Revelation 13


If the book of Revelation has not been hard enough to understand so far, the next few chapters should be a sufficient challenge. While it is possible to understand the scriptural imagery and meaning of these chapters, such study is not as edifying or useful as many other subjects. The beasts are not nearly as important as justice and mercy; they are trivial compared to the gospel of Christ's atonement; they are barely more pertinent than fictional tales of dragons and dragon slayers. For years, they have been omitted from the Sunday School curriculum because of their potentially controversial and unedifying content. Nonetheless, we will use what tricks the prophet Joseph Smith and Daniel have left us to understand this chapter. In doing so, we will be wary of the Prophet's warning regarding the beasts.
Joseph Smith
Oh, ye elders of Israel, hearken to my voice; and when you are sent into the world to preach, tell those things you are sent to tell; preach and cry aloud, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel." Declare the first principles, and let mysteries alone, lest ye be overthrown. Never meddle with the visions of beasts and subjects you do not understand. Elder Brown, when you go to Palmyra, say nothing about the four beasts, but preach those things the Lord has told you to preach about-repentance and baptism for the remission of sins. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 292.)
Joseph Smith
I have seldom spoken from the revelations; but as my subject is a constant source of speculation amongst the elders, causing a division of sentiment and opinion in relation to it, I now do it in order that division and differences of opinion may be done away with, and not that correct knowledge on the subject is so much needed at the present time.
It is not very essential for the elders to have knowledge in relation to the meaning of beasts, and heads and horns, and other figures made use of in the revelations; still, it may be necessary, to prevent contention and division and do away with suspense. If we get puffed up by thinking that we have much knowledge, we are apt to get a contentious spirit, and correct knowledge is necessary to cast out that spirit. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 287.)

Rev. 13:1 I...saw a beast... having seven heads and ten horns

What is the interpretation? Joseph Smith makes clear that grotesque beasts are representative of wicked, earthly kingdoms. Note the Joseph Smith Translation and the following quote, "When God made use of the figure of a beast in visions to the prophets He did it to represent those kingdoms which had degenerated and become corrupt, savage and beast-like in their dispositions, even the degenerate kingdoms of the wicked world; but He never made use of the figure of a beast nor any of the brute kind to represent His kingdom." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 289.)
John is still seeing events of the seventh seal, prior to the Second Coming. The beast represents earthly kingdoms which will exist during that time.
What are the heads and horns? Daniel gives us the answer. An angel appeared to him and showed him similar beasts. The explanation that Daniel received from an angel applies to John's vision as well. Daniel is told that the beasts are representative of kingdoms, "which arise out of the earth" (Dan. 7:17, 23) and that the horns are representative of the kings or rulers of these nations (Dan. 7:24).

Rev. 13:2 the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion

The vicious and dangerous animals of this world are used to represent the vicious, wicked, and power hungry kingdoms of the last days. "The beast has power among nations and peoples in the same way vicious animals have power in their kingdoms, ruling others by fear and force." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 167.)
It is useful to compare Daniel chapter 7 to Revelation 13, verses 1-8 because they are both speaking of the same seventh-seal kingdoms.
Revelation 13
Daniel 7
Number of beasts
One beast
Four beasts
Animal Imagery
The single beast has body parts of a leopard, bear, and lion.
1st beast is like a lion
2nd beast is like a bear
3rd beast is like a leopard
4th beast is terrible and strong
Number of heads=7
One beast has 7 heads, representing 7 kingdoms
The 1st, 2nd, and 4th beast have one head each. The 3rd beast has four heads, making seven heads total. Again, the heads represent 7 earthly kingdoms
Number of horns=10
Beast has a total of 10 horns representing 10 latter-day rulers.
All 10 horns come from the fourth beast. "the ten horns... are ten kings that shall arise" (Dan. 7:24).

Rev. 13:2 the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority

Whether one beast or four, whether the seven kingdoms or the ten kings, all receive their power from the dragon, or the devil. He owns the beasts. They do his bidding. He supports them as he has supported his minions for ages; he gives them great power and authority, but only for a season. At last, they are destroyed with the dragon who gave them power in the first place (Dan. 7:9-14).

