WHAT IS “THE MARK OF THE BEAST?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
Revelation 13:16-18 says, “ And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”
CONFUSION! (CONFUSION! CONFUSION!)
For many decades, prophecy preachers have harped on the idea of “the mark of the Beast.” It is one of their favorite topics to use to $ell their printed, video, and audio media (another topic is “666, the number of the Beast”—for more info, see our companion article linked at the end of this study). The standard explanation is that it is a personal identification number (PIN) on a microchip implanted in the right hand or forehead. Others thereby cry out against our increasing dependence on computers because such machines are leading us to a “cashless” and “checkless” economy. Credit and debit cards, Social Security numbers, lasers, barcodes, supercomputers, and the like are seen as paving the way to the Antichrist! Honestly, friends, this is nothing more than idle speculation. It leads to great fear and overwhelming paranoia. Soon, each and every activity will be introduced as, “The Antichrist is soon to appear, so do not be deceived!”
How awful the Bible ignorance is—even among professing Christians. They have little to know idea what the Scriptures actually teach. A clear Gospel they cannot preach. Christian living they do not understand. Bible prophecy they enjoy speculating over but have no solid footing in verses. Yet, they can quote “Christian” “best-selling” books, movies, church traditions, hunches, and so on. Take the topic of “the mark of the Beast,” for example.
The Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), noteworthy for observing the Saturday Sabbath, believe going to church on Sunday is “the mark of the Beast!” They allege that the Roman Catholic Church—what they refer to as “the Beast”—was erroneous in instituting Sunday worship (Rome calls Sunday “the Christian Sabbath”). SDAs argue God want us to worshipping on the original Sabbath (which indeed is Saturday). Frankly, both groups are confused. They both fail to “rightly divide the word of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In the Dispensation of Grace, we are under no Sabbath-Day commandment whatsoever (whether Saturday/Sabbath or Sunday!). Sabbath-Day keeping is associated with the Mosaic Law, of which we have no part (see Colossians 2:16-17; Galatians 4:9-11).
Here is another instance of confusion. Since some hold to a “revived Roman Empire” view of the Antichrist’s government, the introduction of the Euro 20 years back sparked renewed interest in a one-world currency. It was speculated that if the Antichrist were to arise from Western Europe, then the Euro could possibly be a catalyst to bring or actually be “the mark of the Beast.” Of course, the membership of the European Union is now well beyond the 10 members needed to correlate to the 10 nations under the Antichrist (see Revelation 13:1). “The revived Roman Empire” position—while highly popular—does not agree with Daniel 8:20-23. The 10 nations under the Antichrist’s power are not European but rather Middle Eastern. We find them, Israel’s enemies, enumerated in Psalm 83:1-8. Europe is not there!!! The Euro has nothing to do with the “mark of the Beast!”
Friends, if we look at the Bible alone—and not insert popular opinions, hunches, and “Christian” bestsellers—then we will arrive at solid ground concerning “the mark of the Beast.” We will let Scripture interpret itself.
CLARITY! (CLARITY! CLARITY!)
The Bible speaks of a man named “Antichrist” (1 John 2:18,22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7). He is against Christ because he seeks to replace (or counterfeit/imitate) Christ. In other words, he challenges Jesus Christ (the true Messiah) by pretending to be Him! Since Israel refused the genuine Messiah and hung Him on Calvary’s cross, God will let her have her way (a false Messiah). The Lord Jesus therefore claimed, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).
Second Thessalonians 2:9-12 complements this: “ Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The Antichrist’s reign is seven years total (the “week” of years in Daniel 9:27). It is halved into two 42-month periods (see Revelation 13:5). The second 3½ years will be far worse. They are described beginning in Revelation chapter 13: “ And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.  And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.”
Draw your attention to the above similes. The Antichrist is like a beast (bestial or savage and cruel in character). He resembles a leopard, a bear, and a lion. Read what Scripture says in Jeremiah: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (13:23). A leopard’s spots resemble crude rings. (Technically, the adjective is “rosettes,” rose-like patterns.) A similar outline is made when a woman wearing lipstick kisses a surface. If we study the Scriptures, we will see a correlation between the Antichrist and kisses. Let us deal with the “kisses” issue first and then we will return to the matter of the “mark.”
King David’s son Absalom used kisses to win the Jews over to his side as a way to usurp his father’s throne. Second Samuel chapter 15 reports: “ Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!  And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.  And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Absalom is a type or preview of the Antichrist. His attempt to overthrow Israel’s true king (David) parallels Antichrist stealing David’s throne from Israel’s ultimate King (Jesus Christ)!
Judas Iscariot, sharing the Antichrist’s title “the son of perdition” (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) betrayed Jesus Christ with a kiss. Turn to Matthew chapter 26 to learn: “ And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.  Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.  And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him” (cf. Mark 14:43-45; Luke 22:47-48). Luke records Jesus inquiring, “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Judas Iscariot is another preview of the Antichrist.
