THE ANTICHRIST, THE IMAGE, AND MARK OF THE BEASTBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index
One of the major events to occur just before the return of Christ as Conquering King is the appearance of an individual called the Antichrist. Most people who have studied the personality and deeds of this individual have, for the most part, totally misunderstood the essential factors associated with this person.
Many view the Antichrist, the image, the mark of the Beast, and the Beast's alliance of nations as things that will be easily recognized as evil and sinister. The reality is that the Antichrist and his religious system of government will look like the greatest and most wonderful religious, political, and economic system the world has ever seen. The leader of this alliance of nations will appear as a dynamic and charismatic individual who will lead his alliance of nations and the world into a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity.
A Great Deception
Jesus said that the deception surrounding the Antichrist will be so clever that only the elect of God will recognize him and understand his true intent and purpose:
"And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, seeing the beast, that it was a thing, and is not and yet now is" (Rev.17:8 Para.). See also Dan.12:9-10; Rev.1:1-8.
All others on earth will be deceived into thinking that this person is indeed a savior of humanity. Therefore, it is extremely important to be able to recognize some of the characteristics and powers that this person may exhibit as he imposes his will on the world.
One must realize that deceived people do not know that they are deceived, and that a person will remain deceived unless they diligently and honestly put forth the effort to search for and accept truth. No one on earth is immune to being deceived or causing deception. In fact, the Bible says that the whole world has been deceived except for the elect of God.
The truth is, there is not a person alive who knows every biblical truth in exact detail. Therefore, no one can totally rely upon another person for their understanding of God's word. This is why the elect are instructed to study to show themselves approved before God and to work out their own salvation in fear and trembling. See 2.Tim.2:14-16; Eph.2:12-13.
Who is the Antichrist?
First let us remove some of the mystique about the name Antichrist. Simply put the Antichrist is an individual who is against the true Christ and/or is attempting to pass himself off as the true Christ. In either case this individual is in opposition to God the Father and Jesus Christ and their teachings.
The Antichrist is the same dynamic and charismatic individual described elsewhere in the Bible as the Beast who is the leader of a powerful religious governmental system that controls an alliance of nations called the Beast. The Antichrist is the individual who has absolute authority, power, and control over all religious, philosophical, economic, and political aspects of people who live under his control.
It is very important to understand that this individual called the Antichrist and the Beast is not Satan the Devil, but is in Satan's service and is a representative of Satan's demonic spiritual government as is the False Prophet (Rev.16:13; 20:10). The Bible clearly states that Satan the Devil is a master at the art of deception: He is that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world (Rev. 12:9). He has been a liar from the very beginning (Jn.8:44). The Antichrist is one of his most cleaver deceptions of all time, which will deceive all but the elect of God.
Signs and Miracles
The Antichrist, who is the leader of the alliance of nations called the Beast, will ascend to power accompanied by supernatural signs and miracles and will be accepted as a god in the flesh by most people on earth. Notice what Jesus says about the false christs and prophets who will precede his arrival as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Matthew 24:23-31 Paraphrased
"Then if anyone says to you, Behold, here is the Christ; or, Here he is! Do not believe it. For false christs will rise up, and false prophets. And they will give great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I tell you beforehand. Then if they say to you, Behold, he is in the wilderness; do not go out. Behold, he is in the inner rooms; do not believe" (vs.23-26). See also Mk.13:21-22.
Throughout the centuries, many false Messiahs and false prophets have come and gone. During the time of trouble, at the end of the age, religious deception will be so intense that the only ones who will not be deceived are the elect of God who diligently follow the true God. In the following scriptures Jesus describes the major events that will accompany his arrival on earth.
Jesus says that his return will not be a silent or inconspicuous occurrence; it will be as lightning, which is always accompanied by a loud thunderous noise:
"For as lighting comes out of the east and shines as far as the west so also will be the coming of the Son of man" (v27).
