The Secret of the Number 666
Several years ago there was a Hollywood production making the rounds called The Omen. It is the tale of a young boy who is supposed to be the destined “Beast” of Revelation 13. He is depicted as having the birthmark “666” on his scalp which identifies him as the prophesied “man of sin” or the “son of perdition” (II Thessalonians 2:3).
Despite its production errors (and it had several), it is an interesting, thorough-going fictional episode using biblical prophecy as its basis. The story has nothing to do with the actual prophesied “beast power” to emerge at the end of the age. The Antichrist will actually be a rather benign looking and acting figure, but this movie has the main character (and other actors) “scaring the wits out of you.” And it may do that quite effectively for those who do not know what the Bible actually teaches about the “Beast.”
The real “Beast” of the Bible is a very different person. Instead of being a frightening person, he will be greatly honored, respected, and loved by the majority of the world. He will also be accepted as the prophesied Christ to rule the world in peace and prosperity. When this anti-christian kingdom is finally destroyed, the world will not rejoice in thanksgiving for their release from oppression and Satanic control. They will do just the opposite. People will “weep and mourn” over Babylon’s collapse (Revelation 18:11). They will “bewail” and “lament” because this kingdom of human excellence and perfection has come to an end (18:9). Trade and craft will have reached dazzling heights of prosperity under the “Beast” (18:15, 17-19, 22). Culture and the fine arts will show the apex of human accomplishment during his reign (18:22).
There is nothing terrifying in what the real “Beast” of the biblical prophecies will do. The false prophet will certainly bring fire from heaven to support the worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:13), but the main miracles will be accomplished to excite the public’s admiration of the “Beast.” The supernatural displays will show what a profound “benefactor” and “philanthropist” the man is to the human race. Indeed, the “Beast” will appear to have the attributes of divine excellence—a brilliance beyond human attainment.
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (II Corinthians 11:14,15).
The “Beast” will perform such wonderful works for humanity (and do some things that the real Christ is prophesied to do) that Christ himself warned that even the very elect Christians would be on the verge of accepting him (Matthew 24:24) if they did not know better. No, there will be nothing terrifying about the “Beast” in his outward demeanor as Hollywood imagines. Just the opposite will occur, and Christians should be aware of it.
The “Beast” has the number 666 associated with him. The King James Version says that it is “the number of a man” (Revelation 13:18). The Greek can equally mean “a human number” or “a number of humanity.” The number six has long been associated with man. Adam (the first human) was created on the sixth day of creation (Genesis 1:26-31) and many people feel this is where the number got its original significance. It should be recognized that six is one unit shy of seven—a number in the Bible associated with perfection or completion. Note that the seventh day of the week completed the week. The seventh week completed the weeks of early harvest in ancient Israel that led to the festival of Pentecost (Deuteronomy 16:9,10). The seventh year completed the sabbatical period regarding harvest (Leviticus 25:1-7). Seven times seven years completed the cycle of sabbatical years to Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8).
The number seven certainly shows completion and perfection, but the number six is one unit shy of the “perfect” number. It gets close to “perfection” but it is just short of the mark. The number “666” is a triple six and looks very good on the surface, but it is not 777—the number showing triple perfection. Indeed, with the Christ we find something better than “perfection.” This may seem to be a contradiction, because nothing can be more perfect than perfection. But note this. All the letters of the Greek alphabet (as well as the Hebrew) have numerical significance. And with the name “Jesus” we have something more perfect than perfect. Look at the name “Jesus.” If you add up the numerical values of the Greek nominative of “Jesus” it will come to 888. Early Christians recognized this unique feature associated with the name of “Jesus.”
This shows that “Jesus” is to be reckoned as being something more than “perfect” as we humans view perfection. But man’s number is 666—it is not even 777 (which is the highest perfection, symbolically speaking, that humans can imagine). Though 666 represents the height of human “perfection,” it is short of 777 and is far short of 888 which is even “more perfect” than “perfect.”
