The Mark of the Beast

By COGwriter

Many wonder what 'mark' or marks may be associated with the final Beast.

Could it have to do with time of worship or work?  Is there an image involved? What does the Bible teach?  Are there any statements in past and recent history that point to what the mark could be? Does any church have plans to persecute those without a certain mark?

To know the mark/marks of the Beast, it first would make sense to see what the Bible states about the Beast and also to see what the Bible teaches about the mark. The historical record also gives us information on how to better understand the 'mark of the beast.'

What Does the Bible Say About Who is the Beast?

The Bible uses term the term 'beast' in several ways, including representing human governments.

From a prophetic standpoint, there is a discussion of a 'beast' power which was part of a dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had. Daniel, after prayer, gave the king the following interpretation:

31 "You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. 32 This image's head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. 34 You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

36 "This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. 37 You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all — you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. 41 Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay.

42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. 44 And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold — the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure." (Daniel 2:31-45)

This dream had to do with a succession of goverments being located in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

Although the above DOES NOT call the 'image' a beast, related prophecies do. Notice something else Daniel recorded:

2 Daniel spoke, saying, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man's heart was given to it.

5 "And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: 'Arise, devour much flesh!'

6 "After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

7 "After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:2-7)

So, we see similarities between the the four great beasts of the sea and the four kingdoms in the image of Nebuchaddnezzar. Now, these beasts are all tied to the Great Sea.

What is the Great Sea? The “Great Sea” that bordered the ancient lands of Israel (Joshua 9:1; 23:4; Ezekiel 47:13-16) is the Mediterranean Sea--and that is the sea that Daniel was referring to.  Hence, this is a power that will have connections to that region of the world.

Notice the following:

23 "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces. 24 The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.

26 'But the court shall be seated, And they shall take away his dominion, To consume and destroy it forever. 27 Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. (Daniel 7:23-27)

This is consistent with the prophecies in Daniel 2.

Daniel gives more information about this Beast as well.

23 "And in the latter time of their kingdom,
When the transgressors have reached their fullness,
A king shall arise,
Having fierce features,
Who understands sinister schemes.
24 His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power;
He shall destroy fearfully,
And shall prosper and thrive;
He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people.

25 "Through his cunning
He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule;
And he shall exalt himself in his heart.
He shall destroy many in their prosperity.
He shall even rise against the Prince of princes;
But he shall be broken without human means. (Daniel 8:23-25)

Without going into all the details, this beast is also called the King of the North in Daniel 11 (see Who is the King of the North? and/or watch a video titled: The Future King of the North):

36 "Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. 38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. 39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain. (Daniel 11:36-39)

Notice that the Beast honors the 'god of fortresses' as well as a 'god his fathers did not know.' So, this is a changed religion of some type. One that will get the world's attention (Revelation 13:4,8).

Catholic prophecy warns about someone who changes their faith:

St. Francis of Paula (15th century):

“He shall be the founder of a new religious order different from all others. He will divide it into three strata, namely military knights, solitary priests, and most pious hospitalliers. This shall be the last religious order in the Church, and it will do more good for our holy religion than all other religious institutions.”

“…These devout men will wear on their breasts…the cross” [It becomes clear from other prophecies that it is from this that they will receive their popular name “the cross bearers.”]…

“He shall…destroy all tyrants and heresies. There will be one fold and one shepherd. He shall reign until the end of time. On the whole earth there will be twelve Kings, one Emperor and one Pope. (Birch DA. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph: Before During and After Antichrist. Queenship Publishing Company, Goleta (CA), 1996, pp.267-270)

Sister Marianne Gaultier (18th century): “…the Prince shall reign, whom people did not esteem before, but whom they shall then seek.  (Dupont Y. Catholic Prophecy: The Coming Chastisement. TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1973, p. 75).

D. Birch (commenting after the above in his book), “Many of the prophecies speak of the fact that the Great King at first will not be well-liked, especially by the French clergy” (Birch DA. Trial, Tribulation & Triumph: Before During and After Antichrist. Queenship Publishing Company, Goleta (CA), 1996, p. 276).

Getting back to the Bible, here is some of what the Book of Revelation teaches about the Beast:

1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"

5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:1-10)

Notice that he is a beast that comes from the sea. This is a reference to a European power as it is the power that borders the Mediterraean sea and will again control pretty much all sides of it (cf. Daniel 11:40-43). This Beast will be associated with an ecumenical/interfaith religion (see Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction?) that the world will fall for--all those who do NOT have their names written in the Book of Life.

The Bible teaches that this leader, while he is a 'prince' (which is before he becomes a king) comes from the peoples that destroyed the old Temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:26-27; see also The 'Peace Deal' of Daniel 9:27). This also shows that he is European as it was the old Roman Empire that destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

What Does the Bible Say About the Mark of the Beast?

The Greek term translated as “mark” in the New Testament is cháragma.  It is only used once outside the Book of Revelation in the textus receptus and in that passage (Acts 17:29) cháragma refers to a physical marking or engraving.

The Bible discusses the mark of the beast in eight verses in the Book of Revelation.

The first place is where another beast, the beast of the earth (see also The Mark of Antichrist), the Antichrist (see also Some Doctrines of Antichrist) is promoting worship of this beast of the sea:

11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Revelation 13:11-18)

The above was written over 1900 years ago.  At the time it was written it would seem that there would be no way to stop/monitor buying and selling that Revelation 13:17 foretells.  Now, as more and more financial transactions are electronic, we are at the point that the vast majority of financial transactions can be monitored/controlled in some nations, like those in Europe. The Bible teaches that it will be a European power that is 666 and will enforce what is prophesied in Revelation 13:16-18. Now with computers, credit cards, and even payments via cellular telephones, the technology for this exists (see also Could Apple Pay be a step towards 666?).

In addition to the the image of the beast, Revelation 13:17 mentions terms such as the name of the beast, the number of the beast, and the mark of the beast. Note that to "buy or sell" one apparently only has to have one of three things.  Not necessarily all three. The word translated as “all” in verse 16 may possibly be translated as “as many as” or “thoroughly” causes (NT:3956. Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.); it seems similar to the word that means “from every direction”(Bauer W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Christian Literature, 6th ed.  University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 754).

While Sunday is a sign of the Greco-Roman religious system (see also The Mark of Antichrist), it does not follow that one would be able to buy or sell simply by claiming they went to church on Sunday. Retired persons and people with some savings could get by during the Great Tribulation/Day of the Lord without working, so we may wish to consider that the mark is likely more than only not keeping the Sabbath.

As far as the number goes, Revelation 13 also teaches that the number of the beast of the sea is six hundred and sixty six.

The first writing that have been found that suggests that a connection between something Roman and 666 was by Irenaeus, who claimed to have listened to Polycarp when he (Irenaeus) was a young man. Irenaeus wrote:

Then also Lateinos (LATEINOS) has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel] (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 30, Verse 3. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Here is a count using Greek letters, which is the language the Book of Revelation was written in:

L =   30  lambda 
A =     1  alpha 
T = 300  tau
E =     5  epsilon 
I =     10  iota 
N =   50  nu 
O =   70  omicron 
S = 200  sigma 
------------ 
    666 

Lateinos means "Latin Kingdom" (Halley's Bible Handbook, 24 ed., p. 726) or Latin Man.

The Beast will be over a kingdom that will include territories that the old Latin/Roman empire controlled. That would include much of Europe and parts of North Africa and the Middle East. The Bible shows that eventually the Beast, the King of the North, will take over territories in the Middle East and North Africa per Daniel 11:40-43.

So the number of the name of the Beast signifies a political power that will have similarities to the old Roman Empire. 666 signifies the 'Roman' system. The Romans were syncretic--they melded religions together.

Here are next verses in Revelation that specifically mention the mark:

9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12)

These passages also tie the mark in with the image of the beast. And suggest that this will be a trial for the saints that they will need to patiently endure.

The Bible shows that God will have victory over the mark and image of the beast:

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. (Revelation 15:1-2)

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."

2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:1-2)

Notice that the victory is over those with the mark of the beast and the number of his name (the Roman-Babylonian system) as perhaps opposed to strictly those who used the number.   The scriptures are clear when they teach that those who intentionally disobey God by worshipping the beast or his image will be punished.  They are also directing punishment against those who had the mark of the beast. 

Yet, it may be that simply having an identification/residency/bank card with the number will not be a major crime/sin as far as the Bible is concerned, unless one has to break one of the commandments to get it. Perhaps it should also be noted that, of themselves, I do not believe that 'bar codes' are the mark of the beast (some have said that they could be as they all add up to 6, 6, and 6 as an internal checking mechanism).

Perhaps it should be pointed out that those who get the mark of the beast are deceived:

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:19-21)

This deception was foretold in other prophecies. Notice the following

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25)

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12)

The Bible also praises those that do NOT get the mark:

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

Notice that the above says that those faithful who do not get the mark nor worship the image of the beast will reign with Christ for 1000 years (see also Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?)

Oddly, Catholic writings state that teaching that some of that is a DOCTRINE OF ANTICHRIST. Notice:

676 The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).

It should be noted that the millennial teaching appears to be the only doctrine associated with Antichrist that is condemned in the current official Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is the first new one in hundreds of years). The one that has the imprimatur of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who is now called Pope Emeritus and was Pope Benedict XVI.

A 3rd Century Certificate of the Beast? Tattoos?

