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Holy Grail 5

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6 6 6 - the number of "the Beast"

In hindsight, we can see that the Medieval system dated its dominance from AD 570.

But how did it look at the time?

Imagine that you lived in Rome and knew Revelation 13. If you knew how the early church interpreted 666, everything would become clear in the year 666.



There are two main problems with finding the source of the number 666.:

  1. FIRST, the number can be obtained in numerous different ways, especially when w look for world leaders. Great leaders tend to have several different titles, and each word might have several different spellings. Then you could look for the numbers in Greek, Hebrew, or even ASCII code. So the chances of linking 666 to almost any leader you want is quite high. Check out my favorite web site: "David Hasselhof is the Antichrist!" :-) [sorry, I couldn't resist this]
  2. SECOND, if we do find something that seems to clearly fulfill the prophecy, people can start getting very offended, and will not listen to any more. How would you like to be labeled as "Antichrist, The Beast 666"?

So on this page I will try to tread slowly and carefully through the minefield.

What we find is that not only is 666 the number behind numerous names, the names that fulfil this number most often also fulfil the other prophecies in Revelation 13. And the sign of their fulfillment is given in the year AD 666!

If numbers interest you, visit "Greater Things"

Let's start where we all agree

Many people feel that it is not necessary to look for a literal interpretation of Revelation. The verse can just be seen as a comment that man falls short of perfection.

The number of the beast - not quite sevens

The beast that was wounded and had the wound healed was the great world power that absorbed Christianity. The whole world wondered at it, it claimed to have God's truth and went on to conquer the world. Yes, it looked like Christianity - it seemed to be complete. It had the scriptures, it used the name of Christ, it had great success in converting the world. It seemed to be complete. Completion in the book of revelation is symbolised by the number seven (seven seals, seven trumpets, seven angels, etc.). But it is not complete.

Whenever you look at any part of Europe's traditional Christianity, it is not quite right. It has the old scriptures, but has heard nothing more from God for 2000 years. It uses the name of Christ, but not in the name of the church, and does not seem to do what he said. It converted the world, but not by love. The beast is not a kingdom of God. It looks like it at first but it is not. It is not of God, it is of man. It is not a kingdom of sevens, the number of God. It is a kingdom of sixes, the number of a man.

All sixes and sevens

In this light I will quote part of a message posted on the Phrase Finder Derivations Discussion group, on the origin of the phrase "all sixes and sevens". The author notes that, although people assume it came from a dice game, nobody really knows:

"The plural form of the expression is comparatively modern, dating back only a hundred and fifty years or so. The older form 'on six and seven,' however, was so old and well known in Chaucer's day that, worse luck, he didn't bother to explain what it mean when, about 1375, he used it in 'Troylus and Cryseyde.' As we use it today and as it has been used for centuries, the phrase means 'in a state of disorder or confusion; topsy-turvy.' Explanations of its origin have been sought, but nothing certain is known. One writer tries to connect it with a Hebrew phrase that we find in Job V, 19, 'He shall deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven shall no evil touch the.'

'In a state of disorder or confusion' would certainly apply to Christendom after the apostles died. It was quite literally 'at sixes and sevens'.

The war against false powers that measure themselves by man

The verses in question may appear clearer in the light of 2 Corinthians 10. There is not space to quote it in full but note the references to measurements of men, to worldly powers (strongholds), to the need for wisdom, and all in the context of the war against Satan's power.

Does this explain the prophecy?

I am sure that the significance of the number 6 and the spiritual nature of measurement explain the spirit of the prophecy. And until recently this is how I looked on the 666 prophecy - no more or less. But the problem is that the scripture is more precise and insistent. It does seem to imply a definite number. Let us look at what the scriptures, and what the early church fathers said, then go back to what Revelation 13 itself says.

The exact phrase "the number of..."

