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I’m a Bible nerd. Yep, I love going deep into God’s Holy Word and reveling in His promises. I also completely geek out on Bible symbolism. I’ve written numerous posts about Symbolism in the Bible including hands, open doors, closed doors and even colors. Today, however, we will be looking at numbers in the Bible.
An Overview of Numbers in the Bible
The early church (Early Apostolic Church Fathers during the period of 100-451 AD) recognized that Scripture had four layers of interpretation. They used an interpretation method called quadriga which has the following layers: 1) Literal (sensus historicus), 2) Allegorical (sensus allegoricus—texts hold symbolic meaning), 3) Tropical/moral (sensus tropologicus or sensus moralis—broader moral lessons), and 4) Anagogical (sensus anagogicus—mystical, metaphorical sense). Often numbers are used symbolically to represent certain biblical truths.
God as Creator
Nehemiah 9:6 (NIV)
You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
While I have covered various topics of Bible symbolism in previous posts, an important key to understanding God the Creator and Author of His Word is through the symbolism of numbers in the Bible. The connections and patterns of numbers in the Bible, when we study them and seek to understand them, reveal the handiwork of God. Although some of the symbolism is obvious, others are may not be immediately understood without in-depth Bible study. Each of the patterns of numbers found are not random, but give us just another glimpse of God’s design. Each one shows a particular symbolism orchestrated by The Creator.
It is interesting to note that, on average, ONE in every FIVE Bible verses contains a number. These frequently used numbers in the Bible reveal the mind of God and the divine design of His revelation to man.
Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Scholars have uncovered patterns in certain original language (Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.) words and phrases that reveal a hidden meaning behind the Biblical text. This discovery offers additional proof that God inspired every word used in the book that boldly proclaims to reveal His will, plan, and purpose for man. The Eternal challenges us through Isaiah that He alone is Creator of heaven and earth and His Holy Word
Numbers in the Bible – One
One (1) is the first prime number, meaning (for a refresher from grade school) is only divisible by itself. It is completely independent of any other numbers, yet composes them all. It symbolizes the unity and primacy, and the oneness of God. The is only one God! In Jewish prayer services, a quote of Deuteronomy 6:4 is a testament to this fact. The prayer is known as the Shema (or Shema Yisrael). It among the best known of all Jewish liturgy.
Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
You can read more about this beautiful prayer here.
The number one also represents:
- The unity between God the Father and His Son Jesus (John 10:30 – I and the Father are one.).
- Jesus, by his singular sacrifice, has made possible the forgiveness of ALL our sins.
- He is the one Mediator (1Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus)
- He is the one Shepherd (John 10:16 – I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.)
Interesting Facts about the Number One in the Bible
There are several words that occur only once in the King James Version of the Bible (I was surprised that some of these did not occur more!. They are: Reverend (Psalm 111:9), Grandmother (2Timothy 1:5), Eternity (Isaiah 57:15), Forgetfulness (Psalm 88:12) and Lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).
Numbers in the Bible – Two
The number two (2) holds several meanings but most relate to the symbolism of unity, division or the verification of facts by witnesses.
The number two represents:
- A man and woman, though two people or two in number, are made one in marriage (Genesis 2:24 -That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh).
- There is also the union between Christ and the church (1Corinthians 12:12-14 – Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many).
- The testimony of God is divided into Old and New Testaments. His agreements with mankind are divided into Old and New Covenants.
- Though two in number, God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ) compose a single Godhead.
- The first man, Adam, sinned and brought death and destruction into the world. Jesus, however, as the second (or last) Adam brings the hope of the resurrection and eternal life (1Corinthians 15:45 – 49).
- Those who ultimately refuse to repent and obey God will be put to death FOREVER by being thrown into the lake of fire, which is called the SECOND death (Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. ). This act will eternally divide those who are righteous from those who practiced evil.
- At the minimum, the testimony of at least 2 people were needed in the Old Testament to convict someone of a crime or sin. The validity of this teaching was confirmed by the Apostle Paul (1Timothy 5:19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses and Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them).
- In the End Time, two witnesses will appear on the world scene to testify and uphold the truth of God against the Beast and the False Prophet (Revelation 11).
- Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs so that they could not only testify about his teachings and miracles, but also be witnesses of those who accepted or rejected the gospel (Mark 6:7 – 13).
- Symbolizes the duality of man, consistent of both spirit and flesh (Gal. 5:16-18).
