The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Was Nero the Beast of Revelation?

Was Nero the beast whom John saw in his vision as recorded in Revelation, the beast whose number is 666?

*Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Rev 13:1-18 NKJV)*

One might ask whether an image of Nero was ever given breath so that it spoke, and whether any “beast” who supported Nero had everyone killed who would not worship the his image—an image which both breathed and spoke.

One might also ask whether there was a time in Nero’s reign where people couldn’t buy of sell unless they has a mark on their right hand or forehead (not Nero’s image on the coins, as some claim).

However, the main claim I would like to make at this time is that the number of Nero’s name is NOT 666. The preamble is helpful information, but the real evidence will be found near the end of this article. Please read patiently until then.

I wish to begin by considering what language John, the writer of Revelation, was using in writing that book. Clearly it was Greek.

The Greeks used the letters in their alphabet to represent numbers. I have a copy of the manuscript Papyrus 66, which contains most of John’s gospel, and is believed to have been written about 150 A.D. The page numbers of the manuscript are given in Greek numerical characters that represent numbers as follows (There early documents were written all in upper-case characters); they looked a bit like this:

1 Α alpha
2 Β beta
3 Γ gamma
4 Δ delta
5 Ε epsilon
7 Ζ zeta
8 Η eta
9 Θ theta
10 Ι iota
20 Κ kappa
30 Λ lamda
40 Μ mu
50 Ν nu
60 Ξ xi
70 Ο omicron
80 Π pi
100 Ρ rho
200 Σ sigma
300 τ tau
400 Υ upsilon
500 Φ phi
600 Χ chi
700 Ψ psi
800 Ω omega

You might wonder why 6, 90, and 900 are missing. These numbers were represented by characters outside the alphabet as follows:

6 ϝ digamma (later became C stigma)
90 ϟ qoppa
900 ϡ sampi

The earliest extant manuscript of Rev 13:18 is papyrus 113 dated in the third century (the 200s). I have a photo copy of the portion of the manuscript giving the number of the beast as XIC (616). Now I know that Irenæus writes in Against Heresies, Book 5, Chapter 30, that 616 is the incorrect number and that it was probably a copyist’s error. That well may be. But the point I am making is not that the number should be 616 as in the earliest extant manuscript, but that whichever is correct WAS WRITTEN IN REVELATION as a number in Greek characters. Some manuscripts have 666, and it is written as XΞC (chi,xi,stigma).
John the writer of Revelation wrote numbers in the Greek way using Greek letters or symbols. He did not use any other language to write them.

Some try to figure out the name with the number 666, by doing it in English—working out a system where a=1, b=2, c=3, etc. But why would John have predicted the name with an English system centuries before the English language existed? But preterists claim the Nero’s name is 666 when calculated in the Hebrew letter-numeric system. The Hebrew system existed in the days of John, but a similar question can be asked, Why would the name be calculated in Hebrew when John himself used the Greek system to express numbers? Irenæus suggested names whose number was 666 in the Greek system, and he clearly expected the “beast” whom he called “antichrist” to appear at a time future to his own time. Here are the names he suggested:

1 EYANΘAΣ (Euanthas). But Eusebius had nothing to say about this name. From the chart of Greek numerics we can see that this name works.

----E 005
----Y 400
----A 001
----N 050
----Θ 009
----A 001
----Σ 200
Total 666

2 ΛATEINOΣ (Lateinos—The Latin Man). Eusebius wrote that this is a very probable solution, being the name of the last kingdom of the four seen in the vision of Daniel, as well as the fact that the Latins were ruling in the days in which Eusebius was writing.

----Λ 030
----A 001
----T 300
----E 005
----I 010
----N 050
----O 070
----Σ 200
Total 666

3 TEITAN (Teitan—Total 666). Eusebius felt that this name was rather worthy of credit. He said that this was an ancient name, but that there were no kings in his day with this name, nor idols worshipped bearing this name. However, he said that this name was considered divine, and that the Romans called the sun by this name, and that it is a name belonging to a tyrant.

And now. How do some assign 666 to Nero’s name? “Nero” is a Latin name, and although numbers were written in Latin characters as “Roman Numerals”, they were limited to I, V, X, L, C, D, and M. So the Latin name “Nero” would have no numerical value in Latin.

The Greek spelling of the name is “ΝΕΡΩΝ” (NERON). The Greek numerical value of this name is 1005.

So how do Preterists and others obtain the value of 666?

