Short Answers: What is the Mark of the Beast?
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The Mark of the Beast:
Chi Xi Stigma
Have three Greek letters, purporting to represent a number and the name of a man, ever been more poorly translated than [chi xi stigma]? The textual call for wisdom (Rev 13:18) apparently went unanswered; for in Indo-European languages [of which Greek is one], the Arabic numeral /6/ phonetically requires an /x/ sound. In Greek, “six” is “hex” or the /x/ sound with rough breathing preceding the sound. So three “sixes” as in /666/ will require the repetition of the /x/ sound three times, but the /x/ sound only occurs once in Chi xi stigma.
The Logic Behind 666:
The logic for translating Chi xi stigma as 666 comes from /chi/ visually appearing as an /x/ and from /stigma/ representing two sharpened or pointed sticks, as in two crossed sticks, which could also be made to visually appear as an /x/. So the wisdom behind framing one phonetic /x/ with two visual /x/s — as if the two visual /x/s were the two thieves on either side of Jesus — was enough for someone to produce a mistranslation that has caused a Western cultural aversion to the numeral /666/.
To read Chi xi stigma with the required wisdom, a person must return to Rev 13:18, which is part of John’s vision that doesn’t occur until the Lord’s day is at hand (Rev 1:10), when the described phenomena will soon happen (cf. Rev 1:1; 22:6-7, 10). Here true wisdom is required: if this vision of John’s is about events that have not yet happened, then the unsealing of the scroll seen in the vision (chaps. 5-6) has not yet happened. If this scroll remains sealed, then all of what occurs within the vision after the seals are removed remains to happen. The scarlet woman and the red dragon and the heavenly signs and the kingdom of this world becoming the kingdom of the Most High and of His Christ — all of these things and events are futuristic. The messages to the seven named churches also remains futuristic, meaning that the seven churches on the ancient Roman mail route through Asia Minor have a hypostatical relationship with seven end-time spiritual churches that cannot be visually seen, but exist in the heavenly realm on the Lord’s day.
Reading the Mark Begins with the Last Letter:
Reading the mark that requires wisdom begins not with /Chi/, but with the last letter — stigma — an obsolete letter used to represent a number in the same way that /pi/ represents an irrational number, the fraction 22/7. The letter /stigma/ was between the fifth and sixth letters of the Greek alphabet, but the letter had not been in common usage for a century when John recorded his vision. The use of /stigma/ should clue the auditor that there is something unusual about the three letters that would cause the third letter to function differently than the first two.
Mark, /stigma/, has a name that carries with it a relatively narrow “usual” assignment of meaning. Strong’s number for stigma is 4742, stigma, from the root stizo, usually meaning “to stick” or “to prick,” as in a mark incised or punched to denote ownership. Thus, stigma is the action of pricking or punching a mark of ownership; it is used as the Greek linguistic icon that most closely is aligned to the English icon /tattoo/. It is a tattoo, or the action of tattooing. It does NOT produce the Arabic numeral /6/ in any reasonable form of translation, or transliteration. And since this letter alone represents a “mark” or “marking” as in ownership, the remainder of the “mark of the beast” should, logically, be that mark or should describe that mark which is tattooed as the sign of ownership.
Sabbath Observance Marks Those Who Are of God:
Here wisdom is truly required. YHWH said to Moses,
“You are to speak to the people of and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths [note the plural form], for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you’” (Exod 31:12-13).
So the Sabbaths of God, with these Sabbaths listed in Leviticus chapter 23, are “a sign” that God sanctifies the nation that now consists of all who have with circumcised hearts (Rom 2:29). Therefore, when that old dragon, Satan, and his angels are cast to earth (Rev 12:9-10), two signs exist: the first sign (1) is the Sabbaths of God, a sign made between God and Israel that this holy nation (1 Pet 2:9) may know that God sanctifies none other. The second sign (2) is Chi xi, the tattoo [/stigma/] of which on the hand or in the forehead [referring to a mindset] denotes the person being the property of the beast that the whole earth follows as the whole earth worships the dragon (Rev 13:3-4).
Again, the sign of God is Sabbath observance; the sign of the Antichrist is the tattoo of /Chi xi/.
Now the dragon, when cast into time, goes after the remnant who keeps the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus (Rev 12:17). Keeping the commandments requires keeping the Sabbath commandment. The sign that the offspring of “the woman” of Revelation 12:13-17 bears is the Sabbaths of God, the first sign, the sign that denotes those human beings who have been sanctified by God during the first half of the seven end-time years of tribulation, when the man of perdition attempts to change times and the law (Dan 7:25).
