What is the meaning of 666?

Recently in the comments section of this blog, someone wrote the following about the 666 reference Revelation 13:18,

The 666 is incorrect. It can’t be these numbers by Hebrew standards. The Aramaic proves this too. There are many teachings available to this regard. One being by [I deleted the name of a prominent Hebrew roots teacher].

This was my response:

With all due respect, simply making a statement why you disagree is not helpful to our discussion of the subject. Kindly give us Scripture and verse along with the meaning of the biblical words and contexts in which a biblical word or concept is found. Simply throwing out a name of someone who teaches differently on a subject is not helpful either. There are many well known personalities the world over who are wrong on many subjects. Name dropping means nothing to the discerning truth seeker. We want to know what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Figuring that many people out there would like to have a fuller understanding of the meaning of 666, these last few days I have been researching this subject. Here is what I have learned. Please enjoy. — Natan


Revelation 13:18, Six hundred threescore and six [KJV]/666 [NKJV].  Here is the full text of this verse:

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Rev 18:13, NKJV)

For six hundred threescore and six (KJV) or666 (NKJV), New Testament Greek-English interlinear translations show two variants as to the Greek behind these words. Some show the Greek words hexakosioi hexekonta hex meaning “six hundred and sixty six” (e.g. William Mounce’s Greek and English Interlinear New Testament and The Greek New Testament [fourth edition by Aland, Metzger et al]. Most Greek lexicons define these same words (e.g. Thayer and Arndt-Gringrich) as meaning “six hundred and sixty six”…

  • hexakosioi means “six hundred”
  • hexekonta means “sixty”
  • hex means “six”

For six hundred threescore and six (KJV) or 666 (NKJV), J.P. Green and  J. J. Griesbach (in his Diaglott) in their New Testament translations have the Greek letters “χζς” behind the words 666 as does Vincent in his lexicon (Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 2, p. 531).  

As to why some New Testament Greek interlinears and lexicons simply have the Greek letters χζς, while others have the Greek words hexakosioi hexekonta hex, Vincent explains that in the earlier Greek New Testament manuscripts, it is written in full (i.e. hexakosioi hexekonta hex) as opposed to just the letters χζς, which correspond to the Greek numbers (ibid.):

  • hexakosioi/χ = six hundred
  • hexekonta/ζ= sixty
  • hex/ς= six

Curiously Strong’s Concordance lists the Greek words behind the English words six hundred threescore and six (KJV) as χζς or chi xi stigma (Strong’s G5516). chi/χ is the twenty-second letter, xi/ζ is the fourteenth letter and sigma/ς is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. 

In those translations that list χζς as the Greek behind the words 666, the question is this: What is the last letter in this three letter word? It appears to be the letter sigma, which is eighteenth letter in the Greek alphabet and looks like this: ς. However, Strong’s lists it as a stigma  and defines this as “a non-existent letter in the Greek alphabet, and of this symbol says, “the primary meaning of stigma presumable derives from the primary word stizō (to ‘stick’, that is, prick); a mark incised or punched (for recognition of ownership), that is, (figuratively) scar of service.” Why Strong’s chose to call this letter a stigma instead of a sigma, is not explained. No other lexical reference that I could find calls the last letter of this word a stigma, but refers to it as a sigma.

So what is a Greek stigma? According to Wikipedia, 

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My Notes on Revelation Chapters 20–22 on the Millennium and Eternity

Revelation 20

Revelation 20:1, Bottomless pit. (See notes at Deut 32:22; 2 Pet 2:4; Rev 9:1. Also see notes at Isa 14:18–21.)

