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Revelation 13:16

he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave
These are similar categories of persons who fled to the mountains and hid themselves in caves from the wrath of God and of the Lamb (Rev. Rev. 6:15+). No matter what station or position a person has, they will all be treated absolutely equitably. Even the rich, who might normally expect to bribe their way around the requirement, have no exemption. So manic is the desire of the dragon—and his empowered Beast—for all worship that he will treat the most powerful men on a par with the least in their requirement to render worship. In this regard, the dragon emulates the true God: “Yet He is not partial to princes, nor does he regard the rich more than the poor” (Job Job 34:19). The birds will exhibit similar uniform treatment of the earth dwellers at their banquet at the second advent (Rev. Rev. 19:17+).

Here again is evidence against taking Nero as the Beast, for the requirement of worship is global: “The Neronian persecution was limited to Rome as far as the data tell us, and there is no evidence for it extending to the province of Asia at that time.”1

to receive a mark
The TR text has δῶση αὐτοῖς [dōsē autois] , he should give them a mark. The NU text has δῶσιν αὐτοῖς [dōsin autois] , they should give them a mark.

Mark is χάραγμα [charagma] : “From charassō, to engrave . . . denotes a mark or stamp.”2 It differs from στίγμα [stigma] , such as Paul carried in his body (Gal. Gal. 6:17) which indicates a mark or scar “without special design, but carrying significance.”3 The mark here probably is of a specific design so as to be recognizable. It differs in emphasis from the seal (σφραγῖδα [sphragida] ) placed on the 144,000 of Israel (Rev. Rev. 7:2+). The mark emphasizes loyalty to the Beast but the seal emphasizes ownership by God.4 The only other occurrence of this word outside the book of Revelation is by Luke. “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped [graven, KJV; formed, NASB] by art and man’s devising” [emphasis added] (Acts Acts 17:29). It is almost certainly visible: “Made by engraving, etching, imprinting, branding,”5 whereas the seal of God is probably invisible (Rev. Rev. 7:2+). The former is discernible by supernatural powers (Rev. Rev. 7:2+; Rev. Rev. 9:4+), the latter by the government of the Beast.

[DeMar] equates the mark of Revelation Rev. 13:1+ (Rev. Rev. 13:16+) with the mark that is given to the 144,000 by the Lamb. “Will Jesus implant a microchip in the foreheads of the 144,000?” he asks. Here DeMar confuses things that must not be confused. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ does not need some kind of a visible mark to help Him watch over the 144,000. The Antichrist and his minions, however, are not divine. . . . Mention of an invisible mark in one place of Scripture need not imply that the mark in all other places is invisible.6

A strictly literal translation of “the mark of the beast” might imply “a picture of the beast” or “a mark made by the beast.” A more satisfactory indication of the relationship between “mark” and “beast” would be “a mark showing one’s relationship to the beast” or “a mark of loyalty to the beast” or “a mark of the party of the beast.”7

In summary, the mark of the beast would signify to the reader of the time that the recipient: worshipped the beast as divine, acknowledged the beast’s authority, is devoted to the beast, and considers himself to be the beast’s property or slave to command.8

In the Papyri, χάραγμα [charagma] is always connected with the Emperor, and sometimes contains his name and effigy, with the year of his reign. It was necessary for buying and selling. It is found on all sorts of documents, making them valid; and there are many on “bills of sale.” Charagma is therefore the official seal.9

The mark which is taken is the same for all:

This mark has nothing to do with credit, as is often taught today. In a credit system, everyone must have a different number. In this case, everyone has the same number. The purpose of the mark will be to serve as a sign of identification of those who will own the Antichrist as their god. Only those who have this number will be permitted to work, to buy, to sell, or simply to make a living. The verse does not speak of credit cards, banking systems, a cashless society, a one-world money system, or computers, etc.10

It is certainly within the realm of possibility for the mark to serve both as a single identifier of allegiance to the Beast and a globally unique identifier. All that is required is to combine an outward visible mark (indicating shared allegiance) with an invisible digital code (indicating unique identification). The external mark would function to readily cull the obedient from the disobedient while the invisible code would provide the necessary means for digital monetary exchange in the controlled economy of the end. As is typical of Satan’s schemes, the unique identifier would provide numerous benefits which would also serve as motivation to take the mark. The cost of refusing the mark is not just the risk of one’s life, but also the inability to participate in the global market. The details of the mark are not revealed by Scripture.

on their right hand
This implies a mark on the surface of the hand. Such a mark has several advantages from the perspective of the Beast.

