Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SIX Part II

 Six: the Number of Man, the Number of ‘the Man of Sin’


“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.”  Revelation 13: 18, Authorized Version.


The following is quoted from: An Exhaustive E.G. White Commentary on Revelation, Vol. II Footnotes of Rev. 13: 18. Review & Herald Publishing Association:

     “Here is wisdom. – Compare the phrase, ‘here is the mind which hath wisdom” (ch. 17: 9(. The wisdom here commended is doubtless that to which Paul refers in Eph. 1: 17. Only by divine enlightenment [not human wisdom] will men understand the mysteries of the Word of God (see on 1 Cor. 2:13). “

     Understanding. – Or, ‘intelligence.’ Those who wish to know the meaning of the cryptic number may understand.

      Count. –  Or “calculate.”

      Number of the beast. It should be noted that the beast had already been conclusively identified. (see on vs 1-10 below). The number provides confirmatory evidence of this identification.

    “ Since the early days of Christianity there has been much discussion as to the significance of 666. One of the earliest to write on the subject was Irenaeus (C. A.D. 130-C. 102). He identified the beats as the Antichrist, and believed that the numerical values of the letters of his name would add up to 666. He suggested the name Teitan, a name sometimes accounted divine, as having great probability. He also suggested, but as much less probable, the name Lateinos,  this being the name of the last kingdom of the four seen by Daniel. At the same time he warned that “it is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, casting about for many names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned” (Against Heresies, v. 30. 3; ANF, vol. 1, p. 599).

     Since Irenaeus’ day the number 666 has been applied to numerous political figures of history. It should be noted, however, that inasmuch as the beast has already been identified, the number, whatever significance it may have, must have a relationship to this power. Otherwise there should be no valid reason for the angel giving John the information contained in v. 18, at this point of the prophetic narrative.

      An interpretation that gained currency in the period following the Reformation was that 666 stood for Vicarius Filii Dei, meaning “vicar of the Son of God,” one of the titles of the pope of Rome. The numerical value of the component letters of this title [of the pope] totals 666 as follows:



NOTE:  Irenaues, according to Webster, was a ”theologian of the ante-Nicene church; Bishop of the Gallic church, Lyons; his feast day, July 28; chief work: first complete exposition of the [Roman] Catholic faith in his Against the Heresies, c.18o , and an abridged layman’s account of the same: In Proof of the Apostolic Teaching.”- Webster’s Unified Dictionary & Encyclopedia, 1960. H.S. Stuttman Co., Inc. NY.

    “This interpretation was based on the identification of the pope as Antichrist, the historic Reformation concept. The principal exponent of this interpretation was Andreas Helwig (c. 1572-1643; see L.E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2, pp. 605-608). Many since his day have adopted this interpretation. Inasmuch as this commentary identifies the beast as the papacy, it also accepts this view as being the best thus far presented, though recognizing that there may be more implied in the cryptogram than this interpretation provides.

     Regarding the title Vicarius Filii Dei, the Catholic journal, Our Sunday Visitor, of April 18, 1915, reported in answer to a query, “What are the letters supposed to be in the Pope’s crown, and what do they signify, if anything?”  “The letters inscribed in the Pope’s mitre are these: Vicarius Filii Dei, which is the Latin for Vicar of the Son of God. Catholics hold that the Church which is a visible society must have a visible head” (p. 3).  The issue of November 15, 1914, admitted that the Latin numerals added together total 666, but went on to declare that many other names also yield this total. In the issue of August 3, 1971, page 7, the subject of Vicarius Filii Dei again came up for discussion, and the statement was made that this title is not inscribed on the pope’s tiara. The tiara, it averred, bears no inscription whatsoever (p. 7). The Catholic Encyclopedia distinguishes between the mitre and the tiara by describing the tiara as a non-liturgical ornament and the mitre as one worn for liturgical functions. Whether the inscription Vicarius Filii Dei appears in the tiara of the mitre is really beside the point. The title is admittedly tied to the pope, and that is sufficient for the purposes of prophecy.

        Number of a man. – [Compare to the ‘number of the beast.’] The beast represents a human organization.

        Six hundred threescore and six. –  There is some textual evidence (cf. p. 10) for the reading 616. However, the reading 666 is overwhelmingly attested.” (end of quote from E.G. White Exhaustive Commentary on Revelation, Footnotes on Rev. 13: 18.


(From Facts of Faith (Revised Version) by Christian Edwardson, chapter, “The Antichrist,” pp.  196-199: 1943. Southern Publishing Association, Nashville 8, TN.

      “The name ‘antichrist’ is found in only three chapters of the Bible, and in every instance it was emphatically stated that he was already in the world. We read:

    [1 John 2: 18, 22; 1 John 4: 3; and 2 John 7 quoted]. How can anyone, in the light of these plain texts, say that the antichrist here spoken of is not yet come, when the very texts declare that he is here already?

