Mark of the Beast

I have a baptist friend who believes as protestants do that there is some upcoming mark in the forehead and the buying and selling thing. What does the church teach about this I know nothing about it.

Now in the Revelation of St. John, he is revealed in a vision about a Mark of the Beast that will be upon the forehead of the evil. This is the number, according to Scripture of 666.

[BIBLEDRB]Revelation 13:16-18[/BIBLEDRB]

Here are the footnotes in the Douay-Rheims Study Bible which was given in 1609

17. The character or the name. Likely as in opposition to Christ, whose image (especially as on the Cross or Crucifix) he sees honored and exalted in every Church, he will have his image adored so for that he sees all true Christian men to bear the badge of his Cross on their foreheads, he likewise will force all his to have another mark, to abolish the sign of Christ. By the like emulation also and wicked opposition he will have his name and the letters of it to be sacred, and to be worn in men’s caps, or written in solemn places, and to be worshiped as the name of JESUS is and ought to be among Christian men. And as the ineffable name of God was among the Jews expressed by a certain number of four characters (therefore called Tetragrammaton) so it seems the Apostle alludes here to the number of Antichrist’s name. And here it is much to be noted, that the Protestants, by plucking down the image of Christ out of all Churches, and his sign of the Cross from men’s foreheads, and taking away the honor and reverence due to the name of JESUS, make room for Antichrist’s image, and mark, and name. And when Christ’s images and ensigns, or arms, shall be abolished, and the Idol of Antichrist set up instead of it, as it is already begun: then is the abomination of desolation, which was foretold by Daniel and our Savior.

18. Let him count. Though God would not have it manifest beforehand to the world, who in particular this Antichrist should be: yet it pleased him to give such tokens of him, that, when he come, the faithful may easily take notice of him, according as it is written of the event of other prophecies concerning our Savior, That, when it is come to pass, you may believe. In the mean time we must take heed that we judge not over rashly of God’s secrets; the holy Writer here signifying that it is a point of high understanding, illuminated extraordinarily by God’s Spirit, to reckon right and decipher truly beforehand, Antichrist’s name and person.

It is the number of a man. A man he must be, and not a devil or spirit, as here it is clear, and by St. Paul, 2 Thessalonians 2 where he is called the man of sin. Again, he must be one particular person, and not a number, succession, or a whole order of any degree of men: because his proper name and the peculiar number, and the characters of it are (though obscurely) insinuated. "Which reproves the wicked vanity of Heretics, that would have Christ’s own Vicars, the Successors of his chief Apostle, yea the whole order of them for many Ages together, to be this Antichrist. Who, by his description here and in the said Epistle to the Thessalonians, must be one special man, and of a particular proper name, as our Lord JESUS is. And whosoever he be, these Protestants undoubtedly are his Precursors. For as they make his way by ridding away Christ’s Images, Cross, and Name, so they exceedingly promote the matter by taking a-way Christ’s chief Minister, that all may be plain for Antichrist.

If the Pope had been Antichrist, and had been revealed now a good many years since, as these men say he is to them, then the number of this name would agree to him, and the prophecy being now fulfilled, it would evidently appear that he bare the name and number here noted. For (no doubt) when he comes, this count of the letters or number of his name, which before is so hard to know, will be easy. For he will set up his name in every place, even as we faithful men who now advance JESUS. And what name proper or designate of all or any of the Popes do they find to agree with this number, notwithstanding their boasts that they have found the whole order and every one of them these thousand years to be Antichrist, and the rest before even from St. Peter, fore-workers towards his kingdom?

The number 666. Inasmuch as the ancient Expositors, and others think (for certain knowledge of it no mortal man can have without an express revelation) that his name consists of so many, and such letters in Greek, as, according to their manner of numbering by the Alphabet, make 666: and for as much as the letters making that number, may be found in divers names both proper and common: (as St. Irenaeus finds them in Latinos and Teitan, Aretas in Lampetis and some of this Age in Luderus, which was Luther’s name in the German tongue) therefore we see there can be no certainty, and every one frames and applies the letters to his own purpose. And most absurd folly it is of the heretics, to apply the word Latinos, to the Pope: neither the whole order in common, nor any particular Pope being so called. And St. Irenaeus, the first that observed it in that word, applied it to the Empire and state of the Roman Emperor, who then was a Heathen, and not to the Pope of his days or after him: yet preferred the word, Teitan, as more agreeable, with this admonition, that it were a very perilous and presumptuous thing to define anything for a certainty beforehand, of that number and name. And truly whatsoever the Protestants presume in this of the Pope, we may boldly discharge Luther of that dignity. He is undoubtedly one of Antichrist’s precursors, but not Antichrist himself.

