The number 666 is both positive and negative
Jan 19, 2012
When we look at the biblical meaning of numbers, it is important to understand that the numbers themselves are neutral. That is to say, they are neither positive nor negative, but speak only of a specific topic. The context of that topical meaning can be either positive or negative, good or evil.
For example, the number 10 refers to the law. But this number might appear in the context of someone violating the law or keeping it perfectly. Twelve indicates divine government, yet some might fail to attain its precepts, while others succeed.
The well-known number 666 is the same. While it appears in Rev. 13:18 to have a sinister context, the number itself is neutral. It is simply said to be "the number of a man." It is built upon the core number six, which is really the number of man. Some men are good, others are evil. Jesus was a man as well.
The number 666 in the actual Greek text of Rev. 13:18 is just 3 Greek letters of their alphabet, which is how they wrote numbers in those days. The letters are chi (600), xi (60), and stigma (6). The entire phrase, "his number is six hundred and sixty-six" has a numeric value of 2368, which is also the numeric value of Jesus Christ. Jesus = 888, and Christ = 1480. They add up to 2368.
How could the number of the beast be the number of a man and also be a reference to the Son of Man, Jesus Christ?
The key is found in 1 Kings 10:14, where we find the Old Testament foundation for this number.
(14) Now the weight of gold which came in to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold.
Solomon was the best of kings and the worst of kings. He was a type of "the Prince of Peace," indicated by the meaning of his name. His reign was a reign of peace, even as David's reign had been characterized largely by war. But in his latter days, Solomon also turned after other gods (1 Kings 11:4-8), and for this reason the kingdom was divided after his death.
Hence, Solomon himself played a dual role. He was a type of Christ as a Prince of Peace, but he was also a type of the man of sin. God gave him great wealth, but he then used that wealth not only to build the temple, but also to build temples to false gods. The gold was not the problem. The problem was Solomon's USE of the gold.
So also is it in Revelation 13, where men WORSHIP the image of the beast. What image is that? Luke 20:24 says,
(24) "Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" And they said, "Caesar's." (25) And He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
When an image is stamped upon coins, it denotes ownership. Our paper money today bears two signatures. Either way, it speaks of ownership. If we worship money, we covet that which is owned by another. In worshiping money, we take its mark upon our forehead--in contrast to the word being written (and bound) to our forehead or hand, as prescribed in Deut. 11:18.
Covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5) and a violation of biblical law. What's written on your hand and forehead? Is it the divine law or the law of the beast? Do you have the mark of God or the mark of the beast? 1 Tim. 6:10 says, "philargyria [love of money, avarice, greed] is the root of all evil." It is based on lawless self-interest.
This is the beast nature found in those who follow the beast from the earth in Revelation 13. That beast was raised up to test the hearts of men for greed. In that sense, it is evil, but it was also part of the divine plan. Only by testing our hearts could we become the remnant that overcomes that "root of all evil." Hence, that beast is the final one before the Stone Kingdom arises to crush the image on its feet (i.e., in the latter days).
As I said earlier, the Greek phrase referring to 666 in Rev. 13:18 has a numeric value of 2368, same as Jesus Christ. There is another impressive connection found in Psalm 118:22, "head of the corner," which has a numeric value of 666. It is a prophetic reference to Christ as the Stone that the builders rejected.
Christ was rejected in His first appearance (Matt. 21:42), but in His second appearance He becomes the Stone that crushes the image of the beast on its feet, grinding it to dust (Matt. 21:44). The interaction between negative and positive is striking (excuse the pun). The Son of Man (666) overthrows the kingdoms of men (666) and replaces the usurpers with the rightful Heir(s) of the Throne of David.
For this reason, Matt. 21:43 says,
(43) Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.
Jesus was speaking to the usurpers, identified in verse 45,
(45) And when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.
Their analysis was correct, because they were fulfilling the role of Absalom in the great prophetic story of Absalom who usurped the throne of his father, David (2 Sam. 15:10). Absalom usurped the throne and ruled in place of [Gr. anti, "in place of"] David. That made him an anti-David, or anti-Christ. The chief priests in Jesus' day did the same thing and were therefore antichrists as long as they pretended to be the true rulers in the temple. Paul spoke of them in 2 Thess. 2:4, telling us that "he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God."
This is also the meaning of Jesus' words in the parable of Matt. 21:38
(38) But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize [usurp] his inheritance."
So there is certainly a connection between the usurpers of the throne ("antichrist") and the number 666. For their part, it has to do with the Stone (Christ) being rejected; but Christ Himself is also the "head of the corner," the One established as the True King and Heir of all things. The real question is "which man is called to rule?" Is Jesus the true Anointed One (Christ)? or is it Absalom, the chief priests, or others?
The overcomers are called to reign with Christ (Rev. 20:6), because they rule with the mark of God. Their authority is based on their submission to Christ and their obedience to His law. They do not usurp authority by acting outside of the parameters of His law. Any man who rules by his own self-interest and his own laws is by definition antichrist. Yet God has instituted governments on earth with the expectation that those who rule on earth should recognize a Higher Power over them and rule according to the laws of heaven.
The rule of the beast systems of men is now coming to an end. The gold of Solomon--all of which is claimed by God Himself in Hag. 2:8--is now returning to the treasury of God. The kings of the east own most of it already, but they will use it according to biblical prophecy, even as Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes funded the building of Jerusalem and the temple in their days. In the age to come, it will be used to build the Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, and the spiritual Temple of God, as that was the divine purpose from the start.
When the current Babylonian rulers are overthrown, as represented by its last phase as the beast from the earth, we will enter a new stage of history. Babylon's mandate from God is ending. The people of the earth have been tested, and the results are now in. The Stone is grinding even now, undermining the Babylonian system.
The true 666 will replace the usurping 666.
Dr. Stephen Jones