In an attempt to make the Bible conform to the latest advances in technology, modern-day prophecy writers look for anything that will support their view of the end-times, even if it means reading things into the Bible that aren’t there. For example Peter and Paul Lalonde misrepresent what Revelation 13:16–18 says about the mark of the beast. In an advertisement for their This Week in Bible Prophecy television program, the prophecy authors wrote, “The Mark of the Beast—it’s one of the clearest and most dramatic prophecies in the Bible. It states simply that in the last days[1] that no man will be able to buy or sell unless he has the mark IN his right hand or forehead.” According to the Lalondes, the “IN” refers to an embedded microchip or something similar placed under the skin; they emphasize the word IN.

In an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal, a self-described “Internet prophet who calls himself Tony G,” claims “the mark of the beast (Revelation 13 tells us) will be ‘in’ not ‘on’ the right hand, and ‘in’ not ‘on’ the forehead.” That means, he concludes, “that ‘the mark’ will almost certainly be ‘a microchip implant such as the Digital Angel,’ a conveniently named microchip implant.”[2]

When it comes to prophetic speculation, there’s nothing new under the Sun. Chuck Smith was warning against credit cards in a sermon delivered to his Calvary Chapel audience on December 31, 1979, and Mary Stewart Relfe was warning against the “New Money System” and the UPC Symbols (Bar Codes) in 1981.[3] Some have speculated that the UPC Symbol has three sixes imbedded in its design. Of course, so far, except in the case of George Washington, UPC symbols have not been tattooed to our foreheads.

The Greek preposition epi (“upon”), not en (“in”), is used twice in Revelation 13:16 to describe where the mark was to be placed. Epi (επι) is best translated as “on” or “upon.” This is why the passage states that the mark was to be given “on [επι] their right hand or on [επι] their forehead,” not“in [εν] their right hand or in [εν] their forehead.”

The interpretation advocated by these self-styled prophecy experts believe the message behind the mark of the Beast has been unintelligible for nearly two thousand years since computer chips and scanning technologies are late-twentieth-century innovations. Yet low-tech methods of screening a population have been quite effective throughout history, as the men from Ephraim found out when they could not pronounce “Shibboleth” (Judg. 12:4–7). During the reign of Caesar Augustus, Rome was able to identify and tax the entire empire without sophisticated scanning devices (Luke 2:1–4). And there was nothing high tech about the numbering system Hitler used to identify and catalog Jews.

Should we be concerned about imbedded microchips? Yes. Should we be wary of civil government when it says “Just trust us”? Yes. Does everything that happens in the world today have to be tied to some prophetic text before we can determine its virtues? Absolutely not. Let’s begin to think biblically without always having to think prophetically.


[1] Actually nothing is said about “the last days” in Revelation 13. But even if Revelation 13 did use “the last days” to designate the time in which the prophetic events were to take place, other passages indicate that “the last days” were in the first century (see Heb. 1:1–2 and James 5:3, 8–9; 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Tim. 4:1–3).
[2] Dave Shiflett, “Satan’s Micro Minions: Is Radio Frequency Identification a tool of the Antichrist?,” The Wall Street Journal (December 30, 2005):
[3] Mary Stewart Relfe, When Your Money Fails: 666 (Montgomery, AL: Ministries, Inc., 1981). This book got a ringing endorsement from Colin Deal, author of the “best seller” Christ Returns by 1988. I’m writing this in 2006.