In the third century, during the time of Roman Emperor Decius, an indentification with his empire was required. Those charged with being Christian were subject to be killed, unless they would sacrifice to pagan gods and get a document that stated that they did so:

In order to weed out Christians in his Empire, Emperor Decius (249-251) issued an edict requiring all citizens of the Empire to sacrifice to him in the presence of a Roman official and to obtain a Certificate Of Sacrifice called a libellus. This posed a moral problem for the Christians. They could sacrifice and live. They could refuse to sacrifice and be killed. (Sweeny Silver S. Footprints in Parchment: Rome Versus Christianity 30-313 Ad. AuthorHouse, 2013, p. 97)

Some, back then, paid bribes to officials in order to get the document (Ibid, p. 97).

The two versions of the libellus I have read basically state that one is sacrificing to the pagan gods and has consumed the meat offered to idols. This also would be expected to include biblically unclean meats, so that was another way that the Roman authorities attempted to root out believers.

It is possible that some type of document will be issued by the final Beast power that banks may require to keep open accounts and government officials may require to allow one to live. It also may be that a type of mark on the forehead or hand is required unless one would display some type of document or certificate. This would seem to be consistent with the scriptures in Revelation 13 as well as past practices of a persecuting beast-like leader.

It perhaps should be mentioned that Catholics do not oppose tattoos, even though as the following shows, they are scripturally prohibited:

28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28). 

It may be that some of the more zealous and/or “stylish” followers of the Beast may actually tattoo some type of mark on their foreheads and/or hands. 

Interestingly, anciently the Patagonians used to have their foreheads and forearms marked with tattoo of crosses (Ratzel F. The history of mankind, Volume 2. Macmillan and co., ltd., 1897.  Original from the University of California.  Digitized Mar 6, 2009, p. 80).

Note one account of the early persecutions of Christians:

Christianity was a more exclusive, secret, and potentially more subversive, cult than all the others.  The followers of Christ rejected the old gods completely, they refused to sacrifice to the emperor and his gods, and they established an empire-wide network of secret cells practising strange rites.  Not surprisingly, this cult attracted suspicion and hostility from the Roman state, particularly when its members refused to worship publicly the emperors and gods of war.  Christians attracted, therefore, sporadic imperial persecution in the second century AD which became more systematic and determined in the third and fourth centuries…(Snooks, Graeme Donald. The Ephemeral Civilization: Exploding the Myth of Social Evolution. Routledge, 1997, p. 173)

Notice that early Christians (who would not participate in military warfare nor engage in emperor worship) were considered a secret cult, but that despite that, they existed throughout the empire.  Many today do not realize that the Christians were originally considered to be a secret cult, a secret sect.

The same type of situation is expected at the end.  There will be small groups of Christians who will refuse to accept the mark of the new ecumenical emperor worship that the militaristic Beast and False Prophet will encourage; they will resist this religion even though it will likely adopt the name “Catholic.” They may be branded as a cult or secret sect.

3rd/4th Century History and the Cross

Around the early third century, there is a reference by a Latin writer to a mark on the forehead amongst some in Alexandria:

Tertullian (De cor. Mil., iii), "in all our coming in and going out, in putting of our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles , in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupieth us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross".

On the other hand this must soon have passed into a gesture of benediction, as many quotations from the Fathers in the fourth century would show. Thus St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his "Catecheses" (xiii, 36) remarks: "let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in every thing; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in goings; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are travelling, and when we are at rest". (Thurston, Herbert. Sign of the Cross. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 22 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm>)

This shows that a mark was used, and the cross mark was on the forehead, which is consistent with that warned against in Revelation 13:16. Since the above did not come from the Bible, it seemed to have been adopted from a pagan faith known as Mithraism. Notice something from that pagan religion:

Candidates who successfully passed the Mithraic initiations were called Lions and were marked upon their foreheads with the Egyptian cross. (Manly P. Hall Manly P. Hall (Author), J. Augustus Knapp (Illustrator) The Secret Teachings of all Ages. Originally published 1926, reprint Wilder Publications, 2009, p. 45)

Mithras signed his soldiers on the forehead with a Cross. (Pike A. Morals and dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. First published 1871. Forgotten Books, 1962, p. 246)

A curious bas-relief recently published shows us the spectacle of this sacred repast (Fig. 38). Before two persons stretched upon a couch covered with pillows is placed a tripod bearing four tiny loaves of bread, each marked with a cross. ... these love feasts are evidently the ritual commemoration of the banquet which Mithra celebrated before his ascension. (Cumont F. The Mysteries of Mithra. Open Court, 1903. Original from Harvard University, Digitized Feb 15, 2008, p. 160)

Mithratic...initiates...would henceforth have the Sun Cross on their foreheads. The similarity to the cross of ashes made on the forehead on the Christian Ash Wednesday is striking. Some have suggested this to be an example of the early Christians borrowing from the Mithratic cult; others suggest that both cults were drawing upon the same prototype (Nabarz P. The mysteries of Mithras: the pagan belief that shaped the Christian world. Inner Traditions / Bear & Company, 2005, p. 36).

World history was profoundly affected by a Roman Emperor named Constantine who was a follower of Mithras and claimed to see a cross in the sky. (As far as Ash Wednesday goes, check out Is Lent a Christian Holiday? What About Ash Wednesday?)

The Catholic writer C.M. Mangan reported:

In 312, the Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great was in Trier, Germany where he had an unexpected vision of a cross that appeared in the sky with the haunting words, “In hoc signum vinces” (“In this sign you conquer”). The Emperor was buoyed by the apparition and encouraged his 20,000 troops for the upcoming bloody battle against Maxentius and his 100,000 men. Constantine’s soldiers, the majority of whom were pagans, placed the sacred image of the cross on their shields. (Mangan C.M. In This Sign You Conquer, 10/15/03 Copyright © 2004 Catholic Online)

The “cross” what was seen allegedly was a spear crossed with a sword. 

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 A.d.)...Constantine...the... cross. He had been led to adopt this emblem through the appearance, as once he prayed to the sun-god, of a cross over the setting sun, with the inscriptson upon it, In this sign conquer. Obedient unto the celestial vision, Constantine had at once made the cross his banner,a and it was beneath this new emblem that his soldiers marched to victory at the battle of the Milvian Bridge.

Whatever may have been the circumstances or the motives which led Constantine to make the cross his standard, this act of his constitutes a turning point in the history of the Christian Church. Christianity had come into the world as a religion of peace and good will... But after the victory for the Cross at the Milvian Bridge a change passed over the Church. It leaned more and more upon earthly power, and became militant. This infusion into the Church of the military spirit of Rome was one of the most important consequences of the story of the miraculous cross in the sky, and of the espousal of the Christian cause by the emperor Constantine. (Van Ness Myers, Philip. Ancient History. Published by Ginn and company, 1916 Original from the New York Public Library Digitized Sep 26, 2007, pp. 480-481).

{Constantine} described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stones...Now it was made in the following manner. A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour's name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre...The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies (Eusebius. The Life of Constantine, Chapter 31).

So the cross became a uniform "safeguard against every adverse and hostile power" when a pagan Emperor persuaded many who professed Christ to become warriors and not true Christians.

While Jesus indicated that His people would not be part of carnal warfare in this age (John 18:36) and that long had been the position of not only the Church of God, but also the Greco-Roman Catholics (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence? ), Emperor Constantine had a different view and helped turn the Catholics into a frequently warring religion.

The Bible teaches that the Beast power will "honor a god of fortresses" according to Daniel 11:38, and that is the 'god' that Constantine turned the Greco-Romans to follow.

Historians realize that this alleged apparition, combined with a dream where Constantine claimed to see an apparition of Jesus, changed the course of world history.  Emperor Constantine, himself, was thankful for these apparent apparitions and believed that this indicated that some things should change in his empire. 

Constantine ended up making the first Sunday law, issuing an edict against those who would not accept his compromised religion, greatly exalting the political power of Greco-Roman bishops, and massively increasing idolatry and military service amongst unfaithful professors of Christ.  He called for and summoned a church council (Nicea in 325 A.D.) which adopted practices that the Apostle John warned were those of antichrists (1 John 2:18–22). He also took away certain Church of God properties and ordered the death penalty to Church of God Christians in Jerusalem that would not eat pork (see The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats and/or Persecutions by Church and State). 

He is known as Constantine the Great by the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics for legalizing and essentially mandating their compromised faith throughout the Roman Empire.  Other doctrinal compromises occurred because of him and afterwards.  It has also been reported that only two years before claiming to see a cross in the sky, Constantine saw an apparition of the sun god Sol in a grove of Apollo in Gaul in 310 (discussed in Rodgers, Barbara S. “Constantine's Pagan Vision,”Byzantion, vol. 50, 1980, pp. 259–78).  This should give all pause to realize that Constantine had a history of apparent demonic contact, but most have overlooked this.

The religion of Mithras used crosses. Constantine liked crosses. And while the Greco-Roman churches were generally not venerating crosses before Constantine, they began to do so after he endorsed them and his version of their religion.

Constantine's mother Helena believed she discovered the 'cross' that Jesus was killed with on September 14, 326 (though the New Testament in the original Greek does NOT state Jesus was killed on an actual cross, see What is the Origin of the Cross as a 'Christian' Symbol?). Helena's 'discovery' (she was most likely misled by opportunists about the legitimacy of what she bought) caused physical crosses to gain prominence in the Greco-Roman churches.

