THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand;
and meted out heaven with a span;
and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,
and weighed the mountains in scales,
and the hills in a balance?

Isaiah 40:12

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Psalms 90:12

As for God His way is perfect.
Psalms 18:31

All God's ways are perfect.  His works are perfect and His words are perfect.  Can there also be perfection in His use of numbers?  The Jews and Jewish Christians of the Old and New Testaments thought so and so did the Fathers of the Catholic Church.  St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and Pope St. Gregory I (the Great) all wrote extensively of God's design and the significance in His plan of salvation in the use of numbers. 

In sacred Scripture numbers usually have more significance than their quantitative indicators.  More often than not even when a number is used to indicate a certain quantity the individual number given may point beyond the numerical value to a symbolic significance.  At other times the number given is not to be taken literally and may represent an approximate value, a symbolic value, or may indicate the use of hyperbole—an exaggeration or amplification to illustrate a teaching point in the Biblical text.  For example:

In addition to the study of the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture, there is also the study of the number equivalents of alphabetical symbols and numerical value of the words formed by the letters, which is known by the Greek word gematria.  The Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and many other ancient peoples used their alphabets for numbers.  The Hebrews used all 22 letters of their alphabet plus 5 finals.  The Greeks used a 24 letter alphabet and 3 additional finals.  The Romans only used 6 letters of their alphabet and their combinations to form numbers: I= 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500.  The number 1,000 was formed by two D's (combined to form an M like figure).  The Apostle John, writing during the time of the first great Roman persecution of Christians, recorded in the Book of Revelation that the number of the Beast was 666.  Most ancient MSS (hand-written manuscripts) of the book of Revelation record 666 as this significant number while others manuscripts record the number as 616.  Is it a coincidence that all the Roman numeral added together total 666 (excluding the symbol for 1,000 which was not a separate letter/ number but two "D"= 500 placed back to back)?  Is it also a coincidence that the gematria for Neron Caesar (an alternate Hebrew spelling of the Emperor's name in wide use in the 1st century AD) totals 666 while the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar totals 616?  Six is the number of the beasts and of man (both created on the 6th day).  It is also the number which is symbolic of man's nature to rebel against the sovereignty of God. 

According to ancient tradition each number has significance, for example:

The study of the significance of the use of numbers in Scripture requires a lifetime of study and reflection, but a brief summary of some of the most significant numbers may be enough to wet one's appetite for future study. 

ONE:  In sacred Scripture "one," ehad, in Hebrew, represents unity and is the quintessential number of monotheism, the worship of one God. 

TWO:  This number can mean difference, division or double portion.

THREE:  In sacred Scripture the number three represents that which is solid, real, substantial, and something in its completeness.  This number usually indicates something of importance or significance in God's plan of salvation by identifying an important event in Salvation History.  This number operates as a "sign-post" in Scripture study for the reader to "pay attention" to the significance of the next event. 

In the Old Testament:

In the New Testament:

In Addition:

FOUR:  The number four represents God's creative works, especially works associated with the earth:

FIVE:  This is the number of power and Divine grace.

Five Greek words form the acrostic phrase "Jesus Christ, God's Son Savior," taking the first letter in Greek from each word forms the Greek word for "fish": Iota, Chi, Theta, Epsilon, Sigma = (ichthys) "FISH", which became a symbol for Christ and a secret symbol for identifying Christians.

SIX:  Both man and the serpent were created on the sixth day, therefore, the number six represents both man and rebellion.  In the Greek alphabet the number six is not represented by an alphabetic letter but is instead represented by a symbol called the "stigma." In Revelation 13:18 the number of the Beast is written not as 666 but is instead is written with the Greek symbols for 600 and 60 and 6.  In his book Numbers in Scripture, E.W. Bullinger observes that these three symbols correspond to first and last letters of the Greek word for Christ = CHRISTOS, with the symbol of the serpent in between the two other numbers of 666 [see Numbers in Scripture page 49].  Perhaps this arrangement can be seen to be Christ the Messiah crushing the serpent as God told the serpent in Genesis 3:15: I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he will crush your head and you will strike its heel.

SEVEN:   Spiritual perfection and fullness or completion.  It is the number of Covenant and of the Holy Spirit. 

