Beastly Mark - Considerations

Discussions on the “Mark of the Beast” concentrate on deciphering the significance of its number, ‘666.’ Understandably, we wish to discover its meaning and thereby avoid taking it. However, to understand it we must first recognize the scriptural background behind the number, the relationship of the “Mark” to the “Seal of God,” the consequences of taking or refusing the “Mark” or the “Number of the Beast,” and the identities of the two groups that result from deciding whether to take it.

The “Mark of the Beast” is the satanic counterpart to the “Seal of God.” In Revelation, the “Inhabitants of the Earth” give allegiance to the “Beast from the Sea” in contrast to the “saints” who receive the “Seal of God” and follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.”

666 - Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
[Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash]

The Book divides humanity into two groups – One comprised of men whose names are written in the “
Book of Life,” and the other of those men who are destined for the “Lake of Fire.”

Whether anyone receives the “Seal of God” or takes the “Mark of the Beast” determines whether he will stand before the “Lamb” in New Jerusalem or the “Great White Throne of Judgment” and be cast into the “Lake of Fire” - (Revelation 7:9-17, 20:11-15).

  • (Revelation 13:16-17) - “And he causes all — the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, — that they should give unto them a mark, upon their right hand or upon their forehead; that no one should buy or sell, except he that has the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

The historical setting of the Book of Revelation is the province of Asia in the Roman Empire at the end of the first century A.D. The “Seven Assemblies” were experiencing pressure from the local population and governing authorities, especially due to the imperial cult - The veneration of the Emperor and Roma, the patron goddess of Rome.

Citizens were free to worship their traditional gods. However, on public occasions, it was expected that all city residents would offer homage to the image of the Emperor, the chief patron and “lord” of the Empire. By Roman law, Jews were exempt from this requirement. When Rome began to view this new faith as a religion distinct from Judaism, it became illegal and lost any legal exemptions it may have enjoyed previously. Consequently, believers came under pressure to participate in pagan rituals.

The veneration of the emperor was a religious and political act. It demonstrated allegiance to Rome. To refuse participation in religious ceremonies honoring Caesar was an act of disloyalty if not treason against the State.

This situation is reflected in the Greek verbs applied to acts of “worship” in Revelation – proskuneō (Strong’s - #G4352). It is found approximately twenty-four times in the Book. Its literal sense is “to kiss toward.” This reflects the ancient practice of prostration before a royal figure. Derivative meanings include “render homage,” “give obeisance,” “revere,” and “venerate.”

The term was applied when someone showed deference to a superior being or rank.  To “render homage” was TO GIVE ALLEGIANCE. Thus, proskuneō is used for “rendering homage” to the “Beast from the Sea” and its “image.”


In the thirteenth chapter, humanity falls into two groups - The “Inhabitants of the Earth,” and those who “tabernacle in heaven” - (Revelation 13:6-7, 12:12).

The “Inhabitants of the Earth” marveled when one of the seven heads of the “Beast” received a death stroke but was “healed.” Overawed, they rendered “homage to the Beast.” However, ultimately, they did so because “their names were not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb.”

Then a second beast appeared, the “Beast from the Earth,” identified later as the “False Prophet.” He mimicked the “Lamb.” He had “two horns like a lamb,” and he used religious deception to cause the “Inhabitants of the Earth” to “render homage” (proskuneō) to the “Beast from the Sea.”

Those who “tabernacle in heaven” are identical with the “saints,” the men and women who “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Unlike the “Inhabitants of the Earth,” their names are “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” However, prior to the final destruction of the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet,” the “saints” will suffer persecution - (Revelation 3:5, 13:7, 21:27).

The “Mark of the Beast” parodies the “Seal of God” that was written on the foreheads of God’s “servants.” It was given to everyone who “followed the Lamb wherever he went.” It marked out those who belonged to the “Lamb” and preserved them through fiery trials. Believers did not avoid tribulation, but their identification with the “Lamb” spared them from God’s judicial “wrath” - the “Second Death” - (Revelation 2:11, 7:1-3, 14:1-5, 20:6).

In contrast, the “Mark of the Beast” identifies all men who belong to the “Beast,” and ultimately, the “Dragon,” namely, the “Inhabitants of the Earth.” Men who give their allegiance to the “Beast” receive a “mark on their right hand or forehead.” Without it, they are unable to participate in the economic life of society, and they may face execution. The “Mark” is equated with the “Name of the Beast” and the “Number of his Name” - (Revelation 13:11-14:5).

Those who belong to the “Lamb” and have “his name written upon their foreheads” are found before the Throne on Zion. Everyone who “renders homage” to the “Beast” has its “Mark,” whereas, anyone who “follows the Lamb wherever he goes” receives his “Father’s name.”

If the “Seal of God” is figurative, so is the “Mark of the Beast.” This is how the Book of Revelation divides humanity into two groups: Those who belong to the Lamb, and those who belong to the Beast. The connection becomes clear when an angel warns:

  • Anyone who renders homage to the Beast and his image and receives its mark upon his forehead or upon his hand shall drink of the wine of the Wrath of God” - (Revelation 14:9-11).

The “wrath” is God’s final judicial wrath “prepared unmixed that shall torment all impenitent men with fire and brimstone, and the smoke of their torment ascends unto the ages of the ages.” This portrays the final judgment when the wicked are cast into the “Lake of Fire.”

In contrast to the “Inhabitants of the Earth,” the overcoming “saints” who “keep God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus” will stand before the “Lamb” and the Throne in New Jerusalem - (Revelation 7:9-17, 15:1-4, 20:11-15).

Whenever the “Beast” arrives on the world scene, believers and nonbelievers alike will face a stark choice - Whether to bow to the Beast and take its mark, or not. If there is a relevant message in this for us today, it is a warning to exercise painstaking discernment before embracing the political and cultural values of the surrounding society.

When we imbibe the values and ideologies of the existing world order, already we begin to take the “Mark of the Beast” and align ourselves with the “Great Red Dragon.” The would-be disciple of Jesus must carefully discern to whom he is “rendering homage,” and therefore, whether he will be branded by Satan or bear the “seal” of the Lamb of God.



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