Crosses were NOT part of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Christians had long considered the use of images as idolatry (see What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?).

Cross Claimed to be the Mark of the Beast

Throughout history, some people who may have been affiliated with the Church of God had problems with crosses and suggested it was the mark of the beast.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

The Paulicians, as part of their heresy held that all matter (especially the human body) is bad, that all external religious forms, sacraments, rites, especially material pictures and relics, should be abolished. To honour the Cross was especially reprehensible...some Catholics, too shared their dislike of pictures and relics. In the beginning of the eighth century several bishops, Constantine of Nacolia in Phrygia, Theodosius of Ephesus, Thomas of Claudiopolis, and others are mentioned as having these views. A Nestorian bishop, Xenaeas of Hierapolis, was a conspicuous forerunner of the Iconoclasts. ((Fortescue A. Iconoclasm. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler.The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York )

The following is apparently from the work History of Armenia by Chamich and is from a 1054-1058 A.D. letter written by Gregory Magistros against the Manichaean (note I have left out additions by the editor/translator F. Conybeare):

...they represent our worship of God as worship of idol.  As if we, who honour the sign of the cross and the holy pictures, were still engaged in worshiping devils. (Conybeare F.C. Addend ix III in: The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. 149)

In Italy, and elsewhere, others (whether truly faithful Christians or not is unclear) objected to crosses:

About the year 1040, the Paterines had become very numerous at Milan, which was their principal residence, and here they flourished at least two hundred years. They...they rejected not only Jerome of Syria, Augustine of Africa, and Gregory of Rome, but Ambrose of Milan ; considering them, and other pretended fathers, as corrupters of Christianity...They called [the adoration of] the cross the mark of the beast. They had no share in the state, for they took no oaths and bore no arms. (Jones W. The history of the Christian church from the birth of Christ to the xviii. century, Volumes 1-2, 3rd edition. R.W. Pomeroy, 1832. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Feb 6, 2009, p. 289).

...the Cathari also renounced priestly vestments, altars, and crosses as idolatrous. They called the cross the mark of the beast, and declared it had no more virtue than a ribbon for binding the hair (Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, Chapter X).

It is of historical interest to note the following doctrinal admissions in the article on the Paulicians in The Catholic Encyclopedia (bolding mine):

They honoured not the Cross, but only the book of the Gospel...They were Iconoclasts, rejecting all pictures... The whole ecclesiastical hierarchy is bad, as also all Sacraments and ritual. They had a special aversion to monks...Since Gibbon the Paulicians have often been described as a survival of early and pure Christianity, godly folk who clung to the Gospel, rejecting later superstitions, who were grossly calumniated by their opponents...

...the Cathari also renounced priestly vestments, altars, and crosses as idolatrous. They called the cross the mark of the beast, and declared it had no more virtue than a ribbon for binding the hair. (Fortescue, Adrian. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 23 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11583b.htm>)

It is of historical interest to note the following doctrinal admissions in the article on the Paulicians in The Catholic Encyclopedia (bolding mine):

Furthermore, near the early part of the 14th century, notice what an inquisitor recorded about some he was torturing:

They assert, moreover, that the cross of Christ should not be adored or venerated, because, as they urge, no one would venerate or adore the gallows upon which a father, relative, or friend had been hung. They urge, further, that they who adore the cross ought, for similar reasons, to worship all thorns and lances, because as Christ's body was on the cross during the passion, so was the crown of thorns on his head and the soldier's lance in his side. (From the Inquisitor's Manual of Bernard Gui [d.1331], early 14th century, translated in J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905), pp. 381-383, http://essenes.crosswinds.net/albe.html 05/27/07)

So, the distancing from crosses and even considering that they may be the “mark of the beast” is not a new concept within groups that may have held to Church of God doctrines.  The idea seems to have existed for a thousand or more years.

So, crosses are considered by various ones to be a mark of the beast.

It should be noted that the term 'crusaders' means cross-bearers. The crusaders had crosses on their shields as they went about killing and destoying.

Where did crosses come from?

Now, the cross seems to have originated in ancient Egypt and was adopted by other cultures, like Babylon. (Seymour WW. The cross in tradition, history, and art.  G.P. Putnam, 1898.  Original from Harvard University. Digitized  Mar 6, 2009, pp. 2-6 )

In his classic Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop claims that the Roman sign of the cross was from the Babylonian Mystery religion:

The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians--the true original form of the letter T--the initial of the name of Tammuz--which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, was found on coins. That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol. (Hislop A.  Two Babylons, Chapter VI.  1858)

The cross was a significant item for the ancient Assyrians as well according to another 19th century writer:

The treasures of art and religion in Assyria have lately been opened to us. The cross is everywhere dominant. (Seymour WW. The cross in tradition, history, and art. p. 15)

it should be noted that most of the religious in the world (Protestants included) tend to accept crosses and/or other idols.  And the same time that the Church of Rome was pushing Sunday, it was also pushing idols, statues, and crosses. 

Persecution was done historically by inquisitors carrying crosses and crusaders (which means “cross-bearers”). 
                                 
Banner of the Spanish Inquisition     Some Crusader Borne Crosses
(Seymour WW. The cross in tradition, history, and art.  pp. 393 and 373)

It should be noted that faithfulness “to the cross” (Lapide C.  The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide: St. John's Gospel, Chaps. I to XI, Volume 5.
J. Hodges, 1887.  Original from the University of California.  Digitized Mar 18, 2010, p. 307) has long been pressured by Catholics.

It may be of interest to note that the Geneva Commentary on Revelation 13:16 (a Protestant source) believes that the Roman Catholic practice of 'confirmation' is the mark of the beast:

…to receive 24 a b mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads…
(24)        That is their consecrated oil, by which in the ordinance (as they call it) of confirmation, they make servants for themselves, the persons and doings of men, signing them in their forehead and hands. They make the sign left by Christ, see Revelation 7:3 and the ordinance of baptism useless. For whom Christ has joined to himself as signified by baptism this beast challenges with his greasy consecrated oil, which he does not hesitate to prefer over baptism, both in authority and value.
(b)          The mark of the name of the beast. (Geneva Notes, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2005, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc.)

It should be noted that it is a cross that is made on the forehead with oil during 'confirmation.'

The late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote;

Those martyrs, over a thousand years ago, were killed BECAUSE they would not worship the Church, conform to its idolatry and pagan beliefs and customs, or worship the so-called “Holy Roman Empire,”—and BECAUSE they refused to receive the MARK of the beast!...

Those who receive the plagues are breakers of God’s Commandments, and also at the same time receivers of the  MARK! It becomes more and more plain that the mark of the beast represents COMMANDMENT-BREAKING...idolatry...Some worship idols carved out of stone, or wood, or marble...The Sabbath was made FOR MAN. So said Jesus (Mark 2:27). It was made WHEN man was made (Genesis 2:1-3). It was MADE—and it was Christ, the Eternal, who made it! Therefore HE is Lord of the Sabbath! It was made to keep man in the true knowledge of the IDENTITY of the true God, to keep him from idolatry!... (Armstrong HW.  The Mark of the Beast.  1952, booklet)

“Here is the patience of the saints; here are they...” now these do not have the mark of the beast, “...that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” On the one hand, are those who have the name of God in their forehead, and when it comes to work and things, they have the commandments of God. And one of those commandments tells you what day you can’t use your hands in work. And that day is the Sabbath day. It has SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD!...

Now, they are going to compel disobedience to God...they’re not going to compel you to commit adultery...they might to worship idols and they might not, they won’t compel you to use profanity. But I’ll tell you what they will compel you to do, to observe Sunday instead of the Sabbath. (Armstrong HW. The Mark of the Beast.  Sermon Transcript 28-Dec-1982; Alternately dated 11-Dec-1982)

Crosses are often venerated in an idolatrous manner.

They are also so associated with mainstream 'Christianity' that few would consider that a cross or crucifix could be a, or the, mark of the beast.

Catholic priests and bishops, with their right hands put the mark/sign of the cross on the foreheads of:

  1. Those that are baptized Catholic (Thurston, Herbert. Sign of the Cross. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 22 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm>).
  2. Those who participate in Ash Wednesday services (Thurston, Herbert. "Ash Wednesday." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.  Robert Appleton Company, 1907.  25 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01775b.htm>).
  3. Those that are confirmed Catholic (Morrisroe, Patrick. Chrism. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1908.  25 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03696b.htm>)

Roman Catholics sometimes also trace the "sign of the cross" on themselves with "holy water" upon entering church.  They also do a version of this before and/or after praying, when passing before the main crucifix at church, and many other times.  Thus, if the mark has to do with a cross, it would be consistent with long-accepted Catholic practices. 

Additionally, since the mark would need to be something that "Catholic" peoples would not believe could be the "mark of the Beast," something like a cross, rosary, statues/images of Mary, or crucifix would be something that they would accept without question. 

As far as the old Holy Roman Empire that Herbert Armstrong mentioned goes, decades ago, I recall watching an old black and white rerun of the old William Tell show on television. In a particular episode, the Austro-Hungarian empire (which is considered part of the old Holy Roman Empire) wanted all to bow or kneel before some flag or standard of the empire. The common people refused. So, the authorities called the locals to a square and threatened to kill them all if they would not kneel or bow down before it. After the standard was raised, no one bowed down, then several seconds later, all the people knelt. The local government official, called the Burgermeister, began to smile as he felt that now all would accept his authority. Yet, he looked behind himself and saw a priest who had just raised a crucifix. The government official was disappointed but kept it to himself, while the local people were happy and comfortable kneeling before a cross.

