Author: Ron Graham
Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Signs >4th sign >The False Prophet >The number 666
Because there is so much attention on "the number of the beast" (Revelation 13:18) we will spend a lesson on it. Personally I think the matter is given a prominence out of proportion to its importance. Nevertheless we will take the time to give a simple explantion of what this number 666 signifies.
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man and his number is six hundred and sixty six.” (Revelation 13:18).
The Romans had their own peculiar way of writing numbers using combinations of letters of their alphabet. Compared to the Arabic system, the Roman numeral method was rather clumsy, and most inconvenient for mathematics. It only survives today on a few war memorials, some clocks, and as one means of numbering lists or parts of documents. This Roman curiosity is used in Revelation to identify Rome as the beast.
The number 666, the famous "number of the Beast" or antichrist (Revelation 13:18), reveals its meaning, when we convert it to a Roman numeral: 666=DCLXVI. This number has an obvious pattern to anyone familiar with the Roman number system. The Arabic number is the sum of a consecutive set of the Roman numerals under 1000 in descending order as shown below.
So the number 666 is not understood by numerology or magic codes. The number simply represents a special and significant Roman numeral set, and thus identifies the Roman empire as the Beast, and its emperor as the "man". The descending order of the numerals, and the fact that they are inferior (below 1000) is a nice touch of symbolism too.
The Roman empire eventually fell, but the spirit of antichrist that drove it in the time of the early Christians continues to be very present in the world today. We must remember that the Devil still tries to corrupt the rulers of this world as he did those of the Roman empire, the Babylonian empire, and others of their ilk. He still promotes false religion based on man-worship and idolatry. The Devil (the beast who comes up out of the Abyss) is called "an eighth king" (Revelation 17:8, Revelation 17:11, Revelation 20:1-4). He is certainly not yet destroyed. The spirit of the Roman empire is not dead either, and her progeny of harlots live on.
If we are really genuine and devoted Christians, we may find ourselves in peril from the political and religious establishments in league in our time. But we take courage for nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:37-39).
Christ’s kingdom "is not of this world" (John 18:36). His kingdom "is within you" (Luke 17:21). Jesus spoke of this kingdom when he said, "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). Membership in the kingdom and church of Christ is not found by allegiance to any political nation or by following the religion of that nation. Nations rise and fall. Religious establishments wax and wane. But Christ and his church are glorious and righteous forever.
We must surrender to Christ our body and spirit. We may pay taxes to Caesar, but our allegiance is to Christ. When the nation we belong to requires us to follow a false religion, we must answer the Lord's call to "Come out of her my people!" (Revelation 18:4). For some of us, that coming out and fighting on the Lord's side may be much more than just holding some reservations in our hearts. It may be that we are required to make nothing less than a bodily sacrifice.