Barbra sent in the following comment to my blog: “I am new to your blog but loved the honesty and caring it portrays. I know this may make you laugh, but I have a sibling who will not get vaccinated. Why?… Because it’s the sign of the beast in the book of Revelations! I mean Holy Cow! I can’t seem to change his mind. Any suggestions?”
I replied to Barbra that I didn’t laugh because this was not the first time people had expressed this concern to me, and those people were very sincere in their concern. I also was told of a woman who came to the hospital severely ill with COVID and subsequently died, but explained prior to her death that she did not take the vaccine because she did not want a chip implanted in her.
As a Christian, I am getting tired of politicians waving their Bibles for photo ops, while not demonstrating the behaviors that the Bible commands of us. Frankly, I wish politicians would spend more time reading their Bibles than waiving them around. So, when people actually want their behaviors to comport with the word of God, I am thrilled and always happy to try to answer their questions. So, I respect that these people expressing their concern about the vaccine are God-fearing and want to do the right thing by God.
With that said, to answer this question, we must turn to the scripture itself. The short answer is that we can conclusively and definitively state that getting the COVID vaccine is not taking the mark of the Beast. What follows is my analysis of scripture that provides us with this answer.
As Barbra points out in her question, the reference to the mark of the Beast occurs in the Book of Revelation. My favorite translation is the New Living Translation, so I will quote scripture from that unless I indicate that I am using a different translation.
The reference to the mark of the Beast occurs in Revelation 13:16-17:
He required everyone – great and small, rich and poor, slave and free – to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name.
So, to interpret what is meant by this passage, we must put it in context. Who is he? What is this mark? Why would whoever he is require people to take this mark? Who is the beast?
Revelation is the last book of the New Testament of the Bible. It was written by the apostle John. It is a difficult book for most Christians to understand because it uses apocalyptic language, rich with imagery and symbolism that would have been more familiar to early Church Christians than to us today. While many Christians view Revelation with fear, it is actually a book of hope and great comfort for Christians. Those who should view the book with fear are those who probably won’t read it – those who do not know and have not accepted Christ as their savior.
In fact, God tells us in Revelation 1:3:
God blesses the one who reads this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to it and obey what it says.
One of the reasons that this prophecy is a blessing is it describes the ultimate triumph of good over evil, God over Satan. We live in a world full of sin. We live in a world where truth has become the enemy and people pervert the word of the Bible and proclaim to be Christians while at the same time expressing hate of others. The good news is that God will only let Satan rule this world for a limited period of time before God and His armies come back, take control of the world, and rule over this world after banishing Satan forever.
So, the majority of the book of Revelation is prophecy (i.e., it provides us divine revelation about future events) and describes what happens in “end times.”
The beginning of the “End Times” is signaled by the rebirth of Israel as a nation, which occurred in 1948. This is the fulfillment of the dry bones prophecy in Ezekiel 37, which is interpreted in Ezekiel 37:21: “I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.” This sets the stage for the Tribulation period. Thus, we are living in the end times.
It is clear that the rebirth of Israel as a nation is necessary for the fulfilment of future biblical prophecies to be possible. For example, the peace covenant between the antichrist and the leaders of Israel that signals the start of Tribulation would not be possible if there was no nation of Israel.
The Tribulation referred to in the book of Revelation is the Great Tribulation – a seven-year period where the Holy Spirit, the “great restrainer” is removed, allowing Satan to have free reign. It will be a period of false peace, world-wide disasters and tremendous loss of life. In a mockery of the triune God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Satan will have his own trinity – Satan (also referred to as the Dragon – a counterfeit God), the Antichrist (also referred to as the Beast – a counterfeit Christ), and the False Prophet (a counterfeit Holy Spirit). Paul warned of a “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3,8-9 in a reference to the antichrist. It is John who refers to the antichrist as “the beast” in Revelation 13:1-10.
Now, while God through John does not give us a strict chronology of events and complete clarity as to what all those events are, He does provide some important facts and timelines. As mentioned above, the Bible provides us with an event that signals the beginning of “end times.” Because of that, we know that we are living in those end times. But, the Tribulation comes later (we are in end times, but we have not yet gone through Tribulation) and we know that the antichrist (the beast) is not revealed and does not rise to prominence until the Tribulation period. Thus, no one can be taking the mark of the beast until they are in the Tribulation period and the beast has been revealed. This is how we can be confident that the COVID vaccine does not involve taking the mark of the beast.