Revelation 20:4, A thousand years. This is but one of six references in the Bible to the Millennium lasting for one thousand years. The other references are found in the surrounding verses (vv. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7). Even then, some biblical students still question the idea of the Millennium and categorize it as a NT concept only and, therefore, feel they can relegate it to the realm of the allegorical. An understanding of the prophetic implications of the seventh day Sabbath should settle this question once and for all. In traditional Jewish thought, the seven days of creation picture the time man will be on this physical earth. Six days (for six days or six thousand years) man does his own work, while on the seventh day (or one thousand years) he rests and fellowships with Elohim. This is a picture of the millennial rest, which the Jewish sages have long called the Messianic Era, which is yet to come. The Millennium is not uniquely a Christian or NT concept, but is rooted in Judaism going back before the Christian era. For example, the writer of Hebrews juxtaposes the Sabbath and the Millennium in Hebrews chapter seven when he compares Joshua taking the Israelites into the Promised Land with Yeshua taking the saints into the Sabbath, millennial rest of our spiritual inheritance.

Revelation 20:5, The rest of the dead. This phrase is a parenthetical thought. Before and after this phrase, the author is discussing those who will be part of the first resurrection, which occurs at Yeshua’s second coming. Later in the same chapter, John goes on to discuss what happens to the rest of the dead (vv. 12–13).

Revelation 20:7–21:1, Events after the Millennium. The events in these verses appear to be chronological and occur after the Millennium. In Rev 20:2ff John seems to be receiving a pre-millennial flashback vision. (See my discussion on these verses.)

Revelation 20:8, The four corners. These rebels who will inhabit the millennial earth have removed themselves as far as possible from Jerusalem, which is the seat of King Yeshua’s rule and is at the center of the earth.

Revelation 20:9, Fire came down from heaven. If the New Jerusalem, the seat of Yeshua’s millennial government, is hovering over the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium, then this is the source of the fire or Yeshua’s judgment against the rebels who dare to defy his divine governance.

Revelation 20:10, The devil…lake of fire. (See notes at Deut 32:22; 2 Pet 2:4; Rev 9:1.)

Tormented forever.The devil as a spirit either can only be contained, but not destroyed meaning Elohim is not all-powerful, or, more likely, Elohim will allow the devil to exist, though in a place of torment, as an on-going example and testimony to his sovereign greatness and power over evil.

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A Quick Summary of the Final Events in the Book of Revelation

What happens after the return of Yeshua to this earth — after he has put down all of his enemies in battle (Zech 14:1–3; Rev 17:14; 19:11–21)? This we know. He shall set his feet on the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4) even as he ascended from the same place (Acts 1:9–12), and YHVH-Yeshua shall become king over the earth (Zech 14:9). He shall be King of kings (Rev 17:14; 19:16) and rule with a rod of iron over the whole earth (Rev 12:5; 19:15) for one thousand years (Rev 20:2, 3, 4, 6, 7). This is commonly referred to as the Millennium. This is the earth that Yeshua declared that the meek would inherit (Matt 5:5).

A Quick Overview of the Millennium

What will the 1000 year-long Millennium be like? The Scriptures give us some insights into life on earth during this time.

  • Elohim will live with his people. (Ezek 37:26–28)
  • David will rule as King over Israel (Ezek 37:24–25)
  • YHVH’s annual feast will be kept by all people (Ezek 46:3–6; cf. Col 2,16–17)
  • YHVH’s government will be established on Mount Zion in Jerusalem: Torah will go forth from Mount Zion and the nations will go up to Mount Zion to worship YHVH in the house (temple) of YHVH (Mic 4:1–2)
  • A Highway of YHVH, or a highway of holiness will lead to Zion. (Isa 35:8–10)
  • Whether literal or spiritual, living waters will flow from Jerusalem and Yeshua’s throne. Water was flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (Ezek 47:1; Zech 14:8)
  • On the bank of the river there were very many trees on each side (Ezek 47:6–9)
  • People will live to a very old age. (Isa 65:20)
  • Crowds of people will flock to Jerusalem. (Zech 2:1–4; Isa 49:14)
  • The temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt. (Zech 6:15; 14:20–21; Hag 2:6–9)
  • The Messiah will be king over the whole world. (Zech 6:9–13; Isa 11:1–5; Rev 20:6; 5:9–10)
  • The nations which do not want to serve and obey YHVH will be destroyed. (Isa 60:12; Zech 14:16–19; Isa 9:5–7)

What Happens After the Millennium?