Jesus also describes the cataclysmic celestial events that will take place before to his return and the gathering of the elect:
"And immediately after the affliction of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in the heavens. And then all the tribes of the land will wail. And they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory. And he will send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds; from one end of the heavens to the other" (vs.29-31).
The signs that precede Christ's return are awesome events that will occur in the heavens. The sun will become dark (Mk.13:24-26), the moon will not reflect sunlight to the earth, and the stars (Greek 'aster') will be moved out of their orbits. These signs will be apparent to everyone on earth. When Jesus returns in all his glory and power, his very presence will disrupt the physical universe. See Ex.19:16-18; 24:17; Isa.13:9-13; 24:1-5; Joel 2:10-12, 30; Hag.2:6-7.
Every person alive on earth at the time of Christ's return will be aware of these events that will occur in the heavens. Most people will be terrified and fear for their lives. Some will be terrified because they know that Christ is returning to destroy them, and others will be in fear because they think that the world is coming to an end.
The magnitude of the events that will accompany Christ's return will be far from secret or silent; they will be terrifying! All of the scriptures that speak of the appearance of the Beast leader and his Beast alliance of nations tell us that he will arrive before the events that precede Christ's coming. He will be alive as Christ pours destruction upon the earth and its inhabitants for their great wickedness and rebellion against God.
John, Peter, and Paul
The apostles John, Paul, and Peter warned of teachers and prophets who would come teaching heresies and they foretold that many people would follow these people and their lies.
At the time John, Paul, and Peter were inspired to write their letters, most of the elect of God thought that the return of Christ was imminent. Because this was not the case, the things these apostles said concerning people and conditions that would exist just before the return of Christ were mostly prophetic.
At the close of the first age of the church and before he was shown the things that pertained to the end of the age, the apostle John spoke about those who opposed Christ and what he taught about his relationship to God the Father and the elect children of God. As we review what John says about the Antichrist, notice that he says the Spirit of God residing within the children of God will separate a child of God from the world, make a child of God sinless, and reveal those who oppose and reject Christ and the Father:
"Young ones, it is the last time: and as you have heard that the Antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but were not a part of us, if they had been one of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that it should be known that they were not a part of us" (1.Jn.2:18-19 Para.).
John speaks of a prophecy that those to whom he was writing already knew about. He tells the elect of God that the fulfillment of this prophecy was already in progress at that time. He goes on to say that those who were against Christ at that time were never true sons of God, and that, by leaving the true body of Christ, they had revealed their true nature and purpose.
"And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you did not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth" (1.Jn.2:20-21 Para.).
John confirms that those who have the Spirit of God have the knowledge and ability to discern truth from error in spiritual matters, and that those who are liars and deceivers will be known by those who have the Spirit of God within them, because the Spirit of God reveals truth. See Jn.14:17, 15:26, 16:12-13; 1.Cor.2:12-13.
Because the Spirit of God reveals truth, it is extremely important that each child of God during the end of this age listen very carefully to what the spirit says concerning the Antichrist and his religion and governmental system.
Who is a Liar?
Those who oppose Christ, do not teach the truth concerning Jesus as the Creator God and Savior of humanity. These people also deny the individuality of the Father and the Son and they are liars in the eyes of God. The scriptures clearly show that the Antichrist will not teach the truth of God, but he will teach a lie:
"Who is the liar, but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son. Every one that denies the Son does not have the Father. The one who confesses the Son, truly has the Father also" (1.Jn.2:22-23 Para.).
The truly converted of the first age of the church understood exactly what John was saying concerning the Father, Christ, and the Spirit of God, because they were taught the mysteries concerning the plan of God by the apostles. However, this knowledge was lost when the early church disappeared shortly after the apostle John's death. See our study papers about the Spirit of God and Christ that resides within the elect of God and our studies concerning the demise of the early church.
"Everyone being begotten of God [the Father] does not sin, because his [the Father's] seed [spirit of God] abides in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the Devil are revealed: Everyone failing to practice righteousness or love his brother is not of God" (1.Jn.3:9-10 Para.).