The Bible mentions a mark that goes on the forehead and the hand in five passages in the Book of Revelation: Rev. 13:16-17, Rev. 14:9-11, Rev. 16:2, Rev. 19:20, and Rev. 20:4. The mark is typically known as the mark of the beast, and from Rev. 13:16-17 we know that it refers to “the beast’s name or the number of his name.” Several of these passages are cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2113, which says this: 2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, “You cannot serve God and mammon." Many martyrs died for not adoring “the Beast,” refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God. [In the original text there is a footnote on the term “the Beast” that refers the reader to Revelation 13—14.]] What we should take away from that is two things: first, the mark of the beast is a symbolic way of describing idolatry. The Book of Revelation is full of symbolic language so that should not be surprising. To be marked with the sign of the beast means to be a worshiper of a false god. The second thing we should take away from that is that the Catechism interprets that as something that happened in history: people already have worshiped the beast and therefore already have been marked with his sign (which is symbolic). Classically, Catholics interpret the beast of Revelation (at least partly) as the pagan Roman empire. Regarding the reference to buying and selling, and how that can’t be done without having the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-17), that refers to the fact that Christianity was illegal throughout the pagan empire, and therefore excluded from society, including the economy. Christians were not allowed to buy or sell or set up shop at the market – they were supposed to be delivered up for imprisonment on sight.

Here is a third thing you might find interesting: the Book of Revelation not only says unbelievers are marked with the name of the beast, but it also says true believers are marked with the name of the Father – Rev. 14:1, Rev. 22:4. The Catechism quotes one of those passages in CCC 2159. That is important because it shows us that the mark is a spiritual mark: unbelievers have a spiritual mark that identifies them (spiritually) as idolaters, and Christians have a spiritual mark that identifies us (spiritually) as believers.

Although the mark of the beast refers principally to the pagan Roman empire, and to its sponsorship of paganism and persecution of Christians, that does not mean that it has no meaning for the End Times. Classically the Book of Revelation has been interpreted as having multiple layers of meaning: it is meant for persecuted Christians, especially in the pagan Roman empire, but it also has a special meaning for the great persecution of the Antichrist. During that time, Christians will again be persecuted and an alternative anti-God pro-humanist religion will be promoted – see CCC 675. The mark of the beast therefore will identify (spiritually) the followers of the Antichrist and his religion. I suppose it is possible, though there is no evidence for this, that the Antichrist might institute some physical mark for his followers as well – tattoos or microchips or whatever – and if that happens then this passage could be a reference to that, but again I stress that there is no evidence for that from the Book of Revelation, and we would only be able to know that in hindsight.

Anyway I hope that helps. God bless!

Some manuscripts have 666 and some 616.

There is some interesting information on the internet about how Nero adds up to 666 in one language and 616 in another (off hand I think Hebrew and Greek). It is thought that 666 was recognizable to the Jew but the equivalent in Greek was 616 hence the adjustment in copying.

It requires an understanding that Revelation was written prior to AD70 rather than AD96, which I tend to agree with.

The mark is one of those many things that excite rapture dispensationalists premilleniallists which I think Baptists have grabbed hold of.

The mark of the beast has, i believe, been identified by Mr Walid Shoebat. If you look up Walid Shoebat mark of the beast on youtube you can see why. Its a very compelling argument,

Thanks very much. I thought it might be something from history. A Roman emperor like Diocletan or such. I’ve heard anything that is not Christ is anti christ. Are anti-popes a similar concept to Anti-christ?

You might find this interesting too. In Jewish mysticism’s numerology/gematria 666 the anti-christ reverses to 999 the number of christ. So since these are two different numbers they are different but in a since they’re the same because they work together on us.

An antipope makes a claim to the chair of Peter, while the Antichrist will make a claim to be on par with God. The only similarity I see is that both are a cause of division.

The mark of the beast is the anti-mark to the sealing in baptism of believers. It does not necessarily have to be understood in some literal way. The sacramental reality reflects that is is a sacred sign which accomplishes what it signifies. Anti-signs, like the anti-Christ, are merely imitations of what God does. Hence also contraception is the anti-sign for the marital embrace in light of the command to “be fruitful and multiply.” The better you grasp Church teaching on the sacraments and sacramentality, the better you will be able to grasp these kinds of things - it is a kind of key. God bless you.

The sealing of the believers may not have to be a literal mark, but I still take a certain pleasure every Ash Wednesday when I get to wear a mark on my forehead that identifies me as a Christian, and goes right in line with what Revelation is saying here. When the antichist comes I want them to find me with the ashes of a cross up there. There’s one area where Protestants might have to admit that Catholics are more inline with a bible practice than they are.