After the thousand years is completed, Satan the devil who has been bound in the bottomless pit (Rev 20:1–3) will be released briefly to test those on earth as to their faithfulness to King Yeshua (verses 7–8). The devil will then be cast into the lake of fire forever (verse 10).

Next is the final judgment day — commonly called the great white throne judgment. At that time, all the dead, and any others who have died in Yeshua and have yet to receive their reward of eternal life, will be raised from the dead to stand before the Almighty. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11–15).

As discussed earlier, I believe that the New Jerusalem will come into view at Yeshua’s return where it will be hovering over the earth during the wrath of Elohim period and during the 1000 year-long Millennium. However, the Scriptures speak of a new heavens and new earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1).

Before this happens, something very dramatic must first happen.

The Heavens and Earth to Pass Away; Arrival of New Heavens and Earth

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What Is the Kingdom of God & What Will the Millennium Be Like?

The Preaching of the Kingdom of Elohim Was Fundamental to the Ministry of Yeshua

During Yeshua’s earthly ministry as recorded in the Gospels, which subjects did he teach about the most? Curiously, sadly and for the most part, it wasn’t what most churches in maintstream Christianity are preaching from their pulpits and media platforms today.

So what did Yeshua preach mostly about? The facts speak for themselves. In an analysis I made a few years ago of the Gospels books of Matthew and John I categorized and referenced all the words and actions of Yeshua. The subject Yeshua devoted the most time to was himself and his mission (316 references), followed by revealing his Heavenly Father to his followers (184), followed by his commentary and denunciation of the hypocritical religionists of his day (177 references). The fourth subject to which he devoted the most amount of time was the kingdom of Elohim (144 references). After that, in numerical order was his death, burial and resurrection, followed by YHVH’s judgment, obedience and faithfulness to YHVH’s commandments, spiritual rewards, healing, worldliness, persecution and trials, faith and belief, followed by faithlessness and unbelief. As we can see, the preaching and revelation of the kingdom of Elohim received a high priority in Yeshua’s ministry. This reality is consistent with how the gospel writers distill down the main message of Yeshua’s ministry in the following phrase: “Repent, for the kingdom of Elohim is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17, 23; 10:7). 

During Yeshua’s earthly ministry as recorded in the Gospels, which subjects did he teach about the most? Curiously, sadly and for the most part, it wasn’t what most churches in maintstream Christianity are preaching from their pulpits and media platforms today.

On the focus of Yeshua’s preaching ministry, Hebraic Christian scholar, Marvin Wilson, notes an important facrt. “[Yeshua] came to this earth on a rescue mission, but not to help people escape this world. Instead, he came to free them from the clutches of sin, self, sickness, and oppression that they might be prepared for the olam ha-ba, the “age to come” (Our Father Abraham—the Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, p. 182).

The gospel message involves repentance from sin (i.e. lawlessness or Torahlessness), so that one can enter into the kingdom of Elohim, which is from heaven (Matt 3:2; 4:17). In the modern mainstream church, neither of these subjects is preached much about. Instead, Christianity tells us that the law of Moses (i.e. the Torah), has been done away with, and we are also told that when you die you go to heaven and that’s that. Since the church hardly speaks about repentance from Torahlessness or about the kingdom of Elohim—things that according to the apostolic writers—formed the basis for the gospel message, one can’t help but wonder how many people even know what the true gospel message is. In this teaching, we want to discuss the kingdom of Elohim aspect of the gospel message as it relates to the millennial reign of Yeshua after his return. This is the ultimate hope of the redeemed believer, and thus it is something that we need to understand.

Brad Young, another Hebraic Christian scholar, in his book,Jesus the Jewish Theologian,describes the first century view of the concept of the kingdom of Elohim as follows: “The twin parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven [Matt. 13:31-33; Luke 13:18-21; Mark 4:30-32] illustrate the basis for [Yeshua’s] teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven. They illustrate the progressive growth of the kingdom.… From the start, the supernatural aspect of this parable should not be overlooked. That a tiny seed can progressively grow into a tree was viewed as nothing less than miraculous. The same must have been true for the action of the leaven in the dough. Growth — this amazing, steady, continuous process — would have been viewed as a true wonder in the eyes of the people. The major theme of these illustrations is this miraculous growth. The idea of a sudden, total reversal of the present situation is not congruous with these parables of progressive growth” (ibid. pp. 77–78). That is to say, the kingdom of Elohim would not suddenly appear upon the scene with sudden transformation of the surrounding world, but that it would start small and slowly, gradually, yet powerfully, increase until it was of great consequence.

