The Mark of the Beast
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
- What the Bible Says
- The Prophecies of Daniel
- The Wild Animals
- The Great Babylon
- The Brand of the Wild Animal
- Who Has the Mark?
Who are the ‘Beasts’ of Revelation (or Apocalypse) and what is their ‘mark?’ The answer is obvious, but most religious people simply don’t choose to believe it.
As you will notice; in this Bible we have used the words wild animals to translate the Greek word theriou (pronounced thay-ree-ow). However, in other Bibles this word is translated as beast or wild beast. The reason why we have done this is because the Greek word actually means prey, or that which is hunted, to distinguish them from the ‘clean’ domestic animals, such as sheep or cows. So, theriou refers to all wild animals, not just those we would think of as beastly.
You will also notice that we have recently removed the word ‘mark’ and replaced it with the word ‘brand,’ because the Greek word is ‘chargama,’ which actually implies a raised lettering or a branding.
What the Bible Says
Found below are all the scriptures in Revelation that speak of the wild animals and their ‘mark’ or ‘brand.’ And if you really want to know what this means, you should read all the scriptures, because they clearly show who the beasts are, the things they will do, and what the branding represents.
We should probably start with Revelation 16:2 (although it’s out of order), for it specifically mentions ‘the brand of the wild animal (beast).’ It says there:
‘So the first one went and poured out his bowl on the ground. At that, the men that had the brand of the wild animal and that were bowing low before its image broke out in very bad, malignant sores.’
Notice that those who have such a mark are bowing low before the image of the wild animal. So that gives us our first clue… this branding involves worship or reverence.
But before we can understand what the Brand of the Beast is, we must first understand who the beasts are, and how people ‘worship’ them. Here is what the scriptures say.
Revelation 11:7 says:
‘And once they (the two witnesses) have finished their witnessing, the wild animal that comes out of the pit will fight against them, conquer them, and kill them.
Revelation 13:1, 2 says:
‘Next, I saw a wild animal coming up out of the sea, which had ten horns and seven heads. On its horns there were ten royal turbans and on its heads were blasphemous names. Now, the wild animal that I saw looked like a leopard, but it had feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion. And the dragon gave it power, a throne, and a great deal of authority.’
Revelation 13:3, 4 says:
‘One of its heads looked like it had been slaughtered and killed; but this deathblow was healed, and the whole earth started following the wild animal admiringly. They also bowed low before the dragon, because it gave the wild animal its authority, and they bowed low before the wild animal, saying, Who is like the wild animal and who can oppose it?’
Revelation 13:11, 12 says:
‘Then I saw another wild animal arising from the ground. It had two horns like a lamb and it started speaking like a dragon. It stood before the first wild animal and used all its influential powers. Then it forced the lands and all those that dwell in them to bow low before the first wild animal whose deathblow had been healed.’
Revelation 13:14, 15 says:
‘It (the two-horned wild animal) misleads those that live on the earth by signs that it was allowed to perform in front of the wild animal. And it tells those that live on the earth to make an image to the wild animal that survived the sword stroke. Then it was allowed to give breath to the image of the wild animal, so the image could speak and cause everyone that wouldn’t bow low before the image of the wild animal in any way, to be killed.’
Revelation 13:16-18 says:
‘It also forced everyone – the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves – to be given the branding on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that no one would be able to buy or sell other than the one that has the brand… which is the name of the wild animal or the number of its name. This is where wisdom is required: Let those that have minds calculate the number of the wild animal… it’s a man’s number, six hundred and sixty-six.’
Revelation 14:9, 10 says:
‘If anyone bows low before the wild animal and its image and receives its brand on his forehead or on his hand; he will also have to drink the wine of the pure wrath of The God that is being mixed in the cup of His rage… and he will be examined by torture with fire and burning rocks in front of the holy messengers and in front of the Lamb.’
Revelation 16:10 says:
‘Then the fifth [messenger of God] poured his bowl out on the throne of the wild animal.
So its whole Kingdom became dark and the [people] were biting their tongues in pain.’
Revelation 16:13, 14 says:
‘At that, I saw three frog-like, dirty inspirations come out of the mouths of the dragon, the wild animal, and the false prophet. They were the inspirations of demons and they serve as signs. These [inspirations] went to all the kings of the habitation of mankind, to gather them together for the war of the Great Day of the Almighty God (Armageddon).’
Revelation 17:3 says:
‘There I saw a woman (The Great Babylon) that was sitting on a scarlet-colored wild animal that was covered with blasphemous names. It had seven heads and ten horns.’