Turning back to Revelation chapter 13, we continue reading: “ And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:  And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”
Antichrist will be notorious for instituting a “mark”—and we are careful to notice the mark and the number are two separate matters. The mark is not “666,” as often taught; rather, the number is 666. The mark is an identifying feature placed in the right hand or in the forehead. When we think of what has gone before in our study—especially the verses—then the “mark” would be identical to the leopard’s spots. This is not unfathomable at all, is it? Even now, we are familiar with “marks” placed on the forehead for religious purposes. Think of the cross of ashes applied to a Roman Catholic’s brow on “Ash Wednesday.” Or, consider the “bindi,” that prominent red dot between the eyes of a Hindu woman. It is thus not surprising that the Antichrist will employ a similar spot to promote his false religious system. It is further noteworthy that that colossal religious-political-economic system, described in Revelation chapters 17 and 18, is identical to Roman Catholicism in several dozen points.
Why are the right hand and the forehead so important here? The right hand is a symbol of service or action; they find purpose and strength in serving the Antichrist. The forehead represents the mind; they have given themselves over to do the Antichrist’s will. They proudly advertise their “religiosity,” that they are members of his satanic church. One religious authority says of modern forehead marks, “By these marks we know what a person believes, and therefore know how to begin conversations.” This will be no different with the Antichrist. His followers will not be ashamed of their devil worship; their defiance against the one true God will be there for all to see. The “mark” is like the branding of an animal. It signifies ownership, submission to a higher authority. The Greek word is “charagma,” rendered “graven” in Acts 17:29. Otherwise, “charagma” is the King James term for “mark” (you may compare Revelation 13:16; Revelation 14:9,11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 16:2; Revelation 19:20; and Revelation 20:4).
It is also interesting that God, in the Mosaic Law, commanded the nation Israel to remember His Word by applying it as a “sign” on their forehead (between the eyes) or on their hand (Exodus 13:8-9,16; Deuteronomy 6:3-8; Deuteronomy 11:18-21)! These are the “phylacteries” of Matthew 23:5 (see our study linked at the end of this article). Satan will use the mark of the Antichrist to mock God’s Word, as he will have his own people flaunting their alliance with him!
Since Messianic Jews will accept Jesus as Messiah and reject Antichrist, they will not accept the mark of the Beast. Without that mark, the Bible says they will be able to neither buy nor sell (as we already saw in Revelation 13:16-18 at the beginning of this study). This will obviously result in great economic hardships. Any Messianic Jews who refuse to worship the Antichrist, reject his image and his mark, are beheaded (Revelation 20:4). However, God promises them bodily resurrection into His Kingdom so it does not matter what sinful man does to them!!!
Prophecy preachers have been preying upon the ignorant Christian public (and general public) for many decades now. While we give some the benefit of the doubt, there is certainly an economic incentive to writing books on prophecy. It is an interesting topic, everybody wants to say something about it, yet they are doing nothing more than using news items and haphazardly pairing them with verses (they have to look credible, you know!!). Rather than speculating, and yanking verses from contexts, we would much rather let the Bible interpret itself. We do not need to sensationalize, generate paranoia, confuse people.
The “mark of the Beast” is a religious blot, placed on the forehead or right hand (Revelation 13:16). Someone may object to the language here, but this author believes too much is made of the argument “in the forehead” and “in the right hand” versus “on the forehead” and “on the right hand.” He thinks we could better spend our time focusing on more important facets of this topic (namely, comparing verses to see the nature of the mark itself). There is no demand that it be under the skin (the microchip idea is speculation). The significances of the forehead and right hand are these people have given their minds and “strong hands” over to the Antichrist’s will and work. That mark advertises their allegiance to him and his evil religion. It will be compulsory for economic survival once instituted (verse 17). Moreover, the “mark of the Beast” is related to the number “666” (verse 18)—the mark and number should never be confused!!
Since the Antichrist has a leopard symbol, we cannot help but see his mark being related to the kiss-like spots of the leopard (Jeremiah 13:23). His religion has an identifiable emblem or sign. It reminds us of the “Ash Wednesday” black spot and the Hindu bindi on the forehead. The kisses of Absalom and Judas Iscariot—and resulting rosettes (like leopard spots)—point to how the Antichrist will operate with respect to craftiness and disloyalty.
SUPPLEMENTAL: WHAT ABOUT THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?
What is the extent of Antichrist’s reign and religion? While he seeks worldwide dominion, Jesus’ Second Coming prevents it. The Antichrist will certainly exercise great governmental power over the Middle East, and particularly Israel and 10 of her neighboring enemy nations. However, there is no indication in the Bible that he will manage to overcome the United States (if it still exists at the time!). All those speculators running around and telling us in America to “watch for this” or “watch for that” with respect to preparing for the arrival of the Antichrist, they are spouting hysteria that has no biblical basis.
Will we as Christians be brought before the Antichrist to accept or reject his mark? No! The Church the Body of Christ has no relation to the Antichrist. We have not rejected Jesus Christ; the Antichrist is designed to separate Israel’s believers and her unbelievers in her prophetic program not us in our mystery program (go back to John 5:43). We will have been raptured (resurrected) long before Antichrist appears, and we will be reigning in the heavenly places by the time he arises. Again, the Antichrist is meant to separate believers and unbelievers with respect to the nation Israel. If we have come to faith in Christ now, we have already made our decision to follow God. We do not need to make another decision: the Antichrist’s religion identifies the apostates (false Jews) and segregates the true Jews (followers of Jesus). Unbelievers will fall for the Antichrist, just as 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 predicted. Their penalty will be eternal Hellfire!
Read Revelation chapter 14: “ And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,  The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:  And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”