Mark, Sign, Brand

MARK, SIGN, BRAND. These nouns are found in both Testaments. In the OT. 1. אוֹת, H253, a mark of identification. God put a “mark on Cain” after he killed his brother Abel (Gen 4:15; ASV “appointed a sign”), but the nature of the sign is not known.

2. מַטָּרָֽה, target, mark. Jonathan told David that he would let him know Saul’s attitude toward him by shooting three arrows as though at a mark (1 Sam 20:20). Jeremiah in a period of discouragement saw himself as a mark for the arrow of persecution by his enemies (Lam 3:12).

3. מִפְגָּ֣ע, a mark, an object of attack. In the depths of his despair Job asked God why He had made him the mark of His anger (Job 7:20).

4. קַֽעֲקַ֔ע, an incision, imprintment, tattoo. The Israelites were forbidden to tattoo any marks upon their body, a common practice among the heathen around them (Lev 19:28).

5. תָּ֜ו, a mark, signature. Ezekiel was told by God to go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark upon the foreheads of the godly who grieved over the abominations of the city (Ezek 9:4), because the wicked inhabitants would be slain.

In the NT. 1. σημει̂ον, G4956, a sign, an outward (visible) indication. Jesus said that the Jews of His time sought a sign—apparently some spectacular proof of the truth of His claims, but the only sign He would give them was His resurrection from the dead (Luke 11:29, 30). Paul wrote that tongues are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22). That is, when unbelievers come into an assembly and hear someone speak in tongues, they will be impressed by the miracle before them and be convinced of the supernaturalness of Christianity. Christians need no such sign; they are already convinced.

2. σκοπός, G5024, a mark (to be aimed at). Paul compares the Christian life to a race, and says that he presses toward the goal (Phil 3:14; KJV “mark”).

3. στίγμα, G5116, a brand burned into, or a cut made in the skin of a slave. Paul says that he bears in his body the marks of Jesus (Gal 6:17). He obviously refers to the scars he received as a result of the many beatings he endured for Christ’s sake.

4. χάραγμα, G5916, an inscription engraved. The Book of Revelation several times refers to the “mark of the beast” which the Antichrist will require of all people during his reign of terror in the tribulation period (Rev 14:9, 11; 16:2; 20:4). This will be a sign of submission to him.