Rev. 13:3-4 I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed

A kingdom, or nation, receives a wound that should be fatal. Presumably destroyed by another nation, this broken nation would not die. Miraculously healed by the power of the dragon to continue to make war with the saints, this kingdom becomes a wonder and marvel to its admirers who declare "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Joseph Smith
John says, "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast." Some spiritualizers say the beast that received the wound was Nebuchadnezzar, some Constantine, some Mohammed, and others the Roman Catholic Church; but we will look at what John saw in relation to this beast...
"All the world wondered after the beast," Nebuchadnezzar and Constantine the Great not excepted... I will venture to say that when God allows the old devil to give power to the beast to destroy the inhabitants of the earth, all will wonder. Verse 4 reads, "And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Some say it means the kingdom of the world. One thing is sure, it does not mean the kingdom of the Saints. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 293)

Rev. 13:4 who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?

If one forgives the mixing of metaphors, then the description of the beast after surviving the near-fatal wound matches the description of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 (Dan 7:7-8, 15-27), the little horn of Daniel 8 (Dan 8:9-26), and the second king of the north of Daniel 11-12 (Dan 11:21-45; 12:10-12). The student can learn much by reading and understanding that these passages all reference the same latter-day ruler and kingdom.
The greatness and terrible power of the beast are described in multiple places. Neighboring nations will be in awe. The entire world will take notice. He will make war with others but always keeps his eye on the destruction of Jerusalem, the Holy People, and their Holy Temple (already built and in use by the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy). He is described as follows:
...behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (Dan 7:7)
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.
Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.
...his power shall be mighty, by not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. (Dan 8:10-11, 24)
...he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers, he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devises against the strong holds, even for a time.
...Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant.
...they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall [put in] place the abomination that maketh desolate. (Dan 11:24, 28, 31)

Rev. 13:5 power was given unto him to continue forty and two months

In chapter 11, we discussed the 3.5 years that Jerusalem will be under siege from her enemies. The beast is the enemy-a nation led through Satan's power to lay hold upon the holy city, "for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread underfoot forty and two months" (Rev. 11:2). Zechariah declared, "I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity" (Zech. 14:1).
One of the greatest abominations of this siege will be the way the enemy desecrates the Jerusalem temple. Daniel prophesies repeatedly of this 42-month period in relation to the desecration of the temple and the desolation of abomination:
...they shall be given into his hand until a time (one year) and times (two years) and the dividing of time (half a year). (Dan 7:25)
How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary (the temple) and the host (the people) to be trodden under foot?
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. (Dan. 8:13-14)
...they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
...And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. (Dan 11:31; 12:11)

Rev. 13:5-6 he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle

Imagine the importance of a Jerusalem Temple to the Jews and to the latter-day saints. Imagine the importance of the re-establishment of ancient rites, the focus of worship, the symbolism of the holy place. It would seem that not long after the Jews are able to establish such a wonderful feat in building a temple for the first time since Herod's was destroyed, their enemies will come against them, blaspheme the name of God, and desecrate the temple. Impressed with himself, the king of the opposing army will make himself great. Daniel was more descriptive:
And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god... (Dan. 11:36-39)
"[He] goes even further by claiming the very attributes of deity; indeed, of being deity itself. Second Thessalonians 2:3-4 tells us that the 'son of perdition . . . opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God' (KJV). The special form this blasphemy takes is the claim of savior. But the salvation the dragon offers is the momentary thrill-the cheap pleasure of the prostitute that is fleeting, empty, and immoral. The beast's seductive promises are anchored solely in the illusion that one can find happiness and security in iniquity. (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 187)

Rev. 13:7 it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them

Speaking of things temporally and spiritually, Satan has been making war with the saints in an attempt to overcome them since Eve first partook of the forbidden fruit. Unfortunately, he has overcome some of the greatest spirits that have come to the earth.
Ezra Taft Benson
We live in a day of great challenge. We live in that time of which the Lord spoke when he said, "Peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion." (D&C 1:35.) We live in that day which John the Revelator foresaw when "the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Rev. 12:17.) The dragon is Satan; the woman represents the Church of Jesus Christ. Satan is waging war against the members of the Church who have testimonies and are trying to keep the commandments. And while many of our members are remaining faithful and strong, some are wavering. Some are falling. Some are fulfilling John's prophecy that in the war with Satan, some Saints would be overcome. (See Rev. 13:7.) ("The Power of the Word," Ensign, May 1986, 79)
Gerald N. Lund
John wrote that Satan will "make war with the remnant of her [the Church's] seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).
Then in Rev. 13:7, John said, "And it was given unto him [a wicked beast that serves Satan] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them." I do not think he means to overcome the Church, but to overcome some of the Saints. I think we see that spiritual disaster happening in the lives of many around us-youth, adults, and others. (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 365.)