First they take the GREEK name “ΝΕΡΩΝ” and put it together with the GREEK word for “Caesar” which is “ΚΑΙΣΑΡ”. Of course the total Greek numerical value will not do, since it will be greater than 1005. So they transliterate these GREEK words into Hebrew. Now Hebrew has no vowels. So they remove the vowels from
“ΝΕΡΩΝ” to get “NPN” (or “NRN” in Latin charcers). Then they remove the vowels from “ΚΑΙΣΑΡ” and so one would expect them to get “ΚΣΡ” (“KSR” in Latin characters). But no! Instead of using the latin “K”, they select a somewhat similar sounding Latin character “Q”! Why do they choose “Q” instead of “K”? Well, the HEBREW numerical value “NRN KSR” doesn’t add up to 666, but the Hebrew numerical value of ““NRN QSR” does! The Hebrew letter for “K” is either “Khof” or “Kas”. But neither will work to produce “666”. However, the Hebrew letter for “Q”, namely “Qof” does work. … ebrewc.gif

We might ask ourselves:

  1. Why should the number of the beast’s name be calculated with Hebrew numeric characters? After all John, the author of Revelation, used Greek characters to express “666” itself!
  2. Doesn’t the method used to calculate the number of “Nero Cæsar” using Hebrew characters seem rather contrived?
  3. Cannot a similar method be used to calculate the number of almost ANY name to be 666?

For example, suppose one wished to show that the number of Hitler’s name is 666, using the English code A=10, B=20, C=30, etc.

H 080
I 090
T 200
L 120
E 050
R 180

The total is 720, but if we subtract the number of years (54) from Hitler’s birth to 1933, the year he made his famous proclamation to the German people, we get 666. Indeed, when I was a child, I read a Christian tract which stated absolutely that Hitler was indeed the Antichrist.

Well, here’s a couple other links to read:

Wiki - Nero - Number of the Beast
Nero as the Antichrist

That’s interesting stuff. I remember various preachers trying to fit all kinds of names into the 666 formula, mostly people they did not like. It did not occur to them that maybe this or that president they hated for some reason, was NOT the target of the BOR??


I’m a convinced preterest so I would not be looking for the identity of the beast in a future person. I believe it was Nero but if not, it must have been someone from the first century because John specifically and repeatedly says the contents of the Apocalypse was concerning things that were about to take place, and that the time was near, and short, and at hand, and that he was coming quickly. I think my former pastor, Ken Gentry, Jr did an excellent job of defending the Neronian identity in his, The Beast of Revelation.

Certainly when one wants to find out information on the ‘prêterist’ position and what it ACTUALLY says then you are better off going to a reliable source i.e., such as your link… that as opposed to the misinformation having been trotted out above. :unamused:

From this link one can see that the “Q” reference/use (as opposed to the alleged “K”) is quite legitimate, especially as demonstrated on this matter by NON-prêterist biblical Greek scholar, Bruce Metzger. This is from pages 35-36 of Gentry’s book…

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What misinformation?

Now I’m totally confused. But that’s normal, for a Holy Fool and P-Zombie.

If I just click on the link, it say’s Wealth Building Strategies, plus Q and A forum. I do recognize the name Gary North. For years, he has been commanding high fees, for his newsletter subscriptions. But what background does he have, for writing about either theology or Biblical history? Or does he receive a kickback from Ken Gentry, Jr, for providing a clickable link?
I agree that one needs to get the prêterist position from an established prêterist. Along with what recognized academic and Christian scholars share. After all, I wouldn’t want to know about Islam, just from Islamic scholars. (I still say that if Preterism is true and we don’t destroy the earth, humanity might be here - for the longest time. But it’s better than being in an infinite progression loop - as in Mormon theology.)
It seems this quote deals with the “science” of numerology. I can see this, if one were a Jewish (or Christian) Kabbalist. But does any of this matter, to the rest of us?

When I clicked on the link I was sent to a free PDF version of Gentry’s book, and it was apparently published by North :question:

Good luck on your search for preterist info… Got to want to learn about that one to find it. Takes a bit of time and effort.

On another subject :sunglasses:

The human voice is the most complex and greatest of all instruments IMHO… :smiley: Thanks for posting the Billy Joel vid. :smiley:

This misinformation…

Your “they” i.e., “prêterists” thus ‘prêterism’ uses the SAME methodology in attaining the correct given values as DEMONSTRATED by scholar Bruce Metzger, a non-prêterist. Let me repeat that quote…

Metzger (not some prêterist sleight-of-hand) shows HOW 666 equals the variant reading 616 and WHY this is so. The reason prêterism DOESN’T use the “K” as charged by your comment, or whoever it was you lifted that errant comment from, is BECAUSE it isn’t the correct corresponding letter to use… again, as is adequately pointed out BY that quote from Metzger.

Paidion… your “NPN” is itself incorrect. It is as Metzger notes “nrwn” / “nrw” – and THAT quite apart from the whole “K” & “Q” issue you or someone else has made up. So yeah… in terms of prêterism, “misinformation”. By all means question the prêterist rationale but don’t make stuff up, or IF you’re using someone else’s material at least try and find out IF it is true… which in THIS case it is NOT!

This is the guy… Gary North.

FYI: From David Chilton’s The Days of Vengeance, p. 346 & 351 notes 26 & 37, is this…

You’re pretty sure of yourself, when it comes to Preterism, aren’t you?

