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An English version of the relevant part of the Scripture is this:

"16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

As far I know, it is a relative well cited part of the scripture today. The important question is, what is the word used for mark in the original, Greek text, and what did it mean?

I think, we all can imagine, what it could mean. For example, if I use a pen to draw a circle on my hand, that will be a mark. But there was no pen at the time, and writing durable marks to human skin was not trivial at the time. I believe, this might be the reason, why is it interpreted as like a tattoo today. Because tattoo was known (and was forbidden since the early Old Testament era). But that is our current interpretation.

What is the word used for "mark" in the original, Greek text, and exactly what did it mean, considering the culture and technological customs of the era?

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  • It's the same mark in English, because the mark goes to the hand or to the forehead Commented Mar 25 at 15:19
  • @SoFewAgainstSoMany It is not so easy, ancient languages tend to use words quite non-trivially. Just compare different Bible translations on your first language. I know one, for example, which has the indirect meaning that people intentionally draws the mark to himself/herself, others have not. The difference is huge and is not the intent of the translators; simply the text is not obvious for us. Very likely, for example, that most translators did not see the importance of the exact details of the mark, and simply gave the for him most obvious version.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 15:22
  • @SoFewAgainstSoMany Now I have found a translation where the word is used for a painted character ("malzeichen"), while the answer below clearly shows that it is a carved mark (like on the horses to prove the ownership).
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 15:38
  • 1
    If you want to know the meaning of the English word "mark" in the original text of Revelation 15:16 you may be advised to post this question on Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. For example, this question/answer deals with another part of Revelation 15:16: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/85804/…
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 25 at 15:47
  • The mark is a mark because it's something the beast uses to know which humans are allied to him and which ones allied to God Commented Mar 25 at 15:59

5 Answers 5

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It is chapter 13 of Revelation, verses 16 & 17, that form the question, which makes it a hermeneutic question, not a Christianity one. That aside, it is a Greek word used in the text - charagma. It means "Impressed mark, engraving." It occurs eight times in the book of Revelation, all times having that meaning. See Young's Concordance, page 646.

It is indelible as the prophecy shows, because once people have it on their hand or the forehead, it identifies them for destruction. But they don't know they've got this mark, because it is not literal. It is a spiritual mark that the angels can see. It is entirely different to the mark that identifies God's people. People receive either one mark, or the other.

The mark of the beast is that of the evil triad - the dragon, the sea beast, and the earth beast.

The sea beast has been in existence even before Daniel's visions, continuing till the Roman empire, where his visions stopped. The Roman power suffered the deadly wound (at the cross) but has wondrously revived with multiple horns / diadems = worldly (political) facets. This allows continued persecution and overcoming of the saints, even till now.

Much nearer the time of Christ's return, the second beast (the earth beast) arises, appearing to be oh so religious, lamb-like. But it blasphemes God by deceiving the world into a false worship with signs (fire from heaven). It kills those who don't worship the image of the first beast. It kills those who don't have his mark - 666 - a symbolic mark, not literal numbers either. Don't go looking for tattoos. This is spiritual language depicting spiritual events prior to Christ's return.

