Revelation 13:16-17

16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,[a]1to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, 2the name of the beast or 3the number of its name.

Revelation 13:16-17 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION 13

This chapter contains a description of the Romish antichrist, under the figure of two beasts, the one representing him in his civil power, the other in his ecclesiastical power. The first beast is described by its origin, the sea, and by the monstrous shape its several parts; its heads seven, in which were the name of blasphemy; its horns ten, on which were crowns; its skin like a leopard, its feet as a bear, and its mouth as a lion; and by its state and condition, having power, a throne, and great authority; and having one of its heads wounded, and healed; and by the great regard had unto him, being wondered at, and worshipped by all the world, and declared to be more powerful than any, and none to be like them, Re 13:1-4. Next an account is given of what he was suffered to have, a blaspheming mouth, and power to continue forty two months, Re 13:5; and of what he said or uttered, his blasphemy against God, his name, tabernacle, and the inhabitants of heaven, Re 13:6; and of what he did by permission, made war with the saints, overcame them, and had power over all people, Re 13:7; and of the worship given him by the reprobate part of the world, Re 13:8; and the whole is concluded with an exhortation exciting attention to what had been said, with a threatening to the beast, and a word of comfort to the saints, Re 13:9,10. And then follows the description of the second beast, by its original the earth; by its likeness to a lamb, and a dragon; to the former for its two horns, and to the latter for its speech, Re 13:11; and by the actions ascribed to it, which are many; as exercising all the power of the first beast; causing all the inhabitants of the earth to worship that; doing miracles, of which one is mentioned, thereby deceiving the men of the world; ordering them to make an image to the wounded beast; giving life to it, so that it could speak; putting to death all that refused to worship it; obliging men of all ranks and degrees to have a mark in their right hands or foreheads, and forbidding such that had not to buy or sell, Re 13:12-17. And the chapter is concluded with an epiphonema, exciting men of understanding to search out, and count the number of the beast's name, since it is possible to be done, being the number of a man, and easy to be done, consisting of three Greek letters, c x v, which are numerically 666, Re 13:18.

Revelation 13:16-17 In-Context

14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,to be marked on the right hand or the forehead,
17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.
18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Cross References 3

  • 1. [Revelation 7:3]; See Galatians 6:17
  • 2. Revelation 14:11
  • 3. Revelation 15:2

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.