Catholics and the Mark

A writing that may have been improperly ascribed to the Roman Bishop Hippolytus claimed Jesus said:

“Ye were marked with the seal of my cross, but ye deleted it by your hardness of heart.” (Hippolytus.  On the End of the World.  Appendix to part II. Of the works of Hippolytus. Containing dubious and spurious pieces. Section XLVIII.  Ante-Nicene Christian library: translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Volume 9. T. and T. Clark, 1872. Original from Oxford University. Digitized, Aug 22, 2008, p. 129)

This seems to suggest that the author considered that a cross was a good mark. 

But Jesus never said anything like that.

Here is part of a Catholic explanation of Revelation 14:2-3 and 13:16:

The purpose of delaying the onrush of the four winds is to give time to sign the foreheads of God’s servants.  The scene calls to mind Ezechiel (IX. 4) to mark a “Thau” on the foreheads of the faithful; and this Thau in ancient Hebrew had the form of a cross…In Chapter XIII. 16, the followers of the Beast have are signed in the forehead or in the right hand.  They have the seal of the Beast in contrast with these who have the seal of the Spirit on their foreheads and on their hearts. (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny.  Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus.  Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), pp. 175-176)

So, this seems to be an indication that Catholics believe that they will have the mark of the cross on their foreheads as a sign at the time of the end. They claim that this is consistent with Ezekiel 9.

But notice that in Ezekiel 9 that an angel puts the sign on the forehead:

3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; 4 and the Lord said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it."

5 To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. 6 Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple. 7 Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city.

8 So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, "Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?"

9 Then He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!' 10 And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head." (Ezekiel 9:3-10)

A thau/tav (ת orTofor possibly x) does not really look like a typical Catholic cross, but this is the interpretation that many Catholics hold to.

Catholics believe that God had His people in the Old Testament marked with a cross:

There are in the Old Testament clear allusions to the Cross  and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Thus the Greek lefter (tau or thau) appears in Ezekiel 9:4, according to St. Jerome and other Fathers, as a solemn  symbol of the Cross  of Christ — "Mark Thau  upon the foreheads of the men that sigh". (Marucchi, Orazio. Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.  Robert Appleton Company, 1908.  27 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04517a.htm>.)

Here is a somewhat related teaching about supposed why/when crosses entered Catholicism per The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The cross was originally traced by Christians with the thumb or finger on their own foreheads. This practice is attested by numberless allusions in Patristic literature, and it was clearly associated in idea with certain references in Scripture, notably Ezekiel 9:4 (of the mark of the letter Tau); Exodus 17:9-14; and especially Apocalypse 7:3, 9:4  and 14:1. Hardly less early in date is the custom of marking a cross  on objects — already Tertullian speaks of the Christian  woman "signing" her bed (cum lectulum tuum signas, "Ad uxor.", ii, 5) before retiring to rest—and we soon hear also of the sign of the cross  being traced on the lips (Jerome, "Epitaph. Paulæ") and on the heart (Prudentius, "Cathem.", vi, 129). (Thurston, Herbert. Sign of the Cross. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 22 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm>)

So, basically at the time of the end, Catholics consider that their people will have crosses. Notice the following from the original Douay Old Testament:

4 And our Lord said to him: Pass through the midst of the city in the midst of Jerusalem: and sign Thau upon the foreheads of the men that mourn, and lament upon all the abominations, that are done in the midst thereof. (Ezekiel 9:4) 

35 Who will grant me an hearer, that the Omnipotent would hear my desire: and that himself that judgeth would write a book. (Job 31:35)

The fact that the Douay Old Testament does not even translate the same word as “mark” or indicate a type of cross when it is also used in Job 31:35 and translated as "my desire" is something that they seemed to have generally missed.

Notice is something false from one "defending" aspects Catholic mass:

Tracing the little cross over our forehead is actually the original form of the Sign of the Cross ---the one used by the earliest Christians, before the Council of Nicea. What it is is tracing where the bishop placed the oil (in the form of a cross) on your forehead at Confirmation. The present Sign of the Cross was developed around the time of Nicaea itself so as to deny the error of Arianism and express belief in the Trinity as the Council of Nicaea defined it. (MacDonald D. The Mass. http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/mass.htm viewed 06/21/10)

The basic belief amongst Catholics is that the "sign of the cross" shows the trinity (as they normally say, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost" when they make it). (It should be noted that the Council of Nicea DID NOT clearly accept the trinity; see also Did the True Church Ever Teach a Trinity?)

Here is some of what the old Radio Church of God published in an article teaching that many Catholics will misidentify the returning Jesus as the final Antichrist:

Hippolytus is one of the “early church Fathers”…(Ante-Nicene Fathers; Hippolytus…)…

Hippolytus goes on to say: “. . . at that time the whole earth will bewail the life of anguish, and the sea and air in like manner will bewail it; and the sun, too, will wail; and the wild beasts, together with the fowls, will wail; mountains and hills, and the trees of the plain, will wail on account of the race of man, because all have turned aside from the Holy God, and obeyed the deceiver, and received the mark of that abominable one, the enemy of God, INSTEAD OF THE QUICKENING CROSS OF THE SAVIOR” (Ibid.; section XXXIII)….

“And by reason of the SCARCITY OF FOOD, all will go to him and worship him; and he will put his mark on their right hand and on their forehead, that no one may put the sign of the honorable cross upon his forehead with his right hand; but his hand is bound” (Ibid., section XXVIII). (Hill, David Jon. Will you be deceived by Antichrist? Good News magazine of the Radio Church of God, October 1964, pp. 10-11)

The writings claimed to be from the Catholic bishop Hippolytus seem to be implying that those who wore the mark of the cross on their forehead or hands will not be allowed to do that after Jesus comes.

Catholics tie the cross in with both the hand and the forehead as The Catholic Encyclopedia also states:

At the beginning of Mass the celebrant makes the sign of the cross by placing his left hand extended under his breast; then raising his right to his forehead... Of all the above methods of venerating this life-giving symbol and adopting it as an emblem, the marking of a little cross seems to be the most ancient... (Thurston, Herbert. Sign of the Cross. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 22 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm>)

Thus, the right hand and forehead are involved with the above mark.  Priests wear crosses in various forms including having them on many of their vestments/garments during mass.

Crosses are marked on many things Catholic:

Crosses on vestments, etc.

Rubrical law now requires that most of the vestments, as well as some other objects more immediately devoted to the service of the altar, should be marked with cross…

The "Pontificale Romanum" directs that towards the close of the dedication  ceremony the twelve consecration  crosses previously marked upon the walls of the church, three upon each wall, are to be each anointed by the bishop with chrism, the following form of words being spoken over each: "May this Temple be hallowed  + and consecrated +  in the name of the Father + and of the Son  + and of the Holy Ghost  + in honour of God and the glorious  Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, to the name and memory of Saint  N. Peace be to thee…

In the consecration of an altar, also, crosses are to be marked in chrism upon the altar-slab with almost the same form of words as that used for the walls. This practice may equally claim Celtic analogues, whose antiquity is shown by the fact that the altar to be consecrated must have been of wood. (Thurston, Herbert. The Cross and Crucifix in Liturgy. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 27 May 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04533a.htm>)

Notice some of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

Popular Piety

1674  Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and population devotions of the faithful.  The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church's sacramental life such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc.

1675  These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church...

1676  Pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular piety...As its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values...It creatively combines the divine and human, Christ and Mary...This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God...(Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 466)

The above strongly suggests that Roman-accepted “Christian people” would be expected to have rosaries, crosses, or medallions as part of their identification, while those who are not “faithful” would not have such.

Catholic scholars made the following claims, mainly about crosses, in their comments in the Rheims New Testament:

14. The image of the beast. ] They that now refuse to worship Christ's image, would then worship Antichrist's. And we may note here, that as the making or honoring of this image was not against the honor of Antichrist, but wholly for it, as also the image erected of Nabuchodonosor, and the worship thereof was altogether for the honor of him, so is the worship of Christ's image, the honor of Christ himself, and not against him, as Protestants madly imagine.

17. The character or the name. ] As belike for the perverse imitation of Christ, whose image (specially as on the Rood or crucifix) he seeth honored and exalted in every Church, he will have his image adored (for that is Antichrist, in emulation of like honor, adversary to Christ's) so for that he seeth all true Christian men to bear the badge of his Cross in their foreheads, he likewise will force all his to have another mark, to abolish the sign of Christ. By the like emulation also and wicked opposition he will have his name and the letters thereof to be sacred, and to be worn in mens caps, or written in solemn places, and to be worshipped, as the name of JESUS is and ought to be among Christian men. And as the ineffable name of God was among the JEWS expressed by a certain number of 4 characters (therefore called Tetragrammaton) so it seemeth the Apostle alludeth here to the number of Antichrist's name.  And here it is much to be noted, that the Protestants plucking down the image of Christ out of all Churches, and his sign of the cross from mens foreheads, and taking away the honor and reverence of the name JESUS, do make room for Antichrist's image, and mark, and name. And when Christ's images and ensigns or arms shall be abolished, and the Idol of Antichrist set up instead thereof, as it is already begun: then is the abomination of desolation which was foretold of Daniel and our Saviour. (Annotations on Chapter 13 of the Apocalypse. The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582, p. 558)

The above seems to be teaching that Catholics will have earlier forced people to worship an image (like a crucifix).  And that one of their images/marks is crosses on their hands and foreheads (which is consistent with the mark of the beast warnings in Revelation 13:16).  They  also seem to feel that when Antichrist comes, that Antichrist will prohibit their mark.

