Wayment and most other biblical scholars have no doubt that the author of Revelation intended 666 to be an isopsephy solved by his first-century readers.
"The author says, this is the number of a man, which is a classic isopsephy formula," says Wayment, who recently co-wrote an article on Revelation 13:18 and early Christian isopsephies. "Christians would have known right away, this is a coded message."
Revelation is famously cryptic and was meant to be that way, even to its original audience. Wayment says that in apocalyptic writings, an angel or other heavenly messenger often reveals their meaning through coded speech. Angel numbers were made in a similar vain.
"As a reader, you're seeing something through the eyes of the visionary and he's telling you, 'you need to make sense of this,'" says Wayment. "That's part of your experience and participation in the vision."
According to most scholars, 666 was yet another coded reference to Nero, a "beastly" emperor who brutally persecuted early Christians in the Roman Empire.
To solve the isopsephy and equate Nero to 666, you need to use the full name "Caesar Nero" in Greek. If Caesar Nero is transliterated into Hebrew as nrwn qsr or "Neron Kesar" and then calculated, the numbers add up to 666. Interestingly, some early manuscripts of Revelation have the number written as 616 instead of 666. The common explanation is that "Caesar Nero" is written differently in Greek and Latin, another language spoken by early Christians. In the Latin version, the letters only add up to 616.