It’s common knowledge that people associate 666 with the devil, and most times there is this fear of having anything to do with the number 6, which some Christians have connected to Satan and see as a symbol of evil. Here’s how the Book of Revelation explains what the number really signifies.
This back to the New Testament’s Book of Revelation, and specifically to the verse which says, “This calls for wisdom. Whoever is intelligent can work out the meaning of the number of the beast, because the number stands for a human name. Its number is 666.” (Rev. 13:18 The Good News Version).
One might wonder where all the fears about the numbers 666 come from because the author provided some good clues about its meaning right in the passage.
To begin with, the number is a definite product of a numerical process that an attentive reader, someone who understands could arrive at. Secondly, it stands for a person who was described in the book as a beast, a specific historical figure.
In the biblical terms, the number seven stood for totality, wholeness, and completeness. Therefore to be called a “666” was an insult because this signifies that the person was short of being the real thing – short of being whole or complete.
Also, if you take a look at the Greek form of the name Emperor Nero, the Roman emperor around the time of Revelation, and write it in Hebrew letters, which can also have numeric values, “add up” to 666. Nero was an anti-Christ. He was best known for his debaucheries, political murders, persecution of Christians (also seen as his legacies) and a passion for music which led to the rumor that Nero sang and strummed his lyre as he watched Rome burn during the great fire of 64 A.D.
For its original audience, the number represents the repressive Roman Empire personified in its “beastly” emperor, who though claimed divine authority and had thought to have absolute power, would always be a “six,” and never a “seven,” and therefore, would not prevail in the long run.
Too sad, some Christians have forgotten the original historical context of the number. Over the centuries many have viewed the numbers and other symbols in the Book of Revelation as a secret code by which they could predict the future or connect the dots. Relating the Bible and the contemporary world to show how God’s apocalyptic plans are unfolding in current events.
Like any passage of scripture, you first have to look at the original meaning. In the case of Revelation, the book was encouraging an embattled Christian community to remain faithful and be wary of conforming too closely to the ways of the hostile world. The vivid images in other biblical prophetic books are symbolic but symbolic to a particular time and place, not shapeable to whatever someone wants them to mean.