Revelation 13:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 13:17, NIV: "so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name."

Revelation 13:17, ESV: "so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name."

Revelation 13:17, KJV: "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

Revelation 13:17, NASB: "and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name."

Revelation 13:17, NLT: "And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name."

Revelation 13:17, CSB: "so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast's name or the number of its name."

What does Revelation 13:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse continues to describe the False Prophet's implementation of the "mark of the beast." This comes from a Greek word, charagma, which is used to describe the branding of livestock. The purpose of this mark is to identify the bearer as one loyal to the Antichrist. Other statements in the book of Revelation make it clear that true believers will reject this mark (Revelation 20:4), and those who take it are knowingly rejecting God and His gospel (Revelation 14:9–11). In other words, the mark is not something "innocent" people will be tricked into accepting.

When the False Prophet successfully brands unbelievers with a mark on the right hand and on the forehead, everyone will be required to display it in order to purchase anything—from a can of corn to a classy car. No one will be able to sell a hot dog or a house without possessing the mark of the beast.

Some speculate that the transition towards a cashless society hints at the meaning of the mark of the beast. Credit cards and debit cards are accepted in lieu of cash in many instances. With a credit card we can purchase almost anything. In some cases, RFID chips or other forms of identification can be linked to personal data and bank accounts. These can even be implanted, such as into the hand or the forehead (Revelation 13:16). This, again, shows how modern technology might fit into these predictions. Or, at least, that these concepts are well within man's capability.

We cannot say, for sure, what the form or function of the mark of the beast will be. Scripture does not give enough details to be sure. Without the mark, however, a person's life will be all but cut off from modern society. He will not be able to buy food or gain medical attention or find shelter or sell anything. Imposing the mark of the beast on people will be an incredibly evil act.

This verse also ties the mark to the name—or the "number of the name"—of the beast. This introduces, in verse 18, the infamous and often-debated 666.