Revelation 17:7, 8 says:
‘I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the wild animal that she is riding with the seven heads and the ten horns. The wild animal that you saw was, then it was not; for, it’s about to come out of the abyss and go off into destruction. And when they see the return of the wild animal that was but isn’t; those that live on the earth will marvel at it. However, their names haven’t been written in the Scroll of Life since the [current] arrangement was established.’
Revelation 17:9-11 says:
‘The seven heads are seven mountains that the woman is sitting on. And there are seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other hasn’t arrived yet. But when he gets here, he will only be allowed to stay for a little while. However, the wild animal that was but isn’t, is an eighth king that comes from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.’
Revelation 17:12-14 says:
‘Now, the ten horns that you saw represent ten kings that haven’t received a Kingdom yet, but they will be authorized to be kings for one hour with the wild animal. However, they will just have one idea in mind: To give their power and authority to the wild animal. And they will fight against the Lamb.’
Revelation 17:16-18 says:
‘And those ten horns, and that wild animal that you saw, will hate the whore.
They’re going to take away everything that she has and leave her naked. Then they’ll eat her flesh and burn [what’s left] in a fire. For God put [the idea] into their hearts to do what He thinks she deserves. And He gave them the idea to hand their kingdoms over to the wild animal, so that whatever God says will be fulfilled. Now, the woman that you saw means the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.’
Revelation 19:19, 20 says:
‘At that, I saw the wild animal, along with the kings of the earth and their armies, all gathered together to go to war against the one that was sitting on the [white] horse and his [heavenly] army. Well, the wild animal was captured, as was the false prophet that performed the signs in front of it, which he used to mislead those that received the branding of the wild animal, and those that bowed low before its image. While they were both still alive, they were tossed into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.’
The Prophecies of Daniel
Although we feel that there is an abundance of plain evidence in the scriptures in Revelation (above) to show exactly who the Beasts of Revelation are, as another step of clarity, let’s refer to the prophecies in the Bible book of Daniel, to see how similar wild animals are described there.
Daniel 7:1, 2 says, ‘I Daniel looked and saw the four winds of the sky blowing violently over the great sea. Then four huge wild animals came out of the sea, and they were all different.’
Daniel 7:4, ‘The first looked like a female lion…’
Daniel 7:5, ‘The second wild animal looked like a bear…’
Daniel 7:6, ‘Then I saw another wild animal that looked like a leopard…’
Daniel 7:7, ‘Then I saw a fourth wild animal that was awful, fearsome, and strong…’
Daniel 7:17, ‘These four wild animals are four kingdoms that will arise on the earth.’
Daniel 7:24, ‘And his (the fourth wild animal’s) ten horns are ten kings that will arise…’
Daniel 8:3, ‘I raised my eyes and saw a ram…’
Daniel 8:5, ‘As I was thinking about this, I saw a billy goat…’
Daniel 8:20, ‘The ram that you saw that had the horns is the king of the Medes and Persians…’
Daniel 8:21, ‘The billy goat that you saw is the King of Greece…’
The Wild Animals
So, who are the wild animals of both Daniel and Revelation?
They obviously picture outstanding world governments (kings) that will have an impact on God’s faithful servants. (For more information on who each one represents, please see the Note, ‘Wild Animals of Revelation.’
But first notice that they are not God’s friends, for they get their authority to rule from the ‘Dragon,’ who is Satan, the Devil, the Slanderer, the Opposer, or Beelzebub (Revelation 13:11, 16:13).
Then notice that the kings of all the nations of the world are included among these wild animals and all will fight against God in the final Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13, 14).
Thereafter, all the governments of the world, along with those that have their ‘brand,’ will be destroyed (see Revelation 19:20).
Is ‘the beast’ the same group of nations that are described in Ezekiel as ‘Gog of Magog?’
We think not. (To understand why we have come to this conclusion, see the linked document, ‘Gog of Magog’).
The Great Babylon
However, before that battle, these beasts will all attack and destroy a former lover… an adulterous whore that ‘ruled over the kings of the earth’ (Revelation 17:18). Her name is The Great Babylon, and she could possibly represent all ‘Christian’ religions that have prostituted themselves by getting involved in the support of the ‘beasts.’ Why do we suspect this?
Well, consider what the following scriptures say, then put them in context:
Revelation 17:8 says:
‘And when they see the return of the wild animal that was but isn’t, those that live on the earth will marvel at it. However, their names haven’t been written in the Scroll of Life since the founding of the [current] arrangement.’
