Useful Bible Studies > Revelation Commentary > chapter 13

666: The number of the antichrist

Revelation 13:18

Many people have tried to work out who the antichrist is from this strange number, 666. They have offered to us a long list of names, from which they can somehow calculate the number 666. Those names come both from history and from the modern world, and they include many well-known political leaders. Other people consider that the number refers to a particular nation or an international organisation. Often, people link the number to the power of Rome, either at the time of John or in later history.

In one way, many of these answers are correct. The antichrist means the great enemy of Christ, who imitates Christ in order to oppose him. That describes well how many evil leaders, organisations and even religions have behaved. They have copied Christís authority, his message and even his words; but their real purpose was to oppose Christ and to gain control over people. That is the nature of antichrist and so, in 1 John 2:18, John refers to Ďmany antichristsí.

In that same verse, John also refers to one final antichrist who will come, soon before the return of Christ. It is he who will lead the worldís armies against Christ in the final battle (19:19-20). Paul describes him in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and there are frequent references to him in the Book of Daniel. That final antichristís attitudes, methods and aims will be the same as the antichrists who existed before him. The same evil spirit will control him (1 John 4:3).

In the Book of Revelation, the number 7 often describes something that is perfect. The number 6, therefore, describes something that does not reach Godís standards (see Romans 3:23); it is a very human number. The number 666 emphasises this idea: the antichrist is a completely evil man. In every way, he fails to reach Godís standards although, in his pride, he tries to make himself like God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Next part: 144,000 people who remain loyal to God (Revelation 14:1)


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© 2016, Keith Simons.