666, probably the most talked about and least understood number found in the Bible is only misunderstood because the vast majority of readers of scripture refuse to do what what we’re instructed to do and be a workman, not just a passive reader of the Bible, as Paul wrote to Timothy, here: 2 Tim. 2:15–“ Study to shew thyself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
There are probably as many explanations of what this number means as there are people willing to discuss it. The answers range from the simple to the complex.
“666 is obviously the number that signifies man, so in repeating the number 6 three times, it emphasizes how utterly imperfect man is.”
“666 is the numeric combination of the Greek letters ‘chi’–numeric value of 600; ‘xi’–numeric value of 60; and ‘sigma’–numeric value of 6. These 3 letters, added together = 666 and it stands for the name of the anti-messiah!”
“666 is a metaphor for something to do with the beast, but nobody will really know for sure what it means until that fateful moment when the beast appears and gives this prophecy meaning.”
“It is your Social Security number!”
“It is your drivers license!”
“It is the chip in your credit card!”
These random thoughts, and many others like them, take a portion of a verse in Revelation, immediately jump to their own human conclusions but do not permit the entirety of that single verse to speak for itself. If they would simply read what that passage said, and not make assumptions based on prior foregone conclusions, the meaning would become clear. This is the verse in question:
Rev. 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.”
EVERY word of this verse is important to understand if one truly wishes to grasp its meaning. Every word. Disclaimer: The verse you just read is not what the Apostle John wrote. It comes close in some aspects but totally loses the meaning in the thought John actually expressed. For its actual meaning to be revealed, we need to dig into the Greek text so first, I’ll write it in Greek, word for word. Afterward, I’m going to dissect portions of this verse to convey very specific meanings of very specific words. Caution: This is going to be a deep dive. Make sure you have plenty of air in your tank. (If you were amazed by Bill Clinton saying “It depends on what the meaning of “is” is…that will pale in comparison. And I’m not kidding.)
“hOde hE sophia astin ho echOn ton noun psEphisatO ton arithmon tou thEriou arithmos gar anthrOpu estin kai ho arithmos autou chxs”
And it’s English equivalent transliteration:
“here the wisdom is the one-having the mind let-him-calculate! the number of-the wild-beast number for of-human it-is and the number of-it 666.”
Let’s start with the easy part found in the beginning of this verse: “here is wisdom”. John is telling us that we need to give this serious thought and consideration in order to understand the rest of the verse. We won’t be able to just read it, comprehend it and grasp its full impact without the necessary wisdom as a prerequisite to understand the meaning.
His next thought in the KJV is “him that has understanding, count…” Or, the Greek equivalent, “the one-having the mind let-him-calculate!…” In each case, John’s words are a call to action, something that we must engage our minds to grasp. In English, we’re told to “count”. The Greek equivalent goes a step further that just count, as it tells us to “calculate”! This is a much higher bar to clear than simply counting. In either case, John has just instructed us to DO SOMETHING with the information he’s about to present, not just “read” it.
If we read this entire verse, including the number 666, but we did ZERO “calculations” to understand the number, then we’ve completely rejected what John just told us to do. How much “calculation” did it take to simply see a number then read that number? Answer? Absolutely none. So, to try and draw any conclusions at this point is meaningless. We need to understand what the “calculating” aspect of this verse is all about. To do so, let’s back up a moment, view the entire message in chapter 13 in the big picture and establish a foundation of who and what this passage is all about.
All of chapter 13 is a description of the beast that will become very powerful near the last few years of the latter days. He, along with the anti-messiah and false prophet will have total control over the affairs of man for a few short (and ugly) years until the arrival of Yahshua. Why will this episode in human history be so traumatic? It’s because the beast and his two companions will establish their evil rule over all the earth and all humans will be forced into obedience lest we suffer the wrath of punishment by rejecting their laws and orders.
Millions of people will refuse to comply with living under the punitive demands of these evil rulers. As a result, millions will die. Without getting too morbid in this post, before Yahshua returns, the evil rule of these imposters will result in 90% of all humanity being killed in various fashions, not all due to these persons. There will also be natural catastrophes. But, with billions of people on the planet, how could it be even remotely possible that only three individuals: the beast, anti-messiah and false prophet could figure out which people are obeying them and which ones are not? Is it possible that the 666 of verse 18 has something to do with the answer? Has there ever been a time in recent history when some method of identifying people was used that might have involved some sort of “calculations”? We don’t have to look very far back in history to identify a moment when that very thing happened. We only have to go back to Germany and the years immediately prior to and then during WWII.
In early 1933, the Germans held an election for their nation’s leader. At that time, no person won a majority of the vote–a requirement to become the leader–but one man came closest, Adolf Hitler. After a charismatic campaign and his assurances that he would restore Germany to its former glory, one of his opponents dropped out of the race, and thus Hitler came to power.
Almost immediately, he did two things. First, he broke his promise of governing within the rules of democracy. He only used the trust of the people to gain power then immediately established himself as a dictator and ushered in the Nazi revolution. Second, he condemned the Jews in Germany for all of the nation’s woes and began rounding up the Jews and other political prisoners and placed them into concentration camps. To do this quickly, he needed a method of identifying both his political enemies and the Jews. He looked to Thomas J. Watson, an American man, who ran the National Cash Register Corporation, based out of Dayton, OH. for the solution.