“After this (Jesus saying you must eat His flesh and drink His blood) many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” John 6:66

It will be a spiritual mark however as with anything internal - there are external fruits that accompany the mark. Both the good and the bad will be marked or sealed. Please note that God will also mark the name of the Father and Son on the forehead of believers as well [Revelation 3:12; 7:3; 14:1; 22:4].

I guess that the early Christians with the Mark of being a christian couldn’t buy or sell but were immediately to be imprisoned if caught. Maybe that’s what it meant.

I don’t think we can be certain of this until it happens. 30 years ago, a popular idea was it would be a barcode. Other than it signifies your allegiance to a false god, the significance of this mark is you need it to buy and sell. At this time there are many people who want a cashless world. So that probably has to happen first. We have already created a computer chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice, and it can hold more data than any PC we have in use. The government is saying this is a good thing because it will contain your complete medical history. If you go into an ER and you’re unconscious, the Docs can scan the chip and find out what you’re allergic to, what meds you take, previous medical problems, as well as how to contact your family, or even your personal care physician. So this chip should help Docs save lives. It will also be like a bank card, and you will need it to buy things because cash is gone. The chip will also have a GPS in it, so if a homicidal maniac gets you, the police can quickly find you. This idea is getting popular due to all the serial killers kicking around. Further, if your child is snatched, we can quickly find the child. With all the evil minded crazy people are society is seeing, I believe most people will want this chip. Conspiracy people point out the chip may have a poison that can kill you.

I think the mark of the beast will be something like this. But before the chip can become the mark of the beast we need to see the rise of a power mad dictator. Or we would need something like an atomic war first. This would leave very few people and this chip would allow you to be part of whatever society remains. Otherwise what reasons would make a rationale person accept this chip. While the Internet has been used for evil purposes, it has also alerted non Christians to the knowledge that a chip that can do all the things being discussed, can also make you part of something evil. If we accept Bible prophesy, which all believers on this board should, then we should also tell our non believer friends about this. Satan may get a lot less people with this than he thinks he will.

Just a thought. Could it not have been a reflection on what was already happening around John in his own time. Slaves were marked, Trade guilde members were marked, those in the army were marked. It was a part of common practice in the ancient world nearly all people were identified in social rank or trade etc by what they wore or marks. Surely Johns vision is just an extension of an already existing practice.

Ive always kind of wondered if the social security number system could be manipulated or used in this regard ( if it isnt the mark to begin with, as some suggest). It is not worldwide yet, but could be implemented on a large scale easily.

I believe we will see this mark in our lifetime though…I think this time will weed out the true believers from the fence sitters.

I do think whatever the mark will be, it will be something that most people will see as harmless, and most will get it without any fight, remember the anti-christ and Satan are not stupid, they know to fool alot of people into taking this mark, it will have to be a clever deception from the start.

The book of Revelation, chapter 1 to chapter 21, is about what seven angels do and say. Chapter 1 explains that the seven angels are seven first century church leaders. So this is not a book about the 21s century, but about the first century

666 has to do with emperor worship.

John wrote Revelation to seven Churches in Asia minor. These were being persecuted because they refused to participate in emperor worship. Emperor worship was a huge problem at the time. The city of Pergamum in Asia Minor was the regional center of emperor worship and it was particularly difficult for the Church there. St. John notes the difficulty they are having in that particular city.

And to the angel of the church in Per’gamum write: `The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. "I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; you hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith even in the days of An’tipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells." (Revelation 2:12-13)
Temple to Emperor Trajan - typical
City of Pergamum, Asia Minor

Emperor worship was the main problem in the Book of Revelation. Those who did not participate in emperor worship were barred from commerce, shunned from society, arrested and sometimes put to death. Antipas (in the passage above) had been appointed Bishop of Pergamum and was martyred by burning on the altar in one of the temples to the Emperors.

Slaves used to be marked on the forehead or right hand by their owner. A mark or name on the forehead was a sign of ownership. As others have stated, 666 represents the emperor. Some would bear the mark of the emperor while Christians would be marked with the name of Christ on their forehead.

*saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads." (Revelation 7:3)

they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads; (Revelation 9:4)

Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)*

ST. Paul calls himself a “slave of Christ” and notes that he had been marked. The mark on the forehead has to do with slavery and ownership.

The passages above are key to the overall meaning of the Book of Revelation. The followers of Christ with the name of God on their forehead are persecuted now. That persecution is temporary however, and if the followers of Christ persevere to the end they will be rewarded. The followers of the emperor will be destroyed in the end.

That’s the whole point of the Book of Revelation. It is a message of hope for persecuted Churches.


One of the seven churches, was the church in Smyrna, led by St. Polycarp (b.69–d.155) So one of the seven “angels” could have been, St. Polycarps predecessor ?

St. Polycarp had also been a disciple of John the Apostle in Asia minor !

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