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.
And here is this very wisdom explained by Charles Taze Russell (the founder of the Watchtower), in the January/February 1882 edition of the Watchtower on pages 9 and 10:
'THE NAME OF THE BEAST, OR THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME. ' B. Have you been able to decipher the name and number? I have heard of many who have tried all sorts of names and applications, but none of them ever seemed reasonable to me.
A. The same has been my difficulty. A little over a year ago I spoke on the subject of this same chapter to the name-less little company of 'this way,' in Lynn, Mass. , and concluded my remarks by telling them that I had never seen a satisfactory explanation of the 666. And, though I thought I had given a correct analysis of the symbols of the chapter, yet I could not claim it to be wisdom, since I could not interpret the number. I suggested, however, that if ours be the correct understanding of the time in which we are living-the 'harvest' of the age-and if our general application of these symbols be correct, the number should soon be understood. I urged examination on the subject by all, for the Lord is sometimes pleased to give wisdom through the weakest of his children. 'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise. '
About three months after, I received a long letter from one of the thinking brethren of that place, saying that he thought he had the key; and I think he has; it certainly fits the lock in every particular.
I will give it to you very much as he suggested it. His process of reasoning was as follows: Jesus, who gave this revelation to us (Rev. 1:1), well knew that this symbol could not be understood until about the present time, for the reason that the Image was only made in 1846. Jesus also knew, of course, that English would be the language used by probably four-fifths of his earnest truth-seeking children, in the 'time of the end.
'He knew, also, that not many wise, not many great, not many learned in all languages would be of the chosen 'little flock. ' Moreover, it was his custom to adapt his teachings to the 'common people,' and of this sort his Jewels have been from, the twelve disciples and since.
Therefore it would appear that the number 666, should be open to the comprehension of us all-we being the ones told to count-as much so as were the other symbolic numbers of Danl. and Rev. Let us try, then, to apply these figures in English. *(This is the first application in English, known to the writer, but the reasonableness of it is obvious.) First, then, the number is that of the (first) BEAST. Let us see whether it will apply to some of its names, That system which Paul calls the man of sin is the
Roman Catholic power = 666.
12345 61234561 23456
He is in Revelation called a BEAST
Roman Catholic 'Beast' = 666.
The system is also called the 'woman' (Rev. 17:18)
Roman Catholic 'woman' = 666.
She calls herself the
'Holy Catholic Church' = 666.
She is really and truly (Rev. 17:5) 'The Mother of Harlots' = 666.
Thus we see that the number fits the BEAST well.
The second BEAST was anxious to have exactly the same name, and in fact it claimed to have the pre-eminent right to the name- 'Holy Catholic church,' = 666.
Other names by which it is often known, are -
'English State Church,' = 666.
'The Episcopal Church,' = 666.
'Episcopalian Church,' = 666.
'The Church of England,' = 666.
This application of the number, will doubtless appear to some too simple to be accepted, but thus God ever deals with us-hiding truth under the vail of its own simplicity, so that it may appear to the Greek (worldly wise) foolishness, but unto them which believe (not to those who believe without evidence, but who believe on the strongest kind of evidence -the harmony of His Word) the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23.) The Image causes all who claim relationship, or whom it recognizes, as having a right to buy or sell - teach - to have as a creed, that which shall mark them as having either 'the name' of the BEAST, or the 'number' of his name - 666. Many take the name and in their creeds recite, 'I believe in the 'Holy Catholic Church' = 666.
Among those who thus openly mark themselves in their forehead (by their creeds) are Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and others. But others give a seeming support (mark in their hand) to the general principal by organizing under various sectarian names.
After these are blended in the IMAGE, (and no one would be admitted to membership in the Evangelical Alliance, unless he be a member of some such sect), they all are collectively known as the
'Protestant Churches,' = 666.
Which we see contains the Beast's number.
If we for instance were to organize, though we protest more than all others against the errors of Rome, and also against the errors of the Image and second BEAST, yet we would not be reckoned one of the 'Protestant churches,' because we would not be recognized as orthodox-They would not count our organization a church.