Rev. 13:7 it was given unto him to make war with the saints

Speaking of temporal things and earthly conquests, the king described in verses 5 and 6, will make war with the saints and overcome them. Are we to understand that the latter-day saints going to be destroyed in an apocalyptic war? This passage requires some explanation.
At the same time as the events of Revelation 13, most the latter-day saints will be gathered to the lands of Zion, headquartered in Jackson County. They will have built a great city and named it New Jerusalem. They are not overcome by any opposing army. Rather, the scriptures promise that the Lord will protect them. shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;
And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.
And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.
And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.
And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. (D&C 45:66-70)
We are accustomed to using the word saints to refer to members of the Church, but this is not how John uses the term. Both John and Daniel use the term saints and the holy people in referring to the covenant keeping Jews who have established the temple in Jerusalem (Dan. 7:21; 8:24; 11:30-35; 12:7). They are not promised the same protection as their New Jerusalem counterparts. Describing events to take place during the 3.5 year siege of Jerusalem, Daniel prophesies what will happen to the righteous Jews:
...the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many [wicked] shall cleave to them with flatteries (encouraging them to forsake the holy covenant)
And some of them of understanding shall fall, [the Lord shall allow this] to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. (Dan 11:32-35, see also verse 30)
Joseph Smith
The "Horn" made war with the Saints and overcame them, until the Ancient of Days came; judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High from the Ancient of Days; the time came that the Saints possessed the kingdom. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 159.)
Joseph Fielding Smith
Daniel and John each saw the opposition the little horn made against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This opposition will continue until the grand council is held at Adam-ondi-Ahman. This "little horn" (7:20-22; Rev. 13) is making a renewed and determined effort today to destroy the Church. The Lord has decreed otherwise and while its power will last until Michael comes and the Son of Man receives his rightful place, this great power will endure. It must, however, fall, and according to the scriptures its end will come rather suddenly. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 4: 44.)
Wilford Woodruff
We have not altogether traveled on beds of ease, we have had warfare and opposition from the commencement until this day; but we and the world may set our hearts at rest concerning "Mormonism," for it will never cease until the Lord Jesus Christ comes in the clouds of heaven. These nations and other nations will war with the Saints of God until their cup is full; and when they become ripened in iniquity the Lord Almighty will cut them off, and the judgments of the Most High God will follow the testimony of the Elders of Israel. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 17: 246.)

Rev. 13:11 I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth

Daniel's prophecies have been a great help in understanding the beast described in verses 1-8. Daniel 7-8, 11-12 describe the kingdoms of the apocalyptic period with remarkable detail. In fact, his prophetic imagery is very descriptive. However, careful study would suggest that none of his prophecies speak of this last beast.
There is a remarkable irony when we consider the beast of verses 11-18. John appears to be the only prophet who makes specific reference to this last of the wicked world leaders. Furthermore, the scriptures and the Brethren are almost silent when it comes to this subject. In contrast, popular culture and theorists never stop talking about the beast with the number 666. Books have been written; television programs have explored the subject; and people who know nothing of fundamental doctrines like baptism have still heard of the beast with Satan's number.

Rev. 13:11 he had two horns like a lamb

"The lamb is Antichrist working miracles and teaching false doctrines in the name of salvation. Later in the revelation this lamb is called the 'false prophet' (16:13; 19:20; 20:10, KJV) and uses counterfeit prophetic knowledge as a means of deception. The two horns represent feigned benevolent authority. Note John's words carefully. He says that the beast had horns 'like a lamb,' not like the Lamb. Therefore, the second beast, the fraudulent Christ, imitates the Lord." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 146.)

