Mark of the Beast?

An evangelical friend and I have been discussing Catholic theology and biblical interpretations, specifically Revelation. He asked how Catholics interpret the mark of the beast. How do we interpret it? What does it mean, does it point to a particular person or event? I imagine it had some significance to the early Jews.

It might have something to do with Nero, since the Beast (or was is the anti-christ) was most likely him.

I do not know the official Church statement though.

Not so much the early Jews as the early Christians. My commentry would see it as pointing to Nero Cesar as he was particularly persecuting the Christians at the time, and the roman emperors had deified themselves by this time, so the mark of the beast may be related to the worship of false gods.

There is no “official” Catholic position on the Mark of the Beast (as there is not for most of the Bible).

One of the things that we see throughout John’s vision is Evil presenting counterfeits of the things of God - the Beast is a counterfeit Messiah (complete with counterfeit resurrection) who is part of the counterfeit Trinity (dragon-sea beast-land beast). The Cup of Abominations is a counterfeit Eucharist - and the Mark is a counterfeit baptism (contrast it with the marking of the faithful in chapter 7).

I sort of think that the evangelicals might be on to something on this. Maybe, (and this is just a maybe, God didn’t reveal this to the Rascalking ;)) it meant something like Nero to the 1st century people and something different in the future.

That would be consistent with the ways other prophecies have played out - having both a short-term and a longer-term application.

Heck, it was just a lucky guess on my part. Never know-I might be on to something!

the distinguishing mark of the beast would be a trinity of 6 - so the only one that fits this description is man who was created on the 6th day as a trinity of body,mind and soul etc - it is the same as the abomination of desolation which is man and the word of man standing in the holy place of God and the word of God - twinc

Recieving the mark boils down to idol worship. In the first century it was Nero who proclaimed himself God. Allegience in ones mind was the mark on the forhead and offering the sacrifice for him was the mark on the hand.

I have written a commentary on Revelation, and I am also writing another version of it, in which I touch on the mark of the beast again, here is what I have

Mark of the Beast
The False Prophet will cause many people from every class and status to receive the mark of the beast, and without it no one can buy or sell anything. The infamous number 666 is the number of the name of the Antichrist. Most languages has a number value for every letter in their alphabet, and there are numerous ways to reckon the number six hundred and sixty-six, so much so that it would be very timely to cover all the possibilites. For anyone who is interested in a resource that covers a lot of the calculations, I recommend the book “The Contributions of British writers between 1516 and 1830 to the Interpretation of Revelation 13:16-18”, especially chapter 8.

Perhaps the reckoning of the number really depends on what language St. John had in mind, whether he meant to reckon it from the Greek language in which he probably originally wrote the book of Revelation in, or whether he had Aramaic or Hebrew in mind. And since Scripture is inspired by God, it could very well be possible that the number is to be reckoned in a language at the time of the Antichrist and not a language from the time St. John wrote the Revelation. Perhaps this number is meant to be fully revealed at the time when it will be more beneficial to Christians to know its meaning.

As for me I favor the Greek word αρνουμε/ARNOUME, which means “I am denying.” It is orthographically identical with ARNOUMAI. E and AI are pronounced the same way in this era. This word appears to have first been suggested by St. Hippolytus (170-236AD) in his treatise On the End of the World, and then later suggested by Primasius around 550AD. The word has the numerical value of six hundred and sixty-six and is calculated as such…

A= 1
R= 100
N= 50
O= 70
U= 400
M= 40
E= 5

Total 666

Just as the sealing of the 144,000 on the forehead is not a literal mark, so the mark of the beast will not be a literal mark on the right hand or forehead, but the right hand is to be understood as the works of the hands and the forehead is to be understood as the confession of faith. I think the key to understanding this more fully is when St. John tells us in his epistle, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already (1 Jn 4:2-3).” The mark of the beast is not meant to be understood as the proper name of the Antichrist, but it is concerning the “spirit of Antichrist”, which means to deny/ARNOUME Christ. The mark of the beast is already in the world because people receive it by denying Christ. This mark has always been around, but in the Great Tribulation the denial of Christ will be required in order to buy or sell, which will be a test for Christians who will be faced with the dilemma of either denying Christ in order to the get bare necessities, or to confess Him and face serious financial times as well as heavy persecution. It will truly be a time when Christians will have to unite and stick together in order to survive. For Jesus said concerning this, “And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end will be saved (Mt. 24:10-12).”


