What is the relationship between Covid Vaccines, the mandates surrounding them and the Mark of the Beast? Reason I ask: so many places are still hunkering down in a coercive stance that says, get the vax or be cut off from society. Doesn’t the bible say there will come a time you can’t buy anything, go anywhere, or basically live without the Mark? Another friend of mine has amplified fears about this and wonders if a Christian can inadvertently lose their salvation if they take the mRNA gene therapy.
The Scripture that you’re referring to is found in John’s Revelation:
“He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.”Revelation 13:16-17
Let me lay down some foundational ideas about understanding Revelation before I talk about your specific question relating it to COVID mandates.
WHAT DID THE “MARK” MEAN TO THEM?
We must understand the Bible first in the context of its original hearers. So even prophetic work can’t mean something to us that it could have never meant to them. I would take the same approach to the infamous “Mark of the Beast.”
First we must ask, what did this “Mark” mean to them?
Gobs of speculation, of both the sober and drunken variety, have been put forward to answer this question. I would say the most modest conclusion we could come to is that the original hearers would have connected “the Mark” to the authoritarian Roman system. The Beast, whose mark it is, is explicitly tied to that City and its emperor cult elsewhere (Rev 17:9).
THE MEANING OF “666”
Why is “the Mark” distilled to a number (“666”)? If John wanted us to identify it with the Roman Emperor, putting it in code was important for his own safety (he was a prisoner of Rome after all, Rev. 1:9). But how can we know that 666 is code for the Roman Emperor? And which one?
Well, there are no numbers in many ancient languages, so letters sometimes substituted as numbers. A=1, B=2, etc. Numerology of this type was very common. For example, there is a famous graffiti in Pompeii that reads “I love her whose number is 545.” Jewish Gematria found all sorts of meanings of words in Scripture by converting words to numbers and back again.
Since John invites the reader to figure this out (Rev 13:18), he assumes the Church could identify “the Beast” from that number. Some have therefore tied it to the full Latin title used on coins of Domitian, the emperor at the end of the 1st century, which allegedly adds up to 666.
However, the most common suggestion is the number 666 refers to Nero Caesar – in the Hebrew spelling of the name. The Hebrew spelling of “Nero Caesar” was NRWN QSR. Since Hebrew letters doubled as numbers it was a simple thing to take that name and add them together which adds up exactly to 666. [N = 50 R = 200 W = 6 N =50 Q = 100 S = 60 R = 200]
FUTURIST OR PRETERIST OR BOTH?
Now, there are usually two camps when it comes to interpreting Revelation, the first (Preterist) is that everything in it was only for its original hearers and was all fulfilled in their 1st century timeframe. The second (Futurist) is that everything in it was future to them and only relevant for a distant time and audience. But there is a third view which acknowledges a layered aspect to prophecy and sees both an immediate and a future relevancy. I subscribe to this 3rd view. I do so because this is clearly the case with many Old Testament prophesies, which had immediate relevance and impact and yet a future one as well.
If this view is correct, we are free to see elements in Revelation which were relevant for 1st century Christians, but also free to accept that things in Revelation may have some future fulfillment as well. Beyond Old Testament examples we have two reasons to think this is so:
LAYERS OF FULFILLMENT
One, the theme of the book is Jesus coming and yet He has not yet come, obviously. To think everything in Revelation is past only, demands that Jesus Second Coming, tied so intimately to these fulfilled events, must be past as well. But this is clearly not the case. If all signs are already fulfilled, the 2nd coming of Christ may be spiritualized and His claim to be the Final Judge and the One to physically bring in the Kingdom vaporizes.
Second, this view is supported by John in his letter 1 John where he says:
“Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared.”1 John 2:18
The early church clearly believed in a climactic Antichrist Figure, predicted by Jesus, Paul and others, who would be overcome by Christ’s 2nd Coming (2 Thess 2:8). But John admits into the picture the idea that other leaders would come before and prefigure this one last Antichrist. So explicitly then, the N.T. accepts that “The Beast” of Revelation (and his Mark) would find fulfillment in an Antichrist that “is coming” (future) and in many who have already come (past & present).
ARE THE VACCINES THE MARK?
With that foundation laid, it is at least theoretically possible that something as current as the COVID vaccines and mandates could be the final, predicted “Mark of the Beast.” The mandates surrounding COVID vaccines have given us at least a very interesting modern picture of how easy it would be for governments to ostracize one element of society and make it impossible for them to buy or sell. This is exactly how the Mark of the Beast is used to punish those who are noncompliant and non-affirming of the Beast, versus those who are.
It used to be assumed by skeptics that the levels of worldwide coercive control imagined by this passage were impossible to achieve. No one is saying that now. However, while vaccine mandates might have given us a look into how plausible the Mark of the Beast is as a realistic concept, the Vaccine protocols are, nevertheless, NOT that infamous sign.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
How can one say that with confidence? Well consider two obvious things: The “Mark of the Beast” is two things; it is a mark, and it is OF the Beast. As a mark, it will be an easily identifiable sign for demarcation. John talks about it being on the right hand or forehead. But also, and most importantly, this Mark while identifiable, will be directly related to loyalty to the Beast. It’s not just a mark, it’s his mark.
Therefore, as long as forced taking of a vaccine is not connected to an antichrist figure directly, there’s no way that the vaccines could be the outward mark of loyalty to the Beast. They have to be an explicit acceptance of an Antichrist figure who sees himself as a substitute savior, explicitly opposed to Christ and his Church.
The Bible says in II Thessalonians 2, that the antichrist sets himself up in God’s place, and is worshipped as God. Do we have that kind of figure currently? No, I don’t think that figure is on the world stage – not yet, and not associated with the jabs. As long as that figure is not on the world stage, no surveillance system to single out groups can be considered the Mark of the Beast.
The Mark may be ready right now, and vaccines may be the vehicle of segregation someday. We can point to China’s current social credit system as another candidate for a dividing tool Powers could use to segregate society and literally restrict a whole segment from participating in regular commerce and social institutions. But until such tools of social control are directly associated with the Antichrist figure. So Christians don’t need to worry that they are participating in an evil system if they get jabbed.
THE MARK IS READY, ARE YOU?
To restate, the Mark of the Beast will be an explicit denial of the Christian message and Jesus himself, by definition. There will be no gray about it, so Christians won’t be accidentally guilty of losing their salvation because they accidentally accepted a satanic marking and so rejected Jesus accidentally. Won’t happen.
The “Mark” is ready. The tools of omni-control and surveillance required to enforce worldwide acceptance of Antichrist worship are here. The desire to marginalize Christians is also here, increasingly in the West. But the Beast is not yet revealed, and we will know it when he is… II Thess 2 gives us a lot of what we can know about that dark figure ahead of time. Unsurprisingly, he will mimic other antichrists who have proceeded him, like Nero and Hitler and Nebuchadnezzar and others who set themselves up in God’s place and demanded to be worshipped. Thus, God has armed us by his prophetic Word to recognize him when the Antichrist is revealed to the world.
Until then, the vaccine is just medicine. It may be horrible medicine or good; wildly effective or ineffective; perfectly safe or risky; benevolently rolled out to world, or coercively jammed down our throats… but none of that makes it “The Mark.”