It seems like most everyone in and out of church circles has heard the term, the Mark of the Beast. We first learn about it in Revelation 13:11-18, a mark given to those who pledge allegiance and their worship to the Anti-Christ, the beast. It is in this same passage of Scripture that we learn about the number of the beast, 666. What is the Mark of the Beast, and what does it mean for those who take it, or for those who reject it?
Having grown up in Church I have heard many different ideas of what the Mark of the Beast is. I’ve heard of it being a tattoo of the number 666 or a barcode of some sort. I’ve even heard some say it would be a type of computer circuit board placed under the skin. The most recent, and most popular theory of what the Mark of the Beast will be is the use of an RFID chip inserted under the skin with a hypodermic needle. The RFID chip has numerous capabilities and uses that make it a viable candidate for the Mark, but does Scripture support that theory?
One of the biggest reasons people are quick to say that the RFID chip is the Mark of the Beast is because it can be used both to track people as well as to have a level of control over individuals we haven’t seen on a mass scale before. Another reason some believe the RFID chip will be the Mark of the Beast is because it can integrate with financial institutions and retail establishments for various financial transactions, providing a level of security from theft and fraud, as well as identity theft. Does Scripture indicate that the Mark of the Beast will be used to track or control people? Or that it will be used to facilitate financial transactions?
I used to be one that thought that the RFID chip could be the Mark of the Beast, but a thought recently crossed my mind that made me question that. The RFID chip is capable of all the things I previously mentioned; the tracking of individuals, the literal ability to exercise a level of control over everyone, and to be an instrument used for financial transactions. Many of these functions, as well as many others, can be utilized on a local level, but some of these are and can be done via satellite, namely the tracking and control of people. When it comes to being used as an instrument for financial transactions, there is a problem. In Revelation 13:16 we’re told that everyone will be required to take the mark, and in Revelation 13:17 we read that people cannot buy or sell without the mark. Here in America, as well as in other developed countries, it is feasible to think that all financial transactions can be handled with the RFID chip, except for when there is a power outage and the scanning and electrical equipment is rendered powerless for an undetermined amount of time. That leads us to the other problem. What about in undeveloped and third world countries, places that don’t have electricity or the necessary electronic equipment to scan and perform the various financial transactions one might need to make? How can the RFID chip be used in these areas or under these circumstances for financial transactions? Again, to be used as a tracking and control device can be done via satellite no matter where someone is, but to be used to manage finances is an entirely different matter. So, where does that leave us?
In the Book of Revelation, the Mark of the Beast is mentioned 8 times; Revelation 13:16; Revelation 13:17; Revelation 14:9; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; and Revelation 20:4. In these eight occurrences we learn what type of mark it is, the locations of the mark on the body, the purposes of the mark, as well as the future of all those who take the mark. The Greek word for mark in Revelation 13:16 is, charagma (khar’-ag-mah), which refers to a ‘scratching or etching’. While it’s not a branding as we would associate with branding cattle or livestock, it does indicate some sort of permanent marks on the skin. How many of you have intentionally scratched yourself with a needle or sharp object to write or draw a temporary picture on your skin? I imagine the same process used here except that the mark will be deeper and more permanent. The RFID chip mentioned earlier is not given to someone through a scratching or etching process, but instead using a hypodermic needle. I frequently go to various establishments, as I’m sure you have, where they have signs posted that say something to the effect, “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. What if they changed the sign to say, “No shirt, no shoes, no mark, no service”? In this way, there is no need for electronics of any sort to manage financial transactions, but instead just a permanent mark that identifies you as “one of them”. With the level of allegiance to the Beast Scripture tells us about, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that people would be strict in adhering to and enforcing such a policy.
Regarding its location, the Bible very clearly indicates that the Mark is to be on the right hand or the forehead. More precisely, Scripture seems to indicate that the mark will be ON or UPON the body, which is contrary to an RFID chip that is inserted under the skin and into the body. In Revelation 13:16, only the King James Version says the Mark is IN the right hand or IN the forehead, while all other translations indicate ON or UPON. In Revelation 20:4, all Bible translations indicate the Mark will be ON or UPON the forehead, including the King James Version, but as for the right hand only the King James Version indicates IN the hand. When you consider that the Mark as described earlier is one that is scratched or etched into the skin, it only makes sense that the Mark would be ON or UPON the forehead or right hand.
While preparing to teach on the Mark of the Beast at a home group I was teaching on the end-times, something crossed my mind. In Revelation 13:17, we read that no one can buy or sell unless they have 1) the mark, 2) the name of the beast, or 3) the number of his name. I can’t help but wonder if someone would have three choices to choose from to have permanently scratched or etched into their skin, choices based upon personal preferences. Just something to consider as a possibility, though I have no plans or intentions of sticking around to find out.
Yes, the Mark is to be a sign of sorts that a person can buy and sell things, but are there other purposes for it? Of the eight times the Mark of the Beast is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, five times it is connected with the worship of the Anti-Christ: Revelation 14:9, 11; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; and Revelation 20:4. The Greek word we mentioned earlier for the mark, charagma, also means a “badge of servitude”, and with that understanding we can see that the Mark will also be a badge of honor to one that is worshipped, in this case the Anti-Christ. It would appear that the Mark would primarily be a sign of worship to the Anti-Christ, which places that person in direct opposition to Jesus, the “real” Christ.
To take the Mark is not something to be taken lightly as the consequences of such a decision has terrible eternal consequences to it. In Revelation 16:2 we read that those with the Mark will get a “loathsome sore” as part of the first bowl judgement. It has been commonly believed that a person with the Mark would get sores, plural meaning many, but the text clearly indicates it is a single sore. The Scripture doesn’t indicate this one way or another, but I can’t help but wonder if that sore, which will be oozing and stinky, will be right where the Mark is, showing that God is greater than the Anti-Christ. In Revelation 14:9-11, we also read that they will experience the full strength of God’s wrath and be tormented non-stop forever and ever. In other words, there is absolutely, and never will be, any hope for those who take the Mark. So, no matter what,
DO NOT TAKE THE MARK!!!
John Johansson (Pastor John)