Revelation 13:3, 4 says:
‘And the whole earth started to follow the wild animal admiringly. They worshiped the dragon because it gave the wild animal its authority, and they worshiped the wild animal.’ (Notice that worship of governments is depicted here as Devil worship.)
James 4:4 says:
‘Adulteresses, don’t you know that if you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this system of things is putting himself down as God’s enemy.’
Then contrast these actions to the description of the faithful (as described at Revelation 14:4):
‘These didn’t dirty themselves with women. In fact, they are virgins that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. They were bought from mankind [and offered] as the first fruitage to God and to the Lamb.’
And note that this destruction of The Great Babylon seems to be represented by the destruction of Jerusalem (an adulterous religious group that claimed to represent God – see Matthew 12:39). (For more information, see the linked document, ‘Armageddon – When?’)
The Brand of the Wild Animal
So what is the brand of the wild animal?
It doesn’t appear to be a literal mark that people can actually see, as many religions have taught. For example, a religion once claimed that the mark is the triangular slow-moving-vehicle sign that local governments asked their members to put on their horse-drawn buggies. However, the mark on the ‘hand and forehead’ that is mentioned at Revelation 13:16 seems to represent a demonstrated willingness to show support for and bow low before beast-like governments both mentally and physically. And the number six-hundred and sixty six (which is described as ‘a man’s number’) appears to represent the corruption and imperfection of human rule.
But, no matter what forms this ‘branding’ may take before the imminent destruction of adulterous religion, we know that those who are faithful to God (the ‘virgins’) won’t be able to ‘buy or sell’ without it… so that will be a very difficult time for true Christians. And it is this period of persecution that immediately precedes the coming of Jesus. For as Jesus himself said (at Matthew 24:22):
‘And if those days aren’t cut short, nobody will be saved. But because of the elected, those days will be cut short.’
What is the fate of those that have the ‘brand?’ Well, we’ve learned that their names aren’t written in ‘the book of life;’ they will ‘drink from the cup of God’s rage;’ and they are thrown into ‘the lake of fire.’ So they will be gone forever.
As for those that don’t receive the branding and whom the prophecies say are to be persecuted and ‘conquered’ because of this; the Bible says (at Revelation 21:4):
‘Next, I saw thrones. Those that were executed with axes for testifying about Jesus and telling about God, and those that hadn’t bowed low before the wild animal or its image, and that hadn’t received the branding on their foreheads or on their hands, sat down on them, and they were appointed judges. They came to life and ruled as kings with the Anointed One for a thousand years.’
So notice that this righteous group includes all those that ‘hadn’t worshiped the wild animal or its image, and that hadn’t received the branding on their forehead and on their hand.’ Thus they appear to be all those faithful virgins that are invited to ‘the Lamb’s wedding banquet!’
Thereafter, all forms of corrupt human government will be gone forever, to the relief and joy of virtuous and righteous humankind.
Who Has the Mark?
These scriptures in Revelation and Daniel make it obvious who has the mark.
It is those Christians (especially) who say they are chaste (spiritual) virgins and claim to be part of ‘the bride of the Lamb’ (see Revelation 19:7, 8). However, they are unfaithful to their true King (and betrothed), Jesus, and they have committed spiritual adultery by putting their love for the ‘wild animal’ (political governments) over their love for him and their love for their brothers. In fact, they have started ‘bowing before the wild animal and its image.’
Does ‘The Great Babylon’ have the brand? She surely does, because of her close ties to the wild animals. And that is why God will put it into the hearts of the wild animals to ‘eat her flesh’ and ‘burn her with fire.’
So who are we really talking about here, and what are they doing?
Well, consider World Wars I and II, and the many global conflicts that have happened before and since. Few of these wars would have happened if all that called themselves ‘Christians’ had put their love of brother and God ahead of their love of politics and country (the Beasts). So those religions that put worship of the wild animal over their love for God, His Son, and their spiritual brothers, have the brand.
Also, looking back in history, we can also see that those in Judea and Jerusalem in the First Century had the brand. For when Pontius Pilate asked them (at John 19:15):
‘Shall I hang your king on a pole?’
Their leaders answered ‘We have no king but Caesar’ [the wild animal of Daniel 7:7].
Then that same wild animal attacked them and burned their city. So yes, they were branded.
Therefore, each of us should ask ourselves: ‘Do I – and does the religion that I represent – have the same mark?’
And while that question may sound very ethereal to all those that find the Bible ‘impractical,’ the answer is easy to understand, for there is no doubt as to whom the Bible says the wild animals of Revelation and Daniel represent.