Ed. Note: What follows is Part One of a three-part series on the Mark of the Beast. The author, Dr. William Welty, is the Executive Director of the ISV foundation and also serves as Research Analyst in Advanced Communication Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Middle Eastern Studies on the faculty of Koinonia Institute. All Biblical citations are taken from the International Standard Version (ISV) translation of the Bible.
For many decades now, at least part of modern evangelical Christian tradition has taught that the end of days will be characterized by an attempt to set up a single world government with what some believe will be a one world currency. As Koinonia Institute’s Executive Research Editor Dr. Steven Elwart has observed:
The Bible does not use the phrase “one-world government” or “one-world currency” in referring to the end times. It does, however, provide ample evidence to enable us to draw the conclusion that both will exist under the rule of the Antichrist in the last days.
Elwart is not alone in holding this view. Perhaps one of the more vocal proponents of the opinion that the end times will see a one world currency control system being established throughout the earth is Dr. Katherine Albrecht, an internationally recognized authority on cybersecurity and privacy issues, including the dangers of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technologies. But it isn’t only the evangelical Christian community that’s concerned about the spreading adoption of electronic currencies as a means to control personal and national economics. The respected international investment experts at Casey Research have been warning of late:
One of the most important component elements contained in the eschatological drama described in the apocalyptic literary genre that is the book of Revelation is the temporary nature of the authority granted to the forces of Anti-Christ at the end of days. We invite the reader to notice the derivative and limited nature of the authority wielded by this individual and his followers:
The beast was allowed to speak arrogant and blasphemous things, and it was given authority for 42 months. It uttered blasphemies against God, against his name, and against his residence, that is, against those who are living in heaven. It was allowed to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. It was also given authority over every tribe, people, languages, and nation. All those living on earth will worship it, everyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life belonging to the lamb that was slaughtered from the foundation of the world.
— Revelation 13:5–8, ISV
Specifically, note the permissive, passive verbs in this passage such as “The beast was allowed to speak” (13:5), “it was given authority for 42 months” (13:5b), it “was allowed to wage war against the saints and to conquer them” during this time period (13:7), and “it was also given authority” (13:7) over all sorts of ethnic groups and cultural enclaves on an international scale for this three and a half year period. The use of the passive voice is a grammatical indicator from the writer informing us that the Sovereign Lord over all creation is in charge of the earth, even during the 42 months of demonic reign over that earth. The Apostle John summarizes the absolute sovereignty of God over these events in the very next verses:
Let everyone listen:
If anyone is to be taken captive,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with a sword,
with a sword he will be killed.
— Revelation 13:9–10, ISV
To sum up, the writer of the Revelation to John reminds his readers that nobody will fall under the hegemony of Anti-Christ outside of the absolute and complete authority and predestination of God himself. God controls the extent of Anti-Christ’s authority, the success of his belligerent campaigns against the saints, the duration and timing of his all-too-temporary reign, and the ferocity of his attacks on God’s people. Nothing about these events will take God by surprise.
The clues that help us eliminate a one world currency or RFID technology as the identifying Mark of the Beast are contained in the text of Revelation 13:10b–18:
Here is a call for endurance and faith of the saints:
If anyone is to be taken captive, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with a sword, with a sword he will be killed. Here is a call for endurance and faith of the saints: I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it talked like a dragon. It uses all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and those living on it worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs spectacular signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people. It deceives those living on earth with the signs that it is allowed to do on behalf of the first beast, telling them to make an image for the beast who was wounded by a sword and yet lived. The second beast was allowed to impart life to the image of the first beast so that the image of the beast could talk and order the execution of those who would not worship the image of the beast. The second beast forces all people—important and unimportant, rich and poor, free and slaves—to be marked on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that no one may buy or sell unless he has the mark, which is the beast’s name or the number of its name. In this case wisdom is needed: Let the person who has understanding calculate the total number of the beast, because it is a human total number, and the sum of the number is 666.”
— Revelation 13:10–18, ISV
Other translations note:
The main grammatical clue that informs us regarding the application of this passage to economic indicators is the awkward Greek construction found in verse sixteen: “The second beast forces” all sorts of people “to be marked on their right hands or on their foreheads.” The aftereffect of the mark is to prohibit commerce via cash transactions by those who do not have the mark. As a matter of numismatic fact, however, the text does not indicate that this prohibition will include restrictions on barter-for-kind transactions. Only buying and selling through traditional coinage will be affected. Nothing in the text of Revelation 13 indicates that barter will be included in the economic controls of the future one world economy.
Next week, Dr. Welty will continue with Part 2 of his discussion on The Mark of the Beast.