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Question #119

What does 666 mean in Revelation 13?

Can you please explain to me fully the meaning of 666 as used in Revelation chapter 13? I have "some" teaching on it, but your help would be greatly appreciated.

The Answer:

Revelation is written using vivid symbols and figures that are intended to grab our imagination and paint a picture in our minds. With such language, we need to pay particular attention to numbers and periods of time. They often have symbolic meanings that must be deduced from the evidence. For example:

3 is the number of God.

12 is the number of God’s people.

10 is the number of completeness.

7 is the number of perfection.

8 is the number of renewal.

These numbers are often combined to create additional symbols. 144,000 for example is 12 times 12 times 10 to the 3rd power, and is used to denote ALL of God's people. Another combination gives us 666 -- what is 666?

First, we need to be careful with symbolic numbers, because numbers can be made to symbolize anything if one is willing to work hard enough. For example, let A = 100, B = 101, C = 102, etc. and note that 107 (H) + 108 (I) + 119 (T) + 111 (L) + 104 (E) + 117 (R) = 666! But if we apply a meaning to 666 that would have meant nothing to Revelation's first century audience, then we can be almost certain that we have attached the wrong meaning to the symbol.

What then does 666 mean? Revelation 13:18 tells us that 666 is the number of the beast, a human number. What does that mean? The number 7 means perfection and completeness. The number 6 depicts something that has fallen hopelessly short of perfection. Man was created on the sixth day and he fell from perfection. The number 3 is the number of divinity (the Godhead are three.) Thus three sixes depict something that has fallen hopelessly short of divine perfection. Does that figure accurately portray the terrible beast described in Revelation 13? Yes! That beast represents the false perverted religious side of Rome. God is 777! Rome is 666!

For a more complete answer to this question, please see our commentary on Revelation or our special lesson on the End Times.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)