Should you inquire for our meetings and ask-Is that a protestant church which meets here? the answer would come-Oh, no; they are not Evangelical. They have no creed to mark them, so that the Alliance can decide whether they are an Evangelical Protestant Church or not.
Quite hilarious how this 6+6+6 "logic" is applied to modern English spelling - a bit like those pyramid passage lengths expressed in inches (a measure that was meaningless to the Egyptian architects).
However, New Light prevailed, and a totally contradictory explanation of "666" surfaces in that most absurd Watchtower publication ("The Finished Mystery", 1917, page 215) - allegedly also endorsed by Russell (now dead and in no position to deny this - I can find no record of the Convention Question in reply to which he allegedly gave this explanation, and I warrant no reference to it appears in any Russell publication):
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath (understanding) AN EAR count the number of the beast.- 'Here is scope for ingenuity. Let people of shrewd intelligence calculate the number of the Wild Beast; for it indicates a certain man, and his number is 666.'- Weym.
For it is the number of a man.- The Man of Sin, the Papacy.- Rev. 19:20; 2 Thess, 2:3.
(And his number is) Six hundred threescore and six.- In the Greek this number is six hundred (represented by the Greek letter 2), plus sixty (represented by the Greek letter), plus sixty (represented by the Greek letter +). It is not as though it read six plus six plus six. 'The following extract on this point is from a work entitled The Reformation, bearing the date of 1832: ''Mrs. A.,' said Miss Emmons, 'I saw a very curious fact the other day; I have dwelt upon it much, and will mention it. A person, lately, was witnessing a ceremony of the Romish Church. As the pope passed him in the procession, splendidly dressed in his pontifical robes, the gentleman's eye rested on these full, blazing letters in front of his mitre (tiara- crown): VICARIVS FILII DEI, the Vicar of the Son of God. His thoughts, with the rapidity of lightning, reverted to Rev. 13:18.' 'Will you turn to it?' said Mrs. A. Alice opened the New Testament, and read: '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.' She paused, and Miss Emmons said, 'He took out his pencil, and marking the 'numerical letters of the inscription on his tablet, it stood 666.'' (Smith.)
This explanation was approved by Pastor Russell, and was given by him at a Convention Question Meeting. On the pope's crown in the Vatican museum is the recognized and most used title of the pope, VICARIVS FILII DEI (Vicar of the Son of God.) The word VICARIVS is on the top of the threefold crown. The word FILII is on the second circlet; and the words are made from dark, shining precious jewels. The word DEI is on the under part of the threefold crown and is made of 100 diamonds. 'The Tiara is a bee-hive shaped, somewhat bulging head-covering, ornamented with three crowns. It is first mentioned by Pope Constantine, in A.D. 715. It first appears on papal coins in the reign of Sergius III., A.D. 911. At this period it was merely a cap of white stuff. The papal coins of the 11th century leave it doubtful whether the ornamental band at the lower edge of the tiara is intended to represent a crown or merely a decoration. It is only in representations dating from the late 13th century that the circlet appears as a regular spiked crown. The second circlet was added by Pope Boniface VIII., A.D. 1303. The third was added under Clement V., A.D. 1311.' (Brit.) The reason for the addition of any of these crowns is unknown, or why the pope should have any crown at all. The words VICARIVS FILII DEI are, it is said, also carved over the entrance to the Vatican.
Note the "It is not as though it read six plus six plus six" explicitly ridicules the earlier (1882) reasoning, which viewed 666 in exactly that way!
But I have something to point out. Using the 1882 definition of "666" i.e. the one that yields:
'Holy Catholic Church' = 666
we ALSO get:
'Charles Taze Russell' = 666
Which probably explains the pressing need for "New Light"!
I leave you with two puzzles:
(1) Please find an anagram for CONTRADICTORY BETHEL TWIST ABC AWE - it is really easy!
(2) Please find a way to apply the 1917 New Light definition of "666" to the subject of (1) - I have failed to do this, despite playing for some time with roman numerals... C'mon, J.H. and others - show us what you can do!