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The Book of Revelation and the Olivet Prophecy (Matt 24 and 25) Compared

Not unlike treasure hunters examining a map for clues leading to a buried treasure, or an archeologist carefully scrutinizing ancient artifacts for information about lost civilizations, or an engineer diligently studying blueprints in order to construct a mechanical device or a building, we have briefly examined some of YHVH’s spiritual blueprints found in the Scriptures to give us clues about the nature and order of end-time events. Understanding the seven biblical feasts, the seven stations in the tabernacle of Moses and the various steps of the biblical wedding will help us to decode the mysteries surrounding the events pertaining to the second coming of our Master, Yeshua the Messiah.

Introducing the Olivet Prophecy 

Now let us carefully investigate another set of spiritual blueprints: Yeshua’s prophecy in Matthew 24 and 25, commonly called the Olivet Prophecy.

Having a working knowledge of all these “blueprints” will help us to discover who we are as a people in the eyes of YHVH, where we have come from, where we are presently, and where we are going—that is, what the future holds for us, and what our spiritual destiny or divine inheritance is. Only then will we understand the end-time prophetic events leading up to the second coming of Yeshua, and we will learn what our role will be to play in them.

As we begin to examine Matthew 24 and 25, it is important first to note the chronological positioning of this prophecy in the context of the passages before and after this pivotal chapter. The chapters that precede Matthew 24 prophetically speak of precursory events leading up to the second coming of Yeshua, while those that follow Matthew 24 prophetically delineate events that occur after his return.

Matthew 24 sits like a diamond in the midst of a brilliant gold setting. It speaks of the order of end time events pertaining to the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah, our beloved King, Redeemer and Savior. Listed below is a chronology of events as Matthew lays them out, more or less, in the order in which they will occur prophetically. Many of these passages will be elucidated upon later in this book. It is important that we present the overall layout of end-time events here and now before studying the individual components in detail later.

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Deuteronomy 32—A Poetic Prophecy for US

Deuteronomy 32

Deuteronomy 32:1–2, Words of my mouth…rain. Note the phrases: “words of my mouth,” “my doctrine,” “rain,” “my speech shall distill as the dew,” “small rain” and “showers.” Now read compare these phrases with Eph 5:26. What is Scripture talking about here? Israel spent 40 years in a dry wilderness. By contrast, the Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey and was well-watered. Immediately before and after the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (Exod 20), there are references to human thirst and YHVH providing water for his people (Exod 15:22–27; 17:1–7 Num 20:2–13). During the Messianic Age (the Millennium), living waters will flow from Jerusalem (Zech 14:8) and those who refuse to come up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) will receive no rain on their land (Zech 14:16–19). As you relate all these scriptures together, what is the bigger lesson YHVH is trying to teach us here pertaining to water and the word of YHVH?

Deuteronomy 32:8, Children of Israel. The Septuagint (LXX) has “angels of God,” the ESV has “sons of God,” and the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) has “children of God.” The LXX and ESV references could be a reference to the fallen angel, demon-nephilim or sons of Elohim reference found in Genesis 6:2 who along with their descendants founded kingdoms and empires that were opposed to Elohim. This alternate rendering possibly makes more sense, since Israel was not yet a nation when the Almighty assigned the nations to the heathens and the demon-gods or elohim that he placed over them and that they worshipped in place of the true YHVH Elohim. On the other hand, perhaps YHVH arranged the heathen in their countries around the future land of Israel, and those heathen living therein were merely squatters illegally inhabiting the Promised Land before the children of Israel were a nation.

