What is the mark of the beast?

The Mark of the Beast is a mark placed upon the right hand or forehead that enables a person to buy and sell during the future reign of the Antichrist who will have political and economic power over a large portion of the world. 

"And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six," (Rev. 13:16-18).

It is not known if this mark is a literal physical mark upon the forehead or right arm, or a computer chip, or a mark that occurs in the spiritual realm.  Since the issue deals with buying and selling it seems logical to say that the mark would be some sort of identification that is physically upon a person.  But, we do find precedents in Scripture for a mark that is spiritual.  In Ezekiel 9:4 we find that there is a mark put by God upon people's foreheads for their protection.

'The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst, 5 But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. 6 Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.” So they started with the elders who were before the temple,'" (Ezek. 9:4).

This mark would appear to be a spiritual, rather than physical, mark.  So, since we see this type of wording used in the Old Testament that signifies something that is not physical, it is possible that the mark of the beast might not be a physical mark.  Instead, it could be a spiritual one placed by God to identify those who are in Christ against those who are not.  But again, the context seems to imply a physical mark.

The phrase "Mark of the Beast" is only found in the book of Revelation in two places.

  • "And the first angel went and poured out his bowl into the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore upon the men who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image," (Rev. 16:2).
  • "And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone," (Rev. 19:20).

So, the mark of the beast is associated with worshiping the image of the beast.  The beast also emerges from the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7), seeks to make war with God's people (Rev. 19:19), and will be destroyed with the return of Christ (2 Thess. 2:8). 





About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.