Let Him Who Has Understanding Calculate The Number…

Revelation 13:18 has perhaps the most famous math problem in the whole Bible, and being a math problem it is very frequently misunderstood. It reads: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.” Now, being in Revelation and clearly a symbolic number (666 seeming to refer to the pinnacle of humanity in opposition to God, since 6 is the number of man), this number has attracted a lot of speculation with people trying to pick names that add up in Hebrew, Greek, or Roman numerals to 666.

The fact that gets missed is that Revelation clearly says that the number is calculated. Not merely that some numbers in letters (minus a few junk ones) equal 666, but that to get 666 you have to do a calculation. Most prophetic hobbyists take the 666 for granted and then go wild trying to fit a name into the number (and, to be fair, many names fit). It is an extremely rare task to see someone try to calculate 666 by some means, since its prime factorization is the rather balky 2 x 3 x 3 x 37 (which comes from the number of a man, six, times 111).

So, what set of calculations can make 666, if multiplication does not work to anything meaningful. As it happens, there is a mathematical way to calculate 666 from 8, in a way that it is very significant and fairly straightforward [1]. First 8+7+6+5+4+3+2+1 = 36. Then 36+35+34+…+3+2+1 = 666. According to Hellenistic numerology, then, 8 = 36 = 666. Coincidentally, 36 equals 6 squared, keeping the connection of the “perfect human rebellion against God” theme alive that 666 also possesses.

What is the significance of 8 insofar as it relates to 666? Here we enter the deep waters of both pagan Hellenistic theology as well as early Roman history. According to the Hellenistic theology that became gnostic Christianity (a good example of which can be found in Gary North’s Economic Commentary on the Book of Genesis), the seventh day creation (and its Sabbath) was defective because it points to the earthly creation (and sin and the fallen state of man) and so therefore to redeem creation one must worship on the eighth day, which coincidentally happens to be the first day of the week. Shades of this sort of inane reasoning can be found in the Beatles song “Eight Days A Week,” perhaps coincidentally.

So we see that the bogus religious worldview of the Hellenistic period considered 8 as a particularly important number, being above and beyond the seven day week. And, it ought to be fair, the Bible itself contains such a distinction as the eighth day, after the seven day Feast of Tabernacles, symbolizes the “eighth day” of creation when sin will be removed and the new heavens and new earth and the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven and God will make his throne in a never-ending rule without darkness or night or sin. That is in the future, a time we have not yet reached. This is why there remains a seventh-day Sabbath rest for the people of God [2] [3], because we are still in history and still looking forward to the seventh day “rest” of the Millennial kingdom, and therefore still subject to the seven day creation week and its typology. What Hellenistic thought tried to do is tried to claim that we were already beyond the creation and the laws of the Creator by virtue of some mystical knowledge (including Hellenistic numerical thinking), claims that have been repeated by Gnostic Hellenistic “Christians” to this day.

The second bit of relevance concerns Roman history. Revelation speaks of an eighth beast that is part of the seven and yet has its own identity. The meaning of this particular beast seems to suggest the eighth Roman emperor in a list (if one uses the Preterist meaning), which would be Domitian, or an end-time revival of the Roman Empire (I personally believe both meanings are valid). In the case of both Domitian and the end-time revival of the Roman Empire there is a connection between the number 8 and the divine ruler cult by which pagan rulers considered themselves to be divine manifestations of some deity, whether that means a vicar of Christ or an emanation of Jupiter or whatever other deity such heathen idolaters believe(d).

What we see is that by paying attention to the calculation of numbers, we can a greater understanding about the meaning and identity of the enemy of biblical Christianity and the reasons for that hostility in the opposition of Babylonian religion and its offshoots to the biblical God of Creation and His laws, including the Sabbath and the restrictions on the power and authority of rulers (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Those leaders who want to consider themselves as more than mere viceroys of God will always show hostility to the divine egalitarian order by which all men, women, and children are created in the image and likeness of God and deserving of respect and honor accordingly. That mindset is something that the Hellenists and their prototypical tyrannical god-kings simply cannot understand or accept. Let us make sure we are not among such company ourselves.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/book-review-spirit-of-antichrist/

[2] http://www.ucg.org/booklet/sunset-sunset-gods-sabbath-rest/was-sabbath-changed-new-testament/there-remains-sabbath-rest/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/there-remains-therefore-a-sabbath-rest-for-the-people-of-god/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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13 Responses to Let Him Who Has Understanding Calculate The Number…

  1. Luzer says:

    Interesting, and I wonder how much it means that for one to recognize the corruption found in Business 6 , Poltitics 6, Government 6, with 6 being the number of a man and that these are man-made systems and as we believe them to be corrupt from start to finish.

