666 and All That
Here is the wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.
No verse of biblical prophecy has been subjected to more bizarre and futile speculation than this verse from the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Most fundamentalists believe that the passage refers to the Antichrist (described more explicitly in the epistles of John), who it is said will acquire a vast following just before the Second Coming of Christ. The beast in this biblical scenario will be Satan's earthly agent. Before the Battle of Armageddon, the great conflict between the forces of good and evil, the faithful will be "raptured," lifted into the skies. There will be mass conversions of Jews to Christianity (the unconverted, according to this apocalyptic account, are destined for eternal damnation). Ultimately, Satan will be banished and held chained in an abyss, and a millennium of peace will begin on earth.
As Revelation (13:16-17) foretells, the Antichrist "causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." The number will be 666.
Many biblical scholars have attempted to unravel the mysterious number. Most think it is a cipher that stands for a name. This kind of mathematical game-playing was popular among the Greeks and Hebrews, who used letters of the alphabet as numbers at the time Revelation was written in the first century A.D. The likeliest name is that of the tyrannical emperor Nero (37-68). As the name is transliterated from Greek, Neron Caesar is represented in Hebrew as Nron Ksr, whose letters have these____________________