the spiritual in that day, as now, may understand and profit by the knowledge thereof.


In Revelation 11:1-19 the Jews and Jerusalem, but in captivity to the Gentiles, are in the forefront of the vision, at least down to verse 13. The rest of the chapter is general, and joyously anticipates the end. In Revelation 12:1-17 we have the light of Heaven thrown upon the unseen sources of good and evil, which are respectively the Man-Child and the dragon; then Israel's relation to both, especially during the last half week of coming sorrow. Satan having been cast down from the heavens, and his angels with him, seeks to wreak his vengeance on Judah, persecutes God's saints — Jewish and Gentile — and blasphemes God, Heaven, and all therein. His activity is incessant, his energies are boundless, as he knows that his career is but a brief one. It is marvellous how events are crowded into so short a time as three years and a half. What in other circumstances would take hundreds of years to bring about by the force and application of ordinary causes are here rapidly brought to fruition under the skilful generalship of Satan. It must also be remembered that the many providential and governmental checks now in operation to hinder the last outburst of evil will then be removed. The Church will have been caught up to Heaven, and the Spirit, too, have left the earth. "He who hinders (or letteth) will let till He (the Holy Ghost) be taken out of the way, and then shall that wicked (one) be revealed" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). There is a double hindrance: "what withholdeth " and "He who now letteth" — a thing (the Church) and a person (the Holy Spirit).

Then in Revelation 13:1-18 we have the two Beasts through whom Satan seeks to accomplish his purposes in Christendom and in corrupt Judaism. The first Beast is without doubt Rome, civil and political, the great world power to whom Satan gives his seat, throne, and authority. The second Beast acts in almost supreme power religiously in Palestine, but in the larger field outside the Holy Land his services are required by Satan, and there he acts in subordination to the imperial power. It is not enough that the latter end of Judah exceeds in idolatry anything ever witnessed in the past (Matthew 12:45), beyond even that horrible picture so graphically drawn by the prophet of the captivity (Ezekiel 8:1-18), but Christendom, too, must be reduced to a corrupt and loathsome mass of idolatry and wickedness. This the second Beast accomplishes in the presence of his superior in power.

Then as to the external enemies of Israel{*See separate article, "The Chief Actors in the Coming Crisis."} at this time, not noted in the Apocalypse, the chief is the Assyrian, or king of the north, the political scourge of the restored nation. The king of the south, or Egypt, is the ally of the Beast, and is opposed to his great northern neighbour, the Assyrian, who is the bitter opponent both of the antichristian king in the land (the second Beast of Revelation 13:1-18) and of the king of the south. Palestine lying between those two opposing powers is made, as in the past, their battleground. The past (Daniel 11:1-35) and future (vv. 36-43) of these respective monarchies in their relation to the Jews form a study of exceeding interest. We may remark that chapter 11 of Daniel is an enlargement, with fuller detail, of Daniel 8:1-27. The prophets Isaiah, Micah, and Daniel especially should be read to understand the great external enemies of Israel in the last days. Gog, or Russia, the master of the king of the north, falls ingloriously on the mountains of Israel after the destruction of the Assyrian, and after the Lord has come, thus completing the sum of judgments ere the Lord's reign in its Solomon or peaceful character, and establishes the earth in its long-expected and ardently-desired jubilee of one thousand years. Gog heads the north-eastern nations and peoples in opposition to the Beast — the power in the west. The former is politically hostile to the Jews, the latter is politically friendly to the restored nation. The Jews restored to the land previous to the Lord's Return in power is the occasion of quarrel and hostility between Gog and the Beast. The political aims of these latter are different, and this brings them into conflict. Events in Europe and Asia are fast ripening for the closing struggle. May our souls be kept in peace!

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation".

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The number of the beast and the number of a man are declared to be the same. Also according to the preceding verse these phrases are both equivalent to the number of his name. John tells us the number of his name which Isaiah 666, but he does not tell us what the name is. Remember the beast now being cited is the first one or Pagan Rome.‘ Well, the government is not what has this number, for John says it is the number of a man. So we need to find a man who was outstanding at the head of Pagan Rome the letters of whose name will give us the number (numerical values being indicated with letters in those times). In the Greek it is cnxs and Thayer gives us the following comments on the term. "A mystical number the meaning of which is clear when it is written in Hebrew letters . . . i. e, Nero Caesar." The question might arise why this particular one of the Caesars or Roman Emperors was selected for the symbol. The reason is that he was one of the most notorious and infamous of the emperors. He was the ‘one who had Paul slain and his inhuman treatment of Christians set the pattern after which other rulers followed in their opposition to the true church.

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John Brown's Commentary on Selected Book of the Bible

John Brown

Revelation 13:1-18



A. Last week in our study of the book of Revelation, we took a look at "the beastly trinity" of the "dragon (which is satan Revelation 12:9, the beast, and the false prophet!

1. We studied them and their "ministries", and pointed out their "copycat" resemblance to the Holy Trinity of God!

2. We concluded that satan, the "great dragon" will empower a "system or confederacy" that will rise up against the Lord and all that is holy!

a) One man will emerge from this political "group" while yet another will gain worldwide prominence as the only true "prophet" of God, uniting all the world's religions!

b) Anyone rejecting this system and the "mark" thereof, will be killed!

c) Chapter13concluded with this verse Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number Isaiah 666. (NKJV)

(1)This morning it seemed appropriate to spend a little more time on this system of the antichrist!