    Revelation just messes up my head, anyway, this is just a thought

    • Revelation is hard for a lot of people to grasp, because it is so full of symbolism from the rest of the Bible (Genesis, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah, along with Hebrews, are some of the more obvious connections) that it is difficult to understand what all the symbols mean without a great deal of study. Nonetheless, I thought it worthwhile to examine the mathematical aspect of Revelation’s arithmetic problem.

  2. Luzer says:

    So why are we to “calculate” the number and what are we supposed to realize from what we conclude the answer or “symbol” to mean?

    • Well, I think the calculation connects together the religious nature of the eighth day heresies, their relationship to “humanism” and mankind in rebellion against God, as well as the ultimate figure(s) that are at the head of such a rebellion.

  3. Luzer says:

    Is “Humanism” the belief that humans can manage all affairs without God?

  4. Luzer says:

    RE: “mankind is autonomous and free without the need to recognize the authority of God and of God’s laws.”

    So is this saying that “only” when a person is autonomous in the extreme definition as to “exclude” God, or does it mean to include a person who has enough courage to stand alone in a hostile world without being a threat to others “because” of his/her “personal” relationship with the creator God who resides in the heavens?

    • I use language in a very characteristic way. When I talk about evolution, I don’t talk about variation within species, or even the separation of different populations into subspecies and species due to geographic isolation, though this is often called “microevolution.” When I speak about evolution, I am referring to the bogus idea that life sprang in a naturalistic fashion and that all of the diversity of life springs from genetic changes as a result of natural selection (that is to say the neo-Darwinian synthesis, an extreme position). In the same sense, I do not malign humanism in its more mild forms about human beings standing up for themselves (something I make an effort to practice regularly), but rather its extreme form of mankind seeking to become its own deity and its own lawgiver.

  5. Luzer says:

    I agree 🙂

  6. caltrap says:

    Liking this post….

    “Gematria”…every number has it’s Hebrew letter – and every letter it’s own literal root-meaning.

    I like to think that if God were going to give us a mystery in the unchanging Bible, it wouldn’t rely too much on the history textbook (which are always prone to error – not bouncing your ideas, I’m just saying it happens)…but on stuff that is already native to the book. In Deuteronomy, God did say that if Israel continued in His ways, the nations would recognize their wisdom.

    But I don’t know. I’m waiting to insert my foot in my mouth, simply by not watching the news in order to keep my sanity.

    Isn’t 666 supposed to be translated six hundred and sixty-six? It’s in the greek translation @ biblos.com. If so, maybe it is just a midget version of the Jesus’ thousand year reign – 10 x 10 x 10 = 1000.

    Hopefully, that dark reign doesn’t last this long.

    Another Possibility:

    Short lesson on the Hebrew counting system (there’s a chart at http://www.amerisoftinc.com/hebletr1.htm ):
    Individual Hebrew letters only represent numbers up to 400. Anything higher is made up of added letters.

    There are 22 basicletters in all – (not counting the other forms of some of these letters that are used in writing).

    The first 10 letters represent numbers 1-10, letters 11-19 are multiples of ten beyond ten, and 20-22 are numbers 200 thru 400

    Ok, you ready?

    Six hundred requires two letters to spell out – letters #22 and #20
    Those two letters are “tav” and “resh”. The literal/root meanings for these two are “mark” and “head”, respectively.
    hmmm… Rev 13:16 anyone?

    Sixty-six… these are letters #15 and #6.
    These two letters are “sammekh” and “vav”. The literal meaning for these two are “support” and “nail” (or hook).

    Alright, the first half should be kind of obvious, but I don’t get the second set.
    Perhaps, “those who carry the mark of the beast will support the persecution of the saints”?
    “Nail” would represent Jesus Christ’s punishment, and He did say that those who chose to follow Him ought to expect the same treatment He received.

    Maybe…well, I’m not an expert on Hebrew, so I’m not sure what kind of nuances are carried by the ancient or modern Hebrew word for “support”.

    Or maybe they just “really support humanitarianism.” We’ve seen that…

    It’s a start.

    What do you think?

    -Sorry if this is a long post.

    • The Bible contains a good deal that relies on histories. Most of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles depends on the chronicles of prophets and seers and the kings of Israel and Judah, and a lot of it is also dovetails with the chronicles of Assyria as well as proclamations by Syrian and Moabite kings. What we should expect is for the Bible to be accurate as history as well as useful for prophecy. Given the fact that the native tongue of the early apostles was not biblical Hebrew but rather Aramaic, we should expect that the numbers would have some significance in that language, which is very close to Hebrew fortunately. I think it can be safely said that those who support the beast support the persecution of God’s people, and heathen human nations have sought before to counterfeit the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ on this earth (witness the 12 year “Thousand Year Reich” of Hitler), which makes that part of your analysis sound as well.

  7. Ruth says:

    Caltrap I think you are on the right track. There are too many coincidences between Revelation and the Hebrew aleph-bet to escape the conclusion that it is related to the structure and the content.

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