The Triple Six Theory - 6-6-6
There is another theory that has been making the rounds lately among some theologians to explain the number 666. In this theory, the suggestion is made that the number 6 is the number of man, which is to be seen as a symbol of evil and incompleteness. The number 7 is seen as God's number and a symbol of perfection and completeness. According to this idea, the number 666 represents three times the evil of man because the digit 6 is repeated three times in the number. Of course, in contrast, 777, is seen as a symbol of the much greater completeness and goodness of God. In this view, there is no counting or adding of numbers to reach 666. The number stands by itself, not as the value expressed as six hundred sixty six, but rather merely the digit 6 repeated three times as a symbol.
It is a fact that in the Bible, there are instances where the immensity of evil or good is expressed through repetition of some phrase three times. Because of the repetition of the digit 6 in the number 666, some theologians think the observation about phrase or number repeats encountered elsewhere in the Bible also applies to the number 666.
Of course, we have to assume that this is what God intended for us to see in the number 666. Unfortunately, God did leave hints about the origin of this number, which clearly tell us whether this idea of the triple six theory is right or not. We can know.
Should people believe this theory? The authors have some reasons to disbelieve it. Below are some of those reasons. The reader can make up his own mind about it.
The number 666 was not written by John in the same way we write it today. He wrote it in the standard way that was customary for writing numbers using the Greek alphabet. He wrote it using three different Greek letters, which stood for the numbers 600, 60, and 6. His Greek speaking contemporaries would have added them up and arrived at the sum, which is 666. This indicates that the Greeks of John's day, just like in modern times, would see the number 666, even in the form in which he wrote it, as one number and not as three separate digits. Thus, their manner of thinking does not support this theory.
Of course, what did God intend to convey to us? What John thought is really quite irrelevant. We can ascertain a strong hint as to what God intended by looking at the situation here and realizing what God could have done but did not do. John wrote the number in a form that Greek speakers of his time would have taken and added up to the final sum, 666. This would have been their natural reaction and the angel instructing John had to know that. If nothing else, God knew it, so when John wrote it down that way, the fact that the angel did not instruct John to change how he wrote this number indicates that a final sum was intended, instead of three separate digits. Had it been intended that three separate digits, all the same, then it seems extremely likely that he would have told John to write three identical letters to represent 6-6-6 as three separate numbers rather than neglecting to correct the "mistake" of writing three letters that the angel had to know people would add up in their heads to arrive at the final sum of 666. You can also be certain that the angel would have included instructions that tell you three separate digits were intended.
The digits by which we in modern times represent the digits of the number 666 did not exist in the time of John. The modern Arabic numerals that we use today actually arrived in Western civilization about a thousand years ago from India.
One reason some have accepted this method is that Revelation 13:18 in the King James Version says:
Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.
The phrase "for it is the number of a man" becomes a sticking point for them because it turns out that the phrase can also be rendered as something like "for it is man's number", a rendering which some authorities say is the more accurate way of doing it. The reason this appears to be so is that in the original Greek, the article equivalent to our English "a" is missing in front of the word translated as "man". From this they conclude that it is man's number in general and not the number of a specific man. To some people, this appears reasonable.
Another possible rendering of the phrase "for it is the number of a man" is "for it is a human number". This occurs because the original Greek is "arithmos anthropou" which some authorities interpret to mean that this verse or phrase is a reference to the human condition of rebellion against God. As one Biblical scholar explained the number 666 using this idea, it is "The triple six suggests a determined effort of the beast to promote the worship of himself, rather than of God." (quoted from "ENDTIME ISSUES No. 145: "Armageddon and 'the War on Terror': Part II", by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., original source copy may be obtained at: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com ). This same author suggested that "In the context of the false worship promoted by the Beast and its image, the triple six stands for the total false worship, enforced by the end time Antichrist." (quoted from "ENDTIME ISSUES No. 144: "Armageddon and 'the War on Terror'", by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., http://www.biblicalperspectives.com ).
Just for clarification of his statements, here is what Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries have to say about "arithmos anthropou":
From G142; a number (as reckoned up): - number.
From G435 and ώψ ops (the countenance; from G3700); manfaced, that is, a human being: - certain, man.
Unfortunately, with this type of translation, the difficulty of explaining the number becomes greater than it was before because it is now potentially everyone's number. This is true because if it is a "human number" or "man's number", then everyone has the number. This means then that everyone helps form (or is part of ) the beast. Does the Bible support such a conclusion?
The way to know is to go back to The Beast Formula, which gives the makeup of the beast itself. Also, remember that the number is the number of the beast AND, depending on the translation used, the number is the number of a man or is a human number or is man's number. So, it must be both. The Beast Formula says that the beast is the combination of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church + leaders of the nations. Of course, the term "Roman Catholic Church" does not refer to everyone in the Roman Catholic Church, but primarily to the popes because they are the top leaders of that church. This is true for several reasons:
- During the 1260 days of prophetic time, it was the popes who formed alliances with the national government leaders and had some degree of control over them.
- Catholic Church leadership has historically considered the Catholic Church to be the leadership, and did not include the membership in their assessment of who composed their church. This is unlike most churches where the "church" is composed of both the leadership and the members. In their definition, it would include the lower level leadership, such as the nuns and priests.
