What does the number 666 mean in Revelation 13:16-18?
Slaves usually received a mark on their hand as proof of who their owner was. Kings of those times had their own personal stamp or seal for use on official documents. This mark to which John refers namely 666 must be understood symbolically. Six is often used as the symbolic number of humankind (two arms, two legs, one head, one body). "It is man's number" (verse 18).
Through the ages people have tried to identify a person to whom this number may refer, instead of trying to establish what his main function is said to be. There are several methods which were used to try to identify a certain person to which 666 refers. One method is to give a number to every letter of the alphabet. For example: A=1; B=2, C=3; D=4 etc. So we can identify a name like Bongikasi = 115;
and Vusumuzi = 152. The name of Caesar Nero in Greek is 666, because in Greek some of the letters also have numerical values.
There are Bible expositors who teach that the number 7 is the divine number of perfection, and 6 the incomplete number of man. They say that 777 refers to the Three-in-One God and that the person or power to which 666 refers, will be nearly perfect, but
will never quite attain it. The purpose of the symbolic number 666 is thus to warn the believers that the Antichrist will be active near the end of time to seduce or tempt the people to believe him and to follow him. That is why believers are warned not to worship the image of the beast (verse 16).
Other people believe that the number refers to the computer age. If you look at
the bar code on any article, you will notice that there are three codes that are longer than the others, but are not explained. Compare them to any of the numbers that are given, and you will see that the two thin lines mean 6. The three unnamed numbers on every barcoded article are therefore 666!. There are also proposals that every person on earth should be marked with an invisible bar code on the hand or forehead, which will have the same purpose as a credit card. It will prevent fraud,
because every person will have a unique number. You will also be able to buy without money, and the amount will be substracted from your bank account and deposited in the shopkeeper's account electronically. Nobody will be able to rob you of your money or credit card, because it will be imprinted in your body. In the light of this development it is interesting to see what Revelation 13:16-17 says!
The number may therefore have several different explanations. The mark is a symbol of the attacks of the evil one on the Christian church. Christians have to remain true to their faith and loyalty to Christ even if they are persecuted. But the Lord will still be with them to support them, in whichever way the attacks may come.