The association of the number 666 with the Antichrist is derived from Revelation 13:18 in which John the Revelator is told in his apocalyptic vision that the number of the Beast is 666 and that the number stands for a person. In John’s world of the first century, the Beast that ruled the Earth would have been the emperor, the caesar, of the Roman Empire, Nero (37C.E.–68 C.E.). Using the Hebrew alphabet, the numerical value of “Caesar Nero,” the merciless persecutor of the early Christians, is 666. Although Jesus (c. 6 B.C.E.–c. 30 C.E.) made it clear when speaking to the apostles that no one will know the exact hour or day of his Second Coming, for many centuries certain Christian theologians have associated the rise of the Antichrist to power and his achievement of a seven-year reign over all the
Earth as a kind of catalyst that would set in motion Armageddon, the last final battle between good and evil—the ultimate clash between the armies of Jesus Christ and Satan. Ever since the Protestant Reformation, the pope has been a favorite of certain Evangelicals for the ignominious title. Many of the pontiffs in the Middle Ages did exercise great power over the rulers and the people of the emerging European nations; and consequently, there were numerous embittered princes and fiery Protestant leaders who did seek to affix the blame for a large number of repressive social and religious programs on the Vatican.
However, contemporary popes have wielded little political influence, surely none that would place them in world-threatening positions. There have been such men as Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), who actually appeared to covet and campaign for the position by calling himself the Beast and 666. Hollywood has capitalized on the fascination of certain Christians and horror movie fans with the menacing evil of the Antichrist and depicted him in a number of motion pictures.
In Rosemary’s Baby (1968), an unsuspecting young wife (Mia Farrow) is selected to bear the Antichrist after her husband (John Cassavetes) makes a pact with Satan. The Omen (1976) spawned a series of three films that follow the Antichrist from early childhood to his position of wealth, power, and charismatic mastery as an adult. In the first of these films, Gregory Peck, as the unsuspecting surrogate father of the Antichrist, is warned of his son’s true identity by a number of priests and other individuals who all meet untimely warnings as the babble of the demented, he is later shocked to discover the numerals “666” on his son’s scalp and he resolves to do whatever must be done to stop Satan’s will from being accomplished. In spite of a valiant effort on the part of the father, who now concludes rightfully that his true son was killed and supplanted by the disciples of the Antichrist, the demon seed continues his destructive path to world domination in two additional films.
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