It is impossible to understand what John is saying here, unless one understands that the spirit of God within a child of God keeps them in a sinless condition before God the Father. As long as a child of God is seeking to live a righteous life and does not willfully and habitually practice sin, no sin is imputed to him. It is this same spirit of God that reveals to the elect of God who is and who is not of God. One of the major signs of the Antichrist/Beast is that he is a sinner according to the biblical definition of sin; therefore, it is necessary for all who are called of God to fully understand what sin is and is not, so that they will not be deceived by the Antichrist or his state religion, which is led by the False Prophet.
Good and Evil Spirits
In the first three verses of first John, chapter four, John speaks of testing for evil influence and he shows that a major key in this testing process is the understanding that Christ's spirit resides within the children of God:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world. By this know the spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus has come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit which does not acknowledge that Jesus has come in the flesh is not from God: and this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world" (1.Jn.4:1-3 Para.). See also 2.Jn.v.7; Matt.24:4-5.
Almost all opposition to God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the children of God comes from the evil influence of spirit-beings. Therefore, it is extremely important for God's children to be able to discern the difference between a good and an evil spiritual influence.
John says that a child of God can determine if a spirit (i.e., a spirit being or spiritual influence) is from God or not. If a spirit acknowledges that Christ has come in the flesh, it is good. If this acknowledgment is not made, this spirit or spiritual influence is evil and it is in opposition to God the Father and Jesus Christ.
On the surface it seems that the formula John gives to determine the character of a spirit-being or spiritual influence is simple and direct, and it is. However, the key to understanding John's instructions is to understand what he means when he says, "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh."
Most people will admit that the person Jesus lived and was a religious leader. Some will acknowledge that he was a prophet, and some will acknowledge him as the prophetic Savior of humanity. However, very few truly understand or will acknowledge him as the Creator God who became the Savior died, was resurrected, and now lives in the flesh of the children of God.
Another important identifying sign of the Antichrist is that he will not acknowledge that Christ has come in the flesh in the same manner as the scriptures teach.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many [the majority of people] shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of" (2.Pet.2:1-2 KJV).
There are many things that people consider to be truth; however, what God reveals as the way of truth is not what most people believe as truth. It is God's way of truth that most people hate and ridicule. A number of prophecies tell us that the Antichrist will speak blasphemous things against God and his teachings.
2.Corinthians 11:3-4; 13-15
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. If anyone comes preaching another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit [an evil, lying spirit], which you have not received, or a different gospel, than the one you accepted" (vs.3-4 Para.).
During the lifetime of the apostle Paul, those who opposed Jesus Christ were preaching another Jesus and another gospel. This same false Jesus and message is still being preached and taught today. The Antichrist as the leader of the Beast alliance of nations will exist just before Christ's return and he will promote himself as a savior of humanity, but he will have his own deceptive good news message for humanity.
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (vs.13-15 KJV).
Although verses 13-15 speak of those who are counterfeit ministers of Christ, the same basic concepts apply to the Antichrist/Beast, the False Prophet, and those who are in service to them as their representatives.
The Man of Sin
2.Thessalonians 2:3-11 Paraphrased
"Do not let anyone deceive you in any way: because that day will not come unless there first comes a falling away [departure from the faith], and the man of sin is revealed, who is the son of perdition" (v3).
An interesting thing about this man of sin is that Paul also calls him the son of perdition. The word translated into English as 'perdition' is from the Greek word 'apoleia' which, in this context, refers to an everlasting state of torment. The Bible clearly shows that wicked humans will have their life terminated with fire. No human is going to be tormented in the lake of fire forever; therefore, the being who inhabits the physical body of the Man of Sin (Son of Perdition) is not human, and if it is not human, it must be a spirit-being. The Man of Sin will try to deceive people into believing that he is a god-being.