This phrase is based on the Greek word arithmos {ar-ith-mos'}, Strong's word 706, meaning "a fixed and definite number" or "an indefinite number". It is used in other places in Revelation, and elsewhere in the New Testament, so we can get an idea of what John meant:

  • The number of the angels (Revelation 5:11)
  • The number of the sealed (Revelation 7:4)
  • The number of the army at Armageddon (Revelation 9:16)
  • The number of the Beast (Revelation 13:18)
  • "the number of the twelve" (Luke 22:3)
  • "the number of the men [who believed]" (Acts 4:4)
  • "the number of the disciples" (Acts 6:1)
  • "the number of the children of Israel" (Romans 9:27)

"The number of a man"

This phrase is based on the Greek word anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}(Strong's number 444). It is always used in a general sense of "mankind", not a single man. For example: "the Son of man", "a face as a man", "many men died", "those men which have not the seal of God", "the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.", "in those days shall men seek death", "their faces [were] as the faces of men", "their power [was] to hurt men", and so on.

Revelation 21:17 has quite similar wording: "And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of the angel."

I point this out just to do away with the silly idea that the beast is Nero, or some great last days world leader.

"The number of his name"

This phrase is used in Revelation 13:17 and 15:2, suggesting that the number has more to do with the name than with the literal number of people.

Conclusions so far

  1. The beast is not a single individual, but a number of individuals. This is consistent with the earlier identification of the Beast with Rome.
  2. Given the symbolic significance of six and seven, it probably goes beyond a simple numbering of the people in Rome.
  3. The number is chosen not because it is the literal number of people in Rome, but because of links with the name.

The strange wording

"victory over...the number of his name"

Revelation 15:2 praises those who have gained victory over the number of the name. How do you gain victory over a number?? Only by gaining victory over the name - by not being a part of it.

"no man might buy or sell [without] the name ... or the number of his name"

Revelation 13:17 indicates that the number is a sign that you belong to the Beast. Some people think this means that people will have the literal 666. But give Satan credit for some cunning! We live in a culture that has its roots in Christianity. Even people who do not believe in the Bible know about 666. Satan would not get away with anything so blatant.

So perhaps it is so subtle - like the number 666 being embedded in a microchip? This time we need to give the Lord some credit for not confusing us. There are so many ways that 666 could be involved in our lives, that the number simply has to be more obvious than that.

So for these reasons (and more) a literal number 666 as a sign is not likely. So why did John link the name with the number? The answer is simple when we look at the history;

  • John was writing Revelation while in prison under the roman emperor. Had he plainly said "Rome", he probably would have had his book destroyed and stayed himself in prison for another twenty years. So he had to disguise the name Rome.
  • In addition, Rome was going to decline while something like Rome (the apostate church) took over much of its leadership role. The number 666 links Rome to the Roman church (see below).

So as long as we remember that the number goes along with the name, and does not exist on its own, then the strange wording makes sense.

What do others say?

There are many different theories about the meaning of 666. But al of them fail because:

  1. First, they are obscure and confusing.
  2. Second, they tend to ignore the context of the chapter.

Finding 666 in a name is not good enough

If we just find something that happens to make the number 666, that alone is not enough. At various times, 666 has been obtained from titles of Nero, the Pope, Napoleon, and even Bill Gates. (You get 666 from Bill Gates like this: look for the ASCII code of the letters BILLGATES111, since he is actually Bill Gates the third: B 66 - I 73 - L 76 - L 76 - G 71 - A 65 - T 84 - E 69 - S 83 - I 1 - I 1 - I 1 -total = 666). But so what?

You can even get 666 from the name of Christ. The Greek letters in "Christos" have values that add up to 1480. A square of side 1480 has a diagonal of 2093 (ignoring fractions). A circle of circumference 2093 has a diameter of 666. I am sure that a competent theologian could find reasons why squares and circles represent the Lord. But what does it prove?

Even "The Bible" in ASCII adds up to 666!

If we are going to find a literal 666, it had better be more convincing that all these uncertain coincidences!

The most amazing coincidences

Although names and numbers should be treated with great suspicion, some coincidences do seem to deserve attention. One in particular - the idea that 666 referred to the medieval Roman church. What follows is largely drawn from a seventh Day Adventist site, :

The case against Rome

The earliest interpretation

Irenaeus was born less than 40 years after Revelation was written. He was a student of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was a disciple of John. When he was older, Irenaeus was a bishop in Gaul, so is in an excellent position to (a) know what John meant, and (b) see things from a non-Roman point of view. He pointed out in his Against Heresies that:

"Lateinos has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable, this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel]. For the Latins are they who at present bear rule: I will not, however, make any boast over this."

(N.B. some Bible versions have 616 instead of 666, but Irenaeus says this was probably just a copying error).

Internal support

Since the beast is Rome (or something very much like it), it is only common sense that the number of the beast is the number of Rome. Rome and the Latin are of course the same thing - Latin refers both to the region where Rome sits, and to the Roman language. Lateinos (which adds up to 666) is Greek (the language of the New Testament) for "Latin speaking man".

External support

Apart from the word Lateinos, we also find that:

  • The ancient Greek for "The Latin Kingdom" is HE LATINE BASILEIA, which adds up to 666. (The H, being transliterated, counts as 0)
  • The ancient Greek for "Italian Church" is ITALIKA EKKLESIA which adds up to 666.
  • In Greek the word APOSTATES adds up to 666.
  • The Latin VICARIUS FILII DEI (Vicar of Christ, or literally, "vicarious son of God"), on the Papal crown, adds up to 666. (A, R, S, F and E have no value).
  • DUX CLERI ("captain of the clergy") adds up to 666.
  • LUDOVICUS ("vicar of the court") adds up to 666.
  • The Hebrew for "Roman kingdom" (ROMIITH) adds up to 666.
  • The Hebrew for "Roman man" (ROMITI) adds up to 666.

The other name that is most often cited as making 666, the title "Nero Caesar", actually makes 1316 according to some who know about this kind of thing. For details, see

It is also pointed out that the title "Vicar" literally means "vicarious", or "in the place of". Hence a vicar is "in the place of" God. The beast, you will recall, stood in the place of God: he had the earth worship himself instead. I am surprised that those Protestants who delight in identifying the Pope as the Beast do not make more noise about this. But then, given that Protestants also have vicars, and Protestant vicars inevitably trace their authority through Rome, maybe they are wise to be muted.

OK, so it seems that 666 refers to Rome, and perhaps even to the Medieval church. But how can we be sure? And more importantly, what does that say about the modern Roman Catholic church?

Roman Catholics are true Christians

At this point it is wise to make one thing clear.

666 refers to Europe and the medieval church.

It does not refer to the modern Roman Catholic church.

The context of Revelation 13:18

When we look at the preceding verses, the last verse becomes even clearer.

The structure of Revelation 13

(See the page on the Beast for more details).

Part 1: the rise of the beast.

Verses 1-2 introduce the beast. Verses 3-4 discuss the church on earth, which is overcome by the beast. Verse 5 covers the period 570-1830, as discussed elsewhere.

Pat 2: the triumphant reign of the beast.

Verse 6 is what he says, verse 7 is what he does, and verse 8 is what he achieves. But verse 10 tells us not to give up hope. Yes, the beast is leads into captivity and kills by the sword, but he will eventually be destroyed in the same manner.

Part 3: the second beast.

Verse 11 warns us to be extra careful. When the first beast goes, the second beast seems to be like Christ. But it is actually just as bad as the first beast!

(Since the number 666 refers to the first beast, I will now skip to verse 18.)

Part 4: the original beast, and gives us the number 666.

The second beast simply promotes the first beast. The number is the number of the first beast. It refers to the beast described in verses 1 to 8. So verse 18 in many ways follows on from verse 8.

Why did John tell us about 666?

The warning about 666 seems to be a sign. It is saying "you will recognise the beast by the number 666". How come? It all makes sense when we remember that verse 18 discusses the first beast so follows chronologically from verse 8.

How would John's readers recognise 666? Let us put ourselves into their shoes and see how it looked to them.

The history of the triumph of the beast

Elsewhere in this web site I have noted that the last fragment of the Christian church to give in to Rome was probably in Britain. The key date was 570, when Gregory the Great began his career and turned his attention north.

That is all very well in hindsight. We can see from this distance that the Lombard invasion was the last barbarian invasion, and that Gregory's actions and reforms had massive consequences. But that would not have been obvious at the time. Had you been a Christian living at the time, how could you be sure what this all meant?

This is where the 666 prophecy comes in. If you were Christian, living through all this change, you just needed to remember John's "number of the beast". If you kept that in your mind, the signs would be only too clear.

The synod of Whitby

This might be a good time to return to the death of the last non-Roman Christian church: the Celtic church in Britain.

Although the Celtic church was effectively doomed from the year 570, it did not officially give in to the Roman church until the synod of Whitby, in AD 664. As a result of this disastrous capitulation, God sent a plague which killed practically all the British bishops. So it was a couple of years before the church was in a position to send a new archbishop to be officially sanctioned by Rome. The new archbishop, Theodore, straightaway traveled the country ensuring that all bishops were pro-Rome and taught only Roman doctrines.

But when exactly did Rome appreciate the full significance of Whitby? After all, Rome had had successes in Britain before. When did it know that Whitby meant the final triumph?

The year 666

The official histories, written by Roman believers, are strangely quiet about the year 666. The historians were well aware of the significance of the number, yet indicate that nothing happened in that year. They do, however, agree that Whitby took place in 664 and the new archbishop arrived in Britain in 668. So what exactly happened in between?

There are two main sources for British history in this period. One is Bede's ecclesiastical history. The other is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. They agree that the sequence of events as this:

  • 664: at Whitby, King Oswy decides that Britain should have the Roman church.
  • Then follows a delay (due to most of the bishops dying of a plague)
  • Then Wighard is chosen as archbishop, and sent with letters and gifts to Rome.
  • Wighard and his companions die of a plague in Rome.
  • The Pope (Vitalian) sends a very enthusiastic letter back to Oswy, and says that he has not yet found a replacement for Wighard.
  • Finally Theodore is chosen as Archbishop of Canterbury, and he arrives in Britain in 668.

Given that there as a delay after 664, and a delay before 668, it seems fair to assume that Wighard's party arrived in Rome in 666. But here the two histories seem strangely confused. The historians were no doubt aware of the significance of 666. Bede, knowing this, says that Wighard went to Rome in 665. But the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says the same journey happened in 667. It seems they did not compare their stories before recording the official versions.

So was the true date really 666? It seems the only reasonable conclusion. Either by looking at the delays already mentioned, or by taking the average of the two conflicting dates, it is reasonable to assume that the actual journey was in the year 666.

When Wighard arrived at Rome in 666, Rome was ecstatic!

AD 666: the day of the beast!

How did Rome react to the news that Britain, that thorn in her flesh, was finally 100% under her control?

Vitalian's letter: rejoicing and delight

To appreciate the significance of the year 666, you have only to read the letter sent by Pope Vitalian to king Oswy, as recorded by Bede.

"Who will not rejoice at hearing such pleasant things? Who will not be delighted at such good works? Because your nation has believed in Christ the Almighty God, according to the words of the divine prophets, as it is written in Isaiah, 'In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to him shall the Gentiles seek.'

And also, 'Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken ye people from afar' . . . And again, 'Kings shall see, princes also shall arise and worship.' And presently after, 'I have given thee for a covenant to the people, to establish the earth, and possess the desolate heritages...'"

And so he goes on. Apart from the obvious fact that Britain already had Christianity - which was being destroyed by Rome - note the significance of the verses quoted by Vitalian:

  • He sees this as "that day" spoken of by Isaiah and others - the last days, when the kingdom of God is triumphant.
  • He sees himself as the ensign to the nations.
  • He sees all the isles of the sea, the Gentiles, kings and princes as now under him.
  • He sees the earth as now his possession.

And no wonder! Britain was the distant "isles of the sea". It was the one place that stood out against the church of Rome. And finally Rome was triumphant!

How important was the year 666 to Rome?

The event is of such supreme importance that Vitalian even allows the sacred relics of Peter and Paul to leave Rome and be sent as a gift to stay in Britain. Peter and Paul! Think about it! Clearly nothing could ever be more important than this to Rome.

More 6s

It may be worth noting here that the Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the bishops in England) at the time of Whitby - who died along with the other bishops - was the sixth to hold that post.

It then took six attempts to find a replacement. First - when the church obviously tried during the "some considerable time" when the post was vacant after the plague. Second - they sent Wighard, who died in Rome. Third - the Pope asked Hadrian, who said no. Fourth - Hadrian asked Andrew, who said no. Fifth - the pope asked Hadrian again - and he said no again. Sixth - Hadrian asked Theodore, who eventually said yes. And how old was Theodore when he was called, according to Bede? You guessed it. Sixty six years old.

Another look at Revelation 13

Was John looking at Britain?

John the Revelator was looking at the loss of the church. So no doubt he was looking at Britain, the last outpost. It will also be recalled that John may have had an existing link with Britain: according to legend, he gave the care of Mary (mother of Jesus) to Joseph of Armimathea, who took her to these shores for safety.

It will also be remembered that, at Whitby, the Celtic church claimed to be following the practice taught by John, as opposed to those practiced at Rome. Later-day saints will also be aware of the teaching that John did not taste death, but was to remain on the earth until the Second Coming. He would therefore have almost certainly have spent some time in Britain during his work to preserve the faith.

Revelation 13 again

In this light, Revelation 13 becomes much clearer .

Verse 5: the Roman church has power over the true church from AD 570.

Verse 6: it made great claims - such as in the letter by Vitalian and elsewhere.

Verse 7-8: it completely overcame the last outpost of faith - the remains of the Celtic church. That meant that the Roman church had finally gained power over all kindreds, tongues, and nations.

[Verses 9-17: interlude about what comes later - the second beast]

Verse 18: the sign of all this is the number 666.

Conclusion: what would YOU do?

What would you do if you were John, if you had seen the future, and wanted to warn the saints to know when the church had fallen into apostasy?

What would you do if you saw that:

  • the Latins (Lateinos - 666)
  • or the Latin kingdom (666)
  • the Italian church (666)
  • the apostates (666)
  • the Roman men (666)
  • the Roman kingdom (666)
  • the captain of the clergy (666)
  • the vicar [vicarious] of Christ (666)
  • would, after 6 non-Roman archbishops in Britain
  • and 6 attempts to replace him (often thwarted by plagues from God)
  • send a 66 year old to overpower the last dissenting church,
  • and celebrate this triumph over all nations in the year 666?

Wouldn't you say, "watch out for the Beast, Rome"?
Wouldn't you say, "watch out when it recovers from the wound made by Christ's church"?
Wouldn't you say, "watch out when it claims to BE the church"?
Wouldn't you say, "especially watch out when it dominates every nation"?
And wouldn't you say, "REMEMBER THE SIGN - THE NUMBER 666!"

Miscellaneous points

Music: Gregory the Great is credited with introducing the Gregorian Chant, and otherwise reforming church music. The other man who also made a great impact was Pope Vitalian, who introduced instrumental music into the worship in A.D. 666. "It created such a furor that it had to be removed for about a hundred years. The matter of objection thereto, and division as a result thereof, has always followed in its wake". See for details.

Why changes in church music should accompany great changes in the church, I do not know, but I include this simply for the record.

the bottom line

John the revelator gave it as plainly as he could. In the year 666, Rome knew it was triumphant.

The Holy Grail part 6

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2010 08:41  

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