Churches 1:4; 2:1-3:22
Letters 2:1- 3:22
Spirits 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6
Golden lampstands 1:12, 20; 2:1; 4:5
Stars 1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1
Seals 5:1; 5:5; 6:1
Horns 5:6
Eyes 5:6
Angels 8:2, 6; 15:1, 6, 7; 15:8; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9
Trumpets 8:2, 6
Thunders 10:3, 4
7 Thousand people 11:13
Heads 12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9
Crowns 12:3
Plagues 15:1, 6, 8; 21:9
Golden bowls 15:7; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9
Hills 17:9
Kings 17:10, 11
Last 7 visions Chapters 20-21

Seven is a significant number in the natural world:

mouse: 21 days (3 x 7) cat 56 (8 x 7) Sheep 147 (21 x 7)
hare & rat, 28 ( 4x7) dog 63 (9 x 7) hen 21 (3 x 7)
humans 280 days ( 40 x 7) lion 98 (14 x 7) duck 42 (6 x 7)

EIGHT:  sh'moneh in Hebrew, from the root shah'meyn "to make fat" or "to cover with fat" which means to super-abound.  The first of a new series: there are seven days in a week; the 8th day is the beginning of a new series of days.  It is the number of salvation, resurrection, and new birth/regeneration.

SEVEN AND EIGHT: together these numbers form a remarkable connection.  As we have noted seven, according to its etymology, means that which is spiritually complete, while eight denotes that which is superabundant.  God's holy covenant name is expressed in Hebrew by the four consonants YHWH which have a value of 10, 5, 6, and 5.  Added together their total is 20 + 6 but multiplied by 3 (the Triune God) their value is 70 (7x10) + 8 or spiritual perfection times perfection of order plus superabundant salvation.

Yahweh's covenants are also seven and eight: Seven covenants are revealed in the Old Testament and the eighth covenant in the New Testament, in the New Covenant in Christ:

  1. Covenant with Adam [Genesis 1:28-30; 2:15-17; Hosea 6:7]
  2. Noah and the earth [Genesis 6:18; 9:9-17; Sirach 44:17-18]
  3. Abraham [Genesis 12:3; 15:1-18; 18:18; 22:18; Sirach 44:19-20]
  4. Sinai Covenant [Exodus 19-24; 34:10, 27, 28; Deuteronomy 5:2-3]
  5. Aaron & Sons high priestly covenant[Exodus 40:15; Leviticus 2:13; Numbers 18:19; Sirach 45:7; Jeremiah 33:21]
  6. Phinehas: perpetual priesthood [Numbers 25:11-15; Sirach 45:24]
  7. David &descendant [2 Samuel 7:11; 23:5; Sirach 45:25]
  8. Jesus the Priest-King of the New Covenant [Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 7:22-24; 8:6; 9:15-20; 12:24; 13:20]

The classes of furniture in the desert Tabernacle and in the Temple reflected both the numbers 7 and 8.

Desert Tabernacle
Exodus 25:10-30:21; 37:1-40:33
Solomon's Temple
1 Kings 6:1-13; 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:14
1.  Ark of the Covenant 1.  Ark of the Covenant
2.  Seat of Atonement (Mercy Seat) 2.  Seat of Atonement (Mercy Seat)
3.  Golden Alter of Incense 3.  Golden Alter of Incense
4.  Golden Menorah 4.  Golden Menorah
5.  Golden Table for the Bread of the Presence 5.  Golden Table for the Bread of the Presence
6.  Bronze Sacrificial Altar 6.  Bronze Sacrificial Altar
7.  Laver for the holy water 7.  Laver for the holy water
  8.  Bronze Sea for ritual cleansing