(2) This system is not something that is off in the future somewhere, it is in place now!!

(3) Matthew 16:1-3 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.

2He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, "It will be fair weather, for the sky is red";

3 "and in the morning, "It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening." Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. (NKJV)

(4) We are going to try very hard this morning to give you some "indicators" that the time is near!


A. I don't think that it was coincidence that when I came into the office this week there was a tape on my desk from FIREFIGHTERS FOR CHRIST by a Dr. Karl Sanders.

1. Dr. Sanders hold a Ph.D. in electronics and engineering and was the chief engineer responsible for the design and development of a microchip that is so small it can be injected under the skin with a hypodermic needle!

a) This chip was originally developed for the purpose of repairing severed spinal cords so that people would be able to walk again.

(a) There were over100 people involved in this project, of which Dr. Sanders was senior engineer in charge!

(i) It is important to understand that the people involved in the creation of this chip had no idea that it would become all that it has.

(ii) They all believed they were doing it for very humanitarian reasons.

2. The investors in this project determined that spinal repairs alone were not sufficient to give a proper return on their investment so they began to look at other possibilities!

a) They found that because of the electrical impulse produced by the chip, that it altered certain behaviors!

(1) For instance, when placed in the pituitary gland of a female, it would put her immediately into menopause. The ability to conceive was immediately halted.

(a) This had already been tested in India!

b) They also found that certain frequencies would produce increased amounts of adrenaline.

c) This was called the "Rambo" chip and it has been tested with Vietnam veterans!

(1) As they began to research other marketing possibilities they discovered that one of the major problems was making people aware of their product and then getting them to accept it!

(2) Dr. Sanders was at the meeting where they decided to put the pictures of lost children on paper bags and milk cartons in an effort to make people aware that there was a need for keeping track of and locating missing children, (as well as Alzheimer's patients)!

(a) These meetings were held in Luxembourg and London, and Brussels, and many right in San Francisco.

(b) The identification and control of people were discussed as if they were cattle.

(c) Kissenger, and representatives of the CIA were present in these meetings!

B. Revelation 13:16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, (NKJV)

15480 charagma (khar"-ag-mah) = a thing carved, sculpture, graven work:

25482charax (khar"-ax) = (to sharpen to a point, through the idea of scratching)

a) This sounds a lot like a hypodermic needle piercing the skin!

3. If you remember, last week we pointed out that the number666 had a name and that name was ChiXiStigma.

a) 4742stigma stig"-mah = from stizo = (to "stick", i.e. prick) = a mark pricked in or branded upon the body.

(1) One of Webster's Dictionary definitions calls "stigma", "a small spot, scar, or opening on a plant or animal!"

b) In the readout of this micro chip, there were nine levels of information that the designers wanted included. They were:

(1) Name, and an "image" or picture of your face.

(2) They also wanted Social Security #'s with the extra international digits.

(3) A fingerprint identification was also to be included.

(4) Physical description

(5) Family history

(6) Address

(7) Criminal record

(8) Occupation

(9) Income tax information

c) 5481charakter khar-ak-tare" = an impression; the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e facsimile.

(1) This microchip has exactly that, an "express image" of it's recipient!

(2) Recently under the new health-care program they are talking about the "womb-to-tomb" positive identification.

(3) There are bills before congress right now and others that have been passed that will allow a microchip of identification to be inject into your child at the time of birth!

(a) The president was given this authority and control under the Immigration Control Act (section100) in1986.

C. Revelation 16:2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. (NKJV)

1. This microchip is powered by a tiny lithium battery which has a recharging circuit built in.

2. This charging system operates and is regulated by the changes in body temperatures.

a) Dr. Sanders says that they spent11/2million dollars on research to determine an optimal primary and a secondary place in the body for this chip.

b) The data that returned said that there were2placed in the human body that the temperature changes most rapidly.

(1) They were #1, the forehead just below the hairline and #2, the back of the hand!!!!!

c) Dr. Sanders talked to a Doctor at Boston Medical Center and asked what would happen with that concentration of lithium if the chip should fail.

(1) The Doctor told him that you would get, "a grevious sore!"

(2) Note that in Revelation 16:2 it says "sore" not sores in the plural. They were not all over the body, but in one location!

(a) Is it possible that when the Lord sends this angel out that all the lithium batteries will fail at the same time???

(b) Dr. Sanders point out that there were some breakdowns of the "Rambo" chip and they indeed did cause a "boil-like" grevious sore!

d) These chips are not secret!

(1) Their diagram description has been published in newspapers.

(2) The clinical insertion of the chip has been demonstrated on TV.

(3) The Montessori pre-schools in Florida have been used as test projects with the insertion of these chips in the children for the purposes of identification.

(a) There is an outfit called "INFOPET" that claims they can keep track of1billion pets to within10 feet of their current location.

(b) If you can know the location and vital statistics of1billion pets at any given time, you can know the location and statistics of1billion people!

(i) And that is just one group or organization!

(ii) As an aside: the FCC has approved2-way communications through your Television!

(iii) It will not only be possible to watch, but to be watched!

(iv) There is current technology to pick up conversations in your home through the crystal mouthpiece on your telephone even with it unplugged.

