This question was no doubt taken from Revelation chapter 13. In this passage there are actually TWO BEASTS, but we will be looking primarily at the FIRST BEAST, for it is this beast that the number 666 refers to.

Verse 1 reads, “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.” The Apostle John saw this vision from an island in the Mediterranean Sea and he was looking towards the countries that made up the Roman Empire in his day. The BEAST in this vision pictures the “revived Roman Empire” in the last days AND a “political leader” who will be crowned as its prince. Attempts have been made by men such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler to rebuild the Roman Empire, but what they failed to do will be accomplished by this charismatic and politic genius. He is called the “little horn” in Daniel 7:8 and is “the prince that shall come” in Daniel 9:26.

Verse 4 says, “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to war with him?” Satan will empower this man and he will be worshipped by the masses. They will acknowledge both his personal abilities and his military strength. You can read verses 5-8 to learn of his blasphemy against God, his war against God’s people, and the universal praise that will be given to him.

In verse 11 we learn of “another beast coming up out of the earth.” This BEAST emerges out of the earth, which stands for the “land of Israel,” and will also, according to verses 12-14, be energized by Satan. He will be a “religious leader” who will be received by the Jews as their Messiah. He is the infamous “Antichrist” of 1 John 2:18 and is also called the “man of sin,” the “son of perdition,” and the “lawless one” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 8. In Revelation 16:13 and 19:20 he is called the “false prophet” because he will be the spokesman for the FIRST BEAST.

In verse 14 we see that the SECOND BEAST will “make an image to the beast” and in verse 15 he will “cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” This image will no doubt be set up in the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the Antichrist will demand worship to the FIRST BEAST who is, according to Daniel 9:27 and 11:38, guaranteeing Israel military protection.

In verses 16-18 we read, “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.” The Antichrist and the Roman Prince will implement an economic system worldwide and no one will be able to buy or sell without taking the mark, name or number of the political BEAST. Throughout the ages men have speculated as to what the number 666 means, but only those living under the dictatorship of this Satan-possessed man will learn exactly what it means. We can say this though, “six” is the number of “man,” and “three” is the number of “manifestation,” and in this BEAST people will see, as another has said, “the full manifestation of what is in the heart of man—man’s last effort to attain to divinity and deity, to rob God of His glory and to exalt himself.” (159.1) (DO)