The number 666 is the number of the beast in Revelation, the last book of the Bible:

This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. (Revelation 13:18)

The “beast” in Revelation is a symbol for a person or organization which persecutes the people of God. For years, Bible scholars have puzzled over what the number means. It has been linked with an extraordinary array of organizations and people including the Ku Klux Klan, Pope Leo X, Martin Luther, and Henry Kissinger!

Some interpretations

Many of the suggested interpretations use the numerical value of letters. For example, in Greek the first nine letters represented the first nine natural numbers: a=1, b=2, g=3, d=4, e=5, etc. The second nine letters represent 10,20,…,90, and the remaining letters are used to denote 100,200,… A similar system exists for Hebrew letters.

  1. An early suggestion along these lines involved the name “Nero Caesar“. Nero was the perpetrator of extreme persecution of the Jews and Christians, burning them as human torches in his garden parties and forcing them to fight to the death against lions and other wild animals. If you write the Latin name “Nero Caesar” in Greek, then transliterate it into Hebrew (using a rather unusual spelling) and add up the letters, you get 666! Hmmm. Perhaps a little contrived. Furthermore, it is likely that Revelation was written 30 years after Nero died.
  2. It has also been noted that “The Latin Kingdom” when written in Greek totalled 666. The Latin or Roman empire was often persecuting Christians and Jews.
  3. A related idea which has gained widespread popularity was proposed by Irenaeus in the second century after Jesus. He suggested the magic word was “Lateinos“. In Greek, the letters of the word sum to 666. However, an unusual spelling is required: it would normally be spelt without an e. Those favouring this idea see the word as a symbol of the Roman empire or Roman Catholic church, both of which have become famous for their attempts to destroy alleged heretics.
  4. Another idea implicating the Roman church involves the Pope’s Latin title “VICARIVS FILII DEI” which means “in place of the Son of God”. Adding those letters which are Roman numerals gives V+I+C+I+V+I+L+I+I+D+I = 5+1+100+1+5+1+50+1+1+500+1 = 666.
  5. Other scholars have noted that the numerical value of “Jesus” in Greek is 888 (again using a faulty spelling). So each digit is one more than the number 7 which appears to symbolise perfection in the Bible. So 666 is thought to be a contrast to Jesus and intended to symbolize someone falling short.
  6. More information along these lines is at Wikipedia

What does the Bible say?

Apart from the number 666, the Bible describes the beast as having great power over the whole world, being worshipped by many people, blaspheming God, persecuting God’s people, and controlling trade. In Revelation 17, the beast is ridden by a prostitute! It is ultimately destroyed by Jesus Christ when he returns to earth.

Usually the best way to interpret the Bible is to allow it to intepret itself. There are three other references to the number 666 in the Bible. One (Ezra 2:13) says that Adonikam had 666 descendants in a census taken in about 538 B.C. This is probably irrelevant. The other two (1 Kings 10:14 and 2 Chronicles 9:13) are almost identical:

The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents.

Solomon was a great king of Israel from 960 B.C. to 931 B.C. While this reference appears rather obscure, it is interesting that Solomon was involved in extensive trading of gold, silver, gems, ivory, cinnamon, spices, wine, oil, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses and chariots (see 1 Kings 10 and 2 Chronicles 9). These are almost exactly the same as the things traded by the prostitute who rides the beast (see Revelation 18:11-13). It is possible then, that the number 666 was intended to be a clue pointing to the extensive international trade network of the beast, similar to that of Solomon thousands of years before.

Whichever, if any, of these interpretations is correct, the main point of the passage is clear enough. It was written to encourage God’s people in the face of persecution and to prepare them for the second coming of Jesus when he will overthrow the governments of the world and set up a new worldwide government.

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34 Responses to What does the number 666 mean?

  1. vicky says:

    Perhaps the beast is the internet, it is so powerful, it is the only thing than man has made and has no contol over it. Thereby contributing so much of information that a persons heads just reels with all that information that you think is starting somewhere but instead takes you nowhere.

    Maybe it is money which people get great power from it, but the bible refers to a man, a human being with the number 666, I can see continents having 1 president each perhaps in 100 years time, but not just yet

  2. Ed says:

    The official Latin title of the Pope is VICARIUS FILII DEI, which means “Vicar of Teh Son of God.” For several Centuries this official title appeared upon the Pope’s mire, his crown. Take the Roman numeral values of those letters and add them up. The total equals 666.