Catholics tend to believe that the marking mentioned in Ezekiel 9:3-4 (see Appendix D) means that the seal put on Christians per Revelation 7:2-3 is the cross (Kramer H.B. L. The Book of Destiny.  Nihil Obstat: J.S. Considine, O.P., Censor Deputatus.  Imprimatur: +Joseph M. Mueller, Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, January 26, 1956.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 175 ), thus they feel that the faithful will be marked with a cross.  But here is what that section in Revelation states:

2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."  (Revelation 7:2-3)

Catholics tend to forget that both in Ezekiel 9:3-4 and Revelation 7:2-3 an angel puts the seal on the faithful, as opposed to it being done by the people themselves (or through their priests/bishops).

Since neither Jesus nor His original followers wore crosses, it seems that some have confused the followers of Antichrist with the followers of Jesus.

The Bible is clear that God is against the Beast & False Prophet’s mark, as the ones who will reign with Jesus will have refused the mark (Revelation 20:4).

Catholics commonly teach:

The sign of the cross is the mark of Christians. (Signs And Symbolism Of Baptism. Roman Catholic Mission of Turks and Caycos Islands.  http://www.catholic.tc/sacrament_baptism_provo.html viewed 05/16/10)

The 17th century Anglican Bishop Ezekiel Hopkins claimed "the cross is our mark" (Hopkins E. The works of the Right Reverend Father in God, Ezekiel Hopkins...now first collected, Volume 3. L. B. Seeley, 1809.  Original from Harvard University.  Digitized, Aug 25, 2008, p. 356).

Thus, Catholics, and even Protestants, may have been set up to accept crosses in the end time.

Also notice:

Countess Francesca de Billante (died 1935): In those days the Rosary will bring down untold blessings.  We will even know true Christians by his rosary. (Connor, p. 47)

Most all Catholic rosaries have a cross or a crucifix on them. In a time of trouble for Catholics (perhaps once Jesus returns), Nun Anne Emmerich essentially claimed that some “especially hated devotion to the Rosary” and that particular rosary had a cross (Emmerich AC. The Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, Volume 2, p.331).

Some version of a cross seems to have been warned against by the Catholic Countess:

Countess Francesca de Billiante (died 1935): Many in this land will carry the hooked cross on their forehead and their breast, not suspecting that this is a sign of Satan. (Culleton, G. The Prophets and Our Times. Nihil Obstat: L. Arvin. Imprimatur: Philip G. Scher, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno, November 15, 1941. Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 226).

There was also another Catholic writer who indicates that the image or perhaps mark of the Beast may be something that resembles that Constantinian cross:

Priest P. Huchedé (19th century): Antichrist will further make all men, great and small, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, bear a sign on their right arm or their forehead. (Apoc. 13:16). What this sign shall be time alone will reveal. Yet there are some {Catholic} commentators of the Holt Writ, who, according to a special revelation pretend to say that it shall be formed out of the Greek letters X and P, interlaced…which resembles the number of Christ. (Cornelius a Lapide in Epis. 2 to Thes.). No one can either buy or sell without this mark, as specified in the Apocalypse (13:17). (Huchedé, P.  Translated by JBD. History of Antichrist.  Imprimatur: Edward Charles Fabre, Bishop of Montreal.  English edition 1884, Reprint 1976.  TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 24).

Some respected “Catholics” scholars believe that those that will not worship the image of Christ (like a crucifix) will be those that will worship the “image of the beast.” But would it not make more sense if the image/idol contained a cross/crucifix/Marian-image that people would be more likely to be deceived by it?

There will be a mark of the beast (which involves disobedience to God).  The fact that some Catholic and non-Catholic sources suggest that a cross or iconic physical symbol may be involved may be more than a coincidence.

Astoundingly, there are writings that indicate that some who wear crosses will be persecutors:

St. Francis de Paul (1470): These holy Cross-bearers shall reign and dominate holily over the whole world until the end of time…(Culleton,p. 157-161).

Anna-Katarina Emmerick...Then I saw the beast fleeing to the sea, the enemy hurrying off in disorder, and immense circles of combatants surrounding the church, some on the earth, others high in the air. The first circle was composed of youths and maidens; the second, of married persons of all classes from royalty down; the third, of religious; the fourth, of warriors, led by a rider on a white horse; and the fifth, and last was made up of citizens and peasants, many of whom were marked on the forehead with a red cross. As this army drew near, the captives and oppressed were delivered and swelled the ranks whilst the demolishers and conspirators were put to flight on all sides (Emmerich AC. The Life of Lord Jesus Christ and Biblical Revelations. Schmöger edition, Vol. IV. Nihil Obstat: D. Jaegher, 14 Februari 1914. Imprimatur: A.C. De Schrevel, Brugis, 14 Februari 1914. Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 2004, pp. 290-291).

Josefa von Bourg (d. 1807): God will choose a descendant of Constantine, Pepin, and St. Louis, who has been tried by a long period of exile to rule over Europe. He will have the sign of the cross on his breast...Under him the Catholic religion will spread as never before (Culleton, pp. 181-182).

St. Bridget of Sweden (died 1373): …war shall end when an emperor of Spanish origin will be elected, who will, in a wonderful manner, be victorious through the sign of the Cross. He shall destroy the Jewish and Mahometan sects… (Culleton, The Prophets and Our Times, p. 154).

The comment about the Jewish sects should be understood to include those in the COG as the Catholic mystics have tended to claim that groups that observe the Sabbath are secretly Jews and not Christian.

Of course, Jesus (e.g. Matthew 5:11-12; 10:23) taught that Christians would be the persecuted, not the persecutors (see also Persecutions by Church and State).

Catholics have tended to endorse accepting practices that pagan cultures had.  Here is some of what their saint Augustine wrote:

What is called the Christian religion has existed among the ancients, and was not absent from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, from which time the true religion, which existed already, began to be called Christian. (Seymour WW. The cross in tradition, history, and art.  p. 1)

This is how a book on the history of the cross begins.  Hence, pagan origins will likely be considered irrelevant by future “Catholics” as well.  Catholics generally believe that God used pagan ceremonies and symbols to prepare the world for Christ.

The Catholic saint Jerome wrote:

I am a Christian, born of Christian parents, and carry the banner of the Cross on my forehead. (as cited in Seymour, p. 423)

Banners are a type of mark.

Basically, prophetic Catholic writings indicate that they noticeably will wear crosses/crucifixes at the end, persecute those that do not, and that Jesus (who they sometimes confuse with the final Antichrist) will stop them from wearing crosses and carrying on other “Catholic” practices.  These predictions, combined with biblical writings, contain reasons to consider that some type of cross/statue may be associated with the mark and image of the Beast.

Some Protestant Warnings About the Cross

It is not only those who may have had association with the Church of God that have warned about the cross possibly being the mark of the beast.

Some few Protestant writers have suspected that a cross could be the mark.  Here is some of what H. Ward wrote on that subject in the 19th century:

And the first vial of His wrath poured upon the earth, falls " upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image" (Rev. xvi. 2). These are our fellowmortals, of whatever name or nation they may be, and these warnings are given for man's admonition, that we may escape when the beast shall be " taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image (Rev. xix. 20). Also, that we may have our portion with such as " had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads" for " on such the second death hath no power" (Rev. xx. 4-6).

By that power, enthroned on the " seven mountains on which the woman sitteth; and the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (Rev. xvii. 9-18). By that power whose wellknown mark, and universally recognised banner, is the lying vanity of the wood of the cross…

Of this abomination, which now " showeth himself, that he is and has been infallible," our Lord would have men beware. The mark of this mysterious monarch on the banner of the Latin empire, in place of the Roman eagles, is now the image of the pagan cross, which of old led, and is now leading, into the sanctuary, especially in America, the fashionable symbols, the lying wonders, and false pretences of the mother of abominations, together with a growing army of images and pictures, carnal indulgences, sacrificial masses, and noisy thunders, which consign whole nations, not to purgatory, where his own are purified in flaming fire, except they purchase redemption with gold, but consigning both kings and princes and peoples who reject his infallibility to endless burnings, as if he were God manifest in the flesh, sitting on the throne and dispensing judgment and justice in eternal portions over all the earth!

Christendom has long been imposed upon by this "abomination of desolation," whose mark, like every other idol, thrusts itself between the heart of the worshipper and the Lord, making itself the recipient of those affections which are due to the invisible and only wise God. (Ward HD. History of the cross: the pagan origin, and idolatrous adoption and worship, of the image, 2nd ed. J. Nisbet & co., 1871.  Original from Princeton University.  Digitized Mar 30, 2009, pp. 82,85)

Of course we do not rely on Protestant writings for doctrine, but it is of historical interest to note that the Protestant scholar above believed that the cross is in the abominable mark of the beast category.

