Revelation 13:16-17

The Mark of the Beast

Rev 13:16
And he causes all both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave to be given a mark – the mark is the signature mark of the beast, who Daniel told us “shall intend to change time and law” (Dan 7:25).

The mark or scratch of the beast on all men is the violation of the commandment of God to rest on the Sabbath day. This mark was enforced on all men, beginning in the fourth Century. The Catholic Church proudly boasts that moving the day of rest from Saturday to Sunday is its mark:

“Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change [Saturday Sabbath to Sunday] was her act… And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical authority in religious things” (H.F. Thomas, Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons).

“Sunday is our mark of authority… the church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact” (Catholic Record of London, Ontario Sept 1, 1923).

There are several clues that tell us the changing of the day of rest is the mark:

  1. Daniel said the beast would “intend to change times and law.” There is no greater representation of the changing times and law (God’s law), than moving the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday.
  2. The timing given by John is the fall of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire began its fall in the Gothic War of 376 to 381 AD. Sunday rest was first enforced in 364 AD, by a council at Laodicea, and its enforcement continued over the next centuries.
  3. Changing the Sabbath day is the only thing that would cause “all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave”  (Rev 13:16) to receive a mark, since the Sabbath day was made for all men, and not only for the church.
  4. Satan’s attack is against those who “have the faith of Jesus” (Rev 12:17). The keeping of God’s commandments was considered by the Apostles to be the most significant act of a Christian (1 Corinthians 7:19;  1 John 3:24;  1 John 5:2-3; Acts 5:32).
  5. If there is anything that would differentiate the Nations or Gentiles from those “who keep the commandments of God” (Rev 14:12) it is forsaking the rest of the Sabbath day.
  6. Revelation 14:11 tells that those who worship the beast, and his image and receive his mark, have “no rest day or night.”
  7. Keeping the Sabbath Day has always been the sign of the sanctified people of God: “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you’” (Exodus 31:13). Only those who keep God’s commandments can be sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).

on the right hand or forehead – the mark against one’s forehead or right hand is a mark against the commandments of God. The meaning of this goes back to Exodus 13:9, “it shall serve to you as a sign on your forehead and a reminder on your hand that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth.” The law in this passage is in verse 6, “seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord.” Here, we find the first Sabbath Day, as described in Deuteronomy 16:8, “Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God; you shall do no work on it.” Though this seventh day does not refer to the weekly Sabbath, the meaning of the reminder to keep the commandments of God is clear.

(The Sabbath of the first day of the feast of unleavened bread is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month from Egypt. The regular weekly Sabbath, began on the 15th day of the second month (Exodus 16:1). Because of this coincidence, some have theorized that the early Israelites kept a lunar weekly Sabbath that began with the first day of the month, and occurred on the 8th, 15th and 22nd. However, the 21st day of the first month was also a Sabbath, the Sabbath of the seventh day of the feast of unleavened bread. In the time of Christ, Sunday was equated to the Jewish first day of the week in Justin Martyr’s First Apology, “on the day called Sunday,” the Epistle of Barnabas, Clement of Alexandria and many other writings. From the first century, Rome followed a seven-day week with Sunday as the first day; as the sun was the first of seven “planets” to appear. Indeed, it was the will of God that the Roman empire should unify the world according to the weekly calendar that was established by God in the beginning of creation. There is no reason to doubt whether the Ten Commandments, which were instituted on the third day of the third month, of the flight from Egypt (Exodus 19:16), resulted in continuous weekly Sabbaths.  Anyone who understands that Jesus was crucified on Thursday, and that Friday was the first Day of the feast of unleavened bread, will know that the Jews did not keep a lunar Sabbath, see Luke 24:21, Matt 12:40; 28:1 (after the Sabbaths, sabbatōn); also see the comparison of the Gospel of Peter to the Gospel of Matthew, where the second century apocryphal “Gospel of Peter.”

Rev 13:17
that no one will be able to buy or sell except the one who has the mark– this tells us that people received some type of economic disadvantage, if they “kept the commandments of God.” The extended Roman Empire of the Ten European states enforced Sunday rest for 3 centuries, through a barrage of economic sanctions, including fines, and expropriation of property, and even imprisonment.  These are comprehensively documented in J.N. Andrews “History of the Sabbath” Chapter 20.