The Mark of the Beast in Modern Day: Barcodes and microchips?

It's surprisingly common for me to come across people interpreting the Bible to fit modern days. I am, of course, constantly surprised by this because I am quite convinced that most of the Bible is in fact social commentary and political writings rather than literal predictions. One of the more common interpretation revolves around the Number of the Beast, mentioned several times in Revelation. I think it's an idea worth exploring.

There are eight mentions of the Mark in Revelation (King James):
13:16-18 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and enslaved {bond}, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; And that no man might buy or sell, except {save} he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.

14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,

14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, [and] over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and [upon] them which worshipped his image.

19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

From the above we can gather some facts: The mark goes in the forehead or right hand (Or, depending on the translation of the Greek, on the forehead/hand). One cannot buy or sell unless one had the Mark or the Name or the Number of the Beast. (How one obtains the Name of Number of the Beast isn't specified.) The Mark's primary function is a symbol of worship, not of commerce. The relation to commerce is only mentioned once, while mention of worship is in every other instance in connection with the Mark. One who possesses the mark is eternally punished; god would not punish someone for buying and selling, but he would punish people who worship a false idol, according to scriptures.

666

The Number of the Beast as written in scriptures is not 6-6-6, but rather six-hundred-sixty-six, which is a subtle but important difference. People who see the Number of the Beast on every street corner tend to forget this fact.

On the topic of 666, we don't actually know if this number is even correct. Scholars have been confused because some manuscripts say the Number of the Beast is six-hundred-sixteen, not six-hundred-sixty-six. The oldest fragment of Revelation (The P115 papyrus) that we have found to date contained the 616 version for the Number of the Beast. It is fully possible that the Number of the Beast got changed at some point in our history.

It is also thought that the Number of the Beast is not a literal number but rather a codified name. Both the Hebrew and Greek alphabets were different from our own in that letters were also used as numbers. It was common practice to convert someone's name into the number of their name by adding the values of each letter, called gematria. (An ancient graffiti in Pompeii reads, "I love her whose number is 545" for example). A clue is offered to us in the verse itself: Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man;. The Number of the beast is the number of a man: perhaps John is trying to tell us that 666/616 is a codified name?

That is a very commonly accepted theory among scholars. One of the more supported names is Caesar Nero - in Hebrew his name adds to 666 and in Greek it adds to 616. An interesting paper proposes that there really isn't a way for us to know for sure,
Thus, given the alternatives that exist, P115 could be seen as supporting
a number of proposals and does not exclusively support any
single one, such as the Nero redivivus interpretation.
which is generally how things happen when it comes to biblical translations.

We will continue, assuming that 666 is correct (I honestly doubt it) and that it wasn't meant to refer to someone long dead (again, I doubt it).

Barcodes


Many people have claimed that the Mark is actually a barcode. They claim that at some time in the future, all people will have a barcode tattooed to their hand or forehead should they want to buy or sell things. There are three main reasons they believe this to be true:

Picket fence

A palisade


The greek word for mark used in Revelation is charagma which has its root in the word charax which means "palisade". (I haven't been able to confirm these translations with a non-religious source) A palisade is a fence made of vertical posts, somewhat like a picket fence. Barcodes look like a picket fence - a bunch of vertical lines - so the Mark must be a barcode. This ignores the fact that many words (in most languages) have multiple meanings for no reason at all. It also ignores the fact that there are more than one kind of barcode used globally. Some barcode forms are not bars at all.

Used in trade
Many people put much importance on the "buy and sell" part of the Mark of the Beast. In modern day, almost all products have a barcode on them. Of course, the Mark of the Beast goes on a person instead of a product, but it is claimed that having barcodes on products is a precursor. This is entirely forgetting the purpose of the Mark - the Mark's intent is not to control trade but rather as a symbol of worship.

Tattooing barcodes onto skin for commercial purposes is a really, really idiotic idea. Tattoos smudge, stretch and fade: to tattoo fine lines onto skin and expect them to remain readable is idiocy. Not to mention it would be hilariously easy to "counterfeit". The technology could improve, of course, but if so - why continue to use barcodes? It presents more problems that are easily avoided by just dropping the barcode and using another form of unique identifier.

Contains 666
Some have claimed that barcodes contain a hidden 666:



This is, of course, a naive interpretation of how barcodes actually work.

According to UPC barcode number codes, the guard bars are simply gibberish. They have no meaning - it is purely coincidence that they happen to look like six. In order to be a six they would need an extra bar/space to their right. Not only are they not actually 6s, we have to remember something very important: we are on the lookout for the value six-hundred-sixty-six (or six-hundred-sixteen) not just the number 6 repeated three times.

It is also important to note that it is only in UPC-based barcode formats that 6-6-6 appears in the guardbars.

Oh, and nowhere does Revelation say that the Number of the Beast is connected with the Mark. People keep looking for 6-6-6 in places that don't even matter. The only thing we know about 666 is that is is "the number of the beast's name."

Even after knowing how barcodes work and why it's not likely to be the Mark of the Beast people still like to believe the silliness. I have to admire this guy for his determination:
It is man’s number (computers cant read it as 666)

The number is found in the code’s creator’s name

You cannot buy or sell without a code. (getting more and more true, but a few places still sell without them)

It is the “Right Side Parity”, or right hand, although I believe it WILL be ordered to put them into our own hands.

Microchips & RFID


This is a bit shorter to discuss because the same issues are raised with barcodes. Yes, we may start having hardware implanted under our skin. It's possible that we'd have RFID tags inserted into our hands and connected to our finances. But this doesn't mean that RFID tags are the Mark of the Beast! It fails to meet any criteria of the Mark other than the buy and sell thing. How could it be a symbol of worship and devotion?

RFID/microchip technology won't be good enough to be used for finances for a while yet. It's not secure enough, and the chips are still too big to be inserted unobtrusively under skin (especially the forehead or hand).

Conclusion


Anything that would meet all the criteria of the Mark would have to be implemented with technology we do not currently posses, and will probably not posses for some time. And besides, you'd know when the Beast and Antichrist appeared - it wouldn't be anything so subtle as slowly phasing in the use of barcodes. The point of the Beast is worship. The scriptures are clear on this point: it will not be underhanded and deceptive. People won't be fooled into worshiping or receiving the Mark. You don't have to worry about your credit card, the "www" part of a URL or barcodes at all.

Looking for the Mark and the Number everywhere is misguided. People will point to some leader and say, "Look! Their name adds up to 666 [using my newly invented counting method]" or "look, this thing is related to commerce and widespread, it must be the Mark!" Frankly, this is alarmist and counter to what the scriptures say, both literally and in context. Reiterating what was above: we're not even sure that 666 is the correct value and that it is meant to be a future prediction rather than a political commentary written in code. If you're going to look for conspiracy and evil, at least abide by the rules and criteria laid down by the book you reference!

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The Mark of the Beast in Modern Day: Barcodes and microchips?

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