Notice also from someone who clearly was not part of the Church of God:

Sir Isaac Newton’s opinion of the mark…: "As for the mark of the Beast, which' I conceive to be the cross, no less than the name Latinus is peculiar to the Beast that is, or the Papal Roman Empire . . . (Clarke JE. Dissertation on the dragon: beast, and false-prophet, of the Apocalypse. Ogles, Duncan and Cochran, 1814. Original from    the University of Michigan, Digitized Jun 12, 2007, p. 327)

Notice also what Joseph Seiss’ apparently Protestant commentary states:

Revelation 13:13-18

The Apostle tells us what it is. As he gives it, it is made up of two Greek characters which stand for the name of Christ, with a third, the figure of a crooked serpent, put between them, chxs , the name of God's Messiah transformed into a Devil sacrament. This horrid sign everyone must receive on one of the most conspicuous parts of the body, cut, stamped, or branded in, there to abide indelibly. No one may either "buy or sell" without this "mark,"…(Seiss JA.  The Apocalypse: Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1998, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

While the above is an odd writing, it too seems to suggest that some type of cross is being employed as the mark.  Notice also something similar from a Catholic source:

What this sign shall be time alone will reveal. Yet there are some {Catholic} commentators of the Holy Writ, who, according to a special revelation, pretend to say that it shall be formed out of the Greek letters X and P, interlaced...which resembles the number of Christ. (Cornelius a Lapide in Epis. 2 to Thes.).  No one can either buy or sell without that…(Hudeche’ P.  History of Antichrist.  Imprimatur: Edward Charles Fabre, Bishop of Montreal.  English edition 1884; Reprint 1976.  TAN Books, p. 24 )

Hence, even outside of COG sources, the idea of some type of cross being the mark has been considered by others.

What About Mary?

Could the Catholic "Mary" be involved?

There are a variety of apparition related reports (Fatima being the most well known) that suggest "Mary" will have end time roles.  Most indicate that Mary will bring about the conversion of the world at the same time the Catholic Great Monarch (who we would tend to identify as the final Beast/King of the North) is reigning.  Some suggest she will be involved with rosaries and crosses.

Various Catholic writings claim that the rosary is the sign of being highly faithful.  Here is one allegedly given through “Mary”:

Our Lady said, "It is my will that those who recite my Rosary shall receive, during their lives, and at the hour of death, light, abundance of graces, and liberty.

"I have obtained from my son, that the members of the Rosary shall be associated to the Blessed in the Court of Heaven, both in this life and the next.

"The devotion of the Rosary is a sign of predestination." (The Approaching Feast of The Holy Rosary.  Monthly Magazine of the Holy Rosary. September 1875, p. 56)

Certain Catholics also observe “the Feast of the Holy Rosary” the first Sunday in October (hence near, and often during, the Feast of Tabernacles).  The defeat of the “Albigensian heretics” was allegedly because of the recitation of the rosary. (Thurston, Herbert. "Feast of the Holy Rosary." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 9 Jul. 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13189a.htm>)

Related more specifically to crosses, notice what one claimed to be “Mary” allegedly stated in an apparition Pfaffenhofen, Germany on June 25, 1946:

I am the great Mediatrix of Grace. The Father wants the world to recognize His handmaid…My sign is about to appear. God wills it…I cannot reveal my power to the world as yet…Then I will be able to reveal myself…Chose a sign for yourself so that the Trinity may soon be adored by all! Pray and sacrifice through me!…I will impose crosses on my children that will be as heavy and as deep as the sea because I love them in my sacrificed Son. I pray, be prepared to bear the cross in order that the Trinity may be honored (Culleton, Reign of Antichrist, pp. 217-218).

So, the cross and trinity are considered to basically be signs or marks, according to the above. Real Christians would not pray and sacrifice through Mary as the Bible only shows such practices as appropriate for God. It also should be mentioned that the doctrine of the trinity that was adopted in 381 A.D. specifically denies that Jesus truly came in the flesh (as it claimed He was the same substance as the Father), hence is a doctrine of antichrist (1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 7; see also Some Doctrines of Antichrist).

In 1958, Matous Losuta of Czechoslovakia claimed that “Mary” stated:

All my children will receive and carry the sign of the cross on their foreheads (Flynn, Ted & Flynn, Maureen. Thunder of Justice: The Warning, the Miracle, the Chastisement, the Era of Peace. Signs of the Times Illustrated by Kaleidoscope Graphics Staff Contributor Malachi Martin Published by Maxkol Communications, 1992, p. 331).

But this is not something that the Bible advocates. (More on Mary can be found in the article Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions.)

There also is a Catholic prophecy that indicates that followers/images of Mary will do miracles at the end:

Ven. Magdalene Porzat (19th century): Mary comes from heaven…After this Mary, all powerful shall change all men…Holy women, images of Mary, shall have power to work miracles.  After them comes Mary to prepare the way for her Son in His triumphant Church. (Culleton, R. Gerald. The Prophets and Our Times. Nihil Obstat: L. Arvin. Imprimatur: Philip G. Scher, Bishop of Monterey-Fresno, November 15, 1941. Reprint 1974, TAN Books, Rockford (IL), p. 203)

So, this is another possible item that may be the “image of the Beast”.  Perhaps I should mention that according to the above mystic, this happens after a time of "universal bankruptcy" and "confusion" (Ibid, p. 204). Thus, if the international financial situation worsens (maybe if only a little bit, though probably more than that), Catholics may point to that as proof that their Marian prophecies are correct.  Thus, in my view, we should be a little more proactive about warnings related to "Mary."

Notice also the following, written in the 1800s, presumably by Protestants warning that the “Catholic Mary” is the image of the Beast:

St. Paul says, "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God." The God of the Papists, the female divinity, whom they slanderously designate the Virgin Mary, is a monster of cruelty; to her honor they profess to do all their evil deeds. A dreadful machine, employed by the Inquisition in Spain, is denominated "The Virgin Mary." One was seen by Colonel Lehmanowsky in 1809. It was also common in Germany, as appears from a work entitled "The Kiss of the Virgin." It has been seen at Vienna and Nuremburg, and consists of an iron image of the Virgin, which pierces with two small knives its victim's eyes, and stabs him in the body with several others while it hugs him in its embrace. "And they worshipped the beast." Pope John XXII., called expressly "Our Lord God the Pope," issued a bull asserting that "God has confided the empire of the earth, as well as that of heaven, to the sovereign pontiff."...

Babylon is threatened with sudden destruction for the multitude of her sorceries,—seeing that "by her sorceries were all nations deceived."...

14. "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live."

Statues and paintings of the virgin are now multiplying in every part of the continent. The character and miracles ascribed to her, present, indeed, the very image of the beast, as sanctioning under the guise of Divine authority, folly the most contemptible, and vice the most ferocious.

15. "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."

This verse has received a variety of explanations. We refer it to the Virgin, without hesitation, inasmuch as at her deification by the decree of December 8, 1854, she may be profanely said to have had Divine life conferred on her by the will of the Pope. ("England." An original interpretation of the Apocalypse, 2nd edition. J.F. Shaw, 1857. Original from Oxford University. Digitized, Aug 15, 2006, pp. 104, 121-123)

Notice the following A. Hislop from the 1800s:

"Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast;" and they made it. Now, here is the important fact to be observed, that this never was done, and this never could have been done, till eight years ago: for this plain reason, that till then the Madonna of Rome was never recognised as combining all the characters that belonged to the Babylonian " Image of the beast." Till then it was not admitted, even in Rome, though this evil leaven had been long working, and that strongly, that Mary was truly immaculate, and consequently she could not be the perfect counterpart of the Babylonian Image. What, however, had never been done before, was done in December 1854. Then bishops from all parts of Christendom, and representatives from the ends of the earth, met in Rome; and with only four dissentient voices, it was decreed that Mary, the mother of God, who died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, should thenceforth be worshipped as the Immaculate Virgin, "conceived and born without sin." This was the formal setting up of the Image of the beast, and that by the general consent of "the men that dwelt upon the earth." Now, this beast being set up, it is said, that the beast from the earth gives life and speech to the Image, implying, first, that it has neither life nor voice in itself; but that, nevertheless, through means of the beast from the earth, it is to have both life and voice, and to be an effective agent of the Papal clergy, who will make it speak exactly as they please. Now, since the Image has been set up, its voice has been everywhere heard throughout the Papacy. Formerly decrees ran less or more in the name of Christ. Now all things are pre-eminently done in the name of the Immaculate Virgin. Her voice is everywhere heard—her voice is supreme. (Hislop A. The Two Babylons)

A more widely respected Protestant writer, Philip Schaff, wrote:

The Papal Definition Of The Immaculate Conception Of The Virgin Mary, 1854…

Viewed from the Roman point of view, the new dogma is the legitimate fruit of the genuine spirit of modern Romanism. It only completes that Mariology, and fortifies that Mariolatry, which is the very soul of its piety and public worship. We may almost call Romanism the Church of the Virgin Mary—not of the real Virgin of the Gospels, who sits humbly and meekly at the feet of her and our Lord and Saviour in heaven, but of the apocryphal Virgin of the imagination, which assigns her a throne high above angels and saints. This mythical Mary is the popular expression of the Romish idea of the Church, and absorbs all the reverence and affection of the heart. Her worship overshadows even the worship of Christ. (Schaff, Philip, The creeds of Christendom: with a history and critical notes, 6th ed.   Harper, 1919. Original from Harvard University.  Digitized May 16, 2007, pp. 108, 111)

Now, I am not saying that I agree with all of the logic of these sources. But I do agree that it is possible that some image allegedly of Mary (or a Marian rosary) could possibly fulfill the prophecy of the "image of the Beast" as Marian worship is rampant amongst Catholics and there have been stories of statues of Mary having tears, bleeding, etc.