  • It requires the worshiper to permanently deface his body as an act of homage.
  • It provides a ready means to identify those without the mark.
  • It is immune to the fragility of technical systems—especially given the disruptive nature of the time of the end.

On the other hand, a low-technology implementation has the disadvantage of being subject to ready falsification. Perhaps the answer is found in a combination of both externally visible and internal (implanted) technology:

While I admit that the preposition epi is used, this does not consign the futurist interpretation [of an implanted mark] to sudden death. If this mark were purely on the surface of the skin, the resultant loss of skin, as happens regularly with people, would mean the mark would disappear. For this mark to have any degree of permanence it must, in some sense, be “in” the tissue. The use of επι [epi] doesn’t really deny that. it is simply saying that the mark is visible to someone, or to some device such as a scanner. In fact the word “mark” (charagma) comes from the verb charasso which means “to cut to a point, then to inscribe.” it is really not farfetched to see the phrase as describing some kind of minor surgery—a “cutting to a point”—for the insertion of a chip that will be “inscribed” with data.11

This is a time in which Jesus’ injunction to cut off one’s hand (Mtt. Mat. 18:8) can be taken literally, for Rev. Rev. 14:9-10+ and Rev. 20:4+ make it plain that no one bearing the mark of the Beast will enter eternal life. Indeed, it will be better to enter eternal life maimed than to be cast into hell-fire whole.12

or on their foreheads
The high priest wore a plate of pure gold upon his forehead with the engraving, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” (Ex. Ex. 28:36-38). It declared him to be one who was set aside for the purpose and ministry of God (a saint). Ezekiel was shown a vision where those to be spared God’s judgment receive a mark on their foreheads (Eze. Eze. 9:4). Harlots wore a mark on their forehead identifying their harlotry (Jer. Jer. 3:3; Rev. Rev. 17:5+). The 144,000 sealed of Israel have the name of the Father and of the Lamb written on their foreheads (Rev. Rev. 14:1+ cf. Rev. Rev. 7:3+). See commentary on Revelation 7:3.

In all of these examples, the mark identifies the category to which the person belongs and serves as an indication of character, as does the mark of the Beast. Those who take it are completely opposed to God and unwilling to repent in the face of overwhelming evidence of His judgment. See Beast Worshipers are Unique.

The placement of the mark on the hand or forehead brings to mind the command God gave through Moses that the children of Israel would faithfully teach His commands to their children.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes . You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (De Deu. 6:6-9 cf. Ex. Ex. 13:9, Ex. 13:16) [emphasis added]

In response to these instructions, the Jews developed phylacteries, small scrolls which contained God’s law and which were bound to the hand or head. The phylacteries differ from the mark of the Beast in that they were attached to the left hand. Tefillin (phylacteries) are small tightly rolled scrolls that contain passages from Exodus and Deuteronomy. They were placed in boxes that were tied to the head or left arm. The mezuzot were placed in ornamental cases that were attached to the doorpost of a house.”13 Although the mark of the Beast is on the right hand rather than the left, the similarity to the instructions given by God to Israel in remembrance of the law is striking.

Notes

1 Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 8.

2 W. E. Vine, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, IL: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), G5480.

3 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains (New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996, c1989), 1:443.

4 Yet χάραγμα [charagma] is used of brands on animals which denotes ownership. [Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 876]

5 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 406.

6 Larry Spargimino, “How Preterists Misuse History to Advance their View of Prophecy,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 25.

7 Louw, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, 1:443.

8 Hal Harless, “666: The Beast and His Mark in Revelation 13,” in The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 7 no. 22 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, December 2003), 341.

9 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 13:16.

10 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 255.

11 Spargimino, “How Preterists Misuse History to Advance their View of Prophecy,” 24-25.

12 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 13:11.

13 Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out: What Archaeology Reveals About the Truth of the Bible (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1997), 279.

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