Deception and Arrogance
"This is the one who opposes and exalts himself over everything being called God, or object of worship; and he is to sit in the temple of God, as God; in order to show that he is a god" (v4).
In his arrogance, this powerful spirit-being masquerading as a human will desecrate the temple of the true God in Jerusalem by entering into it and sitting there in defiance of the true God in order to prove to the world that he is indeed a god, and that the true God is no god.
"Do you not remember, that, I told you these things when I was with you? And now you know the thing holding him [Man of Sin/Son of Perdition/Antichrist] back from being revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness already works: only he is holding back [being held back] now, until it comes out of the midst" (vs.5-7).
Paul had already talked with them about the Antichrist and told them that this individual was being restrained from coming out of the middle of something. The thing that this individual comes out of, according to visions of Daniel and the apostle John, is the alliance of nations symbolized by the beast that came out of the sea. Therefore, it is very clear that wherever this powerful and fierce beast-like alliance of nations is located in the end of the age, the Antichrist will be there as its supreme leader.
"And then the lawless one [Man of Sin/Son of Perdition/Antichrist] will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of his mouth, and he will be brought to nothing by the brightness of his [Christ's] coming" (v8).
Christ will remove this lawless individual from power when he comes to rule the earth. This is the same evil spirit mentioned in Daniel 7:11 who will have his physical body destroyed and will, in his spirit form, be cast into a lake of fire.
"His [the Antichrist's] coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and miracles and lying wonders, And all deceit of unrighteousness of those being lost; because they did not receive the love of the truth in order for them to be saved. And because of this God will send to them, a working of error, for them to believe a lie" (vs.9-11).
Based on Gods word, those whom God has called to salvation should know the difference between good and evil; however, many have already been deluded by a false Christianity and many will be deceived by Satan's Antichrist and his religious and political system of government.
Paul gives a dire warning not to allow one's love for the truth of God to erode. Make no mistake, the message of the Antichrist and Satan's religious and political system is not truth, it is great deception designed to destroy one's opportunity to enter the Family and Kingdom of God. His miracles, signs, and wonders will not be from the Sovereign God; they will be from Satan the Devil and are designed to deceive humanity.
The majority of people will believe the Antichrist's message and his great supernatural works, thinking that they are a part of God's plan for the salvation of humanity; however, just the opposite will be true.
Ten Religious Deceptions
It is highly likely that the Antichrist will come as a savior of humanity and attempt to counterfeit some or all of the things that are prophesied about the coming of the true Messiah. Listed below are ten things he may do to attempt to deceive humanity:
1. Demonstrate that he is the prophetic descendant of King David who is supposed to come to rule the world as described in Psalm 2.
2. Send a false Elijah to speak of his coming (Mal.4:5, 6).
3. Appear to gloriously return in the flesh after being fatally wounded (Matt.25:31, 32; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7).
4. Return in the clouds of heaven accompanied by other beings (1.Thes.3:13; 2.Thes.1:7).
5. Attempt to make Jerusalem the capital of his world-ruling government (Isa.11 & 12).
6. Establish his rule with deceptive miracles and wonders (Psa.69).
7. Attempt to make an alliance of nations out of the modern ten tribes of Israel and the Jewish nation of Israel (Ezk.37).
8. Institute his own interpretation of the Mosaic Law (Isa.66: 22,23).
9. Proclaim that he has come to bring world prosperity (Isa.11;12).
10. Proclaim that he has come to bring world peace (Psa.96;98).
These are all things that would add validity to his claims in the religious circles of quasi-Christians and Jews. The Antichrist may attempt to counterfeit some or all of the real prophetic signs of the return of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, in order to deceive these people and accomplish his goal of world domination for his master Satan the Devil.
