What is the beast itself? Looking to the lessons found in Daniel chapters 7 & 8 we discover that the beasts are picturing Gentile, earthly powers, governments or empires. At various times and places, these powers would exercise dominion over the Lord’s people acting in a beast-like manner. The “Lord’s people” would include the natural seed of Abraham, (the Jews) and the spiritual faith seed, (the Christian church). In due course, they would both come under attack and under the governmental power of these beast-like entities.

These “beasts” historically were a combining of civil and religious authorities. In its latter stages it was depicting the “Holy Roman Empire” which was a uniting of European monarchs with Papal clergy. This union was completely illicit, meaning that the true church of Jesus Christ, metaphorically “virgins”, were not supposed to unite with the kings of the earth… rather the true church was instructed to wait for their Lord Jesus to return. At His second coming, they would then be Jesus’ bride and receive kingdom power and glory from Him. Some church men full of ambition could not wait for their Lord to return and entered into these illicit relations with earthly rulers, kings. This is stated in Revelation 17 and 18.

Rev 17:1-2, “And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed {acts of} immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality." (NAS)

Rev 18:3, “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” (KJV)

Even in the early church, there was a premature desire to reign before Jesus returned. The Apostle Paul writes in 1Cor.4:8, “…You have begun to reign – and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!” No, when churches and believers try to reign before they are united with Christ in heaven, their union with earthly governments is considered illicit by God.

What then is the significance of the “mark” and the “666”?

When leaders are empire building unity is key to maintain power. As such, the Emperors of the Roman Empire needed to achieve unity of religious belief. But, as stated above this was an illegitimate arrangement to begin with. The doctrines produced during these times were also illegitimate. But in beast-like fashion the rulers forced conformity to these “orthodox” dogmas and any that rejected the teachings were branded as heretics. Any that wanted a place in this arrangement received the “mark,” which is to say that they gave their ascent to support this illegitimate arrangement and paid homage to it giving it some level of support.

The “number” is the “number of a man” which we understand to be speaking of the “man of sin.”  In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 this is synonymous with the office of the male figure of the pope, the papa. On the number “666”we can offer 2 suggestions.

– 6 is scripturally a number of earthly accounting and even of imperfection and evil, and therefore fits well with a beastly government.
– Latin “Vicarivs Filii Dei” on the pope’s tiara means “vicar of the son of God.” Letters have a numeric value in Roman numerals and lend themselves to the term “count,” or “calculate” in vs.18. This number, when calculated, totals up to 666. This is how it works – start with “Vicarivs Filii Dei”. Then take out all the Latin letters, which are V, I, C, L, and D. The numeric values for these letters are as follows: V = 5, I = 1, C = 100, L = 50, and D = 500. There are two V’s (10), six I’s (6), one C (100), one L (50), and one D (500). Thus, V,V,I,I,I,I,I,I, C,L,D equals 10+6+100+50+500. The sum is 666.