A few weeks back, I was watching a video of a Christian panel discussing the COVID vaccine. I was shocked when a woman suggested that getting vaccinated was essentially taking the Mark of the Beast mentioned in Revelation 13.
When the moderator asked her about those Christians who had already been vaccinated, the woman replied, “it’s too late for them.”
In addition to a mark on our right hand and forehead, we also had to watch out for a band-aid on our left shoulder. It’s unfortunate that the Apostle John never warned us in advance about this.
And in Sweden, some people are having microchips inserted in their hands that contained their vaccine passport, instead of downloading an app on their cell phones. This seemed to have ominous overtones about the Mark of the Beast, as the chip has multiple uses, including purchasing items.
But is this what the Apostle John was warning us about?
For a better understanding, we need to have a closer look at what the Mark of the Beast ultimately stands for.
15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. (Revelation 13:15-18 NIV)
John writes that the acceptance of the Mark of the Beast is not about having a vaccine or chip inserted in your hands, at its core (verse 15), the mark involves a worship and embracing of the antichrist system.
Those who refuse to worship the beast will be killed or as John says ’caused’ to be killed. In other words, it will be open season on those who will not worship the beast.
And along with this, people will be required to take a mark as an expression of loyalty to the antichrist system, and those who refuse will be reduced to second hand citizens.
In 2020, Phillip J. Long, a Bible professor at Grace Christian University, wrote an article on the Mark of the Beast and points out that following this passage on the mark in Revelation 13, the Apostle John writes about the 144,000 who took the name of Jesus and the Father on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).
The 144,000 will have a mark as well, but a Godly one. This remnant, who will not worship the beast or take its mark, will be divinely protected by God in the end times.
Fundamentally, it reveals that these marks symbolized a person’s heart condition. Did they embrace Christ or the antichrist system?
Long points out that the Greek word for mark in Revelation 13 is χάραγμα and “refers to something that is engraved stamped or etched, such as an inscription or a coin (BDAG).”
“But it is also used for written letters or an endorsement on a document,” Long adds, “like an official signature or stamp (BrillDAG). As a modern analogy, this is similar to an officially embossed notary stamp. So the physical mark could be a brand or tattoo, or an official endorsement of some kind.”
Long then discusses a story in the Third Maccabees that described the persecution of the Jews under Pharaoh Ptolemy IV Philopator (222–205 BC), that is similar to what the Apostle John saw in his end-times vision.
It records a time when the Jews in Alexandria were forced under threat of death to worship idols, and be branded with the ivy-leaf symbol of the Greek god of agriculture, Dionysus. Failure to have this mark burned onto their bodies resulted in these Jews being reduced to second-hand citizens.
“He proposed to inflict public disgrace on the Jewish community, and he set up a stone on the tower in the courtyard with this inscription: 28 “None of those who do not sacrifice shall enter their sanctuaries, and all Jews shall be subjected to a registration involving poll tax and to the status of slaves. Those who object to this are to be taken by force and put to death; 29 those who are registered are also to be branded on their bodies by fire with the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysus, and they shall also be reduced to their former limited status.” (3 Maccabees 2:27-29)
The Apostle John, who had his vision of the end times around 95 AD, seems to indicate that there will be a repeat of those days for believers.
Ultimately, Long believes that:
“Regardless of the background, the mark represents the final act of loyalty to the beast. By marking themselves, the people are accepting the Beast as their lord and savior and rejecting God. Those that refuse the mark are making their declaration for God and against the system of the Beast. And like the examples of Daniel and his friends, those who refuse the mark must be willing to die on account of this refusal to acknowledge the power and authority of the beast and his kingdom.“
I think Long provides a needed balance to any discussions on the Mark of the Beast, as it cannot be isolated from what it stands for. It is ultimately a public expression of a person’s support and loyalty to the antichrist.