(v) Laser devices can use your windows as a diaphragm which acts like a big microphone enabling the listener to hear every conversation in your house!


A. Revelation 13:16-17 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,

17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (NKJV)

1. We are moving from credit cards to debit cards to the smart card (coming out of France).

2. Our current presidency has mentioned several times that it is a terrible waste to have so many cards when it could all be done with one card!

a) Right now, at Safeway in Canada, people are being given a10% discount for using their debit cards.

b) People with cash simply wait in line!

c) You see the electronic transfer is immediate and the merchant gets his money without having to go to the bank and make deposits.

(1) You will soon see many commercials encouraging people to minimise their plastic and consolidate into one card!!

(2) It is very probable that this process will go from the Smartcard to the personal inplant chip.

(3) It will be so convenient, fast, and cannot be ripped off!

(4) It is important to note that when President Clinton was asked about the microchip, his answer was, "Of course, of course I'm for it!"

(5) Many people became aware of "the new world order" through the Bush administration but I want you to take out a dollar bill!

(a) On the back in the left "seal" you will see the pyramid will the all seeing eye of Osarus.

(b) Under the pyramid in Latin you will see "Novus Ordo Seclorum" = New World Order.

(i) That was placed on the dollar bill in1933.

3. The European Common Market became an entity on December31st, 1992.

a) They are now responsible for all the environmental policies in Europe.

4. The Trilateral Commission, funded and began by David Rockefeller was able in1972to control oil supply and prices so effectively that the people of America sat in gas lines without ever asking why!

a) Dr. Sanders believes this was a conspiracy to bring about an equality between Asia, Europe, North and South America.

(1) He has photos to support the meeting where this took place and the decision was made.

b) For this "equality" to happen there needed to be a shift of wealth out of the United States.

(1) Because of this shortage of fuel, Americans began to buy import automobiles because of their gas milage!

(2) Within approximately11/2years time we became debtor nation!

(a) All a part of this conspiracy.

(b) Many of our presidents have been actively involved in the Trilateral Commission.

5. Most people are not aware of the fact that the Federal Reserve System is neither Federal nor does it hold any reserves.

a) It is a private corporation owned by5 banks that control the ebb and flow of our interest rates.

(1) The men who control this corporation don't even receive their salary from anywhere in America. Their pay comes from Europe!!

(a) Coincidence or Conspiracy??


A. Dr. Sanders has a flow shart that indicates (through a lengthly proceedure that the major television networks ABC, NBC, and CBS are all owned by the David Rockefeller family!

1. Dr. Sanders once asked Harry Reasner why the media seemed to be unable to present a clear an unbiased view of the news to which he responded by putting his hands behind his back and replied, "It is out of our hands."

2. ABC has publically admitted that they may have "altered" the outcome of this passed election, but their has not been even as much as a slap on the hand, nor an appology!

3. Have you ever wondered why Ross Perot came into the election when he admitted that he didn't want to be President of the United States?

a) He not only came into the election. He got out and then came in again!

b) In the overall scheme of things, his affect on the election was to pull enough votes to keep President Bush from being Revelation -elected!

(1) Bush was "pro New World Order" but he had a few thing that got in the way.

(a) He was pro family!

(b) He was against abortion!

(c) And he was against the homosexual agenda!

(2) President Clinton seems to have nothing that would get in the way of a New World Order, nor the numbering of666.

B. Clinton and Gore have a book that was released just about the time of the election.

1. In it they speak of "boot camps" where "first time offenders" would be given rigorous exercise discipline and a new respect for the law! (Page72)

a) Dr. Sanders has visited many old abandoned military camps where the barbed wire has been turned around to keep peeple in instead of keepin them out!

b) Could these be for those who reject the New World Order and the mark thereof?

c) In this same book he speaks of every one carrying the Smartcard!

C. Over the years, there have been13 "executive orders" given to the President by which he has almost total power in an "emmergency!"

1. The13executive orders can all be consolidated and called into effect by inacting one of these orders that was ratified bt President Carter!

a) One of the things that this allows the President is the possession and control of all public storage units?

2. FEMA, the Federal Emmigration Managment Association has been given by law the right to take over your home and even put several families in it should it deem it necessary!

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Bibliographical Information
Brown, John. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". John Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible.

D.S. Clark's Commentary on Revelation

V:18. "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man (or a man"s number); and his number is six hundred three score and six," This number666 is called the "number of the beast," and also "the number of a man." It is quite plausible that as the beast is the Roman empire, the man that is thus co-ordinated with the beast is the man who stands at the head of the empire as ruler or emperor. That would be the most likely ground of identification. The emperor stands for the empire and his number Isaiah 666.

Now it is a well known fact that both in Greek and Hebrew the letters of the alphabet stand for certain Numbers, or have certain numerical values. In Hebrew the first letter, Aleph, is one; the second, Beth, is two; and the tenth is ten. But the eleventh is twenty, the nineteenth is one hundred, and the twentieth is two hundred, etc. See "A Grammar of the Hebrew Language" by William Henry Green, page3.

Thus a man"s name in Hebrew would result in a certain number by adding together the values of the letters composing the name. Now it is very significant that if we take the name of Nero in Hebrew, in the form in which it is often found in Hebrew writings, Neron Caesar, and add the value of the letters we get666.