But let us understand one thing, the kingdom of man under the antichrist, which will exist at the end of our age, will be the finest, most wonderful, and thoroughly beautiful kingdom that man has ever devised (that is, from the point of view of mankind). It will be more glorious than any earthly kingdom of the past and it will reflect the height of man’s endeavor and achievement. It is nothing like The Omen imagines. There will be no terror associated with it at all for those who will welcome it and abide by its benevolent rules.
There is much more biblical information about the number six. As an example, notice three particular men who were outspoken against God and their association with the number six: Goliath, Nebuchadnezzar and the Antichrist (Beast) to come. Goliath’s height was six cubits; he had six pieces of armor; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron (I Samuel 17:4-7). Nebuchadnezzar had an image erected in Babylon which was sixty cubits high and six cubits broad (Daniel 3:1) and there were six musical instruments used in its worship. Dr. Bullinger tells us that the Hebrew letters of Daniel 3:1 (the verse concerning the image) has a numerical value, by adding up the sum of the letters, of 4662. Notice that particular four figure number. By adding the 4 and 2 we have a 6, and there are also two other sixes which can make a “666.” But this is only incidental compared to the internal factors of the number 4662. Note that it precisely equals 7 x 666. This is seven (the perfect number) times the perfect number of man. The truth is, the number 666 has man all over it!
People have assumed that the number 666 is a number of an individual man. Because of this, some scholars and theologians have gone wild over making identification of “the man” intended by the Book of Revelation. As already mentioned, in Hebrew and Greek (the languages of the Bible), all the letters of their alphabets have numerical significance. The use of these numerical values to the various letters of the alphabet is known as Gematria by the ancient Hebrews. They used it quite extensively in the cabalistic writings of the early Middle Ages. But its use reached back even further to the time of Christ and the apostles. The apostles, and early Jews, were well aware of the numerical significance of Hebrew and Greek letters. There were prophecies which used such numerical values.
But some people have almost made a profession out of finding the number 666 in the numerical value of the alphabetic letters of people’s names. Notice the observation of Professor Reuss.
“This famous number  has been made to yield almost all the historical names of the past eighteen centuries: Titus, Vespasian, and Simon Giroas; Julian the Apostate and Genseric; Mohamet and Luther; Benedict IX and Louis XV; Napoleon I and the Duke of Reichstadt; and it would not be difficult, on the same principles to read in it one another’s names” (Vincent, Word Studies, vol.11, p.531).
And since the time of Reuss, many other names might be added such as Hitler, Mussolini, and a host of others.
Indeed, several years ago in England, I had presented to me by a brilliant man, a hundred or so pages showing the number 666 in numerous and various ways associated with Ludwig Erhard (former chancellor of West Germany) that so remarkably impressed him with biblical significance that his only conclusion was that Erhard had to be the “Beast.” His several score 666’s put forth to prove Erhard was the Antichrist was really the result of such a jangling of the letters of his name, or Erhard’s associates and institutions, that a Doctor of Philosophy friend of mine was finally engaged to show the whole thing was nonsense.
Of course, Erhard is not (nor will he ever be) the “Beast” of Revelation, but that study by my English friend showed that the number 666 can be stretched (by the manipulation of alphabetic letters) into any scheme of 666 which best suits a person’s own opinion of the matter. As Professor Reuss said: “It would not be difficult to read in it  one another’s names.” And how true this is. It is the easiest thing in the world to get the number 666 out of the numerical values of the alphabetic letters of almost anyone’s name—though one may have to resort to the Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Ethiopic, Sanskrit, French, German, Old English, or Chinese to do it.
Professor E.T. Bell, Ph.D., former Professor of Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology, once wrote a book called Numerology. The professor, who was a man of science, became interested in a study of man’s use of numbers. He became intrigued by man’s attempt to show an identification of the number 666 with historical personages of the past and present. Challenged by a friend who said that the number 666 could be ascribed to the name of any person, living or dead, he began a serious investigation into the matter. I quote what Dr. Bell said about his scientific experiment that took place over sixty years ago.