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  • If the mark is spiritual how will an officer in the beast kingdom or government know how to prevent someone from buying and selling, it's physical. Something that can be seen so anyone who rejects it is barred from buying and selling. Commented Mar 25 at 19:39
  • @SoFewAgainstSoMany What if the mark is electronic. An encryption key. The number of a name. A hash code of a name. Or an id number. Today programmers tend to forget this, but all programming is based on numbers on the deepest level. The white color of this webpage is 3 numbers: (255;255;255). Want to know the number of your this nick? 536f2046657720416761696e737420536f204d616e79!
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 21:22
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    @SoFewAgainstSoMany Not sure if your comments are addressed to me or the OP. This is not a Christian site but is open to all who can offer respectful answers that do answer the Qs. The trouble with some Qs is that they go off at a tangent giving the OPs personal interpretations, usually leading to others going down the same path, which this site seeks to avoid. I confess to having responded to such personal interpretations after answering the actual Q. I ought to know better by now. So, I won't make any more responses to points of private interpretations here.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 26 at 18:21
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    @Anne, no I addressed my comments to the OP, The only comments I addressed to you was to clarify how the mark will impact on buying and selling when it's symbolic and anything symbolic means its abstract and invisible. Hope is symbolic and it's invisible Commented Mar 26 at 18:26
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    @SoFewAgainstSoMany Hope is a quality, as is love, but is demonstrated through words and actions. The symbolic mark will show its outworking in a differentiation between the many who have it, and the few who don't. The beastly world systems, controlled by the invisible red dragon, will try to crush the few. It knows who belong to it (even if they don't know) and who belong to Christ, having his symbolic 'seal' on their foreheads, Rev.7:1-4.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 29 at 9:02
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Your best bet here is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, which gives the Greek or Hebrew word for every word in the Bible (King James Version). In this case, the word is charagma, meaning "a stamp, an imprinted mark," "the mark branded on horses" or sculpture or carving.

What often happens when I check out the original word is that I find it means same as the English equivalent! But sometimes I get something more interesting.

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  • Thank you very much! Accept is coming soon if no other answer appears.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 15:39
  • 1
    So, this is probably mark of the Satan. If you put the mark, or you allow it to put on you, that means that you accept the rule of the Satan above you, and only so will you only be able to buy and sell anything. Probably important detail of the mark that it represents ownership (of the Satan).
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 15:43
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    And also consider that this is apocalyptic literature, highly symbolic. We care that it means they belong to the Beast, not any detail questions that would have to have answers (what kind of ink, say) if it were literal.
    – Maverick
    Commented Mar 25 at 15:46
  • We also know that John lived in 2nd century and used a terminology known for himself, in his world. For example, he had no idea that once there will be technology. He believed, Empires will come and go (he did not even know, that the Roman Empire won't ever last), and the Beast will be some like a particularly evil emperor.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 16:12
  • Yes I think, it is very important: the charagma represents ownership (of animals). My charagma on a horse means that this is my horse. This charagma is used in the text. This is not in the translations et al. It is not just a number (or gematric number of a name). It has legal power, or there is an intent to have legal power.
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented Mar 25 at 16:16
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What is the meaning of the "mark" in the original text of the Book of Revelation?

First of all, St. John’s Book of Revelation was written in Greek and not Aramaic or even in Hebrew. Thus what is the Koine Greek definition of ”Mark”.

The transliteration of the word ”mark” from the Koine Greek is ”Charagma”.

Charagma (khar'-ag-mah)

Charagma Definition

  1. a stamp, an imprinted mark
  1. of the mark stamped on the forehead or the right hand as the badge of the followers of the Antichrist
  1. the mark branded upon horses
  1. thing carved, sculpture, graven work
  1. of idolatrous images

This said, I heard many possibilities as to the interpretation of the phrase as to what this mark could possibly means. In the end, it is speculation until the man of lawlessness is fully revealed.

The main passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of the Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.

The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.

Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.

What is the mark of the beast?

