Question

The vaccine is out. But some are mandating the COVID vaccine. Is this the Mark of the Beast?

Answer

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 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 13:16-17).

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name" (Revelation 14:9-11).

COVID-19 is tragic, horrific, and has killed millions. Families, communities and nations will never be the same. Our world has changed.

There are some today calling attention to the fact that various employers are mandating the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. For example: "[O]n Jan. 21, United Airlines Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said he favored requiring all employees who work for the company to receive a COVID-19 vaccine." [1] [2] Over one half of all countries are mandating a vaccination. [3]

For some people there are developing situations where it seems they may not be able to "buy or sell" unless they have gotten the COVID vaccine (cf. Rev. 13:16-17), so it's easy to see how a question about the "mark of the beast" (MOB) may arise. Of course, the MOB is important to understand as the consequences of receiving this mark are eternal.

This said, I don’t consider the COVID vaccine the MOB. Here are a few reasons.

First, it is my belief that the MOB is not actually a visible mark at all. Revelation 13:16-17 acts as a parallel to the seal that is placed on the foreheads of the saints in Revelation 7:3-4. If the Lord’s seal refers to a spiritual reality (i.e. John 6:27; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30) and not a physical one, then so does the beast’s name and number.

Historically a king's seal normally contained three things: (1) the king's name; (2) his title or claim to authority; and (3) the region of his rule (cf. Dan. 6:15-17). It denotes ownership and authority.

We see that the beast makes false claims of divine kingship with "ten crowns and on its horns ten diadems." It has "seven heads" with each head having "a blasphemous name" (Rev. 13:1). Clearly, this is figurative language and it isn't a seven-headed man. The beast is masquerading as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) and is attempting to imitate or look like God.

Since the seal on the believer is symbolic and invisible, we should also consider that the MOB is too. The language is simply a figurative way of describing the loyalty of the beast's followers, their worship of him (Rev. 13:12, 15; cf. Rev. 19:20; 20:4), and his ownership of them. Just as God's name on believers connotes his ownership and spiritual protection of his invisible church (cf. John 17:6, 11-12, 26; Rev. 3:10), the MOB refers to all those who belong to the Antichrist.

Second, the MOB is not something one would accidentally get. It is a sign of significant loyalty and worship and necessitates a strong, deep-felt conviction. Otherwise, there would be no loyalty involved. Therefore this mark means the person receiving it is in wanton rejection of God and his Christ! It is associated with the worship of the very enemy of God. Importantly, the Lord keeps his people from this mark (2 Pet. 2:9; cf. Rom. 8:35-39).

Third, the ability not to buy and sell by itself isn’t the MOB. For example, in the United States we have what is known as a Social Security Number (SSN). Without it, a person has a difficult time obtaining and maintaining a job, and without a job, you can’t buy and sell. Though it limits buying and selling ability, no one is forced into forsaking Christ for an SSN — at least not yet.

Fourth, there is not even a hint in Scripture that the MOB is associated with some sort of a medical procedure. It’s just not there. [4]

For these and other reasons, I don’t think the mark of the beast is the COVID-19 vaccine. There may be other legitimate reasons for not getting the COVID vaccine, but this shouldn’t be one of them.

Footnote

[1] Christopher Curley. Healthline. Why Many Employers Want to Make COVID-19 Vaccines Mandatory. (https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-many-employers-want-to-make-covid-19-vaccines-mandatory). Last Accessed 11 March 2021.

[2] The EEOC Guidance also states that it is lawful for an employer to request proof of vaccination, despite the ADA’s restrictions on disability-related inquiries, as "requesting proof of receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination is not likely to elicit information about a disability." Julia E. Judish, Laura K. Latham. (https://www.pillsburylaw.com/en/news-and-insights/covid-19-vaccine-mandates-workplace.html). Last Accessed 11 March 2021.

[3] Researchers found that 105 out of the 193 countries (54%) studied had evidence of a national mandatory vaccination policy that required at least one vaccine. McGill University. (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/mu-mvr102020.php). Last Accessed 11 March 2021.

[4] If one interprets the text literally ("right hand") the vaccine isn't given in the hand, but the arm. But individuals are given a vaccine card that could be held in either the left or right hand. Please see "Revelation 20 - Literal or Symbolic - Interpretation?" below.

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).