Irenaeus: A second-century look at the truth of '666'

Revelation 13:18: “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.”

There’s a lot of controversy about this Bible versus written by the last surviving apostle, John.

Lately, prophecy watchers have become convinced that the beast’s name will have something to do with 666. That is not terribly helpful. People have been translating modern names to 666 – and finding them, shall we say, teeming, plentiful, more than abundant.

It’s not the man’s name that counts.

It’s rather, the number of a MAN, the scripture says.

Revelation is linked with the book of Daniel and other prophetic books. Might they be a good place to start understanding this clue?

Keep in mind, we’re talking here about the beast, or adversary – the devil. What does he want? He wants US. He wants us to WORSHIP him. God prohibits that – in no uncertain terms.

In the second commandment, Exodus 20:4, He told us, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” That would be something we don’t think much about today. It’s a warning against idolatry – a very serious offensive. It’s related to fornication – something we’re all, sadly, familiar with today.

The Apostle Paul calls it, in Colossians 3:5, the same thing: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

Let’s think through the eyes, now, from a Christian born in the second century – Irenaeus, who was a gifted man who studied under Polycarp, the disciple to the Apostle John. Might he be familiar with those men and their teachings?

Yes – more familiar than most of us.

While I had read this once, a long time ago, I had to hear it more recently. It was explained in a sermon by the gifted pastor Daniel Joseph of Corner Fringe Ministries in Minnesota, whom you can find among the weekly commentators at WND. Pastor Joseph points out:

Irenaeus was most notable for writing a book, “Against Heresies.” He interpreted the Apostle John much differently than we do today. In chapter 29 of Book 5, he writes: “And there is therefore in this beast, when he comes, a recapitulation made of all sorts of iniquity and of every deceit, in order that all apostate power, flowing into and being shut up in him, may be sent into the furnace of fire. Fittingly, therefore, shall his name possess the number six hundred and sixty-six, since he sums up in his own person all the commixture of wickedness which took place previous to the deluge, due to the apostasy of the angels. For Noah was six hundred years old when the deluge came upon the earth, sweeping away the rebellious world, for the sake of that most infamous generation which lived in the times of Noah. And [Antichrist] also sums up every error of devised idols since the flood, together with the slaying of the prophets and the cutting off of the just. For that image which was set up by Nebuchadnezzar had indeed a height of sixty cubits, while the breadth was six cubits; on account of which Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, when they did not worship it, were cast into a furnace of fire, pointing out prophetically, by what happened to them, the wrath against the righteous which shall arise towards the [time of the] end. For that image, taken as a whole, was a prefiguring of this man’s coming, decreeing that he should undoubtedly himself alone be worshiped by all men. Thus, then, the six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years, and unrighteousness, and wickedness, and false prophecy, and deception; for which things’ sake a cataclysm of fire shall also come [upon the earth].”

Notice Irenaeus goes right for the jugular. He doesn’t waste any time. He links Noah, who was 600 years old at the time of the flood, with the book of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar’s famous gold image, which happened to be 60 cubits high with a breadth of six cubits – an obelisk.

Ananias, Azarias and Misael are more familiar to us as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – who were cast into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace without a hair in their chinny, chinny chins being singed.

Everyone in the world was asked to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s gold image, which stood in a valley that could be seen from 13 miles in all directions. Nebuchadnezzar was known by the title “king of kings.” Interesting, one greater than he was spotted by the king with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – one who appeared to him “like the Son of God.”

“Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

Do you think this is relevant to the time of the end the Apostle John prophesied about?

More relevant than any other scripture, perhaps?

Check out Matthew 24, which is a soliloquy about the end times when only two names are mentioned by Jesus – the prophet Daniel and Noah.

And watch a portion of this Daniel Joseph video.

“The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” by Joseph Farah is available in both hardcover and e-book versions.

ALSO: Get Joseph Farah’s book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age,” and learn about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and your future in God’s Kingdom. Also available as an e-book.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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