If the sign of those humans who have been sanctified by God — the sign of those who constitute the holy nation Israel, a people with circumcised hearts that was not before a people (1 Pet 2:10) — is observance of the Sabbaths of God, then those human beings who take the tattoo [/stigma/] of chi xi, the second sign, DO NOT observe the Sabbaths of God. Therefore, during the first half of the seven end-time years, observance of the plural Sabbaths of God marks those who are sanctified by God in a manner analogous to how Chi xi stigma marks those who are of the beast and who will be slain by Christ Jesus on His return (cf. Rev 19:20-21; Isa 66:15-17). Isaiah offers more information about those whom the Lord will slay upon His return: “‘Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig’s flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the Lord’” (66:17).
God sanctifies those who observe the plural Sabbaths of God, with Sabbath observance being an outwardly visible sign of Divine sanctification. The tattoo of Chi xi marks those who do not keep the Sabbaths, and who sanctify and purify themselves, who eat swine’s flesh, and who will be slain by Christ Jesus … does anyone recognize a theology that does not keep the plural Sabbaths of God, that eats swine, that sanctifies itself through its liturgy? Hold that recognition for a little while before being appalled.
The First Letter Represents Christ:
Returning to the front of Chi xi stigma. The first letter, /Chi/, produces the phonetic /ch/ sound, and is the common substitute for /Christ/, as in /Xmas/ for /Christmas/. Roman Emperor Constantine claimed to have seen the superimposed Greek letters chi-rho as a heavenly sign on the eve of a battle against overwhelming forces. used the sign to energize his legions, while publicly professing conversion to Christianity, saying he would conquer by the sign of the tipped cross. His troops won the battle and prevailed throughout, thereby consolidating the empire that had shortly before been divided among four regents.
Constantine’s conversion to Christianity is not how the “conversion” works scripturally. His actions after his alleged conversion suggest that nothing other than an opportunity of political expedience occurred. Constantine’s acceptance of a Greek belief paradigm brought an end to the Roman emperor-worship cult by which the empire had long sustained itself. It was Constantine’s acceptance of /Chi/ as a representation of the “Christ” that has made the “cross” the universally recognized symbol of Christianity. A Roman emperor made /x/ the sign of Christ; God didn’t “make” this correspondence.
Since early in the 4th-Century, the /cross/ has equated to /Christ/ throughout the Roman world and all of Western civilization. Only a few minor denominations and fellowships, with the Jehovah’s Witnesses being the largest, do not use the cross to represent Christ. Even scholars regularly translate the Greek linguistic icon /stauros/ as the English icon /cross/, when stauros would have a usual object-to-icon assignment of a “stake” or “pole set upright” if it were found outside the Bible.
The Middle Letter [x] Represents the Cross:
Since a Roman made /x/ the shortened representation of Christ; and since Jesus was killed on a Roman “stauros,” Constantine’s acceptance of /x/ as a representation of the “Christ” has made the “cross” the universally recognized symbol of Christianity. And until the fourth century CE, the Cross was represented by the Roman letter /x/. So if the three letters /Chi xi stigma/ were to be read by a fourth century Roman as individual letters, this Roman would read these three Greek letters as /Christ-x-tattoo/ or the tattoo of Christ’s cross.
The cross is the image of the beast that will be dealt a death wound by God, a wound that occurs when the two witness are publicly resurrected; when the Holy Spirit [pneuma hagion] is poured out on all flesh, thereby liberating everyone from indwelling sin and death. The mark of the beast is the mark of “Death,” the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse (Rev 6:7-8), the fourth beast of Daniel chapter 7, on whose head is ten horns, three of which are uprooted before the little horn that is the workings of Satan who enlivens and empowers the man of perdition. The mark of Death is Chi xi stigma.
The mark of the beast should be read as the “Tattoo of Christ’s cross”:
How would a pagan Roman have read the mark of the beast, Chi xi stigma? He or she would have read it as the “tattoo [stigma] of Christ’s [Chi] cross [x].” How should an end-time disciple read Chi xi stigma? As the “tattoo of Christ’s cross”? Yes, this is how Chi xi stigma should be read. Why, then, is Chi xi stigma translated as 666? Because someone centuries ago could read the mark of the beast as a politically sensitive symbol. Would you, as a scholar in a mediaeval scriptorium, have gone to your patron and said that “the Cross” is the mark of the beast? To do so would have been suicidal as well as against personal beliefs held because God had consigned the Church to mental servitude in spiritual Babylon.
A dishonest mistranslation of Chi xi stigma was really the only option facing mediaeval translators. But the logic for the cross becoming the universally recognized symbol of Christendom is truly remarkable; for if Jesus had been killed with a mace, would a “mace” have become the revered symbol of the Savior? What about an axe?
The person who wears a crucifix wears the image of a murder weapon.
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“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”