Common Biblical Interpretation

The number 666 is found in the Book of Revelation, an esoteric book in the Christian Bible that was written by someone named John during the first century CE. The Bible states that the number 666 is "the mark of the beast," and many modern Christians associate this figure with Satan and the "antichrist," a false Christ that will deceive and oppress the Christian people during apocalyptic times. Here is the most familiar Biblical passage on the subject: "Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six," (Rev. 13:18).

Scholarly Debate and Modern Culture

Early Christians were persecuted by the Roman empire, and many scholars hold that 666, and the beast associated with it, is actually a numerical code referencing a Roman leader or emperor that will oppress the Christian faith. The number 666 is also a popular symbol of rebellion and atheism in modern youth art and music movements, and 666 can be found on everything from T-shirts to heavy metal albums. In these contexts, 666 doesn't necessarily represent the actual antichrist, but a general rebellion against the values and structure of organized Christianity.

Bottom Line

Scholars continue to debate the actual historical meaning of the number 666 as it appears in the Book of Revelation, as it may reveal a more accurate picture of early Christian life in the Roman empire. Many modern Christians, however, continue to associate the number with Satan, the antichrist and apocalyptic events. Modern pop culture and art has utilized and broadened the meaning and context of this divisive symbol.

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