“For the past week all my leisure, which might have been more pleasantly wasted, has gone into a vain attempt to numerologize my own name into 666. I undertook this in response to an unequivocal challenge from the greatest living anatomist of mystical beasts. This authority stated that any name whatever, or any collection of letters whatever, can be numerologized so as to give 666 as the number to the name.
“So far I have failed completely, although I have tried it in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Latin, and Greek—with scholarly help of sympathetic friends. Last night we all gave up when Chinese, Sanskrit, and Hebrew failed. We got 66 repeatedly, and even 6666 once, but never 666. Thinking something must be faulty with our technique, we checked it against the names of the rest of the party. No difficulty appeared. Then we began picking names at random from American Men of Science and [note Dr. Bell’s conclusions carefully] every last one of them we tested was a 666.
“There must be something wrong with my birthday date and my christening. Will any numerologist who can do a 666 for me please send me the demonstration? Until I get it I shall have no peace of mind” (pp.108,109).
What a revelation this was to me when I read it several years ago. Indeed, it helped me to see what the Book of Revelation was really out to show. It means that the number is associated with man—all mankind (and not a particular individual). Look at this for a moment.
Though Dr. Bell was unable to derive 666 from his own name, all the other experimenters were able to do so with their own. He wanted to know if someone who could oblige him with a 666. Though Dr. Bell is now dead, I can show how his name can be made into a 666 through the Greek. His full name was Eric Temple Bell. We will phonetically equate the English letters of his name into Greek equivalents with their associated numerical values. The first letter of his name was an E. This is equivalent to the AE in the Greek such as in Aeroplane. A(E) = 1 and E = 5. Continuing on, the second letter of his first name was an R = 100; then I = 10; and the final C = K in Greek = 20. His second name began with a T = 300; then E = 5; M = 40; P = 80; L = 30; E = 5. His surname began with B = 2; then E (phonetically equated with the seventh Greek letter 8); L = 30; L 30. Thus the full name Eric Temple Bell (with manipulation) equals exactly 666. Dr. Bell would no doubt have been pleased to hear of our machinations with his name and that he was not left out of the mainstream of humanity on this “important” matter.
But still, Dr. Bell was correct. Almost any name through contrivance can be made into a 666. Indeed, the other day I was at a Seventh Day Adventist bookstore and a friendly discussion came up with a clerk about the merits or demerits of Ellen Gould White (one of the founders of that church) and in less than five minutes I contrived the value of her name to be an exact 666. People were staggered at the coincidence. But it is equally easy to get other names of many religious and political people to fit the number. (No doubt someone will oblige me with a 666 for my own name even if they have to go to the Chinese to do it.) Frankly, the whole procedure is a waste of time and we should all be about more essential things. But it does show an important principle. Let’s notice it.
The significance of Revelation 13:18 shows that the number 666 is the number of humanity. That’s what Dr. Bell’s experiment actually revealed. The number seems to be indelibly impressed on the whole structure of human society. And, as a last bequest to mankind, God will allow a worldwide kingdom to exist at the end of the age (just prior to the second advent of Christ) which will be the most glorious human kingdom ever to exist on earth. It will be a “Christ-like” kingdom with a man claiming to be God sitting in the Temple at Jerusalem (II Thessalonians 2:4). Instead of being a kingdom of terror or fear (as displayed by the imaginations of Hollywood), it will be the best (the 666) that man can provide. Still, it will nowhere compare in glory with the coming millennial kingdom of Christ (the 777), nor with the final celestial existence with the Creator (the 888 of Christ). May God speed the day when the true “888” has come to redeem man to himself. In the meantime, humanity must first go through the 666, then the 777, to reach the 888 stage. “Behold, I have told you before” (Matthew 24:25).
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