Regarding the passage of Revelation 13:18, which is likely the most proper way to present the Beast's number?

  • 600+60+6 (six hundred and sixty six)
  • 6-6-6 (six six six)
  • 600+10+6 (six hundred and sixteen)
  • 6-1-6 (six one six)

2 Answers 2


The Greek spells out each word:

ἑξακόσιοι (six hundred) ἑξήκοντα (sixty) ἕξ (six).

At the time the NT was written, place holders were unknown. It was simply not possible to write ἕξ ἕξ ἕξ (or to use the single letters for six which would be three stigmas) and it be understood as six hundred sixty-six. To write out 666 using the letter equivalents would be chi xi stigma (χξϛ). Chi being used for six hundred, xi representing sixty, and stigma being 6 (stigma was used in antiquity only as a numeral). If you did write out ἕξ ἕξ ἕξ or ϛϛϛ, the reader would understand it as "18" because you add up the letters to make the total.

The translator's notes for Revelation 13:18 from the NET Bible concludes that 666 is to be preferred over 616:

A few mss (Ì115 C, along with a few mss known to Irenaeus {and two minuscule mss, 5 and 11, no longer extant}), read 616 here, and several other witnesses have other variations. Irenaeus’ mention of mss that have 616 is balanced by his rejection of such witnesses in this case. As intriguing as the reading 616 is (since the conversion of Nero Caesar’s name in Latin by way of gematria would come out to 616), it must remain suspect because such a reading seems motivated in that it conforms more neatly to Nero’s gematria.


From the King James:

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.

Six hundred is obvious..

Threescore - A "Score" is twenty, so that's sixty And sis

So, the correct answer, according to that version, is your first:

  • 600+60+6 (six hundred and sixty six)

Also agrees to by the New American Standard version:

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.

However in some earlier versions, it was translated as 616.

616 is believed by some to have been the original Number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible.1 Different early versions of the Book of Revelation gave different numbers, and 666 had been widely accepted as the original number. In 2005, however, a fragment of papyrus 115 was revealed, containing the earliest known version of that part of the Book of Revelation discussing the Number of the Beast. It gave the number as 616, suggesting that this may have been the original.2 Apparently the two different numbers reflect two different spellings of Emperor Nero/Neron's name, for which this number is believed to be a code.

So, either 666 or 616 could be the result of a copyist error.

If you're really interested in the opinion of someone who's taken the time to research this, I'd recommend this article from EscapeAllThings.com.

The conclusion leans strongly toward 666 as in "six hundred and sixty six".

  • 2
    Can you show some evidence that the KJV is an accurate translation of this verse?
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 28, 2014 at 0:02
  • 1
    @curiousdannii - No, I cannot. I did include a paragraph that discusses that the difference is not a matter of translation, but rather a discrepancy between the widely accepted manuscripts and a fragment of papyrus discovered in 2005. It's not a translation issue, it's a "Which source manuscript is correct?" issue. Which can't be answered definitively, but for which we can address what is widely accepted. Jul 28, 2014 at 0:14
  • 666 vs 616 is a source issue, but six hundred and sixty six vs six six six is a translation issue.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 28, 2014 at 1:56
  • 1
    If it's a manuscript issue, why even mention the KJV or NASB? The Greeks used letters to write out their numbers, similar to the Romans. This isn't a case of merely swapping a 1 with a 6.
    – Andrew
    Jul 29, 2014 at 11:38

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