Now, when John received from Jesus the Book of Revelation, we find that the thirteenth chapter is taking up where the Book of Daniel had left off. The beast coming up out of the sea was the summation of the kingdoms revealed to Daniel (but listed in the reverse order), and as represented in the Roman Empire. In John’s day this empire was beginning to wane. The years from 193 to 476A.D. witnessed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. This is portrayed in the first beast of Revelation 13.
The second beast
But following this period of decline and fall, this empire was gradually replaced by a culture that was both Greek and Roman based—the Byzantine Empire, and this led to the commencement and build-up of a different form of Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted from 800 until 1806A.D. This was the second beast described in Revelation 13.
“He exercised all authority over the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast.” Revelation 13:12
This second beast mutated in form in the early 1800s and is represented today in the form of the Roman Catholic Church.
The number of the beast
Our search for the understanding of the context has lead us to the Book of Daniel, which has identified for us that the beast being carried over to the time of the apostle John, was the Roman Empire, and that John was able to show that there would be marked developments in the form of this beast over the 2000 years which were to elapse before Jesus was to return. This development has culminated in the Roman Catholic Church that we see today.
Not surprisingly, such an interpretation, which has been voiced since the time of the ‘church fathers’ in the century following Jesus Christ, i.e., from about 120–150A.D. onwards, has considerable opposition from certain quarters today. But despite the opposition that is voiced, it is the clear teaching of the passages being considered. The beast that is being identified by the number 666 is therefore not an individual, but a system derived from the Roman past.
So, having established the context of the beast, we must move on to the calculation. This aspect is of equal importance, for there are some that favour the idea that 666 is a triple six, and since ‘six’ is claimed by some to be the number of evil, then ‘six-six-six’ represents a trinity of evil—a person who is evil in every respect. But such an interpretation is not a calculation. Furthermore, the three figures as written in the Greek, are not six-six-six, but six-hundred, sixty, and six.
An explanation would be helpful. We are familiar with the way that the Romans used a similar system: I for 1, II for 2, V for 5, X for 10 etc. So 666 in Roman numerals was (is) DCLXVI. The Greek language, which preceded the Latin language of the Romans, was one of the first languages in which letters became the means for a shorthand representation for numerical values. Every letter was given a numerical representation. Nine letters represented the numerals 1 to 9, nine letters the tens from 10 to 90, and the remaining letters steps of one-hundred. For example, the letter alpha (a) represented ‘one’; iota (i) represented ‘ten’ etc. The numerical value as written in Rev 13:18 is chi xi sigma 1 (cxj), and equals 600 + 60 + 6 = 666. So, theoretically, one word could be added up as numbers to give a total. My name, Jason, for example, is a Greek name, so that it can be summed up, or calculated.
Of interest, is the name of Jesus:
To go through history to find a name summing up to 666 would be a formidable task. Fortunately, we do not have to do this, for the context indicates that the word is in a Roman context. Irenaeus, who, as the overseer of the church at Lyons about 70 years after the Revelation was given to John on the Greek island of Patmos, wrote:
“The name ‘Lateinos’ contains the number 666, and it is very likely, for the last kingdom is so called, for they are Latins who now reign.”
This interpretation of the mystic number fulfils each of the required conditions.
Was this the name to which John—the writer of Revelation— was alluding? We can’t be certain, but it is highly probable. It referred, in its day, to the Latin ecclesiastical power, or Papal Latin power, or the Papacy. Until recent times, the Scriptures were read in the Papacy under no other language than Latin; the Papal powers speak in Latin, and almost everything is expressed in Latin; mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, etc.
- Originally the letter digamma designated six, but that letter was subsequently discontinued. ↩