What does 666 Mean?

“Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666.”

Rev. 13:18

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Order of Contents

Explanatory Quotes  2
List of Writers who take 666 as ‘The Latin One’  34
Article  1
Books  2
Historical Theology

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Exlanatory Quotes

Wilhelmus A’Brakel  †1711

Not To Be Ignored: Commentary on Revelation

The Greeks calculated with their alphabet.  Their letters were also numbers.  That means that one word can represent a certain matter, place, or person, as well as a number.  This was the number 666.  The Greek letters, which were used for this number, were also a number of man, spelling a human name.  

Shortly after the time of the apostles [in A.D. 180] the number 666 [was] translated to the name LATEINOZ, the first king of the region where Rome is located.  The land was called Latium after him.  And the language they spoke was called the Latin language, as it is still called.  And so this number 666, which spells [in Greek] Lateinoz, leads as by the hand to Rome and in Rome to the pope, who established himself within the church.  

Then it was referred to as the Latin Church, to make a distinction with the Eastern Church, which was referred to as the Greek Church.  Until today [1711] the service is still executed in Latin.  The pope is still writing his bulls and decrees in the Latin language.  

This name and his number clearly show that the pope is the Antichrist, which is described in great detail in PART 1, chapter 24, § 44 until § 51.  This became clearer during the time of the Reformation.”

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Francis Turretin  1661

‘Whether it can be proven the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist’, section 35

Therefore, we dismiss these [previously mentioned] opinions, while holding firmly to the popular and more commonly accepted view which maintains that the Pontiff, his rank and his rule, are correctly described by this prophecy.  In fact, we may compute his name in either Greek or Hebrew, the two languages by which God gave his oracles and prophecies (shrouding them in mystery), yet the sum of their letters will yield the same result.  

For, if the computation be made in Greek, which is quite appropriate considering the Revelation was written in Greek to Greeks, no other suitable name occurs than the name Lateinos, as Irenaeus [A.D. 130-202] conjectured.  And, if the name Romanus should be counted in the Hebrew characters, it will mean either Roman seat or Roman, as John Foxe [1516-1587] determined.  Moreover, the Hebrew term comprises the same meaning as that of the Greek term.  For Romanus or Lateinos is the name of the aforementioned Beast and is that name which the Pope imposes on all his disciples [that is, Roman Catholic].

It is on this self-same Beast that all these and additional marks of Antichrist converge; i.e., such marks as causing the whole earth, which follows him, to wonder; his blaspheming the name of God; and the great power he holds over the heads of all people and tongues, etc.  

That this name contains the number 666 in both Greek and Hebrew is not a point of dispute [the following is in the Greek alphabet]:

L – λ – 30
a – α – 1
t – τ – 300
e – ε – 5
i – ι – 10
n – ν – 50
o – ο – 70
s – ς – 200

= 666

Thus the Roman Pontiff and his Seat is undoubtedly indicated.  For he is truly Latin who holds the remains of the Latin empire and the ancient seat.

By no small coincidence, he does not allow public worship to be conducted in any other language than Latin; nor does he publish his official documents and decrees in any other language.  Also, the Eastern Orthodox call the Roman Church by the name Latin Church, as seen in the general councils where this distinction was meticulously made between the western fathers or bishops, called Latins, while the rest were called Greeks.  

Therefore, the name Lateinos (in Greek) or Romanus (in Hebrew) is fully consistent with the fulfillment of this prophecy, in that it predicts the seat of the Beast to be Rome, where it remains to this day.  The truth is out in the open.

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A Select List of Significant Writers who take 666 as Lateinos in Greek, or, ‘The Latin One’  (34)

From p. vi of Rabett’s, The Name and Number of the Beast, and other sources

Irenaeus  180                                                       Francis Turretin  1687
Hippolytus  †235                                                        Henry More  1687
Ticonius  390                                                     Jacques Bossuet  1704
Aretas  523                                                   Wilhelmus A’Brakel  †1711
Primasius  560                                                      Matthew Henry  1714
R.C. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine  1622          Campegius Vitringa  1722
Johannes Piscator  1625                                          Isaac Newton  1727
George Downame  1634                                     Phillip Doddridge  1751
Joseph Mede  1638                                              William Whiston  1752
Archbishop William Laud  1645                              Johann Bengel  1752
Hugo Grotius  1645                                                    Adam Clarke  1762 
John Diodati  1649                                                            John Gill  1771
The Westminster Annotations  1657     John Brown of Haddington  1787
James Durham  1658                                                Andrew Fuller  1815
Edward Leigh  1671                                                   Thomas Scott  1821
Matthew Poole  1679                                      William Cunningham  1861
.                                                                                    David Brown  1871

