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Insight #84 — Was Nero the 666 of Revelation?

March 12, 2002.

What numerical value is more intriguing than 666? For those of us who like mental puzzles, this is among the best. It is not just a game. Neither is it a vain pursuit. Revelation itself says, “Let him who has understanding count the number of the beast” (13:18).

To obey God’s command to “count the number,” what else can we rightly do other than take the value of each letter in a name and add it up? The ancients did not have Arabic numerals (1,2,3). Rather, letters of the Greek, Hebrew and Latin alphabets had numerical values. For example, LIV is the Roman numeral for 54.

There are those who claim Nero is the beast, saying that his name, Nero Caesar, sums up to 666 in the Hebrew alphabet. On the one hand, they reject the evidence that Revelation was written long after Nero was dead (see Insight #80). On the other hand, they say that since Revelation makes much use of Hebrew symbols and words and was written by a Jew, the solution should naturally be found in Hebrew. However, this overlooks the fact that Revelation was written in the Greek language, thus making Greek the most natural language in which to solve 666.

The strongest argument, it seems to me, in addition to Revelation being written in Greek, is the use that the book itself makes of the Greek alphabet. In Revelation, Jesus is NOT the aleph and the tau, letters of the Hebrew alphabet. No. Jesus is the alpha and the omega (Revelation 1:8,11; 21:6 and 22:13). Thus Revelation uses the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet to express Jesus’ eternality in alphabetical symbolism. What better reason could there be for us to use the Greek alphabet to decipher the alphabetical symbolism of 666?

To continue study of 666 in depth from the Bible and history, click here for Insight #307.