Deuteronomy 32:14, Blood of the grapes. What is Torah referring to in this interesting, rather arcane phrase? Compare this with a parallel passage found in Genesis 49:11, which is clearly Messianic in nature. Now add into the mix Leviticus 17:11; Revelation 1:5; 7:14; Matthew 26:27–28; Romans 3:25; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; John 15:1–5 and finally John 6:53–56. In the last passage listed, is Yeshua advocating some bizarre cultic rite involving cannibalism, or is he relating back to these Torah passages that are Messianic in nature and relating them to his redemptive work at the cross, which believers commemorate when they take communion at Passover?

Deuteronomy 32:15, Yeshurun. The name Yeshurun is a poetic name for Israel and means “upright, straight or just.” YHVH ascribed this august title to Israel indicating that Israel was not to deviate from the high standards demanded by YHVH (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1103). This is a prophecy about what would happen to Israel once in the Promised Land. They forsook the one who had redeemed them and blessed them. Compare this with Yeshua’s admonition to the Laodicean believers in Revelation 3:14–21 (especially note verse 17), which is a description of the contemporary American Christian church, much of which preaches an “easy-believism,” health and wealth, pop-psychology, “come to Jesus and everything will be all right” “gospel” message. Just because you now a part of a more Hebraically oriented congregation does not mean that you have shed off this kind of thinking and its accompanying lifestyle and that this prophecy does not apply to you. Selah (ponder and reflect).

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Introduction to the Book of Revelation

The Koine Greek name for the Book of Revelation is apokalupsis from which our English word apocalypse derives, is a word that in the minds of most people conjures up visions of horrific and cataclysmic events in which there is war, political and environmental upheaval involving mass death and destruction. This idea is a misnomer however. Though the Book of Revelation indeed foretells of a cataclysmic end times scenario, the Greek word apokalupsis literally means “laying bear, making naked; a disclosure of truth, instruction concerning things before unknown, manifestation, appearance,” and hence our English name for this book: Revelation. This meaning is made clear in the first verse of this same book.

The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, which Elohim gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.

The Book of Revelation is just that—a revelation of things to come to pass, which Yeshua is making known to his servants (plural). This includes you and me. 

Although, I don’t claim to have all or even much understanding pertaining to this book, I here share with you what I enlightenment I have been given to this point on several key topic. This is simply my understanding to this point until YHVH by his Spirit gives us more understanding. Until then, may we remain as little children, pale in hand, on the seashore of the vast ocean of YHVH’s unfathomable wisdom and knowledge in faith waiting for him to fill our buckets with more of his divine revelation.

What Should Be Our Perspective on the Book of Revelation?

On another note, there are those who champion the view that events of the Book of Revelation are primarily in the past tense. That is to say, Revelation records the events leading up to and following the destruction of the Jewish temple and Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The view that the events of Revelation were mostly fulfilled in the first century is called the preterist view, and those who support this position draw our attention to verses which point to the immediacy of the prophecies of the book being fulfilled—to events which must “shortly take place” (i.e. Rev 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). 

The problems with this view are several. To make it work, most of the prophecies of the book have to be allegorized. As such, preterists believe that little if anything Revelation says can be taken literally. The purpose of Revelation, they say, was to comfort the churches in Asia Minor in light of the persecutions they were enduring (Rev 1:4). While much in Revelation is obviously allegorical, to say that it all is, is simply applying a broad brush approach and, in my opinion, denies some of the basic rules of biblical interpretation. My approach is to take what the book says to be literal, unless the context or passages elsewhere in the Scriptures give us reason to interpret it symbolically.

The second major objection I have to the preterist view is that since most scholars agree that John wrote this book in the last decade of the first century, this view would make John’s Book of Revelation a record of history, as opposed to a prophecy “of things which must shortly come to pass,” which is contrary to the book’s purpose as the first verse of the book clearly states. The preterist view cannot accommodate this reality unless scholars can prove that John wrote all of his book before A.D. 70, a date which is at odds with the records of the early church fathers, which place the date of the books writing in the 90s. 

Why I’m Not a Preterist

Preterism is the Christian eschatological (understanding of end time events) concept that all Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled including Yeshua’s Matthew 24 Olivet Discourse and those prophecies in the book of Revelation.

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