This is as reasonable proof as we could expect that the beast that came up out of the sea was the Roman empire; and that the reigning monarch was Nero; and that Nero was the emperor when this book was written. This is one of the great land-marks of the book, furnished by the book itself to tell us when the book was written; and what is far more important, to tell us what the book was written about. If we give any heed at all to the reading of this section, chapters12-19, we will see that it pertains to the times of the Roman empire, and not to some future period that has not yet dawned. This does not make it any less valuable to us; rather more so; for we have the light of God"s past rule and providence to guide us where we need guidance, to warn us where we need warning, and to encourage us when we need encouragement.

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Harold Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation


The NUMBER OF THE BEAST. Revelation 13:18 "This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon THE NUMBER of the beast, for it is A HUMAN NUMBER, its number Isaiah 666." (R.S.V.). (1) Note--It is not the NAME of the beast but "THE NUMBER" which John counts as important. There are interpretations of this verse which calculate the numerical values of the letters of the names of men. When these total "666" they think they have the answer. At various times these have been interpreted (or manipulated) as "Nero," some of the Popes of Rome, even "Martin Luther," "Mussolini," "Hitler," and a score of others. But "wisdom" and "understanding" is not here. We sacrifice the dignity of the symbolism of Apocalyptic literature in "John"s Revelation" when we search for its meaning like children with an acrostic puzzle. (2) THE INTERPRETATION OF "THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST" Let us keep true to the principles of symbolism here. "SEVEN" is the number of "THE PERFECT" "SIX" is the number for "SIN"--missing the Mark --one short of seven. So that to a Christian, The Trinity of the Godhead is symbolically represented by the triple seven--"777." But the number "SIX" awakened feelings of dread in the mind of every Christian who realized its symbolic significance for it missed the Mark, it came short of the perfect "seven." Triple the "SIX" and we have a symbol of EVIL, MISSING THE Mark, DOOM. WE UNDERSTAND THIS "666" TO BE A SYMBOLIC NUMBER EXPRESSING ALL THAT IS POSSIBLE FOR HUMAN WISDOM AND HUMAN POWER TO ACHIEVE WHEN UNAIDED BY FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD. "666" REPRESENTS WHAT WE CALL HUMANISM--The belief that man can manage all affairs in life and society himself, without God. The number "666" represents unregenerate mankind and the best that he can do and be. "666" is what we call "WORLDLINESS"--the belief of man that he can run the world without God. We read John"s word of doom on such a system which apes the divine. "Its number is the number of MAN" (not "A" Prayer of Manasseh, as the A.V. wrongly translates. There is no article "A" in the Greek text. Nor is the Living Bible correct for it gives the misreading "the numerical values of the letters in his name amount to666.") The text really says "Its number is the NUMBER OF MAN." Prayer of Manasseh --unregenerate Prayer of Manasseh --man apart from God.


THE NAME OF THIS BEAST This name will not be found in any single person who has yet appeared in history. Whether such a person will yet arise is beyond our view. But the beast described in Revelation holds UNIVERSAL sway--and no single ruler in any part of the world has yet had such power. No human ruler has died and risen again to be worshipped by "every tribe and people and tongue and nation" (). But there is a philosophy, a trust of man in himself, in his own powers and abilities unaided by any faith in God or obedience to God--a philosophy accepted in university chairs to workshop floors--that man is the master of things. This is "666." Man"s belief in himself has received its death-wound because of its failure to satisfy the deepest needs of men in past generations. Yet this false philosophy rises again in the succeeding generation which gives its blind worship to the discredited trust of man in himself--which misses the Mark --which apes God--which creates a bear-garden of strife in place of a garden of harmony in society. The name of this beast?-You find the name in man himself, in his trust in himself.

II. MEDITATION-- Revelation 13:11-17


This is the important thing--



There you will find the number of the Beast.

Man"s short-coming6, even when tripled by the THREE enemies of the church--the dragon and the two beasts animated by him is the awful "666". Perhaps it is best expressed by the one word "WORLDLINESS".

We can be sealed with the mark of God.

We can also be sealed with the mark of the devil.

Song of Solomon, in blunt words we can put what John is saying in this way--

"Commercial, industrial, social life can become so involved in the current idolatry of materialism that one cannot succeed in business and society without the mark of the beast. One is not permitted to work unless he holds a union ticket. One cannot succeed in business without conformity to unethical standards in business. This conformity to unethical standards in commercial, industrial and social life is to have the mark of the beast upon the right hand and forehead."

We must choose either to have the mark of God"s Holy Spirit, or to have the mark of the beast.