I want to say that I agree that Metzger is a great Greek scholar. I possess a copy of the Greek New Testament edited by Aland, Black, Martini, Metzger, and Wigren. I went to the Amazon website and searched for Metzger’s “A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament” and by doing a search inside, found the quote to which Gentry referred. First of all it is found on page 676, not 752. Secondly, Metzger uses the actual Hebrew characters, and not (nrwn qsr) and (nrw qsr). That would not be greatly significant, except that there are no vowels in Hebrew including “w”, which is not “w” by the way, but represents the “omega” in the Greek name “ΝΕΡΩΝ”, and so I was not wrong to omit it. It is not that Metzger wrote “nrwn”; he didn’t. He wrote the Hebrew characters, (no vowels in Hebrew).

Metzger may not be an expert in Hebrew, and may have been mistaken in thinking the Hebrew added to 666. However, even if he were correct, do you not find it odd that John would use Hebrew to calculate the number of the name, when he used Greek to WRITE the number 666 itself?—that is, he wrote XΞC (chi,xi,stigma) Surely it makes more sense that the name was calculated in Greek as per the three guesses of Irenæus, who, of course, like the rest of the Christians in his day, expected the beast future to their time. In the second century, there were no preterists with regards to the coming of the beast and the second coming of Christ. Both were expected in their future.

Well, with regards to prêterism, given that I’ve been there done that I can be; at least more so than these annoying NON-prêterist… “prêterists believe ___” type fill in the blank with some erroneous statement/position falsely attributed to prêterism; which are rarely ever backed up with an actual prêterist quote proving such to be the case. This really does get beyond a joke. :unamused:

You don’t have to believe me, no problem Paidion… but won’t you in some honesty at least consider the prêterist quotes I have provided detailing some factual rationales behind prêterism? How about you give some “prêterist” references proving what you allege above; will you?

No biggy, I’d had thought that was self-evident. As for “found on page 676, not 752” – possibly a differing edition, or a typo?? And? These are not convincing titbits.

Good, then can I assume you will drop the so-called argument you attribute to prêterism and also AGREE with Metzger as to the identity of Nero as per the 666 / 616 evidence HE gives? Will you??

Just between you and me I thinking he just might have a better idea on the Hebrew than us two and so maybe you can trust his exegesis on the matter at hand.

I don’t “find it odd” at all… John was a Hebrew thinking Jew writing in the language (Greek) of the day.

How is it Paidion that you keep repeating these types of questionable lines and yet as I’ve pointed out previously the likes of Eusebius Pamphili of Caesarea (AD. 264-339), who didn’t collate his views in a vacuum, says otherwise?

I remember him well, after viewing the Wiki article. Years ago (I don’t remember the circumstances) I was offered a free subscription, to one of his investment newsletters. It was free for a short period. Then if you wished to continue, you paid the expensive, upgrade fee - which I declined. But his newsletter was interesting and well written. :smiley:

I still say that one can present and defend any reasonable position - from scripture alone. That’s why the 2 big churches - Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox - shy away from Solo Scriptural. Otherwise, we can run the gambit, like Full Preterism (i.e. which Davo represents excellently) or full metaphysical systems, like Christian Science (where matter doesn’t exist and folks like Mary Baker Eddy, and her band of practitioners and teachers - defend brilliantly) :smiley:

That’s why various churches say that some teaching is Orthodox, because the majority in history agree. But they then ask folks, to add their own denominational spin to things. :exclamation:

From a pure analytical standpoint of solo scriptural, it’s a toss-up between embracing Full Preterism and Christian Science. Can I successfully embrace both :question: :laughing:

But as far as their healing ministry goes, I remember the words from a Buffalo Springfield song:

I just don’t buy the Christian Science explanation. Nor the “fact” you can’t mix it with modern or complimentary medicine. After all, Joel Goldsmith used to be a Christian Science practitioner, before starting the Infinite Way. And he had no problems with folks using modern or complimentary medicine. And he still had spectacular healing results.

Now for a little humor, from

Because “the second century” refers to the years from 100 to 199 inclusive.

Yeah ok, like I said Eusebius… “didn’t collate his views in a vacuum.” Eusebius stood on the shoulders of others. And yet here you are, though you choose of convenience to refer to and use “Eusebius” in your OP, NOW all of a sudden because it suits i.e., he’s just beyond YOUR stipulated timeframe (who made you the gatekeeper?) he becomes persona non grata.

How about you furnish us with the quotes from prêterists shuffling the deck where you say prêterists “remove the vowels from “ΚΑΙΣΑΡ” and so one would expect them to get “ΚΣΡ” (“KSR” in Latin characters). But no! Instead of using the latin “K”, they select a somewhat similar sounding Latin character “Q”!

The standard “prêterist position” is that outlined by Metzger, as given above –– which prêterists are you referring to? What are your sources for this allegation Paidion? Please supply…

A quibble:

There was never a year 0. December 31, 1 B. C. was immediately followed by January 1, A. D. 1. Therefore…

January 1, A. D. 1 through December 31, A. D. 100 is the 1st century.

January 1, A. D. 101 through December 31, A. D. 200 is the 2nd century.



Geoffrey wrote:

January 1, A. D. 1 through December 31, A. D. 100 is the 1st century.

Over a year ago, I somehow missed seeing Geoffrey’s post from which the above quote has been taken.

I just want to express my agreement, Geoffrey. You are right, of course—and I was wrong.