Because Satan appears as a glorious righteous angel and his evil servants mimic this same false righteousness (2.Cor.11:14-15), the appearance of the Antichrist will fool those who do not understand the true meaning of the scriptures that speak about the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Because the central focus of Satan's plan is to deceive people into giving their allegiance and worship to him, his servant the Antichrist will claim to be god in the flesh (2.Thes.2:4). Another servant of Satan, the False Prophet, will force those who are under the control of the Beast's alliance of nations to worship the Antichrist/Beast and his image; thereby, they will actually be worshiping Satan the Devil by proxy.
There is little doubt that on the surface Satans religious and governmental system under the leadership of the Antichrist and the False Prophet will look very good to most people. This is why they will be very unhappy when they see it being destroyed by Jesus Christ (Rev.18:4-20).
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE ANTICHRIST
This section shows a number of ways by which anyone who understands the worship system of the true God will be able to identify the Antichrist and his worship system.
Oppressive Rule and Forced Idolatry
Although Jesus Christ and the elect of God will rule from Jerusalem with a rod of iron and exercise judgement upon the rebellious nations of the world (Rev. 12:5), the Kingdom of God will not be cruel or oppressive, nor will Jesus or those who serve him force anyone to worship God by bowing down before an image or representation of himself or God the Father.
God the Father's Worship System
The scriptures clearly show that, after Jesus Christ returns, he will establish his Father's true worship system. Conversely, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will oppose any attempt of the Jews or anyone else to worship God as instructed under his covenant with national Israel and the elect of God. See Jer.31:30-37 and our studies concerning the various covenants and the commanded observances of God.
In regard to the Father's worship system, there are some biblical facts that will help one to understand God's new agreement with national Israel:
The Antichrist will do just the opposite of what the Creator God promises to do when he returns as the Messiah to institute a new agreement with national Israel. The Antichrist will stop the Jews from sacrificing at the temple in Jerusalem and will attempt to change and/or eliminate the commanded observance and holy convocations of God.
THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST
In order to understand the worship of the image of the Antichrist/Beast we need to keep in mind that the Antichrist/Beast and the religious leader (the False Prophet) of the alliance of nations are both servants of Satan the Devil and are both committed to the goal of subjecting all humanity to his absolute control.
The Wounded Head
"And I saw one of its heads as if it had been wounded to death; and its fatal wound was healed. And the earth admired the beast. And worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with it?" (Rev.13:3-4 Para.).
After the Beast alliance of nations has been solidified, its power base has been established, and the Antichrist/Beast has secured his position of authority as the undisputed leader of this alliance, something extraordinary will happen to either this alliance of nations or its leader. One or the other will sustain a fatal wound.
The circumstances surrounding the death and resurrection of the alliance of nations or the Antichrist/Beast will be an incredibly deceptive event. When people see this resurrection they will be astonished and believe that the Antichrist/Beast is a god in the flesh.
It is difficult at this point in time to determine exactly what or who the head in Revelation 13:3 symbolizes, because the heads of the beast represent both a system of government as well as the evil spirits who control the system through individuals. What is important to recognize is that an extraordinary event will occur surrounding the fatal wound of either the Antichrist/Beast or the Beast's alliance of nations. When this happens, the leader of the state religion who is the False Prophet will initiate and enforce the worship of Satan the Devil (the dragon) through the Antichrist/Beast and his system of government.
A State Religion
"And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and it had two horns like a lamb, but spoke like a dragon. And it executes all the authority of the first beast before it. And it makes the earth and those dwelling in it to worship the first beast, that was healed of its deadly wound" (Rev.13:11-12 Para.).
There are a number of important things revealed in verses 11-12 concerning the relationship between the Beast alliance of nations, its supreme leader (the Antichrist/Beast), and its religious leader (the False Prophet):
"And it [the False Prophet] does great signs and even makes fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth before men " (Rev.13:13 Para.).
It is important to understand that the False Prophet and the religious system that he leads have tremendous supernatural powers with which to deceive people and to counter the supernatural works that the elect of God will be doing as they proclaim God the Father's good news message.