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Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 13:18. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding consider the number of the beast; for it is a man's number, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. That we must here explain; here wisdom is in its proper place, is plain from what was already said at Revelation 13:10. From that passage, and from ch. Revelation 17:9, we expect, in what follows, not a child's play with letters, but a problem, which belongs to the region of a more profound spiritual discernment. Wisdom used absolutely, is always that wisdom which comes from above (James 3:15), which has an ethical foundation, and bears an ethical character. Properly a prerogative of God (Revelation 7:12), and of Christ (Revelation 5:12), it comes to be possessed only by those to whom the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, "has given the spirit of wisdom and of revelation (Ephesians 1:17; James 1:5; Acts 6:3; Colossians 1:9, also the classical passage upon the heavenly origin of wisdom in the book of Wisdom, Wisdom of Solomon 7:25-26), and along therewith a deeper insight into divine and human things, and the capacity generally of apprehending the right in knowledge and duty. The passage before us would stand entirely out of the sphere of the New Testament usage, if by wisdom were here meant something, for which no spiritual discernment is required, and which might be attained even by the most carnal mind. If wisdom generally is required for the elucidation of this book, as certainly as it is the product of the Spirit, it must be quite peculiarly so here. They only have understanding, whose understanding Jesus has opened by his Spirit, (Luke 24:45). The understanding is a mere name, if it has not wisdom—comp. Revelation 17:9. The understanding is properly the seat of wisdom, being the mental power to which it belongs, where it exists. Still, since this mental power, when devoid of wisdom, might as well not exist, is a shell without a kernel, so he alone has understanding in the more distinctive sense, who has wisdom—comp. Daniel 12:10, "The wicked shall not understand it, but the understanding shall understand it," where wickedness and understanding stand opposed to each other. In those passages, of which this is one, where wisdom comes into consideration only in a theoretical respect, to have understanding and to have wisdom are one and the same. The history of the exposition of this book has amply justified the appeal to wisdom and understanding.

We are called literally to count the number. But as here such a counting is meant, as belongs to the sphere of wisdom and of spiritual discernment, it cannot be a counting in the ordinary sense that is intended. Nor would this afford any proper exposition; for though we should set out from the view, that the number of the beast is that which arises from the summing up of the letters of his name, read as numerals, there should still be no proper reckoning of the number of the beast. (This is clear alone from the circumlocution of Ewald: "let him compute the number of the beast, let him see by computing, what name will be expressed by the sum of the number.") In a looser sense every mental exercise which has to do with numbers, may be drawn into the category of reckoning.

The beast, being named unconditionally, is the first beast—not, however, in contrast to the second, which is rather to be regarded as its inseparable attendant. Here the subject of discourse is the number of the beast, and in Revelation 13:17, and in ch. Revelation 15:2, the number of his name. The number of the beast, according to these parallel passages, is primarily, on this account, the number, that it is the signature of his name. Whence we obtain the result, that we must not stand at the point of endeavouring to discover an internal relation between the nature of the beast and his number; that the number also, and above all, must be employed in reference to a name; and that every determination of the number must be false, which does not fulfil this condition.[Note: Hofmann, in his Weissagung und Erf. I. p. 312, thinks, "that we cannot gather from the words of John, that he himself knew the name, and that the contrary is the more credible, the more extraordinary the import of the number is." But if John did not know the name of the beast, (which would ill accord with his being the organ of the revelation of Jesus Christ. and on this ground alone is incredible, because it must necessarily be a name of nature that is meant, the knowledge of which must be essentially bound up with the knowledge of the nature itself,) how, then, could he speak, not only of the number of the beast, but also of the number of the name of the beast? He, who is ignorant of the name of the boast, cannot possibly know the number which corresponds to this name, and is indicative of it.] This result is confirmed by the circumstance, that whenever we dissever the number of the beast from his name, the latter remains unknown to us. But it is not to be imagined, that John, after having spoken in Revelation 13:17 of the name of the beast and his number, should here announce only the latter. If John had not wished to note (indirectly) the name of the beast, he would certainly have made no mention of it. On the other hand, however, the number must have a signification even apart from its reference to the name of the beast. It must stand in an independent relation to the nature of the beast. For, were this not the case, it could scarcely be understood, why the number should have been spoken of beside the name, why the name should not have been put without circumlocution. Then, there can be no doubt that here of purpose, not the number of the name of the beast, but only the number of the beast, is what is mentioned; and it will not do to take the expression as a mere abbreviation. The result therefore is, that alone can be the right explanation of the number which, first, supplies a name; and, secondly, indicates a direct relation between the number and the nature of the beast.

What we are to understand by "the number of a man," is plain from the parallel passage, ch. Revelation 21:17, where the "measure of a man" is the common measure, that is used among men, and from Isaiah 8:1, where "with a man's pen" means, with the instrument commonly employed by men in writing. Accordingly, the number of a man forms a contrast to a mystical or mysterious number; and the words indicate, that in the solution of the riddle we must seek for no mystery in the number itself. Against the explanation, "for it is the number of the name of a man," a number which is made up of the numerical value of the letters of a name; we oppose, 1. The fact, that the beast is not a man, not an individual; 2. The fundamental and parallel passages. To say nothing of other reasons—for example, that the for in that case would be unsuitable. Rightly understood, these words overthrow the hypothesis, which would construct a number out of the numerical value of the letters of a name.

The for belongs to both clauses. Were the number not an ordinary, a common one, the call to compute it, or to reflect on it, would be to no purpose; as is clear alone from the endless diversity that prevails among the advocates of the reckoning by letters; and in order to be able to count the number, one must know what the number is.

