Today on two different Facebook pages the question of the “mark of the beast” came up after a YouTube video about human microchip implants began to circulate. It’s amazing how this kind of thing feeds the frenzy of end-time speculation fueled by fictional novel books and newspaper headlines.
In fact, speculation is rampant about the identity of the antichrist, the “one world government” and the timing of the rapture. The books on Bible prophesy are published ad nauseum – and we love to have it so! It’s time we get back to the scripture and unplug from self-appointed prophesy gurus who have “unlocked the secret code” of the Bible.
So what IS the “Mark of the Beast?”
The first thing to consider when approaching the book of Revelation is that it is a book of symbols – and most of these symbols can be found in the Old Testament. Additionally, it’s important to allow the book to interpret its own symbols or shed light on them through parallel usage. With this in mind, I appreciate G.K. Beale’s comments from his commentary, The Book of Revelation:
“…there are two coinages, the one of God and the other of the world, and each has its proper stamp impressed on it, the unbelievers the stamp of the world, but the faithful in love the stamp of God the Father through Jesus Christ. If the “mark” in Rev. 13:16-17 is to be taken literally, which is unlikely, it means that Christians are excluded from economic dealings because they refuse to use the common, yet idolatrous, means of economic dealings. The “mark on the forehead,” which is “the name of the beast” and “the number of his name” (so v. 17), is the parody and opposite of the “seal” in 7:3-8, which is the divine “name written on the foreheads” of true believers (14:1; so likewise 22:4; 3:12).
Since the seal or name on the true believer is invisible, so also is the “mark” on the unbeliever. That the two are parallel in being spiritual in nature and are intended to be compared is evident from the immediately following mention of God and Christ’s name “written on the foreheads” of the saints (14:1). Those who have believed in Jesus have been identified with him and are protected by the power of his name against ultimate deception. His name is none other than his very presence with them (as 22:4 makes explicit)…
The mark may also connote that the followers of Christ and the beast both are stamped with the image (i.e., character) of their respective leaders. [the Greek word means not only “mark” or “stamp” but also “image”].”
With these things in mind from Revelation, it is nonsensical to identify the “mark in the forehead and hand” with some kind of physical microchip. I would highly encourage you to pick up a copy of Beale’s monumental work on The Book of Revelation, the most comprehensive treatment of Revelation and its use of OT imagery ever written.
Helpful Books on Revelation
- The Book of Revelation (NIGTC) by G. K. Beale
- The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation by Vern S. Poythress
- Triumph of the Lamb: a Commentary on Revelation by Dennis E. Johnson
- More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation by William Hendriksen
- The Lamb Wins: A Guided Tour Through the Book of Revelation by Richard Bewes