"And it [the False Prophet] deceives those dwelling on the earth, because of the signs which were given to it before the beast; saying to those on the earth to make an image of the beast who has the wound of the sword, and lived. And it was given authority to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could speak, and might cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed" (Rev.13:14-15 Para.).
The False Prophet has an image made that is either symbolic of the alliance of nations (the beast), or its leader (the Beast), or both. This religious leader empowers the image so that it has the ability to speak; then, he forces people to worship it or suffer death for disobedience. This enforced worship is reminiscent of king Nebuchadnezzar's forced worship of the image that he had made.
There are many reasons why intelligent people will worship this image. The first is that if anyone does not worship it they will be killed. The second is that people will actually believe that the image is a god, a representation of their god (Antichrist/Beast), or a method through which they may communicate with their god (who is in reality Satan the Devil).
It is interesting that when one carefully reads Daniel 3:1-30, it appears that only the leaders of the people were compelled to worship Nebuchadnezzar's image. However, in John's vision, it seems that everyone under the control of the beast alliance of nations must worship the image.
The Plagues and the Image
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor walk" (Rev.9:20 KJV).
One of the reasons that Christ pours out plagues upon humanity is to bring them to the realization that they are rebelling against God as they practice their idol worship, and that they must stop this practice and worship the true God.
Notice that these images do not see nor walk. What is interesting in verse twenty is that it does not say that these images do not speak; therefore, it seems that there will be a number of different types of images that will be worshiped by those of the Beast's alliance.
Anyone who seriously studies the Bible should understand that the forced worship of the image(s) of the Antichrist/Beast constitutes idolatry. Upon seeing or hearing of this forced idolatry, the elect of God should understand that this alliance of nations and its worship system is indeed the Beast of the books of Daniel and Revelation.
THE MARK AND NAME OF THE BEAST
Many who study the Book of Revelation are overly concerned with knowing exactly what the mark and the name of the Beast is and how one will receive this mark and name. However, this information is not essential for salvation from eternal death. It really does not matter whether the mark or name is a computer chip implant, a tattoo, or some other thing. The important thing is to be able to recognize the Antichrist/Beast and his state religion and governmental system for what it is. It must be clearly understood that those who are called of God cannot accept the mark or give their allegiance to the Beast so that they can participate in the economic benefits of the Beast system, because this authorization requires a religious commitment to worship the image of the Beast.
THE MARK, NAME, AND NUMBER
"And the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, allow it [the Antichrist's state religion] to give them a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads: so that none can buy or sell, except they have the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name. Here is wisdom. Let him having reason count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and its number is six hundred and sixty-six" (Rev.13:16-18 Para.).
Throughout history, many who have studied the Bible and secular history have tried to determine the name of the individual that is represented by the number 666. The number 666 is even recorded as being associated with king Solomon and the amount of gold that he received as tribute during the height of his reign (1.Kgs.10:14; 2.Chron.9:13). There seems to be no end to the individuals and things that have been found to have this numerical reference attached to them.
Even though the number 666 can be attached to people, places, and things in the past, present, and future, is a full understanding of the prophetic number 666 necessary before the appearance of the Antichrist and his religious and political form of government? Actually, it is more important to understand the prophetic events surrounding the Antichrist and to be prepared to be loyal to God and his way of life to the very end.
People have assumed that, because verse 18 says that the number 666 is the number of a man, this number can only be attached to an individual. The reality is that in the Greek language, "the number of a man" can also mean "a human number" or "a number of humanity". Although the number 666 may very well identify a specific individual, it may also identify and be associated with the Beast's system of religion and government. The number 666 could very well represent the apex of human perfection, because under the leadership of the Antichrist/Beast, the magnificent religious, governmental, and economic system of the beast alliance of nations will appear to be the best system ever devised.
In the study of the numerical symbolism of the Bible, the number 6 is clearly associated with humanity; therefore, the number 666 appears to be the number of humanity. Because God the Father allows an evil global system to exist before his Son's return, the number 666 could very well be viewed in the context of the entire religious, economic, and governmental system that is led by the Antichrist who is in the service of Satan (2.Thes 2:4).