Now we can answer the questions about Revelation 13:16-17. Who is “he”? We can tell from the context of the earlier portion of Revelation 13 that the “he” is a reference to the False Prophet. What is the mark? We don’t know. The Bible does not tell us, other than it will be necessary to buy and sell things during this period of the Tribulation. We also know that those who refuse to take the mark will be persecuted by Satan and we know that when God comes back to reclaim His rightful place as King, those who have taken the mark will be punished for taking the mark. We don’t even know whether the mark is something physical – some believe it will be of the nature of a tattoo, others believe it will be a computer chip of some kind – but it may not be a physical mark as it appears to once again be a perversion of the actions of God to preserve His people by Satan to destroy his followers. Revelation 7:3-4:
Wait! Don’t hurt the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants. And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God.
Who is the beast? This is the name John gives to the antichrist.
There are other clues that we are progressing towards the Tribulation period.
The Bible tells us that there will be growing apostasy. Apostasy means a falling away from the truth; willful departure or defection from the faith; or abandonment of the faith.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 King James Version (KJV):
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
The reference to “latter times” means the “End Times.” We are certainly seeing this prophecy being fulfilled today, and it will greatly increase during the Tribulation. People are promoting lies and conspiracy theories in some cases for power, in others for money, and yet others to curry favor. They are willing to promote lies that will harm others, all the while professing to be Christians. These are the people God refers to in Matthew 7:22-23, where He says that on judgment day, many will call out His name, but He will reply, I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.
This is why I am very careful about the sources I read, listen to and study. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us that we are to “test everything.” That means that we must constantly evaluate news, doctrine, philosophies, theories and everything else we are told or read against scripture. If it is consistent with scripture, it may or may not be true; but if it is inconsistent with scripture, it is false. We have to be careful about our sources and realize that in the End Times (which we are in now), the Bible teaches us that many, including leaders, will promote false teachings, false religions, false doctrines and the promotion of cults. We see evidence of this every day. We have seen false teachers and many cults since 1948. We see how easily people can be misled, how easily people will adopt beliefs that are verifiably false and how leaders will promote those lies or misinformation in order to further their own goals.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NASB):
3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 3:1-8 (NASB):
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these. 6 For among them are those who slip into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, worthless in regard to the faith.
We are warned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 not to be deceived. Especially dangerous will be those lies that have some element of truth or those promoted by charismatic leaders who promote falsehoods as supposed Christians, but saying other things or demonstrating behaviors that are clearly unbiblical.
When both the creation of the nation state of Israel and the growing apostasy have occurred (and they have), all the pre-conditions for the Tribulation to take place are met. For pre-tribulationists (the view I support), the only remaining event prior to the start of Tribulation is the Rapture.
At the time of the rapture, the dead in Christ will be resurrected and those Christians living at the time will be instantly translated into their resurrection bodies and both groups of people will be “caught up” to meet Christ in midair and taken directly to heaven.
John 14:1-3 (NASB):
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be.
1 Corinthians 15:51-54 (NASB):
Behold, I am telling you a [a]mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (NASB):
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
[There are many views of when the Rapture occurs: pre-tribulationism (which I subscribe to), mid-tribulationism, post-tribulationism, partial rapture, pre-wrath view and others.]
The Church will not go through the judgments prophesied in Revelation 4-18. Support for this view comes from:
- A literal interpretation of the Bible. The Bible is a compilation of many different forms of literature. A literal approach means that when the language is clear and unambiguous, we should accept it literally. On the other hand, we understand that some portions of the Bible are not meant to be read literally, such as parables and apocalyptic literature. This is also true in our everyday life in interpreting what others say. We take others literally, but we know when not to. If I say, it is raining outside, others would be right to conclude that wherever I am located, there is precipitation and rainfall. On the other hand, if I say, it is raining cats and dogs, one would be justified to believe it is raining wherever I am, but one is not intended to believe that cats and dogs are actually falling from the skies.
- Revelation 3:10 (NASB): Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth. This is a critical promise. God is not promising to spare Christians from all trials in their lives, but rather from “the hour of the testing, that hour which is about to come” or as some other translations state it, “the hour of trial that is coming” – a clear reference to the Great Tribulation.
- The Greek word John used is translated “from” carries the meaning of separation, in other words, that believers will be completely separated from these trials/events.
- Throughout Tribulation, saints are killed. The word “saint” is not a reference to our colloquial use and meaning of the term, but rather the term for all who are saved in Christ. How can this be if the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation? It is because the Church saints are raptured, but Tribulation saints are not. We currently are living in the Church age, which started at the Pentecost. Church saints are those that were saved prior to the beginning of Tribulation. They will be raptured prior to the start of the Tribulation. There are others who are not saved prior to the Rapture, but become saved during the Tribulation. They are referred to as Tribulation saints and many of them will be martyred during the Tribulation.