It admits of no doubt, that John wrote the number 666. The same Irenaeus, who mentions the variation 616, also tells us, that the number 666 was found in all the best and oldest manuscripts; and that those who had seen John, testified to its correctness.[Note: B. 13:30: ἐ ν πᾶ σι τοῖ ς σπουδαί οις και ἀ ρχαί οις ἀ ντιγρά φοις τοῦ ἀ ριθμοῦ τού του κειμέ νον καὶ μαρτυρού ντων ἐ κεί νων τῶ ν κατʼ ὄ ψιν τὸ ν ιωά ννην ἑ ωρακό των.] And the more importance is to be attached to the latter portion of the statement, that he makes no appeal to such confirmatory testimony, in reference to the signification of the number. In the manuscripts are to be found only faint and unimportant traces of the reading 616. On internal grounds, too, the other reading is to be preferred. "The three sixes," says Vitringa, "placed together, have something of an enigmatical appearance, which does not exist to the same degree in 616." Probably the number 616 is not a proper variation, but only the conjecture of some who could not bring the number 666 into accordance with the name, which they had got fixed in their heads. Irenaeus, certainly, is of opinion that the reading 616 was originally a slip of the pen; but, at the same time, he says expressly, that on the number 616 were raised calculations of names, and he himself offers in consequence grounds for an easier explanation. Then, as it is evident from Irenaeus alone, that the number even in the earliest times had awakened much attention, it is scarcely to be imagined that a deviation from the correct reading should have arisen from mere carelessness.

From the preceding remarks, it is obvious, that our business is first to discover the name of the beast which furnishes the number 666. And here we must not wander about after our own imaginations. The Seer of the Apocalypse lives entirely in holy Scripture. On this territory, therefore, is the solution of the sacred riddle to be sought. And there also it can be found with perfect certainty. In the whole of the Old Testament there is but one instance in which the number 666 occurs in connection with a name. It is said in Ezra 2:13, "The sons of Adonikam 666." The name Adonikam must therefore be the name of the beast. It was admirably fitted for being so. It means: the Lord arises,[Note: אדון without the article is used of the Lord in Psalms 114:7. The Jod is commonly in the proper names a connective vowel, and not the suffix—see Ewald, p. 499, Anm. 2. So also in other proper names, which are compounded of Adon: Adoniram (Jehoram corresponds), the high lord, a designation of him, to whom the bearer of the name was devoted, as so many similar names—for example, Eliab, God father, Joab, Joel, Jehoshua; Adouijah, the Lord is Jehovah (not my Lord). The קום is used of the Lord, who rises up to the help of his people, and for vengeance on his enemies; comp. קומה יהוה in Ps. in. Psalms 7:6; Psalms 9:19; Psalms 10:12; also Psalms 12:5; Psalms 44:26; Psalms 68:1. The name took its rise from these passages of the Psalms; as indeed it was very natural that the Psalms, whose words were continually sounding in the ears of the Lord's people, should especially exercise an important influence in the formation of names. A reference is found to those passages even in Isaiah 33:10. The name Asrikam is formed in the same way; the help (the Lord as helper) rises up, resting on Psalms 44:26.

We must take the name Adonikam in no other signification than that in which it occurs in the fundamental passages; not, for example, with Vitringa in the sense of the Lord's enemy; which is also grammatically inadmissible.] and is in excellent agreement with the watch-word of the worshippers of the beast: "Who is like the beast, and who is able to make war with him?" It combines all, that in the preceding description had been said to characterize the beast. It is a name of blasphemy; it corresponds to the mouth speaking great things; it accords admirably with the demand upon all the inhabitants of the earth to worship the beast. It points to the war against the saints, and the carrying away of these into captivity, and killing them with the sword. It also perfectly agrees with the description, which St Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, gives of the man of sin: "Who opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." The Lord arises—this name originally consecrated to the true God, and derived from the songs of the church, that celebrate him as the Almighty Being, who rises to avenge his enemies, the beast appropriates to himself, as his adherents had already in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 claimed for him the name Michael. By this reference of the name to its original destination, its blasphemous character is heightened; q.d. not that one, the miserable product of the vain imaginations and arrogant claims of his wretched worshippers, it is not he who is the Lord, but I, whose omnipotence is palpable to all; it is not he, who arises to help his poor worshippers, and execute vengeance on his enemies, but I that arise to extinguish those wretched saints with their crucified One and their God. Besides, the name Adonikam in its original reference to the living God reacts against the claim, as also the number 666, according to what is presently to be remarked, at once indicates the claim, and marks its presumptuous and shameful character.

Our second problem was to show, that a direct relation exists between the number and the nature of the beast. That this is the case appears, besides the reasons already adduced, from the circumstance, that in the immediately following verse, the number 144,000 occurs with manifest design, and so, that it is used simply and directly, without any intervening expression, of the church. The 666 is, as it were, the swollen, blown up six, the six in its highest potency, but still, even when swelled up and increased to the uttermost, no more than the six. This number has in Scripture but a very subordinate dignity. As the five only occurs as the half of the ten, the broken number of perfection, so the six appears either (as often, in particular, in the arrangement of the Psalms, for example in Psalms 7, Psalms 80), as the half of the twelve; or as the preliminary step to the seven (for example in Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16) therefore in a subordinate relation to the two numbers, which are formed by a similar combination of three and four, and which generally, but especially in the Apocalypse, are consecrated to the church. (See in reference to the twelve on ch. Revelation 7:4). By the six being carried through units, tens, and hundreds, the number marks the soaring pretensions and might of the beast; while, on the other side, the relation of the six to the seven and twelve, implies, that in respect to the church he still after all came short. To the number 666 thus explained, corresponds the number three-and-a-half, which in the Apocalypse is the signature of the apparent victory of the world over the church—see on ch. Revelation 12:6-14—merely on account of its relation to the number seven. Even Irenaeus, in his early age, seeks in the number 666 an import by itself, brings it into connection with the nature of the beast. He supposes a connection between, it and the image of sixty cubits high and six cubits broad, which Nebuchadnezzar caused to be set up in the plain of Dura (Daniel 3:1, and my Beitr. I., p. 94). And, indeed, if we look upon this image, not with our own, but with Israelitish eyes, if we consider the great attention which was paid to numbers in Old Testament times, as recent investigations have shown, nothing is more natural than to suppose, that the book notices the dimensions of that symbol of the ungodly power of the world (for such the image was), because it saw in these a shadowy representation of the nature of that power. So colossal, and yet indissolubly bound to the fatal six, the broken twelve, and the incomplete seven! The name of the valley, too, is ominous. It properly signifies the valley of the funeral pile (comp. Ezekiel 24:5, Ezekiel 24:9).