The seven/eight pattern is often repeated in the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament texts of the Bible (repeated word patterns are sadly ignored in the English translations of the Bible).  For example the seven/eight pattern is found in chapter two of the Book of Exodus.  In the Hebrew text of Exodus 2:3-10 the word yeled, "child," is repeated seven times in verses 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 (twice), and 10.  In addition the plural "children" (yalde) is used in verse 6, resulting in the combination of a seven/eight pattern in the passage that addresses Moses' childhood.  The same seven/eight pattern found in Exodus 2:3-10 that describes the childhood of Moses is repeated in the Hebrew text of Exodus 2:11-21 describing Moses' life as an adult in Egypt.  The word ish, "man," is repeated seven times in verses 11 (twice), 12, 14, 19, 20, and 21, with the addition of the plural 'anasim, "men," in verse 13, yielding a second seven/eight repetition in describing events in Moses' adult life (Interlinear Bible: Hebrew-English, vol. I, pages 143-144; Exodus, vol. I, William Propp, The Anchor Bible, Doubleday, page 146).  It is unlikely that the repeated seven/eight pattern in describing both Moses' childhood and his adulthood is a coincidence.  Seven is one of the "perfect" numbers, representing the perfection or fullness of God's plan, spiritual perfection, and the number of covenant.  Eight is the number representing God's "superabundance" and symbolizes redemption, salvation, re-birth, and restoration   In his childhood and as an adult, God is present and His plan is at work in Moses' life.  It is a Divine plan in which the "lost" child Moses will be fully restored to his people as an adult and in which Moses, as God's agent, will bring about the salvation of his people.

Another example of the seven/eight pattern is found in the Book of Revelation in which the last seven visions of St. John are introduced by the Greek words kai eidon, "and I saw," in Revelation 19:11 (vision #1 = 19:11-16), 19:17 (vision #2 = 19:17-18), 19:19 (vision #3 = 19:19-21), 20:1 (vision #4 = 20:1-10), 20:4 (vision #5 = 20:4-10), 20:11 (vision #6 = 20:11-15), and 21:1 (vision #7 = 21:1-8).  However, in the description of the seventh vision the words kai eidon are used an eighth time in 21:2, yielding the seven/eight pattern for the final time in Sacred Scripture.

NINE:   This number is related to the number six, being the sum of its factors (3x3=9, and 3+3=6).  It is significant of the end of man and the sum of all man's works.  Nine is therefore the number of finality or judgment.

TEN: Perfection of divine order

ELEVEN:  disorder: 10 + 1 or 12 - 1; also disorganization, lack of fulfillment, imperfection. 

TWELVE:  Perfection of government.  Twelve is the number of the Church, both the Old Covenant Church of Israel founded by twelve physical fathers (the twelve sons of Jacob-Israel) and the New Covenant Church founded by twelve spiritual fathers (the twelve Apostles).  This number also has a relationship with multiples of twelve.

THIRTEEN:  Often seen as an ill omen representing hostility, rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption.

FOURTEEN:  7 x 2 = double measure of spiritual perfection. Seven is the number of covenant and divine perfection and two is the number of the Incarnation.

FIFTEEN:  3 x 5;   5 = grace and 3= Divine perfection of the Godhead.  This number symbolizes acts wrought by the energy of Divine grace.

SEVENTEEN:  Perfection of spiritual order

TWENTY: This number is the double of ten, and may in some cases signify its concentrated meaning.  But its significance seems to be connected with the fact that it is one short of twenty-one.  That is to say, if twenty-one is the three-fold seven, and signifies divine (3) completion as regards spiritual perfection (7), then twenty, being one short of twenty-one would signify expectancy.  There are numerous illustrations in Scripture to support this explanation

THIRTY:  Being 3 x 10 this number denotes in a higher degree the perfection of divine order, as in marking the right moment in God's Divine plan.

 FORTY:  This number is recognized as an important number both on account of the frequency of its occurrence and with the uniformity of its association as a time of consecration and as a period of trial.

FORTY-TWO: The number forty-two is the product of six times seven.  Seven is one of the "perfect" numbers, signifying fullness and perfection, especially spiritual perfection.  However, six is the number of man and of man's opposition to God's plan for mankind's salvation.  In Scripture the number forty-two appears to symbolize a connection to or a conflict between man and the Spirit of God.  Examples of the symbolic nature of the number forty-two can be applied to these passages:

This number is connected with "the Beast" in the book of Revelation.  An important part of his career is to last forty-two months [Revelation 11:2; 12:5] or three and ½ years.  In Scripture the number forty-two, or the relationship between forty-two (months) and three and ½ (years/ days or days of years), seems to be associated with God's Divine plan, especially climaxing in a short but intense period of tribulation/judgment as the numbers are used in the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation [see Daniel 7:25 & 12:7, and Revelation 11:2, 11; 12:14; 13:5].  This number is also associated with the number 1,260: 3 ½ years = 42 months = 1,260 days, in Revelation 11:3 & 12:6.  In the book of Revelation there is a chiastic pattern formed with these numbers:

A. 42 months = Revelation 11:2

            B. 1260 days = Revelation 11:3

                        C. 3 ½ days = Revelation 11:9

                        C* 3 ½ days = Revelation 11:11

            B* 1260 days = Revelation 12:6

A* 42 months = Revelation 13:5

FIFTY: is the number of jubilee or deliverance.  It is the issue of 7 x 7 +1 or 7 squared + 1, and it points to deliverance and rest following on as the result of the perfect consummation of time.