Hitler knew that this corporation had developed a machine which used punch cards that the U.S. Census Bureau had used effectively to conduct a reliable national census. He thought this machine could be useful for him too to conduct a long-delayed national census in Germany. This is how this project was described, but Hitler’s real intent was to aid him in pinpointing every Jew in Germany. The plan worked to perfection. By April 1933, Hitler had imprisoned more than 60,000 Jews and this was only the beginning.
As other camps were opened, and Hitler continued his reign of terror, these punch cards were essential for him to round up, imprison, then destroy millions of Jews. Had it not been for this American company’s invention and the successful use of these punch cards, Hitler’s camps could never have managed the vast number of people that they confined so effectively. The rest is history.
There is something uniquely important about this event as it pertains to the unusual verse in Revelation 13. The punch cards that Hitler had the programmers create contained 600 available places to punch a rectangular hole. It also contained 60 columns. But the most important feature–the one which sealed the fate of millions of Jews–were the additional 6 rows. Of those 6 rows, each one numbered 1 through 6, only the last number, number SIX, was the identifier that meant “extermination”. Six hundred. Sixty. Six.
Any Jew whose punch card had this hole punched out did not know their fate as they were shipped off to destinations unknown. But upon arrival at the camp, many were simply stripped of their belongings and directed like cattle to enter the “showers”…never to be seen again.
Now, let’s take one final look at the last words of Rev. 13:18. In our KJV, it reads “it is the number of a man…” The Greek reads “of-human it-is…” Look–there is a HUGE difference in these two thoughts. The English Bible gives the reader the impression that it’s referring to “a” man, and the only logical thought one would conclude is that that “man” is a continued reference to the beast, spoken of a moment earlier.
But it’s NOT.
The Greek translation does NOT talk about any “one” specific man. It simply says that it is human, which is an expression that tells us the number which is used to calculate must ONLY calculate HUMANITY, not “a man”. Thus, it CANNOT be referring to the beast at all, because HE IS NOT HUMAN! While there are unique differences between the English and Greek translations, both are accurate in eliminating the beast as the one being described at this moment.
Finally–the reason that I used the Bill Clinton analogy earlier–the last words of this verse in English are: “…and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” In Greek, it is “and the number of-IT 666”.
Look carefully at the difference in these two expressions. You will notice something vitally important that is missing in the Greek transliteration. Or, more accurately, there is something added to the English rendering above. It is the word “is”. That word does not exist in the Greek text, so it was only inserted to allow the English text to have a proper flow. For total accuracy, we have to read this verse without that word. Now, the first part of this passage reads: “and his number Six hundred threescore and six”. But wait! There’s more! Nor does the Greek expression use any word that identifies a PERSON. It only uses the word “IT”. So, we’ll re-write this section of verse 18 once more: “and number of it six hundred threescore and six”.
NOW, we HAVE to have it exactly right…right? No, not yet. There’s still one final part that exists in English that does not exist in Greek. It is the final word “and”. (You thought I was only kidding about the Clinton analogy. Admit it.)
There is NO WORD “AND” in the Greek in the center of this written number. Therefore, the number should be written without it.
Finally, here is the 100%, spot on, perfect rendering of the last part of verse 18: “and number of it six hundred threescore six.” Without the erroneously added word “and”, the number 666 is no longer a number. It is three distinctly separate words. Or, to be precise and expand on what John calls it, it’s a formula for CALCULATING. More importantly, it is identifying precisely what the purpose of this formula is–that is, to calculate, in some fashion, a way to identify humans, to serve the purpose of the person overseeing this calculating. IF the word “and” had been intended to be inserted between the words “threescore … six”, the Greek word “kai” would have appeared in the GREEK TEXT. This word DOES appear immediately prior to the written word 666, when John wrote “AND [kai] the number of it…”, so omitting the word “kai” just a few moments later WAS INTENTIONAL.
This short verse, which is an explanation of the beast coordinating a method of identifying humans on earth through some process, will be a “repeat” of this similar event that occurred almost 100 years prior. The number 666 is not significant by itself as just a number. It is revealing to us that calculations will be made in the near future that will prevent any of us from being hidden from the demands of this evil triad of world rulers. And, if the primitive tabulation machines in the 1930’s were so successful, just imagine how successful this new method of “calculations” will be, now that we have super-computers and cameras at every intersection in the land.
666 is not a “mark” of the beast. It is a revelation to us that explains what the beast’s ROLE will be once he comes into power. This number doesn’t pertain to him in any way. It pertains to you and I, as John has told us in advance, so that when the method of calculation that will be used to force us into obedience is introduced, we will have known in advance that it was prophesied to occur. And, knowing this information in advance gives us a peace of mind that our destiny is certain. The Bible is certain. And our Savior, Yahshua Anointed will be arriving very soon to release us from this evil rule.
A final point of interest–shortly after Thomas Watson took over the reigns of the National Cash Register Corporation, he changed its name to the International Business Machines corporation (IBM). Yep, that IBM.
And, since another moment of collating information and calculating how to identify humans in the near future will be the 2nd time in modern history that this will have occurred, or the “666” moment, it’s not a coincidence that the first time this happened, with Hitler’s rise to power was on March, 1933, or 333 if you will. The next time this happens, it won’t just be “twice” as bad as the first time. It will be exponentially worse.
Eccl. 1:9–“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” What happened before is going to happen again.
On the other hand–
Prov. 18:10–“The name of Yahwah is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” So we have that going for us, which is nice.
Much thanks must be given to Edwin Black, whose well-researched book “IBM And The Holocaust” provides many of the details I’ve mentioned in this post. Information about his book, first published in 2001, can be found here: