Ask Pastor Alex, Ep. 17
This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex.
All right, welcome back to the podcast, everyone.
We’re here with another episode and another question.
And the question for this episode is, what is the meaning of 666?
And that’s a good question.
And it’s one I’m sure that’s going to be of interest to people because it comes from
the book of Revelation.
And pretty much anything from the book of Revelation is of interest to people today.
And so this number, 666, it comes from Revelation chapter 13, verses 11 through 18, which is
a section about the beast and his false prophet.
And specifically, the number occurs in verse 18.
Now, this is what the Bible says.
Revelation 13 verse 18, this calls for wisdom.
Let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number
of a man, and his number is 666.
So basically, we read that and we’re supposed to understand that in some way, the number
666 is a clue to the identity of the beast, which of course means that naturally, a lot
of people throughout history have tried to attribute some sort of numerical value to
letters in order to figure out the identity or a name for the referent of this number.
And there have been tons of suggestions throughout history, right?
Like one that almost always comes up is the pope.
Whoever the pope is, doesn’t matter.
Many people will suggest the pope is the referent to this number.
And there are many reasons for that.
But one reason in particular is because the papal crown has in jeweled letters the title
Vicarious Phile Dei, which means the vice regent of the son of God.
And interestingly enough, when you add up the numerical value of that title, it equals
Now people have done this with all sorts of names.
Ronald, Wilson, Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Hitler, Vespian, Domitian.
People have always found a way to make certain names equal the numerical value 666.
But arguably, the most popular suggestion is the name Nero.
Many people today are absolutely insistent that 666 has to refer to Nero, the first century
And listen, there is a case to be made for Nero.
I’m not denying that.
There is a certain case to be made for him, considering the fact that he was an emperor
in the first century, and he fits well with the historical context of the book of Revelation.
So there is something to be said for Nero as a suggestion.
However, the big problem with suggesting Nero is that his name only equals 666 under very
People say, hey, the name Nero equals 666, so clearly he must be the referent.
But it only equals 666 under very specific conditions.
Like first, you have to use the specific name and title Nero Caesar, even though there were
many other versions and titles of Nero’s name.
Second, you have to use the Greek version of Nero Caesar, which is Neroan Caesar.
Nero with an N at the end.
Because the Latin version, which was much more commonly used in that day, only adds
up to 616.
But not only that.
Not only do you have to use the Greek version of his name, being Neroan Caesar, in that
specific configuration of the names, you then have to use Hebrew letters to represent the
Keep in mind that the Hebrew alphabet assigns numerical value to their letters.
So when Neroan Caesar is spelled using Hebrew letters, the value of those letters equals
But see, here’s the question, folks.
Did John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, really intend for us to understand
Nero as the referent?
Intend for us to know to use the specific title Nero Caesar?
Intend for us to specifically know to use the Greek version of his name, Neroan Caesar,
rather than the more commonly used Latin version of his name?
And then intend for us to know to represent that name in Hebrew letters so that it would
But it does seem unlikely, doesn’t it?
You see, I think the really big problem with this whole issue regarding the number is the
I really think the approach is the problem.
John says in this verse, Revelation 13, 18, that there is a call for wisdom.
We need wisdom to discern the meaning of the number and its referent.
But so far, we have committed ourselves to an intellectual wisdom, seeking to assign
numerical value to various letters in order to try to discern the identity.
And as we have seen, doing that leads to innumerable possibilities.
You can find a way to make almost any name, given the right configuration, equal the number
So maybe the wisdom we need isn’t necessarily an intellectual wisdom here.
Maybe the wisdom that John is saying we need is a spiritual wisdom.
And that would actually fit well within the context of the entire book of Revelation.
Because keep in mind, throughout the book of Revelation, the ones who conquer, the ones
who win the victory, the ones who make it to the end, are not the intellectually superior,
but the faithful.
It seems then that faithfulness, not intelligence, is the key to seeing through the deception
of the Antichrist.
Because keep in mind, that is what the Antichrist is trying to do.
He is trying to deceive people.
And John says we need wisdom.
Naturally, our minds go to intellectual wisdom.
When in reality, I think what the Bible is saying here is that we need a spiritual wisdom
that would push us towards faithfulness to Christ.
So maybe we need a new way of looking at the number entirely.
If we aren’t going to come to a specific name when looking at the number, then what are
we to make of it when we read it?
When you’re reading Revelation 13, you come to the number, what are we supposed to make
Well, keep in mind that Revelation is arguably the most symbolic book in the entire Bible.
And it uses numbers symbolically throughout the entire book.
For instance, the number 7 is often used, and it is the number of perfection.
It’s said to be God’s number because He is perfect.
And that would mean the number 6 is just shy of perfection, right?
Many have said that the number 6 is the number of mankind.
And keep in mind, man was made on which day?
The sixth day.
And interestingly enough, in the Greek of this verse, right, so if you look at Revelation
13, 18 in the Greek, it even says that this number, it is the number of man.
Some of your translations will say it is the number of a man, but in the Greek it just
says it’s the number of man.
And so it’s a number that represents falling short.
It’s a number that represents being incomplete.
The fact that it’s repeated three times, 666, is to portray total and complete insufficiency
I mean, keep in mind, even in Revelation, God is called holy, holy, holy.
He’s not just called holy, it’s holy three times.
Because He is perfectly and completely holy.
And so the beast is called 666 because He falls short of who He pretends to be.
Remember, He sets out to deceive humanity into thinking that He is Christ.
He will seek to deceive with His teaching and with His so-called miracles, but the point
that the Bible is making here is that He falls short of the one true Christ.
And so I really don’t think that we’re supposed to know the name, and I don’t think we’re
supposed to focus on trying to figure out the name.
And that’s not because God’s trying to hide things from us.
It’s because He doesn’t want us to get distracted from the very thing we need to recognize the
beast when He comes, which is a total devotion to Christ.
You see, if we spend all our time obsessing over the identity of 666 and we try all sorts
of names, it actually takes away from our devotion and commitment to Jesus.
It takes away from our time with Jesus.
But here’s the thing, if you want to think about it in terms of an example, the best
way to identify a counterfeit check is to be so completely familiar with authentic checks,
If you want to know what a counterfeit looks like, you have to know what the authentic
thing looks like.
And in the same way, the best way to identify a false Christ is to intimately know the authentic
And so yes, we do need wisdom, but we need a spiritual wisdom, which does not obsess
over identifying the referent of 666, but which focuses on growing closer to Jesus so
that we will be able to recognize the false Christ when He comes.
So that’s what 666 is all about.
It is a referent to a beast who is coming, an antichrist who is going to seek to deceive
the world into thinking that he is the true Christ.
And the only way to see through that deception is not with a superior intellect, but with
a complete devotion to Christ.
So once again, focus on Jesus.
Focus on your relationship with Him, growing closer to Him.
Know the authentic Christ so well that no false Christ could possibly deceive you.
Thanks for the question.
I hope that this has been helpful and I look forward to answering more in the future.