Swedish startup's COVID-19 microchip implant leads to 'mark of the beast' speculation

A man reacts as he gets a chip implant in his hand during a chip implant event in Epicenter, a technological hub in Stockholm on January 18, 2018. An electronic implant inserted under the skin to replace keys, business cards and train tickets: in Sweden, it is a reality for some thousands who are indifferent to the potential dangers of the intrusion of technology. | JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

An increasing number of Swedes are having a COVID-19 passport microchip implanted under the skin in the arm or hand, leading to speculations among some Christians that this could be the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy about the mark of the beast.

A video shared on Twitter by South China Morning Post showing people in Sweden having a COVID-19 passport microchip implanted under their skin has received more than 2.4 million views as of Monday.

The video features technology by the Stockholm-based company Epicenter, which is providing a microchip the size of a grain of rice that can be implanted as a COVID-19 passport and used to store other data, all of which can then be accessed by a device, such as a smartphone, that uses the near-field communication protocol.

“Implants are a very versatile technology that can be used for many different things,” says the company’s Chief Disruption Officer, Hannes Sjoblad, in the video. “Right now, it’s very convenient to have COVID passports always accessible on your implant.”

The Swedish government announced on Dec. 1 that a vaccination passport will be mandatory to participate in any in-person event with more than 100 people.

Moa Petersen, who researches digital cultures, told reporters that around 6,000 people in Sweden have had a chip inserted in their hands. It’s not known how many of them got it implanted mostly as a COVID-19 passport, as the technology first began being used in that country in 2014.

The AFP newswire reported in 2018 that about 3,000 Swedes had inserted the chips into their bodies.

Many Twitter users replied to the post, writing “666” and “the Mark of the Beast,” referring to the Apostle John’s prophecies in Revelation 13:15-17.

The passage reads: “The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

In 2017, a Wisconsin-based company, Three Square Market, voluntarily let their employees have a microchip implanted in their hands (in the skin between their thumb and forefinger), which would act as a credit card.

The company’s move led to similar speculations about it being the mark of the beast.

“When John wrote the book of Revelation 2,000 years ago, he would have had no idea of the kinds of developments through the centuries, including this one, that many think points to a means by which his prophecies could be fulfilled,” wrote Jerry Newcombe from D. James Kennedy Ministries in an op-ed for The Christian Post at the time. 

He cautioned Christians about “apocalyptic alarmism.”

“We were told Jesus would come back in 1988 and then 1994 and then 2012, and so on, and all such predictions have been proved wrong,” he wrote. “World leaders from Mikhail Gorbachev to Ronald Reagan have been falsely accused of being the Antichrist. And microchip fears have stoked prophetic speculations for years — but many biblical scholars note that Revelation is not pointing to some inadvertently-adopted technology, but is speaking symbolically of those who cast their lot with the opponents of Christ for societal approval.”

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