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Articles

1900’s

Sanders, Henry A. – ‘The Number of the Beast in Revelation’  in Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 37  (1918), pp. 95-99

Sanders critiques the view holding 666 to refer to Nero on p. 97, saying that “This statement will hardly bear critical examination.”  The pamphlet’s main purpose is to try to explain the how the minority 616 variant arose in the early manuscripts.  Though his hypothesis that 616 was original (p. 99 bot) is undoubtebly wrong, yet the article is helpful both historically and grammatically.

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2000’s

Bacchiocchi, Samuele – ‘The Mark & Number of the Beast’  (2005)  28 pp.  in Endtime Issues Newsletter, no. 139

Dr. Bacchiocchi was a Seventh Day Adventist professor at Andrews University.  The traditional Seventh Day Adventist position has been that 666 refers to the papacy and the title, Vicarius Filli Dei, ‘the Vicar of the Son of God’.  This interpretation was also held by Andrews Helwig (c. 1572-1643), a German professor of classical Greek literature, in his book Antichristus Romanus.  Dr. Bacchiocchi did susbstantial historical research on the subject and concluded (note that the negative conclusion is erroneous):

“On the positive side, contrary to the criticism of our detractors, the phrase VICARIUS FILLI DEI has been used historically as a major papal title, and possibly it was also inscribed in some papal tiaras or mitres.

On the negative side, the identification of the number 666 with VICARIUS FILII DEI, cannot be exegetically supported by Revelation 13:18, because the text does not say that the meaning of 666 is to be found in the added numerical value of the letters of a name. We noted that such numerical method of interpretation is unknown in the Bible.”

Dr. Bacchiocchi preferred a symbolic interpretation relating to the false worship of God, especially as manifested in the future last show down of the final days. The article is helpful for its historical information on Vicarius Filli Dei on pp. 9-12.

Gonzalez, Carlos – Nero & 666: a Historicist’s Critique  n.d.  5 points in 32 paragraphs

Partial-Preterism interprets most of Revelation as happening by A.D. 70 and consequently takes the Antichrist to be Nero, making the case that one form of his name in Hebrew adds up to 666.  This article gives the brief case against this view for the following five reasons:

1. The Name is Calculated from the Hebrew Instead of the Greek
2. The Calculation of 666 is not for a Specific Individual
3. It uses an Uncommon Hebrew Spelling for Nero’s Name
4. The ‘616’ Variant Should be Rejected
5. There are no Early Church Interpretations that the Antichrist was Nero

The article, at the end, includes quotes on the majority, historic Reformed view from A’Brakel, Irenaeus, The Westminster Annotations, Hippolytus, Turretin, David Brown, Gill and John Brown of Haddington.

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Books

Clarke, John Edward – Dissertation on the Dragon, Beast & Falseprophet, of the Apocalypse: In which the Number 666 is Satisfactorily Explained, & Also a Full Illustration of Daniel’s Vision of the Ram & He-Goat  (London, 1814)  443 pp.  ToC

Clarke takes 666 as signifying ‘He Latina Basileia’, ‘The Latin Kingdom’, and thus Romanism.  The derivation of this particular name for 666 appears to have been new to Clarke (though he relies on historical writings to evidence it), yet since the name ultimately refers to Romanism, the in-depth Scriptural and historical data and interpretations of the 400+ page book are on target.  Ch. 3 is the most pertinent to issues of calculation and history.  On pp. 37-45, Clarke critiques the name ‘Lateinos’.

Reginald, Rabett – The Name and Number of the Beast: Lateinos, or, the Only Proper and Apellative Name of the Man whose Prophetical Number in Greek Numerals is 666 (Rev. 3:18), Demonstrated to be the Ecclesiastical Mark or Name of the Beast, being None Other than the Pope of Rome whose Church and Kingdom are even now are Intrinsically and Appelatively Latin  (1835)  306 pp.  ToC

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Historical Theology

Brady, David – The Contribution of British Writers between 1560 & 1830 to the Interpretation of Revelation 13.16-18 (the Number of the Beast): A Study in the History of Exegesis  in ed. Oscar Cullmann et al., Beitrage zur Geschichte der Biblischen Exegese, 27 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1983)

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See Also

Historic Quotes on the Papacy being the Antichrist

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Related Pages

The Antichrist

Eschatology

Roman Catholicism