Number in the Bible – Three
The number three is a symbol of completeness (though to a lesser degree tha)n the number 7. The meaning of this number comes from the fact that is is the first of the four “spiritually perfect numbers” (the others are: 7, 10 and 12). Note: there is much discussion and controversy surrounding spiritually perfect numbers as they feature prominently in end times discussions.
The number three represents:
The 3 righteous patriarchs before the flood were Abel, Enoch and Noah. After the flood there the three righteous “fathers” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob* *(later renamed Israel).
- Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest.
- He was placed on the cross at the 3rd hour of the day (9 a.m.) and died at the 9th hour (3 p.m.).
- There were 3 hours of darkness that covered the land while Jesus was suffering on the cross from the 6th hour to the 9th hour.
- Three is the number of resurrection. Christ was dead for three full days and three full nights, a total of 72 hours, before being resurrected
- Three symbolizes the triune nature of God.
- Peter denied Jesus three times
- There were three wisemen
Three may also represent God’s perfect design as there are:
- three heavens (2 Cor. 12:2)
- three time frames (past, present, future)
- three points of measurement (beginning, middle, end)
- three kinds of sacrifice (sin, peace, and praise)
- three kinds of laws (moral, ceremonial, and civil)
- three things that were placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Ten Commandments, Aaron’s staff, and a jar of manna)
- three gifts of grace (faith, hope, and love),
- three parts to salvation (justification, sanctification, and glorification).
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Interesting Facts About the Number Three in the Bible
- The number 3 is used 467 times in the Bible
- There are 27 books in the New Testament, which is 3x3x3, or completeness to the third power
Numbers in the Bible – Four
The number 4 symbolizes creation.
On the fourth day of what is called ‘creation week’ God created all of the universe. On the fourth day he brought into existence our sun, the moon, and all the stars (Genesis 1:14 – 19). Their purpose was not only to give off light, but also to divide the day from the night on earth, thus becoming a basic separation of time. They were also made to be a type of measurements for marking off the days, years and seasons. (Interestingly, the Hebrew word for ‘seasons’ in Genesis 1:14 is moed (Strong’s Concordance), which literally translated is “appointed times” in reference to God’s festivals.)
The 4th of the Ten Commandments is to remember and keep God’s holy Sabbath day (Exodus 20:9 – 11). The Sabbath day is tied directly to the creation week. God himself made the period between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset extra special when he rested on it after bringing everything into existence the previous six days (Genesis 2:1 – 3, Exodus 20:11).
The number four also important in God’s creation as it symbolizes:
- Four corners of the earth (Revelation 7:1 – After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree )
- Four rivers of Paradise (Genesis 2:10 – A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters)
- Four winds of heaven (Jeremiah 49:36 – I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of heaven; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam’s exiles do not go)
- Four acts of judgment (Ezeziel 14:21—For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments—sword and famine and wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals)
- Four horsemen (Revelation 6)
- Four winds (Matthew 24:31 – And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other)
- Four guardians of God’s throne (Revelation 4:6 – Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back)
Interesting Facts About the Number Four in the Bible
- Psalm 107 is the only section or chapter in the Bible that contains the exact same phrase four times: Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21 and 31).
- One of the top ten most frequently mentioned women in the Bible, Eve, is only referenced four times (Genesis 3:20, 4:1, 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:13).
Numbers in the Bible – Five
The number five symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor toward humans and is mentioned 318 times in Scripture.
The number five in the Bible represents or is important because:
- The Ten Commandments contains two sets of 5 commandments. The first five commandments are related to our treatment and relationship with God, and the last five concern our relationship with others humans.
- There are five primary types of offerings God commanded Israel to bring to him. They are the Burnt Offering (Leviticus 1; 8:18 – 21; 16:24), Sin (Leviticus 4; 16:3 – 22), Trespass (Leviticus 5:14 – 19; 6:1 – 7; 7:1 – 6), Grain (Leviticus 2) and Peace Offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11- 34).
- The Book of Psalms is divided into five major sections.
Interesting Facts About the Number Five in the Bible:
There are five books of God’s Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) commonly referred to as the Pentateuch (‘Penta’ means five).
Isn’t it fascinating to look at the symbolism of numbers in the Bible? God continues to reveal to me just how amazing He is and how he has ordained everything on earth from the weather to little details like numbers in the Bible.
Did any of the symbolism behind the numbers in the Bible surprise you? Tell me in the comments below.
If you enjoy Bible symbolism, you may want to consider checking out one of my recommended resources below to learn more.
Because of Him,