The following was written over a decade ago by a member of the Orthodox Church and is warning people that false apparitions claiming to be Mary will lead to people to Antichrist:

"Mother goddesses" known in the ancient world were not just confined to the Near East and Mediterranean but are universal. The Kogi Indians, among whom we lived in Columbia, worship a spirit called Nabuba, the "Ancient Mother." When Roman Catholics missionaries attempted to evangelize the Kogi int he last century, they used a not-uncommon strategy for drawing pagan peoples into Rome's fold: rather than explaining the differences between the pagan mysthology and Christian truth, they found "equivalences," Christ, under this syncretistic view, corresponds to the Kogi Sejukukui (a trickster god who faked his own death by hiding in a cave), while Nabuba is said to be the Virgin Mary. This confusion has led the Kogis to call their pagan temples "cansamaria," a corruption of "casa de Maria" (house of Mary).

Given these Roman Catholic "evangelistic methods" of more than a century ago, it is it any wonder that contemporary "apparitions" of Mary are invariably accompanied by ecumenistic messages promoting the idea that all religions are equally valid and Orthodox Christianity is but one "path" among many? A recent issue of Orthodox Tradition (1966) contains the account of Matushka (wife of a Russian Orthodox priest) Katherine Swanson's trip to Medjugorje, Croatia, to investigate the most famous of the recent cases of apparitions of Mary in the Roman Catholic world. In it she recounts a telling episode:

Our guide took our group for an audience with the "seers." During this audience, a pilgrim asked one of the children the following questions: "Does the Virgin say that the Catholic Church is the true church?" The response given by the child provides clear evidence of the ecumenical content and religious relativism which, oddly enough, increasingly mark the "revelations" at Medjugorje: "Our Blessed Mother says that all religions are equally pleasing to God."

The Life magazine article, then, is yet another contribution to this line of thought. Given the idea that all paths are equally valid, then all "Marys" are equally valid, too. The author describes several of the Marys of our times: Miearculous Mary (such as at Medjugorje), Mediator Mary (Who, as the author quotes Fr. Andrew Greeley saying, lets people into Heaven through the "back door"), (Editors notes: the Orthodox Church of course never taught about the "back door", and of course one only prays that this is a matter of a figure of speech, but let us not dwell on the "back door", but the gates of Paradise, the Kingdom of our God). Mediator Mary of the feminists, and Mother Mary. This last one, Mother Mary, is the role which the author considers the most appealing to non-Catholics: "The emotional need for her is so irresistible to a troubled world that people without an obvious link to the Virgin are being drawn to her. It is known that Muslins revere Mary as a pure and holy saint...Interdenominational Marian prayer groups are springing up throughout the world. Many Protestants, even some who still reject notions of a supernatural Virgin, miss Mary."

To which Mary are Muslims and Protestants being drawn? The Protestant Reformation rejected the distorted view of Mary which had developed in the West since the Schism of 1054, and which would ultimately result in the Roman Church's proclamation of their dogma of the Immaculate Conception. But Protestantism did not just reject the Western view of Mary; it ignored Her altogether, in effect denying Her role in the Incarnation and, consequently, the part She plays in our salvation. As Rome began to see her more and more as a "goddess," a fourth Hypostasis of the Trinity, as it were, the Protestants reacted by down playing Her position and refusing to honor Her at all, this in spite of the Gospel words:"All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed."

Today, as heterodox Christians become more and more ecumenist and work toward creating a "One World Church," the search has begun for a Mary of universal recognition, one who will appeal not only to those who bear the name Christian, but apparently to Muslims and others as well, just as attempts are likewise being made to identify the "new Christ" with the Muslim concept of their coming Mahdi and with the Messiah still awaited by the Jews. This, of course, will be no Christ at all but the antichrist.

(Jackson P. ORTHODOX LIFE., No. I, 1997., Brotherhood of Saint Job of Pochaev at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y. pp. 18-22.  http://fr-d-serfes.org/orthodox/theotokos.htm viewed 05/11/09)

For more information about 'Mary' see Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions and Pope Francis: Could this Marian Focused Pontiff be Fulfilling Prophecy?

The idea that the mark or image could have something to do with crosses, rosaries, crucifixes, Marian images, etc. should not be overlooked.

Is the Mark and Image of Revelation 13:15-18 Physical?

When it comes to the image of the beast, it may be that there will be a literal image.  The same holds true for the mark of the beast.  There are several scriptures related to this.

The first four times the Greek term translated as image, eikon, is found in the New Testament, it refers to an image on a coin (Matthew 22:20; Mark 12:16; Luke 20:24) or apparently an idol/icon (Romans 1:23). The other time outside of Revelation it refers to Christ as “the image {eikon} of the invisible God” (e.g. Colossians 1:15).  The implication is that eikon is something physical. 

If the image were only a resurrected "Holy Roman Empire," I do not believe that the scripture would have also specified that the image was given breath and the ability to talk.  The image seems to be something physical.

On a possibly related note, Jesus, Daniel, and John taught about end time “abominations”:

14 "So when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Mark 13:14)

31 And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation. (Daniel 11:31)

11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. (Daniel 12:11)

27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;  But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)

4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:  MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:4-5)

The above verses suggest that the 'abomination of desolation' is something physical and is affiliated with the ten-horned Beast (the King of the North) and possibly Mystery Babylon.  Perhaps the abomination is related to the image of the Beast.

A physical item, such as a crucifix or statue, may fulfill scripture related to an image.  An idol of some sort would be an abomination, as pagan worship practices are labeled as abominations in the Old Testament (e.g. Deuteronomy 18:9-12; 20:16-18) much more so than armies.  In the New Testament, the Greek word for abomination/s is bdelugmátoon and is defined to mean "a detestation, i.e. (specially) idolatry" (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.). 

Other than Jesus’ references to it, bdelugmátoon is used three times in the Book of Revelation (17:4,5; 21:27)—and none of those seem to be related to armies.  Thus, by letting the Bible interpret itself, it appears that bdelugmátoon is likely referring to some type of idol/icon.

Additionally, the Bible is clear that those who worship this image will be punished by God (Revelation 14:11; 16:2).  Furthermore, Isaiah seems to tie the fall of Babylon is with carved images:

9 Babylon is fallen, is fallen!  And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground. (Isaiah 21:9)

Physical images are a problem with the end time Babylon (this also seems to be confirmed in Deuteronomy 28:64).

Also note that idols are a problem until after Christ returns:

4 So the Lord of hosts will come down To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill…7 For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold — sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves. 8 "Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, And a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, And his young men shall become forced labor.  9 He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear, And his princes shall be afraid of the banner," (Isaiah 31:4,7-9).

Notice also that this may suggest that the "banner" the Assyrians had will be considered as a problem (but as the Hebrew is not completely clear to me, it is possible that the Assyrians are fearful of some banner of God instead one of their own—but either way, idolatry is clearly shown to be a problem up until the end).   An Assyrian banner may have had a picture of the image and/or mark of the Beast on it, if that is what verse 9 is referring to.

It may be helpful to remind everyone that many Catholics believe that they have/had statues that bleed, statues that shed tears (especially of "Mary"), images of various types in the sky, banners with crosses, etc.  Many Catholics consider these to be signs that their faith is the correct one (e.g. Flynn Ted and Maureen. The Thunder of Justice. MaxKol Communications, Inc. Sterling (VA), 1993. Pages A213-260 are pictures and comments of various signs and lying wonders in this book by Catholic writers.).  From the true Christian point of view, many of these probably should be considered as "sorceries" (Isaiah 47:9,12; Revelation 9:21; 18:23) that demons have used throughout the ages to keep people away from the truth, as well as signs of idolatry.

Of course we know that Satan seems to have a habit of using similar devices to deceive humankind (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:11). 

Satan likely realizes the impact that an apparently breathing and speaking statue would help deceive the world.  Perhaps this may be part of why John ended one of his epistles with:

21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (1 John 5:21)

The above admonition partially may have been given so that God’s people will realize that they should NOT pay attention to any end-time image no matter how real it seems.  Jesus’ statements on signs are more explicit and direct as far as the end–times are concerned:

24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  25 See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:24-25)

Notice that, despite Jesus’ words, even after the final series of plagues is unleashed in Revelation, humans are still worshipping idols and being involved with sorceries:

20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)

So scripture shows that demons, as well as idols that do not see or walk, will still be worshipped. 

A physical image seems to be supported by the scriptures related to “the image of the beast” and the idea of idols and sorceries in the end time seems to be as well.   The abominations being physical seem to be as well.

Is the Mark of the Beast Only Sunday Worship?

Is the "mark of the beast" simply Sunday worship?

The one verse that, in my view, most strongly supports the “day of the week” mark is Daniel 7:25. Let's look at it again:

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.

While that verse clearly ties a change of time to the 3 ½ years, it should be noted that Sunday has been a sign of the Roman Empire since Constantine enacted the first known Sunday law in 321 A.D. The impression that Daniel 7:25 makes is that this ruler will persecute and perhaps try to change the calendar (and likely religious observances). But since the final Beast is making changes, it would not seem that Sunday, per se, is his only mark. 

The Beast and the Ten Commandments

A major difference between true Christians and others in the end time is that true Christians will be keeping the Ten Commandments.