- There are many references to the Tribulation in the Old Testament and New Testament, yet none of them mention the Church, supporting the notion that the Church is raptured prior to the Tribulation and therefore not present during this 7-year time period.
- The great increase in apostasy and the events during the Tribulation occur because of the removal of “the restrainer”- the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells in believers, thus, when believers are raptured just prior to the Tribulation, it makes sense that the restrainer is removed allowing Satan and the antichrist to put their plans into effect, though the plans will ultimately fail because God remains all-powerful and in control.
Second Thessalonians 2:3-7 (NASB): No one is to deceive you in any way! For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is removed.
- The Church is not appointed to wrath. Romans 5:9 (NASB): Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (NASB): For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come.
- The Rapture is not the Second Coming. Christ does not come to earth in the rapture; he meets us in the air. In the Rapture, Christ comes for His saints. In the Second Coming, Christ comes with His saints.
- The Rapture occurs in the “twinkling of an eye.” 1 Cor. 15:51-52. In other words, the Rapture occurs suddenly and quickly. The Greek word for “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 implies a sudden, jerking, violent rendering or taking, much like you might pull a child’s arm who is in the path of a car.
- References in the Bible to the “blessed hope” refer to the Rapture. Titus 2:13 (NASB): looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. The blessing is not only that we will be spared from the Tribulation and its judgments, but that once raptured, we will no longer have to face sickness, sadness, pain or death.
This view holds that the Rapture will occur midway through the 7-year Tribulation, and that the taking up of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 following their resurrection represents the rapture of the Church. Mid-tribulationists believe this to be consistent with the verses that indicate the Church will be delivered from the wrath, and the wrath in Tribulation begins at the midpoint of Tribulation.
Why I do not support this view:
- It is not consistent with the literal interpretation of the other scripture I have provided above.
- There is no indication in the Bible that the two witnesses represent the Church. It is not entirely clear who the two witnesses are, but there are arguments to be made that they are Moses and Elijah or Enoch and Elijah. But whoever they are, much of Revelation 11 doesn’t make sense unless the witnesses are literally two individuals, not the entire Church.
- While the greatest wrath is during the last half of the Tribulation with the most severe judgments, the entire Tribulation period is a “time of trouble” and a period of time characterized by wrath given the acts of ungodly men- growing apostasy and rampant sin with the withdrawal of the restrainer.
This view holds that God will rapture the Church after the Tribulation at the Second Coming. Post-tribulationists argue that Revelation 20:4-6 refers to all believers being resurrected at the end of Tribulation. They also believe that the reference to saints during the Tribulation means the Church has not previously been raptured. Post-tribulationists also believe that Matthew 24:37-40 is describing the Rapture at the Second Coming.
Why I do not support this view:
- Rev. 20:4-6 is referring to the resurrection of the Tribulation saints, not the Church saints.
- The reference to saints during the Tribulation refers to those persons who were saved after the Rapture, not the Church saints.
- Matthew 24:37-40 describes those who are not saved who are taken away to judgment, not raptured to heaven.
So, I hope that this analysis leaves you convinced that the COVID vaccine cannot be the mark of the beast. First, while we are living in end times, the Tribulation has not yet begun. The antichrist is not revealed until the Tribulation period and one cannot take the mark of the beast until one knows how the beast is. Second, as I hope I have made the case, if you are a true Christian who has acknowledged Christ as your savior and repented of your sins, you will not be here for any part of the Tribulation period, so you will not have to make the choice whether to accept the mark of the beast. That will be the choice to be made by those who go through the Tribulation, including those who only come to know and accept Christ after the Rapture and after the Tribulation period is well underway.
One way that we follow God’s commandments to love others and protect the children is to get vaccinated so that we help bring an end to this pandemic.
 There are many references to trials and tribulation throughout the Bible and certainly, we all experience trials and tribulation throughout our lives. However, when I refer to Tribulation in the context of the End Times, I am referring to the “Great Tribulation,” which is a reference to a specific 7-year period of time rather than the general tribulation that we experience throughout our lives.
 Those that will be sealed by God are those who come to know Christ and accept Him as savior once the Tribulation begins, after the Rapture has already taken place. God does not need a physical mark to know His children. He knows us by what is in our hearts, our words and our actions that follow.
 In the Bible, Church means all those who are saved in Christ during the Church age (which we are living in right now). It has nothing to do with earthly churches. It includes all those, Jews and gentiles, who have been saved through repentance of sin, confession of belief in Christ and asked Jesus into their hearts and lives.
 These are references to the antichrist.
 This refers to the abomination of desolation.
 This refers to the Holy Spirit.