The Mark of the Beast Demystified—Or, I’ve Got 666 Problems but the Rapture Ain’t One of Them

“Like other apocalyptic texts, the Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine is not a prediction of events expected to take place two millennia after the author’s death. Rather, it is a message aimed at a contemporary audience, one that relies on a knowledge of people and events from the author’s own time.”

Is That in the Bible?

Growing up with dispensationalist parents and acquaintances, the end times, Antichrist, and mark of the beast were topics that came up not infrequently. Add in Pentecostalism, Satanic Panic, and an unhealthy preoccupation with flavour-of-the-month charismatic prophets, and you have the makings for some bizarre biblical hermeneutics.

The fact of the matter is that end times prophecy, the mysterious number 666, and the identity of the Antichrist have all been subjects pursued with pseudo-scholarly gusto by Christian writers and evangelists (particularly in the Anglosphere) over the past few decades. For the lay Christian with a casual interest in eschatology, deliberation over who the Antichrist is (present tense intended) and the meaning of 666 offers a fascinating opportunity to involve oneself in things that seem both spiritual and important. In fact, the discussion has become productized, with each self-styled end-times teacher and prophet hocking his or her own theories as truth.

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