   SEVENTY: is another combination of two of the perfect numbers 7 and 10, and it signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual power and significance.

 ONE HUNDRED-TWENTY: is made up of 3 forties (3x40 = 120).  Applied to time therefore it signifies a divinely appointed period of probation.  Applied to persons it points to a divinely appointed number during a period of waiting.

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE: An abundance of ink has been spilled in an attempt to discern the significance of this number.  It is a number which has taxed the minds of some of the greatest Biblical scholars.  All have believed that there must be something deeply significant and mysterious in this number from the solemn way in which it is introduced in John 21:11: Simon Peter went and drew the net to land full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty three.  St. Augustine has pointed out the comparison and contrast between the two miraculous catches of fish, one at the beginning and the other at the end of Christ's ministry (after his Resurrection).  He and other scholars see in this number some connection with the "saved" who are "caught up" in Peter's "net",  a symbol of the Church.  St. Jerome also saw that there was some deeper meaning in the number, and records that there were 153 sorts of fish in the Sea of Galilee which he believed symbolized all kinds of men enclosed in the Gospel net.  Both St. Augustine and Pope St. Gregory the Great noticed that 17 is the sum of the perfect numbers 10 (perfect order) and 7 (spiritual perfection).  St. Gregory multiplied 17 by 3 and again by 3 to get 153.  Augustine used addition and took the sum of all the digits up to and including 17 as amounting to exactly 153.  They also noted that the expression "Sons of God" occurs 7 times, and that the gematria of this expression in Hebrew is exactly 153.  In Greek the gematria of "Sons of God" is 3,213 or 3 x 7 x 153.  The gematria in Greek for the word fishes is 1,224 or 8 x 153.  The gematria for "the net" is 1,224 or 8 x 153. 

Numbers in Scripture also contain patterns that point to God's providence.  The ages of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are an example:

Genesis 47:28:  Jacob lived seventeen years in Egypt; thus Jacob's total age came to a hundred and forty-seven years. 

It is interesting to note the factorization of the life spans of the patriarchs follows a pattern.  Each squared number increases by one each time while the coefficient decreases by two:

Within these factors there is another pattern.  The sums of the factors that total Abraham's life span equal the number seventeen, as do the sums of the factors that equal the life spans of the other two patriarchs.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE USE OF NUMBERS IN ST. MATTHEW'S GOSPEL

According to tradition, the Apostle Matthew was a Levitical priest who was also called Levi [Matthew 9:9; 10:3; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27, 29]. If so, the Apostle Matthew was intimately aware of the symbolic link between letters and numbers.  In his Gospel, Matthew manipulated the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth to reflect the significance of the Hebrew gematria of King David's name which was the number fourteen [D = 4, V= 6, D= 4; Hebrew was written only in consonants] and the significance of number symbolism in his division of the forty-two generations from Abraham to David to Jesus the Messiah.  Matthew's manipulation of the genealogy is reflected in the fact that he dropped the names of several Judahite kings in Jesus' line: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah [see 2 Chronicles 36:1-13], doubled the use of the name of both King David in verse 6 and King Jechoniah in verses 11 and 12 in the beginning of his 2 and 3 sets, and added the name of Tamar's other son Zerah (not in the line of descent) to make his list reflect the symbolism he desired in the total number of names/ males, and to produce 3 sets of 14 generations for a total of 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus of Nazareth.

 

-The Hebrew gematria for David's name is 14 (double spiritual perfection)

-The Greek gematria for Jesus' name (language of New Testament) is 888 (8= salvation)

-Abraham's name is mentioned 7 times the Gospel of Matthew (spiritual perfection) and 3 times in Matthew's chapter 1 toledoth (generational list).  3 is fullness and completion and for Christians represents the mystery of the Trinity.

-David's name is mentioned 5 times in Matthew's toledoth.  5 is the number symbolizing power and grace.