Jesus disciples asked Him what to expect for the end times (Matthew 24:3). Here is some of what Jesus said to expect:

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:12-13)

Lawless is to abound and less love. Less reverence for God’s commandments. Yet, the faithful that endure to the end will be saved. Perseverance produces character and character hope (Romans 5:4). Christians will need hope during the reign of the Beast (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7).

The Book of Revelation is clear that real Christians who are keeping God’s commandments will be persecuted by those misled by Satan (the dragon) and followers of the Beast:

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17)

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

Notice also the following:

9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:9-13)

End time Christians keep the Ten Commandments. These are not just “believing Jews” like some Protestants have claimed.

With the Beast power, we see someone who opposes those who keep the Ten Commandments.

The man of sin will promote sin. He is involved with the 'mystery of lawlessness' also called the 'mystery of iniquity' because he will feign being religious and moral. People who have not accepted the true faith, will follow him. He will not tolerate those who actually keep God’s Ten Commandments.

The Bible provides support that the Beast power will violate each one of the ten commandments. This power will put himself above all gods.

As far as the first commandment, notice the following:

36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. (Daniel 11:36-37)

The king above is the King of the North, who is called the Beast “of the sea” in Revelation 13:1 and the “first beast” in Revelation 13:12.

The Antichrist is the second “beast,” and is the beast “of the earth” (Revelation 13:11). The final Antichrist will be supporting the first Beast, and will try to force people against keeping the first commandment:

12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. (Revelation 13:12)

As far as the second commandment goes, notice the following the beast will do:

38 But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. (Daniel 11:38)

The Antichrist will try to force people against keeping the second commandment:

14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Revelation 13:14-15)

Idolatry definitely is a mark of the beast (and the Beast power may use symbols, like crosses, that many will consider acceptable).

As far as the third commandment goes, notice the following:

25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, (Daniel 7:25)

36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, (Daniel 11:36)

5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. (Revelation 13:5-6)

As far as the fourth commandment goes, notice the following about the beast and the Antichrist:

25 He … shall intend to change times and law. (Daniel 7:25)

16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17)

11 … they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11)

Perhaps the Beast will modify the calendar and change the days of the week somehow. Various Sabbath-keepers have felt that Sunday-keeping was the ‘mark of the beast.’ Christians will enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:9-11), the Beast’s followers will not.

The ‘mark of the beast’ involves commandment breaking.

As far as the fifth commandment goes, notice the following:

37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers . . . for he shall exalt himself above them all. (Daniel 11:37).

The context of this implies dishonoring his parents, though that is not fully explicit. Consider also that the beast will betray his harlot spiritual mother—and not be repentant:

16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:16-18)

It should be pointed out that since we are to hallow the name of the Father (Matthew 6:9) and the Beast clearly blasphemes Him (Daniel 11:36), the Beast is promoting the violation of the fifth commandment.

As far as the sixth commandment goes, the beast will kill as a persecuting military leader (see also Daniel 7:25):

4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:4)

7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.  (Revelation 13:7)

The Beast will also cause others to be killed:

15 … the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. (Revelation 13:15)

32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. (Daniel 11:32-33)

As far as the seventh commandment goes, the beast will be among those that commit fornication with Mystery Babylon the Great:

1 …”Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. (Revelation 17:1-5)

The Beast will participate in and promote spiritual adultery (cf. James 4:4; Ezekiel 23:37).

As far as the eighth commandment goes, the beast will takeover other countries and take what they have:

39 Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.

40 “At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through . . . 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. (Daniel 11:39-40, 43)

The Beast will take land and precious items.

As far as the ninth commandment goes, the beast will cause deceit to prosper:

25 “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; (Daniel 8:25)

23 And after the league is made with him he shall act deceitfully, for he shall come up and become strong with a small number of people. (Daniel 11:23)

People who do not have proper “love of the truth” will believe the lie (2 Thessalonians 2:12). A lie encouraged by ‘miracles’ (2 Thessalonians 2:8-11; Revelation 13:11-15), economic blackmail (Revelation 13:16-18), and persecution (Daniel 11:31-35; Revelation 13:7).

As far as the tenth commandment goes, notice the following:

25 … He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means. (Daniel 8:25)

24 He shall enter peaceably, even into the richest places of the province; and he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his forefathers: he shall disperse among them the plunder, spoil, and riches; and he shall devise his plans against the strongholds, but only for a time. (Daniel 11:24)

The Beast is covetous of power and possessions and will devise plans to take what is not his. He even wants God’s power.

The Beast will violate all of God’s Ten Commandments and expect his followers to do so as well.

Scripture refers to the violation of each of the Ten Commandments as sin. e.g.: 1st 1 Samuel 15:24-25; 2nd Exodus 32:22-30; 3rd Job 2:9-10 (cf. Psalm 39:1); 4th Nehemiah 9:14, 28-29; 5th Luke 15:18 (NIV; cf. 1 Samuel 24:11); 6th Genesis 4:7; 7th Genesis 39:9; 8th Matthew 5:30 (cf. Genesis 31:30,36); 9th Deuteronomy 23:21; 10th Romans 7:17.

Consider also that the Bible calls this commandment breaker “the man of sin … the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Perilous Times

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write the following related to the end times:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

While the above includes many, including many politicians, consider how this describes the Beast.

Paul is clearly warning against people in the end who do not show regard towards God’s commandments.

And that includes the “man of sin.”

Notice we are held accountable for our actions:

18 As for his father, because he oppressed and offered violence to his brother, and wrought evil in the midst of his people, behold he is dead in his own iniquity. 19 And you say: Why hath not the son borne the iniquity of his father? Verily, because the son hath wrought judgment and justice, hath kept all my commandments, and done them, living, he shall live. (Ezekiel 18:18-19, DRB)
Breaking God’s commandments is iniquity and iniquity is sin. Keeping God’s commandments leads to life. That has been so since the beginning. Protestant translations like the NKJV and KJV teach the same thing.
The patience of the saints in the New Testament is that they will keep God’s commandments during the time of this Beast (Revelation 14:12).

Some wish to teach that the Ten Commandments are done away. Yet, notice what the last chapter of the last book of the Bible teaches:

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:14-15)

Do not believe a lie! The Ten Commandments are not done away.

Some may point out the Sabbath commandment and that first commandment and some others are missing from Revelation 22.

Yet, the Bible is clear that people will keep the Sabbath and worship God after Jesus returns:

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:22-23)

So, we see that the Sabbath will be kept.

God expects His people to keep the Ten Commandments and His true people have done so throughout the entire church age. For more information, check out the free online booklet: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast .

Concluding Comments on the Mark of the Beast

The Bible supports the idea both the image of the beast and the mark of the beast are likely to be physical items, like a statue and cross, respectively.  This also seems to be supported by certain Catholic prophetic writings, which I believe Satan inspired--and we are not to be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). The Bible is clear that in the last days people will embrace doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1).

Catholics often believe that “Antichrist” fulfills Revelation 13:16 by stopping them from having crosses on their forehead and having priests as the “right hand” (Annotations on Chapter 13 of the Apocalypse. The Original And True Rheims New Testament Of Anno Domini 1582, p. 558).

Catholics tend to teach that their “Great Monarch” (the one we would call the Beast or King of the North) will have followers who wear crosses who will persecute those that do not.

Furthermore, Catholic scholars have long suggested that when Antichrist appears, he will stop people from having crosses on their foreheads as well as in other places.  As mentioned earlier, they often teach this is part of how Revelation 13:14-17 should be interpreted.

The reason, that this is of at least passing interest, is because the one those once in the old Radio Church of God and we in the Continuing Church of God consider to be the returning Jesus Christ, many of their writings suggest that He is the final Antichrist (see Will You Be Deceived by Antichrist?).

Since when Jesus returns He would be expected prohibit iconic crosses (which are a pagan symbol, see What Did the Early Church Teach About Idols and Icons?) and tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), the Catholic understanding of Revelation 13:14-17 implies that it may be that crosses were a mark or sign of the followers of their ecumenical religion under the Beast and False Prophet/antipope (see also Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus?).

Since so many people accept the cross as a valid religious symbol (including in certain Asian religions) and even Muslims have an appreciation for Mary (Jackson P, pp. 18-22) (there is even a “Mary cross”), it would be logical that these could be major symbols for the coming ecumenical religion. 

Since the Bible is clear that tattoos are prohibited, if the mark could be added as a tattoo, true followers of Christ will not allow themselves to have that done.

Commandment breaking is a mark of the beast. And the mark of the beast will involve that.

As far as the Beast himself goes, he will decide on what he wants to be his specific mark through Satanic influence. Since Satan has inspired many false prophets and apostates throughout the ages to endorse crosses, crucifixes, and 'Mary,' any of these could be involved. The Beast cares most about control and his agenda and will use marks of religious significance where he feels that they are important to him.

Now, I am not saying that, based upon Catholic and other private prophecies (like from the possibly COG Cathari), that “the image of the beast” and/or the “mark of the beast” (Revelation 13:16-16) must be a cross of some type, crucifix, statue, or image of “Mary. Sunday worship is a mark is part of the mark of the Beast.

Yet, I believe that, we need to least make clear the likely possibility of certain physical items for the "image of the beast," the "abomination," and the "mark of the beast." Idolatry normally does include physical items.

Thiel B. The Mark of the Beast? http://www.cogwriter.com/mark-of-the-beast.htm COGwriter (c) 2014/2015/2016/2017 0825

See also The Mark of Antichrist.

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