    This is not “new” news. The principal exponent of this interpretation was Andreas Helwig (c. 1572-1643; see L.E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2, pp. 605-608)!

    Back in the early seventeenth century the church of Rome was sufficiently embarrassed by this revelation, and they removed the “Vicarius Filii Dei” from the mitre. But the Roman Catholic church still continues using this phrase in their ceremonies whenever a new Pope is ordained.

    Rev. 13:18

  3. Alan Saffer says:

    You say that in Ezra 2:13 when Adonikam brought 666 descendants is not irrevelant. I disagree. Adonikam means the Lord has risen. In order for the lawless one to be revealed the church will be caught up. The same in 1 Kings 10, Solomon had finished building the Temple to the Lord. Jesus said I go to prepare a place for you. So you see it means the same. In order for the anti-christ to be revealed the church needs to be taken away & that number will be revealed to the left behind, because they did not give there lives to Jesus & worship him. They preferred to worship the things of the world which the devil is the god of this world

  4. Brandy Williams says:

    Ok well now…hum..since the prophetic meaning for 6 is man and the fact there are 3 of them and the meaning for 3 is power and resurection…to me it means the power of man and how we think we know it all and can some save ourselves from death. The book of Revelation clearly states in the first verse that its a revelation of Jesus Christ and NOT the anti christ. I submit to you all that the greatest anti christ we will ever face sits right between our own ears. It says in Romans 8:7 that our carnal minds will always be at enmity with God unless we focus on Jesus who hath made us both one spirit and mind (Ephesians 214). Thats why we die daily to His will and are transformed from glory to glory by the renewing of our minds. In other word stopping killing yourself by your own thoughts allow Jesus to perfect your thinking. 777 is His number right? Well 7 is perfection and 3 is His resurection and power so allow Him to resurrect your thoughts and give you power that you might be able to stand. Its your whole armour!

  5. Todd says:

    I don’t have enough characters to write the comment in full but there is an excellent interpretation in The Holy Bible Recovery Version on line and in the footnotes in Rev 17:8(1) and on the # 666 in the footnotes for Rev 13:18(2) I think it is worth taking a look.

  6. Steven Smith says:

    I find it hard to understand this Roman numerical: V+I+C+I+V+I+L+I+I+D+I = 5+1+100+1+5+1+50+1+1+500+1 = 666.

  7. Da'Shon says:

    To understand the Roman numerical value. Each letter has a value the V for is valued at 5 if you add it as it is written it adds to 666. Try it and you will see for yourself.

  8. phillip chartrand says:

    i feel like i come from a different time and place.i have been feeling this all my life.the numbers 666 come up all the time in my life.i just took a job in a different city,and i stay with friends.they rent the house and the landlord rents the garage to painters.the painters van plate numbers start with 666.this is not a coincidence as my old health card numbers started with 666.any answers would sure help me.thank you

    • Sams says:

      Dear Phillip,
      These things can happen just to frighten you. Trust me. God is in charge.
      Not, coincidence- or anything else. I know people who have, when trying to come closer to HIM have been attacked or frightened by things like this-remember who the Creator is and laugh this off.
      Romans 8 is the best for this. my paraphrasing “NOTHING can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, neither heights or depths or things past or things to come. ” .. Go look at it and be free. You may actually be amused in the future when your attention goes to this happenstance of the number. You may actually regard it as a nudge to think of HIM . I guarantee it.
      Romans 8 !!!!

  9. Wijianto says:

    I think the beast is China, Seriously this is more and more like a reality after I read the bible several time, Remember though……., The Chink has a town so-called Forbidden city, and in Chinese it’s written as such that the meaning of the character is violet or purple……………………….

    • Sams says:

      Chink is totally inappropriate and I know many very love filled Chinese Christians.
      I know many who may not be Christians and act in a very loving way toward others and ESPECIALLY revere and respect their elderly! Unlike us.

  10. Jenney says:

    The numbers 666 means that the beast will come at the sixth vile, sixth trump, and sixth seal. He will come in peaceable then Christ will come in at the seventh vile, seventh trump, and seventh seal. We must know this so that we will not follow saten.

  11. babz says:

    This number at times represents imperfection.The number of the wild beast” is 666 and is called a man number,’ indicating that it has to do with imperfect, falling man and it seems to symbolize the imperfection of that which is represented by ‘the wild beast. ‘The number six being emphasized to third degree [ the six appearing the position of units, tens, and hunderds] therefore highlights the imperfection deficiency ofthat which the beast represents, or pictures._Re13:18

  12. babz says:

    The beast is ,the kingdoms or goverments,including the UN.

