How Not To Read The Book of Revelation

The great irony here is that the Book of Revelation was written in large part to warn Christians away from precisely this kind of money-grubbing, sensationalized religiosity.

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While we are here in chapters 13 and 14, we must deal with a detail in the text that has been the subject of much speculation and sensationalism here in our lifetimes.  This is the so-called “mark of the beast” – 666.  Here both Poythress and Peterson are again in substantial accord.  Poythress’s comment, however, may be more direct:

What is the mark of the beast?  It is a counterfeit for the seal of God’s name on the saints.  The Beast owns those who are marked, and they are his slaves.  A mark denotes spiritual allegiance and ownership, both in the case of God’s mark and the Beast’s counterfeit mark.  In both cases, the mark is at root spiritual rather than visible.  The multitude of speculations about a visible mark are beside the point.

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Many have attempted to connect the number 666 with the numerical value of someone’s name. . . .  But such speculations miss the point.  Revelation calls not for cleverness, but for discernment

Poythress, The Returning King, P&R Publishing, 2000, pages 147-148 (emphasis added)

Actually, we could take the matter a bit further.  Much of the sensation and noise about the “mark of the beast” in our day has been amplified for money and personal aggrandizement.  The great irony here is that the Book of Revelation was written in large part to warn Christians away from precisely this kind of money-grubbing, sensationalized religiosity.

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