Ohhh it is scary. But If I have to live in that time when I am denied of everything in this world for the faith in Christ, I would be happy to confess that Jesus Christ died, He has risen and He will come again. ! Amen. Let me die or be tortured or be denied by this world , no issue at all, for I know what it means to be alive in Christ.

How do you reconcile your view that 666 = I am denying. when that passage in revelation says that 666 is representative of a man?

Revelation 13:18

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

In regards to the mark of the beast, I agree that is a form of idolatry, and in regards to be barred from buying and selling if you do not have the mark. That could also indicate that those who are believers and faithful followers of Christ will be cut off from the society and considered anathema so much so that people will not do business with them and prevent them from engaging in any type of commerce in the society.

No too different from what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany before the holocaust was in full swing. conversely they were marked with the star of david, but they were ostracized and not allowed to live in certain areas, their businesses were shut down, and I am sure many full fledged nazi’s refused to do business with them effectively preventing them from buying and selling.

“I am denying” is the spirit of Antichrist (1 John 4:3), it is the character of the man. In the same way that the Scriptures say ‘God is love’, or ‘God is a consuming fire’, denial of Christ is representative of the Antichrist. Just as love comes from God, denial of Christ comes from the Antichrist, that is what Antichrist actually means, against Christ.

Not to different from what happened to faithful Jews and Christians in Jerusalem, in the years leading up to the Temple’s destruction.

I like this 2-part sermon on the end times/anti-christ.

So from reading the threads, it sounds like at least one interpretation is that the beast is a reference to Nero?

I mean ‘one interpretation’ is that there is a historical figure that can be the subject of the beast.

I have seen the device of adding up letters to equal a number used by a lot of protestants (usually to show how the Pope is the AC). Was that a prevalent practice at the time Revelation was inspired?

Revelation 13:18

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

Revelation 13:18 RSV Catholic Edition: “This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is 666.”

The first translation implied it is a number to a specific man. The second seems to infer that its just a number that men use.

My interpretation of the Book of revelations is that a lot of what John discussed in the book was what the early Christians already witnessed. 666 was Nero,his name adds up to 666 and he fit the bill on the antichrist.
I think what John was telling us was that history will repeat it self at the end of times. I gather this from: Revelations 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.

Where the beast is a government power similar Nero’s Rome.

Very good observation! It is a symbolic book. We will receive the name of Christ on our foreheads, which represents our devotion to him.

Rev 22:4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.

The beast is willing for people to do his works alone, hence the mark on their hands… But Christ wants our heart. We do not receive Christ’s name on our hands because works alone are nothing.

Because of the principle of prophetic recapitulation, there are as many as four proper fulfillments and many shadows of the same thing.

Prophecy applies in these scopes

  1. All men
  2. Israel
  3. Jesus in the flesh
  4. Jesus in eternity

And since literal history paints the pictures of the prophetic, it may appear to apply many times over.

Take the main theme of the Bible:

  1. Separation
  2. Promise
  3. Desolation
  4. Renewed word
  5. Judgment
  6. Reconciliation
  7. Fruitfulness

It applies to all men
it applies to Israel
it applies to Christ in the flesh
it applies to Christ in eternity

As a shadow,
Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David and many others demonstrate the pattern.

In the past, all the shadows ultimately pointed to the cross.
After the cross, all the shadows ultimately point back to the cross…

Consider the Great Tribulation:
What greater tribulation than a Holy God placed in the hands of sinners and God Himself being torn as the Father left the Son on the cross?
Had the days of Christ’s tribulation not been shortened…had he not been rushed to the cross and instead died in prison from his beatings, “No flesh would be saved”.
Can there be a greater desolation than when Christ was made to be sin, and His father left him? Where is God on earth?
Since it is an abomination to condemn a righteous man, the abomination that caused the desolation is the kiss of Judas.

All other tribulations are merely shadows of Christ’s tribulation, either pointing forward or backward to the cross.

In fact, we misplace our devotion if we are looking forward to the next shadow rather than looking back at the cross.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit