What is the mark of the beast?

We have been receiving a bunch of questions lately as to whether the COVID-19 vaccine is the mark of the beast. Why are some people wondering this? With some governments and employers requiring people to be vaccinated, some fear that the vaccination will eventually be absolutely mandatory, with the pentalty for not getting the vaccine being a lack of ability to participate in the economy. Some conspiracy theorists claim that the vaccine includes a microchip for location tracking and/or to enable financial transactions. Whether or not there is any truth to this conspiracy theory, would this be the mark of the beast?

A quick refresher on the mark of the beast would be beneficial. In the Book of Revelation, the mark of the beast is some sort of “mark” that people in the end times will have to receive to buy or sell (see Revelation 13:15-18). The Bible does not specifically identify what the mark is, which has led to all sorts of speculations over the centuries. Could it be a tattoo, scar, or brand? Could it be a barcode, microchip, RFID device, or GPS tracker? Yes, it could be one of those things, or some combination of some of those things. Or, it could be something else entirely. Again, the Bible does not give enough information for us to know precisely what the mark of the beast will be.

In my lifetime, I recall people who thought credit cards were the mark of the beast. I have heard of people who thought the barcode scanners in retail stores were the mark of the beast. At GotQuestions.org, we have had a man ask us if the tattoo he got of a barcode on his right hand while in a drunken stupor is the mark of the beast. We once heard from a severely distressed teenager who was terrified that he had taken the mark of the beast when he taped a barcode to his forehead as a joke. These examples may seem silly to us, but are some of the things people are worried about today going to seem equally silly years from now?

So, rather than speculating on what exactly it will be, it is far more important to understand how to avoid it. Considering Revelation 14:10-11 states that anyone who receives the mark of the beast is eternally condemned, it is very important that the mark of the beast be correctly identified. From what the Bible says about the mark of the beast, here is what we can know for certain:

(1) It will be instituted in the end times during the reign of the Antichrist. See Revelation chapter 13.
(2) It will be required for anyone to be able to buy or sell. See Revelation 13:17.
(3) Some form of worship of and/or allegiance to the Antichrist will be required to receive it. See Revelation 14:9, 11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; and 20:4.
(4) It will somehow relate to the number 666. See Revelation 13:18.
(5) Anyone who refuses to take the mark of the beast will be killed. See Revelation 13:15.

The mark of the beast will be identifiable by the five characteristics above. If something does not match the above description, it is not the mark of the beast.

With that in mind, would a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine be the mark of the beast? Would a microchip that is required for economic participation be the mark of the beast? The answer to those two questions is “no” unless the Antichrist is present, worship of the Antichrist is required, it is related to the number 666, and the penalty for not accepting the mark is death.

Thankfully, no one is proposing that the death penalty will be the consequence for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The technology of an implantable microchip for financial transactions already exists. It is possible, even likely, that some of what we are seeing today are precursors to what will eventually be the mark of the beast.

At the same time, we shouldn’t be having an apocalyptic freak out about something being the mark of the beast unless it actually matches everything the Bible says about the mark of the beast.

S. Michael Houdmann

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What is the mark of the beast?