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  • Finally, someone who shares the same views as me concerning the mark Commented Mar 26 at 19:16
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I just want to say what I feel. I am no Bible expert, but the answer seems to make sense now it's here. I used to think the COVID shot was the mark. It came dangerously close to that point. The point that they weren't going to allow anyone with out the shot to go anywhere in public. They were fired from their healthcare jobs. There is also a story in the Bible about a woman who had a blood disease and spent all her riches on medical care, and they still had no cure. The story goes on to say that the woman approaches Jesus and touches the hem of his garments and is instantly healed. So, obviously the mark is not a medical shot. But, we know it is some kind of mark easily identified which you have to have to buy or sell. So, it obviously is something that allows easy access into a store. How are they going to know if other unlicensed people are selling, say through newspaper or Facebook marketplace, or street corner?? I think the solution is upcoming through legislation and New Technology, such as AI. The mark is ALL READY HERE in it's trial phase. People have taken it already, under the guise of convenience. What is the most important thing that God gave us? The one thing that separates us from being good or bad? FREE WILL our ability to choose between right and wrong. AI diminishes our ability to choose!!! The mark is a computer chip in our right hand that identifies us through a scanner!!! USED TO LOG ON TO A COMPUTER, ENTER A STORE, PLACE OF BUSINESS, ETC. SOON with this upcoming legislation to expand broadband, technology, everyone will soon be hooked up to the INTERNET!!!! Then everyone will have access to a scanner to log on to the Internet. They want to track the money!!! MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL!!!! Another example. The implant that was installed in that man's brain. He now claims that he can move things with his mind! Steer clear from these devices!!! Nothing Artificial Intelligence!!!!! Does this make sense??? It does to me!!! I was at the doctor today and the computer was acting slow, so we had to wait for my medical records to load. I asked the nurse if they had paper copies of our records? She said no. Hmmm. This is bad!!! Think about the story of the woman with the blood disease, here. This is why we are so desperate for money!!! To KEEP our Physical Bodies alive!!!!! The Internet has full control of our identities, our health, money, and location, and the ability to be manipulated is tremendous!!! I tell you this!!! If you have FAITH in Jesus Christ's Resurrection, you will not be afraid to die!!! FOCUS ON YOUR ETERNAL LIFE and don't worry what happens to you if you do not receive the MARK. JESUS IS ALIVE and he is with us, always, he will be with us to pass through the veil!!! No matter what you go through, Remember the behavior of Jesus!!! HE WENT THROUGH IT All so we knew what to expect. Amen.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Mar 29 at 2:54
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The mark is as literal as it sounds because it impacts on the lives of the dwellers of the earth. There is no symbolic mark that would control buying and selling. In order for the authority of that time to be able to control purchase and sale then it's going to come up with this system where you accept a physical mark that the systems that will be in place whether human or electronic can recognize and grant access

And with this digital revolution in place, you can bet it will be some Optical Character Recognition System. I am a Software Engineer and I know how image processing is easy to scan a live face or an exposed hand to recognize 666 number literal

The mark of the beast is already here because think about this...

1. In order for you to be able to transact they require a number as a PIN

The mark of the beast is here with the mask of a PIN number. After the earth beast shows up then it will be changed to a face scan or a hand scan for the transaction to be approved.

Businesses and people have some sort of number already, in my country all legal entities have a tax number or a revenue PIN, the mark of the beast is already here as that but in future the government of the antichrist which will be global.

Read carefully the events of Revelation where the earth beast makes an image. The earth beast is a false prophet because he deceives through false signs and wonders and then makes an image for the sea beast and causes it to speak. The earth beast who is the false prophet causes all to be marked on the forehead or on the hand, so none can buy or sell lest he has the mark.

How would a symbolic mark which is invisible and abstract be a mark meant to ban people from trade?

Businesses will be required to install a camera on the premises and people required to have a smartphone that has access to a selfie or a camera and you won't be able to do anything lest the beast system approves

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  • This is all very comforting to the populace, who know they have no visible marks on them and who may be careful about their own personal electronic devices. But it is their character that gives them away. This is the indelible mark. Ungodliness, worldliness, carnality, selfishness, pride, covetousness. All accepted by the world ('yes, come and trade with us'). But once repent and be converted and be sanctified and separated : then one is unmarked and not invited to buy or sell.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 26 at 13:34
  • @NigelJ, the mark of the beast is literal because even Christians or saints need to trade, Jesus traded, he bought things he needed for the passover before his arrest Commented Mar 26 at 13:39
  • @NigelJ, you and Anne sound as if Christians of that age won't need to buy or sell. Buying and selling is universal to all human beings and that's why the devil will use it as a bargaining leverage Commented Mar 26 at 13:40
  • @nigelj, if Americans have tattoos, what makes you think they would say no to the mark of the beast? If they are barred from trading then it's a yes because their limits would be put to the test Commented Mar 26 at 13:48

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