Revelation 13:16 says people will receive the mark of the beast in the forehead or in the hand. What does this mean?


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Some teach that the Mark of the beast is a tattooed number, bar code, or a computer chip under the skin. But what does the Bible say? John wrote, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

The book of Revelation reveals that the mark of the beast is not a literal brand but some sign of allegiance. This sign identifies the bearer as loyal to the power represented by the beast. In order to know what the “mark” is, we must first identify the following:

Who is the beast.

The Bible identifies the first beast of Revelation 13 as the papacy (see Who is the Beast of Revelation 13?)

What is God’s mark.

God says, “I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them” (Ezekiel 20:12). “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth” (Exodus 31:17). God’s sign or mark, the seventh day Sabbath (Genesis 2:2,3; Exodus 20:8-11), represents His holy power to rule as Creator and Savior.

What is the mark of the beast?

The symbol, or mark, of God’s authority and power is His holy Sabbath day. It seems realistic that the symbol, or mark, of God’s opposer, the beast, might also involve a holy day. And since the papacy was identified as the beast (see above link), then the papacy must have another day of worship. To find that day, examine the following section from a Catholic catechism:

“Question: Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?”

“Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her – she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism [FRS No. 7.], (3rd American ed., rev.: New York, Edward Dunigan & Bro., 1876), p. 174.

Here, the papacy is declaring that it changed the observance of the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) to the first day of the week (Sunday). And it claims Sunday as the mark, or symbol, of her authority. But the Bible declares that the end time saints will keep God’s commandments including the seventh-day Sabbath. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those[a] who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

Warning against receiving the mark of the beast

The third angels message warns against the reception of the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9–11). And the Lord calls His faithful children out of Babylon or the churches that break God’s commandments (Revelation 18:1–4). When men choose to support the institution of the beast by observing its day of worship (Sunday) and disobeying God’s seventh-day Sabbath command (Exodus 20:8-11), they will receive the mark of the beast.

The mark of the beast will be put on the forehead or the hand. The forehead represents the mind (Hebrews 10:16). A person will be marked in the forehead by a decision to keep Sunday holy. The hand is a symbol of work (Ecclesiastes 9:10). A person will be marked in the hand by working on God’s holy Sabbath or by going along with civil Sunday laws for practical reasons. The sign or mark for either God or the beast will be invisible to people.

Then, the beast will take stern action against God’s children and orders that “no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark” (Revelation 13:16-17). This law of not buying and selling will be taken in an effort to secure compliance with the dictates of the image (Rev. 13:1, 12).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team



The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that directly go against the Bible.

It is our purpose to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, to decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. If you find anything here contrary to the Bible, do not accept it. But if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure, and find herein something of that quality and feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing Truth to you, please make all haste to accept it.

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