18 Here [hode] is [esti] wisdom. [sophia] Let him
that hath [echo] understanding [nous] count [psephizo] the number
[arithmos] of the beast: [therion] for [gar] it is [esti] the number [arithmos] of a
man; [anthropos] and [kai] his [autos] number [arithmos] is Six hundred threescore and six. [chi xi stigma] KJV-Interlinear
18 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. NASB
This is probably the most known number in all of human history, 666, and the most misunderstood and abused by speculation. Used in movies, books and general conversation, even in jokes, this has been used to identify the devil in human form, ever since John scribed this passage over 1900 years ago.
The misunderstanding generally begins when people do not read the entire passage. They see the number of the beast as 666, and there their mind stops and goes no further.
So we look at it in detail.
First, John states that this is wisdom. What is wisdom? Understanding is something that becomes wisdom.
What is understanding? Understanding is the accumulation of facts and details and then putting them together to match perfectly with reality.
Letters and numbers alone do not mean much, but when you begin making words and sentences and such, then understanding develops, regarding the world around you.
But our understanding in this passage is not the number per se, but the 'calculation' of the number.
The word for count, 'psephizo,' means to count as in the moving of beads on a string in counting an inventory. It means to calculate, to determine an answer. And that is what is being calculated here, the identity of the anti-christ.
John states that he is a man. He is not an angel, not a demon, not some other creature form, but a man. And even though he will be indwelled by Satan, he is still a man who has freely given himself over to Satan.
How do we know?
Because of the number, next stated.
The 666 is the number six, tripled.
In the context, he is called a man. The number of man is six. The number of the trinity or the total essence of the Godhead, is three.
Man was created on the sixth day, Gen 1:26-31, slaves were freed after six years of service, Ex 21:2, fields were to be sown for only six consecutive years, Lev 25:3.
Repeating the number of man three times, draws the illusion of mans identification with deity. In other words, a man who thinks he is god. And not just any god, but the one and only God.
Kings and rulers in the past have tried to make themselves into a god, but they generally referred to a variety of gods such as the Greek gods or the Egyptian gods and such, and not the one true God.
This identification with God, is exactly what Satan has been wanting since his original fall, to be like the Most High. And the anti-christ is Satan's savior candidate who is competing with Christ.
Now this is the general definition of the number. The actual identification will belong to those who will actually live in that future time. For us this is just an ambiguous term, but clear enough for us to know that given all that we have just studied, people in those last few years of the Tribulation, will be easily fooled with cheap magicians tricks, due to their lack of doctrine, and therefore, when someone comes along with an obvious huge ego desiring to be worshipped as God, they will most likely miss the signs.
We can see the trend and the signs even now, and we do not live in those last days, nor will we ever see them. But those folks will live then, see it all, and miss it all entirely.
This means that that last generation will be full of people who are totally empty of spiritual resources, which will cause them to be so easily fooled, by such obvious falsehoods, even when they are right in front of them.