Rev. 13:12 causeth the earth... to worship the first beast

"The second beast never comes fully into view but remains in the background, the deceptive distance catching those who might not otherwise be attracted to the first beast, and in this way it betrays people into the worship of the latter. Indeed its whole function seems to be to seduce mankind into this false worship. And what is the objective of this worship? In a word, materialism: the ability to buy and sell and to get gain." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 147.)
"This beast has the appearance of a lamb, like Jesus; outwardly he appears innocent and harmless. But when the beast speaks, his true nature is revealed-he speaks like his master, the devil." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 172.)

Rev. 13:13 deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do

Orson Pratt
Immediately before the second coming of Christ, there is to be a general gathering of the nations against the Jews at Jerusalem. These nations will gather into the valley of Armageddon near Jerusalem, after which the Lord will destroy them. This great movement of all nations against the Jews will be set in operation by the means of wicked miracles. John speaks of it thus: "And I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And He gathered them together unto a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Rev. 16:13-16) The reason the Lord will suffer the devil to work miracles to deceive "the kings of the earth and of the whole world," is because they will previously have rejected "the everlasting gospel"; therefore the devil will deceive them, and lead them on to destruction, as he did the Egyptians. This same power is prophesied of by Paul, as follows. "And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming; even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonder, and with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:8-12)
-If the foregoing quotations be correct, we see that the devil has power to create serpents and frogs, and turn rivers of water into blood-that he has power to reveal strangers who may come in disguise, and raise up a dead prophet to converse with men here on the earth-that he has power to break chains and fetters-to transform himself into an angel of light-to show all the kingdoms of the world unto Christ-to perform great signs and wonders, and call fire down from heaven-and finally, his power is to be so wonderfully manifested, that even "the kings of the earth and the whole world" will suffer themselves to be deceived by his miracles, and be blindly led to the valley of Slaughter, where they will be consumed by the brightness of Christ's coming. All of these things the devil has done, and will do, if the English translation of the Bible be correct. (Orson Pratt's Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 233.)
Glenn L. Pace
As Elder Talmage put it: "Specified gifts of the Spirit are to follow the believer as signs of divine acknowledgment. The possession of such gifts may be taken therefore as essential features of the Church of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, we are not justified in regarding the evidence of miracles as proof of authority from heaven; on the other hand, the scriptures aver that spiritual powers of the baser sort have wrought miracles, and will continue so to do, to the deceiving of many who lack discernment. . . . John the Revelator saw in vision a wicked power working miracles, and thereby deceiving many, doing great wonders, even bringing fire from heaven. Again, he saw unclean spirits, whom he knew to be 'the spirits of devils, working miracles.' " (Articles of Faith, 1984 ed., p. 209.)
President Joseph F. Smith said: "The gifts of the Spirit and the powers of the holy Priesthood are of God, they are given for the blessing of the people, for their encouragement, and for the strengthening of their faith. This Satan knows full well, therefore he seeks by imitation-miracles to blind and deceive the children of God. Remember what the magicians of Egypt accomplished in their efforts to deceive Pharaoh as to the divinity of the mission of Moses and Aaron. John the Revelator saw in vision the miracle-working power of the evil one. Note his words. 'And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; . . . and he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles,' etc. (Rev. 13:11-14.) Further, John saw three unclean spirits whom he describes as 'the spirits of devils, working miracles.' (Rev. 16:13-14.)" (Gospel Doctrine, p. 376.) (Glenn L. Pace, Spiritual Plateaus [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 135.)

Rev. 13:16 he causeth all to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads