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
It is well known in biblical and rabbinical teachings that the phrase, "in the name of," is used to connect the one having authority to the one from whom the authority comes. It is also used to connect a teacher with the authority and respect of his own teacher. Therefore, it is logical to assume that this same meaning is attached to the name of the Beast and its religious governmental system. The same association will exist between the Antichrist/Beast and those having its name or mark. See our study paper concerning the phrase "in the name of," for details about those who have the name of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
A Sign of Allegiance
Refusal to take the mark of the Antichrist constitutes rebellion against him and his religious and governmental system, and this will not be tolerated. All who are found guilty of this type of rebellion will be put to death. Everyone must comply with the worship system that the Antichrist will institute through the False Prophet, and they must worship the image of the Beast. In addition, everyone will have to register with the system and receive the mark or name of the Beast. Without the identifying mark, a person will not be able buy or sell or participate in the economic system of Antichrist's alliance of nations. Therefore, the mark or name of the beast is a sign of one's allegiance to this evil person and his religious governmental system.
It is obvious that there will be many undesirable physical consequences for not accepting this mark. For those who worship the true God, the threat of physical punishment and hardships for not accepting the mark are minimal compared to the loss of eternal life for accepting it.
Only Two Options
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever: and they shall have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name" (Rev.14:9-11 KJV).
When the mark of the Antichrist/Beast in instituted, there are only two options that a person who is living within the geographical areas controlled by the beast system will have concerning the taking of this mark. Either one takes the mark and worships and serves the Beast and his image, or one does not take the mark and does not worship the Beast and his image. Any who are in the situation of making a choice concerning the mark must consider the following:
Most of the world will be deceived by the power and charisma of the Antichrist/Beast and the obvious benefits of his religious system of government. Therefore, most will willingly worship his image, and take his mark that will signify their allegiance to him and his system of government. This will be especially easy to do because the death penalty will hang over the heads of any who refuse to worship him and take his mark.
Although the prospect of one surviving the refusal to worship the image and take the mark seems minimal, there is hope for those who place their trust in the true God and seek his protection. See Rev.3:7-13; 7:1-17; 12:6, 14-16.
"And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out your vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men that had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image" (Rev.16:1-2 KJV).
Remember that, during the rule of the Antichrist and his religious system, the people of God will be proclaiming the true gospel and Jesus Christ will be sending devastating plagues upon those who take part in the Antichrist's alliance of nations and have his mark and worship his image.
"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 had worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev.19:20 KJV).
The two evil spirits that enforce the worship of the image and the marking of those who consent to be marked as a sign of their allegiance to Satan's system of worship and government will be cast into a lake of fire after the return of Jesus Christ.
The Victorious Elect
"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I 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 his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God" (Rev.15:1-2 KJV).
Those who are called of God to salvation during the terrifying times of the Antichrist's rule and remain true to their great calling will receive tremendous rewards in the Kingdom of God:
"And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgement was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev.20:4 Para.).
The Important Names
During the end of the age, there are two extremely important names that will have a more dramatic impact on the lives of the children of God than the name or mark of the Antichrist/Beast. These are the names of the Father and his Son. Notice what is said about these two names:
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev.14:1 KJV).
There are only a certain number of people that will have the name of the Father written in their foreheads when Christ returns.
"And to the angel [messenger] of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says he [Jesus Christ] that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and has not denied my name " (Rev.3:7-8 Para.).
Notice the emphasis upon having kept Christ's word and not denying Christ's name. It is for this reason that God will empower and use those of the Philadelphia church to perform a great work for him in the end of the age.
Although it is extremely important to be able to recognize the Antichrist, his image and mark, the False Prophet, and the religious governmental system which they administer for Satan the Devil when they appear on the worlds scene, it is even more important for one to be committed to making the right decisions concerning one's allegiance to God the Father.