      These texts also reveal the fact that the apostles did not believe antichrist to be only one individual, but rather an antichristian tendency in the church: an organization dominated by ‘the spirit of antichrist,’ having a man at its head, so that when he died [or resigns, as in the case of the still living German Pope Emeritus, Benedict] another would take his place, and the antichristian system would continue. Thus there would be ‘many antichrists,’ as the apostle says, but only one system; and this system had already made such progress before the apostle died, that it was about to capture the church! Its leader would not accept the Apostle John., one leader ‘forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.’ 3 John 9, 10. This accounts for the warnings in John’s epistles against these ‘many antichrists.’ 1 John 2: 18.

     The Apostle Paul, during his last journey among the churches, gathered ‘the elders,’ or bishops, and warned them against the coming apostasy of the church, which was to be brought about by its leaders. He says [Acts 20: 29, 30 quoted]. Later the apostle reminded the believers, that the day of Christ’s return was not then at hand: ‘For that day shall not come, except that there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God [the church, 1 Cor. 3: 10, 16], showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? . . . For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.’ 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-7.

      These prophecies point out clearly that the ‘elders’ (later called bishops) would ‘draw away’ the people from the truth of the Bible, to follow men, and that this ‘falling away,’ which had ‘already’ begun in Paul’s day, would develop, until a ‘man’ would exalt himself to take the place of Christ in the church. Every thoughtful student of prophecy can see that this points unmistakably to the Papacy, and it accords exactly with the significance of the name ‘antichrist.’

      Dr. James Strong says that ‘antichrist’ comes from two Greek words, antee and khristos, and gives the following definition of antee: “Opposite, i.e., instead or because of, . . . .for, in the room of. Often used in composition to denote . . .  substitution.’ – Exhaustive Concordance, Greek Dictionary, entries Nos. 500, 473. Thomas Sheldon Green says: “Anti, prep, over, against’ hence, in correspondence to; in place of . . . ‘Greek-English Lexicon, p. 14. Boston: 1896. The meaning, therefore, of ‘antichrist,’ as it is used in the New Testament, is a rival to Christ, or one who attempts to take the place of Christ as His ‘vicar.’ This significance of the prefix ‘anti’ is also seen in the word ‘anti-pope.’ (For further information on this point see ‘The Papacy Is Antichrist,’ by J.A. Wylie, pp. 2-18. Edinburgh: George M’Gibbon.) We shall now see that this is exactly the position which Catholics claim for the pope, that he holds the place of Christ on earth. Rev. T.L. Kinkead says:

     ‘Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the vicar of Christ on earth and the visible head of the Church.’

     ‘ ‘Vicar’—that is, one who holds another’s place and acts in his name.’ — ‘Explanation of the Baltimore Catechism,’ p. 130. Benziger Brothers. (Sanctioned by Cardinal Gibbons, five archbishops, nineteen bishops, and other dignitaries.)

      Rev. William Humphrey, S.J. [Jesuit], says:

      ‘A vicar is put in the place of him whom he represents. He is invested with his power, he is furnished with his authority . . . He personates his principal . . .The master, by his appointment of a vicar, binds himself to ratify his vicar’s acts, and to recognize them as his own’ – ‘The Vicar of Christ,’ p. 4. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1892.

     Thomas Morell, D.D., and Prof. John Carey, L.L.D. says:

       ‘Vicarius, a um. adj. That is instead, or place of another; that supplies another’s room; a deputy . . . .One who performs the office, or duty, of another; a deputy, a substitute.’ – ‘An Abridgement of Ainsworth’s Latin Dictionary, Designed for the Use of Schools, p. 604. London: 1826.

     When the force of this similarity between the antichrist of prophecy and the pope of Rome dawned upon the mind of Cardinal Newman, he declared:

      ‘The gibe, ‘If the Pope is not Antichrist, he has had bad luck to be so like him,’ is really an argument in favor of the claims of the Pope; since Antichrist simulates Christ, and the Pope is an image of Christ, Antichrist must have some similarity to the Pope, if the latter be the true Vicar of Christ.’ – Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1. P. 561, art. ‘Antichrist.

     Thus it is claimed that the pope is the vicar of Christ on earth. But Christ left an altogether different Vicar, or Representative, in His place; namely, the Holy Sp-irit. (john 14: 15-18; 16:7.) Of this Representative Christ says: ‘He shall teach you all things.’ ‘He will guide you into all truth’ John 14: 26; 16: 13. (Compare 1 John 2: 20, 27.) The Holy Spirit, being the author of the Bible (2 Peter 1: 21), certainly should be the proper interpreter of it. To this the Roman Church answers:

      ‘Nor can it be said that being a divinely inspired book, its prime Author, the Holy Spirit, will guide the reader to the right meaning.

      ‘ ‘ The Church which made the Bible, likewise interprets the Bible.’ – ‘Things Catholics Are Asked About,’ Martin J. Scott, S.J., Litt. D., pp. 119, 120. N.Y.: Kennedy, 1927.” –

     Pope Leo XIII says:

         ‘But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of the will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself. ‘”—‘The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII,’ p. 193. New York: Benziger Bros., 1903.

 Pope Leo XIII further says:

        ‘We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.’ –Id., p. 304. (end of quote from Facts of Faith.)

(To be continued next week)