Satan doesn't know how to run a kingdom without ripping off all the Lord's ideas. Hence, we see him using the right hand and forehead for his "covenant people." The saints have always made sacred covenants with the right hand. Next chapter, we will discuss again the 144,000 who are sealed by God in their foreheads. Satan wants to mimic these patterns of righteousness by having his beast mark his prey in the right hand or forehead.
Gerald N. Lund
Numerous interpretations of that passage have been given by various commentators, ranging all the way from saying it is a specific mark placed on the body of a person to wildly spiritualistic interpretations; however, knowledge of an ancient custom and a secondary practice derived from this custom sheds light on what John may have been trying to convey.
In the Roman empire there were vast numbers of slaves. Often a slave would run away from his master, go to a large city such as Rome, and try to disappear into the population. Since nothing about a human being marks him naturally as either a slave or free man, such runaways could pass as free persons as long as no one could personally identify them. To protect against that practice, slave owners would often brand their slaves with marks to identify them, just as modern stockmen permanently mark their animals for identification. To make this brand impossible to hide under clothing, most slaves were marked either on the palm of the right hand or on the forehead directly above the eyes. Therefore, it would have been common in John's time to see a person walking down the street with a mark on his right hand or on his forehead and to instantly identify him as a slave.
Out of that practice grew a secondary custom. Worshipers of various gods in the Roman pantheon, to symbolize the fact that they were totally dedicated to their god-in other words, that they were slaves or servants of their god-would also mark themselves on the right hand or the forehead. In this case they would mark themselves with a symbol of their god. Thus, a person might be seen walking down the street with a thunderbolt on his forehead, which symbolized that he was totally devoted to-that is, a slave to-Jupiter. A person marked with a trident said symbolically, "I am a servant of Poseidon, the god of the sea," and so on. John's readers, familiar with that concept and its significance, would not have puzzled over what he meant. To say that a person had the mark of the beast suggested that he was a slave of, or totally subservient to, the beast. Note that John uses the same imagery in a positive sense, indicating that there are those who are sealed in their foreheads with the mark of God (see Rev. 7:3). This use clearly signifies that these are people who belong to God; they are God's servants. (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 65.)

Rev. 13:17 no man might buy or sell save he that had the mark

"John lays before the reader the terrifying prospect of an economic system completely dominated by what has been called 'the Mahanic principle.' Satan, who stands as initiator of this system, first revealed its great secret to Cain, who in turn revealed it to his followers (see Moses 5:29-31). Satan 'did plot with Cain and his followers from that time forth' (Hel. 6:27). And what was the objective of all that plotting? To learn the trade of turning human life into property. Evil and conspiring men formed the secret combination that then swept across oceans and survived through time. And Satan 'doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men' (Hel. 6:30). (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 147.)
"Here we see the extent of the power of the second beast. In 13:15 we see that the beast kills those who will not worship the first beast. Now we see that he has another threat: he controls the world economy so much that only those with the mark can engage in the essential economic activities of buying and selling." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 175.)

Rev. 13:18 his number is Six hundred threescore and six

Many explanations have been offered for the number of the beast. The latter-day saint perspective should be colored by the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith which help us to understand that this apocalyptic world leader with his mark and number is yet to come forth upon the earth. Looking to the past or even the present for its fulfillment is not likely to be fruitful. Nevertheless, it is interesting for the reader to understand how our Christian colleagues have examined, and over-examined, this passage. The following excerpt is from a representative website explaining current Christian concepts. One of their creative numerical calculations has the Mormons as representing the number of the beast-see below.
Through the ages people have tried to identify a person to whom this number may refer, while trying to establish what his main function is said to be.
Slaves usually received a mark on their hand as proof of who their owner was. Kings of those times had their own personal stamp or seal for use on official documents.
This mark of the Antichrist is to be stamped in the right hand and in the forehead of his followers, as stated in the two previous verses, and he who does not have it won't be able to sell nor buy anything, "And He (the Beast) causes all, both the small and great, rich and poor, free and slave to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads. And that no one may buy or sell except he who has the mark or the name of the Beast or the number of his name." (Rev.13:16-17)
This mark to which John refers, and the number of the name, namely 666, can be understood in two ways:

