Number from Revelation

Recently a family member came to me and said the real number of man is 616 not 666. Not only do I not understand where that came from, but can you explain to me how I would talk with them about that? I don't appear to understand if it is a literal number or figurative. Thank you.

Your family member was referencing Revelation 13:18: “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.”

Revelation 13:11-18 describes a beast from the earth who is allied with Satan. Among the descriptions of that beast is a number: 666. As 7 is a number in Revelation that involves God, 6 describes the beast as falling short of God. Revelation uses numbers in a figurative sense.

Be aware that the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible are no longer extant. Instead, we have copies and copies of the original manuscripts. The accuracy of the copyists was great, but variants do exist. Revelation 13:18 is one of those places. Most manuscripts favor 666. There are a few manuscripts that have 616.

The People’s Bible commentary on Revelation would offer a more complete explanation of this and many more end-time topics. It is available from Northwestern Publishing House. Your church library may also have a copy.