  13. Danny K says:

    Daniel 7:21 (NKJV) “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them,

    Revelation 6:11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

    When considering the meaning of ‘666’ and it’s reference to not being able to buy or sell without the number of the beast (Rev 13:17), I think that it is becoming more clear that we are headed to a global economic system (intertwined with a global religion). Where does that leave the church (especially here in America)?

    These 2 scriptures tell me that in the last days the church will be tried and tested. I do not believe that we (the church) are safe from global persecution. Look at the world around you. Get the publication ‘Voice of the Martyrs’. The church is being persecuted today and there is no reason to believe that we won’t experience global persecution under the antichrist and his prophet prior to the great tribulation.

    I believe the ‘666’ refers to the coming economic system which will unify the world’s political powers under the umbrella of religion, economic stability, and peace.

  14. Sempai Chris says:

    Is this sheer coincidence? Britain has a coalition government, so are the the following countries: Zimbabwe, Greece, Kenya and many more. Are we heading somewhere? I wonder!

  15. Local L says:

    The number 666 is the three-digit representation of the fraction 2/3.  The Beast (i.e. the Anti-Christ) is the second third of the false Trinity, (the third third being the False Prophet).  In the true Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, each is also ALL God.  The three created beings of the false Trinity cannot be more than just their own evil singular self. 

  16. JohnStefanyszyn says:

    You are incorrect in interpreting the XES to be 666 (or 616).
    “number” in Greek can also mean “value”.
    E= to support / magnify
    S= to serve
    …to serve and magnify oneself (one’s will, one’s rights).

    This is the desire for the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
    This is Cain’s way…”am I my brother’s keeper?” ( I am keeper of myself.)
    This is the “god of fortresses”.
    This is the image that all worship.
    This is the mark on one’s forehead or hand.

    John Stefanyszyn

  17. Last Hour says:

    OK Lets really think about this. John wrote the book in greek. when he had the vision he wrote the symbol he seen. He says it is the name of the beast, he also calls it his number. Now if he was really looking into the future he would have wrote “666” literally…but he DIDNT! he drew the symbols down. The three symbols when translated from greek were mistaken as just greek and changed into english etc as a number. HERE IS THE PROBLEM: where is the written greek language today? is GONE its DEAD. now if you compare the “symbols” he wrote down to languages in wide use TODAY it has a match….ARABIC.

  18. Juan says:

    on the united states flag we have symbols in quantity that represent states and colonies! 50 stars for 50 states and 13 stripes for 13 colonies. the number 50 also means countless (cincuenta) and the number 13 also means bad luck! the flag now says countless colonies and countless bad luck! if we add the 50 and 13 we get 63. if we read the number from left to right we get six three’s 333333 and if we read the number from right to left we three six’s 666. we know who is number 666 the serpent satan. who is 333333? Jesus Christ was 33 at death 33 miracles and 33 is the name of a prayer for Jesus Christ! Old glory says countless colonies, countless bad luck 666 sign of the serpent satan and 333333 our lord Jesus Christ!

    Now let’s look down south to mexico

    quetzalcoatl revealed himself to the mechicas (mexicans) as a serpent! he said I will return but before I do another will come in my name! do not be fooled for he will come as a serpent and will be a false prophet! I will return as an eagle and devour the serpent! this prophecy is on the mexican flag! this prophecy was validated by old glory in 1961.

    the cactus! those who know mechicas (mexicans) know them as nopaleros (people of the cactus) if the serpent puts up a fight it will have to grab on to the cactus but the thorns will work against it giving quetzalcoatl (jesus christ, God, easter bunny) the victory!

    The numbers don’t lie and the prophecy was here before the old world killed God! he left the mechicas in charge of carrying the prophecy of his return! the bible speaks of the end of the world coming from above! where did the eagle come from? above!

    this is to unite not divide unless you are a serpent worshiper!

  19. Arnold Van Wakeren says:

    The number of the beast …
    Six hundred and Threescore and Six …
    DC LX VI …
    Vicarius Finii Dei
    To my mind, it is none other than the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican

  20. Barbara says:

    666 Layman terms fellow brothers and sisters it means www World Wide Web, Hebrew language numerical system. The beast how else are we all able to see all things

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