1- Literal Interpretation: The number 666 would the numerical value of the letters of the name, so you can know who is the Antichrist.
2- Symbolic or Spiritual Interpretation: Number 6 in the Bible is the number of imperfection, so, the Antichrist would have the triple total imperfection, in his religious, political and social dimensions, symbolizing the climax of man's failure and wickedness
Number "7" is the number of perfection in the Bible, seven days of creation, seven days of a week, the twenty sevens of the Book of Revelation... "6" does not reach perfection, and "8" is the number of super-perfection. Number "6" is often used as the symbolic number of imperfection of humankind (two arms, two legs, one head, one body).
1- Literal Interpretation:
For centuries, this number 666 has given rise to a lot of thought and speculation.
There are several methods which have been used to try to identify a certain person to which 666 refers. The meanings of numbers are further illustrated and established by the study of Gematria or the numeric values of words.
The Greeks and Hebrews did not have separate symbols, such as 1, 2 and 3, for numbers like we do. Instead, like the Romans, they used the letters of their alphabets.... and lately, gematria studies have been done in the modern languages: English, Spanish French...
In Greek (Greek Numerals):
The Revelation was written in Greek, so this is a most important language to find out about the 666:
In Greek alpha represents 1 and beta 2 and so on up to iota, which is 10. After that kappa is 20, lambda 30 and so on up to ro, which is 100. Sigma is 200, tau 300 and so on up to omega, which is 800. These values are shown in the table below. (The number 6 was originally the letter digamma which later dropped out of use.) This means that you can take the letters of any word or name, and add them up to get a total value for the word. That value is called the gematria.
The name Jesus (IhsouV in Greek) adds up to 888. The name of Caesar Nero in Greek is 666.
Many of the titles of Jesus have the number 8 as a prominent feature or factor. KurioV (Lord) has the value 800. CristoV (Christ) is 1480 which has the factors 37 x 8 x 5. (888 is 37 x 8 x 3). Alhqeia (truth) is 64 or 8 x 8. Swthr (Savior) is 1408 or 8 x 8 x 22. OdoV (Way) is 344 or 8 x 43.
On the other hand, KosmoV (world) has the gematria 600. The kosmos is the sphere of man's works apart from God. Many of the names and titles of Satan, such as drakwn (dragon) and ofiV (serpent), have the factor 13.
Roman Numerals: The Papacy
These are also important because the Latin language was the one spoken in the Roman Empire:
I = 1 V = 5 X = 10 L=50 C=100 D=500 M=1000
The Adventists claim the Papacy is the Antichrist using this system as computation, using some trickcs:
They use the words VICARIUS FILII DEI, and the computation is perfect, as follows:
V.................... 5
I..................... 1
A.................... 0
R.................... 0
I..................... 1
U.................... 5
S.................... 0

L................... 50
I...................... 1


TOTAL = 666
But the Pope is never called "Vicarius Filii Dei", but the "Vicar of Christ", and this doesn't fit!, only accounts for 205... Papacy computation is only 100... In Italian Papado is 500... Pope is 0... Papa is 0... Vatican is 106... Rome is 1000...

... but they keep manufacturing new words that fit: So, in Latin: "Dux Cleri" (Captain of the clergy"), Ludovicus (Vicar of the court)... in Greek: "I Protera" (first of two), "Lateinos" (The Latin speaking man), "He Latin Basilea" (The Latin Kindom), "Italia Ekklesia" (Italian Church), "Apostates"... in Hebrew: "Romith" (Roman Kingdom), "Romiti" (Roman Man)...

Most of these words have nothing to do with the Papacy... but they don't care, because for the Adventists every Christian who celebrates the Day of the Lord on Sunday carries the mark of the Antichrist, so all 2000 million Christians are of the Antichrist for them!... all of them except the 6 million of Adventists!.

To carry on this theory, the 42 months or 1260 days of the reign of the Antichrist, in Rev.12:6 and 13:5, they convert them into 1200 years, a year per day!... and even so, all the Christians should have already been destroyed by Christ long time ago!... but the Adventists keep on creating new theories.
Going back to the Roman Catholic Church: It is absolutely not the Antichrist!. It is an awful slander... just as when the Pharisees called Jesus Beelzebud, Satan: If the Church must suffer like Christ, and if Christ was called Beelzebub, the true Church must expect a similar reproach; thus, the Papal-Antichrist theory becomes an argument in favor of the Roman Church.

Of course there have been many bad popes and bishops... just like in the first Seminary of Christianity... I know, the Pharisees of today they will call them the Antichrists, as they called Jesus Satan in his days!...

