It was the custom in many countries for masters to make a mark on the bodies of their slaves. They might cut it into the skin, like the mark called a tattoo; or they might burn the mark onto the skin. The result, by either method, was to make a permanent mark that made it very difficult for the slave to escape. Anyone who caught the slave would discover the slavesí owner very easily from that mark.
Here, the antichrist (the most powerful and wicked world leader) forces all people to accept his mark. In other words, he forces them to accept him as their master; they have become like his slaves. Even rich and important people must now obey him.
Usually, the owner of a slave marked the arm or leg of his slave. The antichristís mark, however, is on the head or the right hand. The right hand is the strongest hand (Psalm 137:5). So, the mark shows the complete control which the antichrist is taking over each personís activities.
The antichrist uses his control over trade to force people to accept the mark. Nobody may buy or sell anything unless they have the mark. So, without the mark, a person would be unable even to buy food.
The mark is either the name of the antichrist, or the number that means his name (verse 18). It was possible to express that number by just three letters of the Greek alphabet. So it would be easy to burn that mark onto a personís body.
The only people who will refuse the mark are Godís people (14:1). They cannot accept the antichristís mark because Godís mark is already on their heads (7:3). Godís mark is the name of God and of Christ (14:1); this mark shows that God is their master. They can serve no other master (Matthew 6:24). Without the antichristís mark they cannot buy or sell - so God must provide for them.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.