Tag Archives: John the Revelator

The Mark of the Beast: Part II (What it means)

What exactly will the mark of the beast be? No one knows for sure, but there are a couple of things to consider:

1.                It will be a way of identifying someone who has intentionally aligned with the Antichrist or the authority (Revelation 13:18).

2.                It may be something physical on the right hand or forehead. Or it may instead indicate something you know (forehead analogy) and do in response (symbolized by the hand) (cf. Exodus 13:9 & 16, and Deuteronomy 6:8 & 11:18).

When trying to understand anything biblical, we must consider and compare all related Scriptures. The mark is no exception. God used the hand and forehead analogy when He gave the Israelites specific commandments after the exodus from Egypt (cf. Exodus 13:9 & 16 and Deuteronomy 6:8 & 11:18). For instance:

And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year. —Exodus 13:9-10.

He told them to remember how He’d saved the nation and to remember His commandments forever. God used the tangible and familiar “forehead” to represent the receiving and committing His commandments to memory. Likewise, He used the “hand” as an identifier for acting upon that knowledge. The learning, retaining, and acting upon God’s commandments would prove allegiance to Him. So, the significance of forehead and hand may be a pledge of allegiance through the learning, agreeing, and acting upon a particular set of commandments initiated by the Antichrist’s authority.  So, what about the number—666?

The number is that of a human, and this one will be one part of an unholy trinity: Satan, Antichrist, and False Prophet (see Revelation chapter 13). The number 6 historically represented a human, whereas the number 7 represents God, indicating perfection. Because of this and the unholy trinity mentioned above, I suggest the number 666 represents some identification or sign of allegiance that will come from the Antichrist (empowered by Satan) through the False Prophet.

An alliance with the unholy trinity may enable buying and selling during the time of the Great Tribulation, but it will bring personal destruction by God. Therefore, we must increase our faith by learning of God’s ways to avoid end-times deception and should, therefore, watch out for anything that may require ungodly allegiance.

Next week, we’ll continue our end-times journey by comparing what Jesus told His disciples on the Mount of Olives to what He revealed to John about 60 years later.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

The Mark of the Beast: Part I (What it is NOT)

We love chaos, the fantastic, and conspiracy theories! They generally make life seem more exciting than the usual boring truth. Yet, truth is what we must seek! This week, we’ll peel back the layers of the end-times ‘mark of the beast’ as we ditch conspiracy and emotion and replace them with truth in part one of a two-part series.

First, it’s essential to understand that no matter what form the ‘mark’ will take, it will indicate allegiance to the last-days Satan-empowered authority we call THE Antichrist (the Bible doesn’t label it this way). And, taking it will be no accident. Let’s start with Scripture related to the much-debated mark:

And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. 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. —Revelation 13:16-18 (NASB). (see also 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4)

Pay particular attention to the right hand or forehead (it’ll be important later!). Another good thing to understand is the behind-the-scenes numerology: the number 7 often represents God; 6 represents humans.

Second, let’s peek at some falsehoods around the ‘mark of the beast.’ There are people, like this woman, who mistakenly believe they can accidentally take the mark: “Sometimes I panic and wonder if I’m already marked or if smartphones are the mark.” One end-times theory states that John cryptically referred to the Roman emperor Nero because, wrongly, the letters of his name equal 666. However, readers would’ve had to change the Greek rendering of Nero’s title and name to Hebrew just to get close to 666. So, first-century Nero as the Antichrist based on a 666 numbering, like many other theories, is incorrect.

 Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, later proved that many Greek names equal 666. And the search for ruler names that, when converted to numbers, equal 666, has continued. Among the list of candidates are Ronald Regan, George Walker Bush Jr., and Hitler. People have bought into other impossible marks of the beast or conspiracies: Social Security Numbers, barcodes, RFID chips, cryptocurrency, COVID vaccine, REAL ID Act, Obamacare, and COVID-era masks.

So far, we’ve covered some examples of what the mark is not. Next week, we’ll continue our end-times journey by taking the mystery out of the mark of the beast in Part II: What It Means.

For a very comprehensive and detailed study of this crucial topic, feel free to read my 2011 book Finding the End of the World, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on the Bible and history!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

John the Revelator – a Timeline

John, the son of Zebedee, was a disciple who humbly proclaimed Jesus’ love for him (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7 & 20). He was an obedient apostle and a caring surrogate son to Mary, Jesus’ mother. He penned his own gospel account, several letters to the early Church, and unveiled things to come. But when and where did he do all this??

First, John lived during Jesus’ time. Biblical scholars agree that Jesus was born in approximately 4 BCE. So, it stands to reason that John would’ve been born near this time, although we don’t know precisely when. Second, Jesus was 29 years old (about 30 (Luke 3:23)) when He called John to discipleship. John partnered with Jesus during his one-year ministry from just before Passover until the following Passover (see my article “Why so Long??” from August 12, 2020).

He then became an apostle when Jesus sent him and the other disciples to make more disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Let’s assume this was about 26-27 AD. It would also be the year when Jesus charged John with caring for Mary (John 19:26-27), was crucified, and then raised by the Father.

Apostle John then went beyond Jerusalem to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. He started the church in Ephesus (in modern-day Western Turkey) and likely started, or was instrumental in creating, others he would later oversee: Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. John and Mary settled in Ephesus until he was exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he continued to oversee the other churches and received his revelation from Jesus.

Emperor Domitian, who hated Christianity, exiled John to Patmos (a prison colony) in 94 AD, where he stayed for two years until freed by Emperor Nerva in 96 AD. Early Church Father Eusebius, who defers to Irenaeus, confirms this. John then returned to Ephesus, where he continued to care for Mary until her passing. John lived to be just over 100 years old. We know much about his life because of Prochorus, one of the 70 disciples Jesus sent out who later became John’s scribe.

So, what about his gospel account and three letters to the early Church? He wrote the gospel between 90 – 100 AD in Ephesus before being exiled to Patmos or immediately afterward. The same holds for his three epistles, although he most likely wrote them after returning from exile. What follows is an abbreviated and approximate timeline:

  • 4 BC: John’s birth
  • 26 AD: Called to discipleship
  • 27 AD: Charged with caring for Mary; becomes an apostle
  • 94 AD: Exiled to Patmos
  • 94-96 AD: Receives Jesus’ revelation
  • 96 AD: Freed; Returns to Ephesus
  • 90 – 100 AD: Writes, from Ephesus, his gospel and three letters to the Church

What about next week? I’ll tell you the woeful tale of “the Ghost Pepper that wasn’t!”

Blessings and peace,

Ron Braley