... And what about the one million women and 500,000 men, alive today, who made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to dedicate themselves full time for life to preach the Gospel of Jesus with their words, and most specially with their lives?... surely, 11 out 12 become a Jude or a Peter, and they are week and human like the 12 Apostles, but most of them, 11 out of 12 become Great Saints!, praise the Lord!.
English Language:
There have been hundreds of gematria studies. Here are some examples:
In the Hebrew alphabet -- Hebrew, by the way, is the language of God -- ``W'' ( pronounced ``vov'') is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and, in the Hebraic number system, has traditionally stood for the number 6, so WWW = 666 (in reference to the world wide web)
Conversion according the American Standard Code for Information Interchange.
Addition of the numeral values of the characters determines the result.
3- Alphabetic conversion
This conversion assumes that a=1, b=2, c=3... z=26
Addition of each character of the string determines the result.
4- Alphabetic plus 100 conversion
Same as alphabetic conversion, only 100 is added to each character value.
5- Alphabetic times 6 conversion.
Each alphabetic character value is increased by 6. So a=6, b=12, c=18...z=156
Addition determines the result.
6- Alphabetic times 6 reversed conversion
With this method a reversed alphabet is used. This means z=6, y=12, x=18...a=156
Again addition determines the result.
By doing computations with these different systems these names and things add up to be 666: kissinger, van den broek, lustiger... hitler, deutschland, himmler... new york, us of america, santa claus, kennedy, al gore... Holy Bible, SS number, witchcraft, lustful, monetary, live, son of sin, mark of beast, evil, bullet... internet, billgates+3 (the III), computer, terminal, binairy, windows78, teletext, calculation...
Bill Gates:
The real name of Bill Gates is William Henry Gates III. Nowadays he is known as Bill Gates (III), where "III" means the order of third (3rd.). By converting the letters of his current name to the ASCII-values and adding his (III), you get : 66+73+76+76+71+65+84+69+83+3 = 666.
Here is the US OF AMERICA, by the method 5: Jim Byard's view:
U = 126.. S = 114....... O = 90.. F = 36.... A = 6.. M = 78.. E = 30.. R = 108.. I = 54.. C = 18.. A = 6 -----Total: 666
With the same method 5: When we assign A=6,B=12,C=18 ... Z=156, then adding up the numbers of COMPUTER will be 18+90+78+96+126+120+30+108 = 666.
For one reason or another all these religious and political celebrities and institutions have been considered the Antichrist by someone: Papacy, Luther, Pope John Paul II, Pat Robertson, Mormons, Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Sun Myung Moon, Freemasonry, Illuminati... Arafat, Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Kennedy, Gorvachev, Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates, David Rockefeller, Kissinger, Mussolini, Hitler, Nero, Reagan, Saddam Hussein, Willy Brandt, Caligula, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Emperor Frederick II of Germany, King George II of England, Emperor Justinian, Nikita Khrushchev, Napoleon Bonaparte, Czar Peter the Great, Josef Stalin, Kaiser Wilhelm, Boris Yeltsin, Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg...
... And another point: In every generation someone has said: "The Antichrist is already on earth alive, today!"... but it never came to be!... so, it is better to follow the advice of Jesus:
"At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!' or, `There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time." (Matt.24:24-25)
2- Symbolic or Spiritual Interpretation:
Number 6 in the Bible is the number of imperfection, so, the Antichrist would have the triple total imperfection, in his religious, political and social dimensions, symbolizing the climax of man's failure and wickedness
Number "6" is often used as the symbolic number of imperfection of humankind (two arms, two legs, one head, one body). "7" is the number of perfection in the Bible, seven days of creation, seven days of a week, "6" does not reach perfection, it is imperfect, and "8" is the number of super-perfection.
The number of the Beast and of World is 666, and the number of Jesus, and the Lord, and the Lamb is 888, as shown above.
Wilford Woodruff
The Revelator, St. John, represented to us that there would be about six hundred three-score and six different religions upon the earth in these last days-the number of the name that was spoken of by him. Today that number, I presume, is very nearly filled. The whole Christian world are as diverse in their views and principles of religion and roads to heaven or hell, as the stars are diverse in their position in the heavens. And while I would grant this privilege that I have spoken of, to all mankind, I claim the same privilege for myself and for all our people. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], vol. 1, March 5th, 1889)
Wilford Woodruff
The Lord never had -- and never will have to the end of time -- a church on earth without prophets, apostles, and inspired men. Whenever the Lord had a people on the earth that he acknowledged as such, that people were led by revelation... Now, have the Gentiles had that church and kingdom of God in their midst since the ancient apostles were put to death? I think not. At the present time there are some six hundred threescore and six different religions -- different roads to heaven and to hell -- in the world; but none of these bear much resemblance to the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles. The whole Christian world today rises up against these Latter-day Saints because they profess to believe in revelation, in prophets and apostles. This has been the case ever since the organization of this Church. (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 138.)