This is what we can maintain with certainty respecting the 666, as the number at once of the name of the beast, and of the beast himself. Perhaps, however, there is also an import in the mode of writing the number. It is expressed by the three letters χξς. That this writing by letters was the original form, is certified by Irenaeus.[Note: It is evident also from this consideration, that where the number has been written out, the gender of the words is differently given, sometimes ἐ ξακό σιοι, and sometimes ἐ ξακό σια.] The first and the last of these three letters are the common abbreviation of the name of Christ. The ξ standing in the middle, is like the serpent, under the name of which Satan appears in ch. Revelation 12:9, Revelation 20:2. Through the whole, therefore, the Antichrist, that is raised up by Satan, is placed before our eyes. This ingenious hypothesis was first advanced by Heumann, and afterwards recommended by Herder. But we are not to seek in it the chief matter, it is only a thing of secondary moment.

The other explanations are to be altogether rejected. The wide-spread supposition, that the number 666 is made up of the aggregate numerical value of the letters of a name, is disproved by the following reasons among others. 1. For the solution of so common an enigma, there is required no wisdom and no understanding. A cunning Jew is as capable of it as an enlightened Christian. 2. It is impossible by this view to come to a certain explanation of the sacred riddle. Even Irenaeus remarks, that this number is to be got from a multitude of names; and one only needs to glance at the numberless solutions, that have actually been attempted on this ground, to be convinced, that such a riddle could have no place in the "Revelation of Jesus Christ." Not even the simplest conditions necessary to the solution are given. It is never so much as said, for example, in what language the name is to be sought. 3. Most of the advocates of this view set out from the idea, that John had in his eye a common proper name of the beast. But in a book which never employs common proper names, which everywhere makes use of descriptive names, we can expect none but such also in regard to the beast. 4. The most current explanations of this sort, for example Lateinos, mentioned even by Irenaeus, Nero Caesar (a ludicrous contest, too, about the prior right to this miserable discovery!), furnish a name which does not properly suit the beast; since this represents the whole of the ungodly power of the world, not simply or peculiarly Rome, and far less still, a particular Roman king; so that it is not worth while to advance any other considerations that might be urged against this name. The defenders of the view, which refers it to the papacy, have set forth the opinion, that the number 666 announces the period during which the beast was to continue. Luther took the lead hero. In the German Bible with marginal notes, it is said on this passage: "666 years, so long lasts the worldly papacy." But how could the number apply to the period of 1he beast's continuance? The number must be descriptive of the nature of the beast. Otherwise, it could not go by the side of the name, so that the mark should consist either of the name, or of the number. How also could one obtain the victory, according to ch. Revelation 15:2, over the number of the beast, if this announces only the period of its duration? Further, it were a misplaced appeal to wisdom and understanding, if the problem were merely to discover, what not a word seems to indicate, that the number of the beast is the period of his duration, (though, in the whole context, the beast's duration never comes in question), and that 666 is simply 666 years. One might have much wisdom and understanding, and never light upon this; and one might want all wisdom and all understanding, and yet discover it. How little does the wisdom suit here, according to Bengel's own explanation! "He who sanctifies God in his heart, who abides in the true fear of God, and with his soul cleaves to the salvation of Christ, is wise. Though he may not be discerning for himself in natural things, nor able to discover much, yet, if the good and the evil are set before him, he still has a sound taste to reject the evil and cleave to the good." And then it must be left to each one's own liking to find out in history where the commencement of the period is to be made! Usually, and in particular by Bengel, the age of Gregory VII is fixed upon as such. But with that starting-point the hypothesis has already long since been wrecked on the facts of history.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.Here is wisdom’ understanding—The here means, in the true solution of this problem. The man who tries must bring his intellect to it; and the man who succeeds has brought here a true wisdom; a wisdom which not only involves a good many questions of history and literature, but is pregnant with very important conclusions.

Number of the beast— That is, of his name. To understand this, we must know that the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans used not our now numerical Arabic figures in arithmetic, but the letters of their alphabets. The first ten letters in Hebrew and Greek stood for our figures from 1 to 10. Then the next ten designated the tens, repeated to a hundred; the rest designated thousands. By a little ingenuity both a number and a name might then be found in a certain arrangement of letters. This not only furnished room for play of fancy among Christians, but among cabalists a pretence of deep meanings. Thus the Greek Jesus, Jesous: J=10, e=8, s=200, o=70, u=400, s=200=888; quite an antithesis to 666.