- The woman of Revelation 17 is a queen so in that sense represents not just the Roman Church as a whole, but also the leadership of the Roman Church. This is because she is in the same category as the religious kings of Revelation 17 who are visible lines of leaders of religious powers.
- Daniel 7:17 says that "these great beasts ... are four kings", which tells you that the primary definition of a beast is that it represents the top leadership of a nation. Therefore, when a beast primarily represents a religious power, the beast then primarily represents its top leadership. In the case of the Catholic Church, this must refer primarily to the popes for they are the kings of the church and ruled over the kings of the earth when it came to church matters.
Remember that the leaders of both the Roman Church and the nations formed the beast.
In the Triple Six Theory, the number 666 is man's number or a human number. For this reason, according to their theory, everyone is part of the beast. However, The Beast Formula directly contradicts that belief. Do remember that the Beast Formula is stated twice in Revelation, so we can be sure it is correct. It is stated in Revelation 13:5, 7 and in Revelation 17:1-2. Therefore, the clear implication of the triple six theory that everyone is part of the beast is in fact not true.
According to The Beast Formula, only the leaders of the Roman Church and the leaders of the nations form the beast. Specifically, the popes are the primary leaders in this instance because they are the kings of the Roman Church. Everyone else in the Christian world will be controlled by the beast or the image beast and therefore cannot be the beast or the image beast themselves. The fact is that the number 666 is the number of the beast and for this very reason is a RESTRICTED membership group. Only those who are the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the leaders of the nations will be members of this group, except that near the very end of this world's history, the leaders of the Protestant Churches will hand their power and authority over to the beast. After that time the leaders of the Protestant Churches probably could also be counted as part of the beast. In addition, Revelation 16:13, 19 indicates that other spiritual powers, including spiritism and perhaps some of the pagan religions, may also join with Babylon. In turn, their leaders who join with the beast will also become part it.
But, in the final analysis, only the leaders of these organizations who become part of the beast will be the beast. Thus, this is a very restricted membership group. Most of the world will not be part of the beast itself, though much of the world may be controlled by it. Most people cannot be the pope. Most people cannot be the leaders of the Protestant Churches. Therefore, they cannot be the beast and the number cannot apply to them. This disallows the interpretation of the number 666 as "man's number" or a "human number". The interpretation as the number of A MAN is the correct understanding, notwithstanding the omission of the specific article in the original Greek.
Therefore, the assumption of those who believe in the Triple Six Theory, that all will be members of the beast, is false. This brings the entire theory into question.
There is a final reason why the Triple Six Theory is wrong. If you take time to read the history of the number 666, you will discover that the Babylonians never wrote the number 666 except for the purpose of adding up the numbers of their pagan gods for the purpose of protection from the gods striking them down AND to give them power over the gods. There was only one way that they ever created that number, winch was to add up the number of their gods in order to have power over their gods. That was the sole purpose for which they ever created that number.
Now, God tells us that the woman is Babylon. Further, it tells us that the woman combined with the leaders of the nations is the beast. Therefore, this is a direct hint from God that the number 666 MUST come from Babylon, not from Egypt, not from pagan Rome, and certainly not from any source that instructs us to calculate the number 666 by any means other than how the original Babylonians calculated the number. This directly disallows the Triple Six Theory. The Triple Six Theory is invalid because it is not a calculation of the number that is patterned after the method done in Babylon.
One final note. The number 666 was originally used by the Babylonians in order for them to have power over their gods. As applied to the beast, the real meaning of the number 666 is this: it is a symbol of the claim of the Catholic Church to have power over God and his laws. They have claimed that they have the power to change the law of God, so that means they have claimed to have power over God and his laws as they wish. If they were not claiming to have equal authority with God, then they could not make such a claim. Here is proof that they claim such authority:
"The Pope is of great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws... The Pope can modify divine law, since his power is not of man, but of God, and he acts as vicegerent of God upon earth." -Lucius Ferraris, Prompta Ribliotheca, "Papa," art. 2, translated.
"The Pope has the power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ." "The Pope has the authority and often exercised it, to dispense with the command of Christ."Decretal, de Tranlatic Episcop. Cap. (The Pope can modify divine law.)Ferraris' Ecclesiastical Dictionary.
Regardless of their reasoning, whether as "viceregent" or other means to explain it, they are claiming equal authority with God to do with his law as they see fit. The only way they can make such a claim is if they have authority over God and his law, which only one with equal authority with God (or greater) can claim.
That the number 666 points directly to their claim to have power over God and his law is a rather remarkable fulfillment of prophecy. But this points to an entirely different purpose than is proposed by Dr. Bacchiocchi and others with a similar view. In their thinking, the meaning of the number 666 was that expressed by Dr. Bacchiocchi when he said this:
"In the context of the false worship promoted by the Beast and its image, the triple six stands for the total false worship, enforced by the end time Antichrist." (quoted from "ENDTIME ISSUES No. 144: "Armageddon and 'the War on Terror'", by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., http://www.biblicalperspectives.com ).
The number 666 points directly to their claim to be God and have power over him and his laws. The Babylonians counted their gods. There is a way to count the "gods" of the papacy as well. The Papal Count Theory, considered next, will explain this in detail.
In view of the details of the origin of the number 666 and that God points directly to Babylon as the source of the number and how it is to be counted, there is no way that the Triple Six theory is supported by the context of the materials in Revelation 13 and 17.