Number of a man—A number which a man would use, and therefore calculable by a man. See note on Revelation 21:17.

Six hundred threescore and six—When a problem of this kind is proposed and recorded for centuries, it might be expected that a great number of names would, in the course of centuries, be produced as the solution. We might at first imagine, too, that a plenty of fitting names would be furnished, and so the problem be really swamped. Numerous names have indeed been furnished, but scarce one meeting the obvious conditions. Puerile as a problem based on the position of letters and numerals may at first seem, the present problem includes elements and conditions tasking the most vigorous wisdom. The only name that seems to meet all the conditions, is one of the oldest, adduced by Irenaeus, the grand-pupil of St.

John himself, Lateinos, Latinus, Latin. Some conditions of the problem may be as follows:


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 13:18. “Now for wisdom”—skill to penetrate the secret of the cryptogram which would reveal the features of the dread opponent. This cryptic method was a favourite apocalyptic device, due partly to prudential reasons, partly to the desire for impressiveness; Orientals loved symbolic and enigmatic modes of expression in religion (cf. Apoc. Bar. xxviii. 1, 2; Sib. Or. i. 141 f.; Barn. ix. 8, burlesqued by Lucian in Alex. 11). The prophet here drops the rôle of seer for that of hierophant or cabbalist. He invites his readers to count the name or number of the Beast, i.e., to calculate a name whose letters, numerically valued on the fanciful principles of Gematria, would amount to 666. For John and his readers the Beast was primarily the foreign power which opposed the divine kingdom, i.e., in this case, the Roman empire. But the drift of the present oracle is the further identification of the empire with the emperor, or rather (Revelation 13:3) with one emperor in particular. Hence the prophet throws out the hint which will solve his riddle: the number of is , i.e., of a historic personality. does not require or before it to bring this out. The only intelligible sense of the words is “a human number,” i.e., not a number which is intelligible (for no other kind of number would be worth mentioning) but one which answered to an individual. Hence it is a matter of comparative indifference what the number of the Beast originally meant— (so recently Abbott 80 f. = Titus, Teitous), ( ) (Clemen), (= 616), (= 666), Nimrod ( , Bruston), or any other (cf. Cheyne’s Traditions and Beliefs of Anc. Israel, p. 248). This generic number is expressly identified or equalised by John with the number of an individual, viz., Nero Cæsar ( ), the Greek letters of which yield 666. The defective writing of (without the yod) is not unexampled. Besides, the abbreviated form would gain, at a very slight expense, this telling and symettrical cipher. Furthermore, when the last letter of Neron is dropped, this Latinised spelling brings the total value of the name to 616, the very variant which puzzled Irenæus. Gunkel’s proposal (primal chaos = Tiâmat) suffers from several flaws; it omits the article, it employs a feminine ending which is not used in adjectives of this type, and “primal” is not a conventional epithet of mystery (cf. G. F. Moore in Journ. Amer. Oriental Society, 1906, 315 f.). Besides, as Gunkel admits, there are no Babylonian parallels to Revelation 13:11-17. Thus, while the application of the term is obvious, its origin is obscure. The basis of such contrivances (which became popular in Gnostic circles) was twofold: (a) gematria, which, using Greek and Hebrew letters to denote numbers, could often turn a name into a suggestive cipher; (b) isopsephia, which put two words together of the same numerical value (cf. for instances of , Farrar 468 f. and Corssen). Probably the number of the Beast belonged to tradition. John plays upon it in order to disclose the shuddering climax of his oracle, that the final foe of the saints was Nero redivivus. The particular number 666 was specially apt as a symbol for this anti-divine power, since it formed a vain parody of the sacred number seven (Gfrörer notes further the ominous usage of 18 = 6 + 6 + 6 in Judges 3:14; Judges 10:8; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 52:29; Luke 13:1, etc.), always falling short of it. In Sib. Or. i. 324 f. 888 represents Christ, and Origen (on Ezekiel 4:9) remarks, apropos of the present passage, · . Irenæus explains the suitability of the number as “in recapitulationem uniuersae apostasiae eius, quae facta est in sex millibus annorum” (adv. Haer. ver. 28, 2). Thus the very number 666 by itself, may have been significant of the anti-divine power. The Neronic application would intensify and concentrate its meaning for John’s readers who were initiated. And such calculations, as the Pompeii graffiti prove, were familiar even to Greek-speaking inhabitants of the empire. The Pergamos-inscriptions furnish analogous instances.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

18. Its number is 666. Not having our system of numbers, the ancients wrote numbers using letters of their alphabet. But almost any name can be added up to “666,” if the letters are juggled enough. It may be that John intended this to represent the name of the Roman Emperor at that time. But since the number represents the beast’s name, it is symbolic. 7 is perfect, 6 is one less than perfection. The church of Christ could be represented by 777, since it is perfect. The number of the beast is 666, complete imperfection! Christ’s church does not terminate, but rises to Eternity to the “Feast in Heaven.” The beast and the false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). Christ’s church CANNOT fail! The beast has failed already! [Christians must think of themselves as being in active rebellion against Satan and all who follow him. SeeEphesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3-4; Philippians 2:12-16.]

In the last chapter, we saw Satan introduce two agents in his battle against God’s people. But he had already lost, even before he began. This chapter shows the TRIUMPH OF THE CHURCH!




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 13:18". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.