 

Matthew's manipulation of the list of Jesus' ancestral line

 

Matthew manipulates the names of Abraham's descendants into 3 sets of 14 individual male descendants or as he tells us in Matthew 1:17: The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.  He manipulates the list to get 3 sets of 14 generations each to create 42 names of the list of the descendants of Abraham to bring attention to the link between the names and the covenant promise to Abraham and David by Yahweh.  David's name is # 14 in the list and the gematria of his name is the number 14.  The number 42 also has significance.  42 divided by 12, the number of Israel, yields 3 ½.  This is a prophetic number in both Daniel chapter 12 and in Revelation.  See Daniel 12:1-13 (focus on verse 7 which adds up to 3 ½ ).  3 ½ is half of 7.  It is an imperfect number. Note: both St. Jerome and Pope St Gregory the Great wrote extensively about and gematria its significance in Scripture.  Sir Isaac Newton wrote more about gematria and numbers in Scripture than he did about the theory of gravity. 

Set #1      List of generations in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1's genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth:

1.   Abraham   fathered Isaac  
2.   Isaac   fathered Jacob  
3.   Jacob   fathered Judah  
4.   Judah   fathered Perez  
      additional names of Zerah and Tamar (woman #1)
5.   Perez fathered Hezron  
6.   Hezron fathered Ram  
7.   Ram fathered Amminadab  
8.   Amminadab fathered Nahshon  
9.   Nahshon fathered Salmon  
10. Salmon fathered Boaz  
      Rahab (woman #2)
11.  Boaz fathered Obed  
      Ruth (woman #3)
12.  Obed fathered Jesse  
13.  Jesse fathered    
14.  David      

There are 14 generations

            There are 27 total male names (repeats and counting Zerah's name)

            There are   3 names of gentile women

Total names:         30 names (note: it was necessary to add Zerah's name to make 30 names)

Set #2

      David fathered Solomon Uriah's wife (note: David's name is repeated)
1.   Solomon fathered Rehoboam  
2.   Rehoboam fathered  Abijah  
3.   Abijah fathered Asa  
4.   Asa fathered Jehoshaphat  
5.   Jehoshaphat fathered Joram  
6.   Joram fathered Uzziah (3 missing kings)
7.   Uzziah fathered Jotham  
8.   Jotham fathered Ahaz  
9.   Ahaz fathered Hezekiah  
10. Hezekiah fathered Manasseh  
11. Manasseh fathered Amon  
12. Amon fathered Josiah  
13. Josiah fathered [see #14]  
14 Jechoniah     [deportation of Judah to Babylon]

            There are 14 generations (no repeats)

            There are 29 names of males total if you include Uriah

            There is      1 female mentioned but not counted because unnamed (the wife of Uriah- 4th gentile woman.  4 is the number of the earth)

Set #3 (after the deportation to Babylon; notice no restoration is mentioned)

1.Jechoniah fathered Shealtiel   
2.Shealtiel fathered Zerubbabel   
3. Zerubbabel fathered Abiud   
4. Abiud fathered Eliakim   
5. Eliakim fathered Azor   
6. Azor fathered Zadok   
7. Zadok fathered Achim   
8. Achim fathered Eliud   
9. Eliud fathered Eleazar   
10. Eleazar fathered Matthan   
11. Matthan fathered Jacob   
12. Jacob fathered Joseph   
13. Joseph husband of Mary (the 5th women) mother of
14. Jesus the Christ       (bringing true restoration to Israel)

Matthew manipulates the list by counting Jechoniah twice in order to get 14 generations in the final set.  Jesus' name is the 14th generation but if you count all the names without repeats Mary's name is the 14th name with Jesus name coming after 6 sets of 7 as the 7th 7.   There are 27 names total in this set.

The total of all the names given in each set is 86.  8 is the number of salvation, 80 the number of salvation times divine order (10), and 6 is the number of man.  Matthew's message is that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of David and the King of Kings who has come to bring salvation to Israel and to mankind.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBERS IN ST. MARK'S GOSPEL

In St. Mark's Gospel Jesus is the authoritative Son of God and God's triumphant envoy come to suffer and die in order to claim victory over sin and death.  Mark continually focuses on the immediacy of the proclamation of Jesus' message of salvation and his accounts of Jesus' teachings are often presented in a central theme sandwiched between two related or concurrent events.  An example of Mark's skillful telling of the events of Jesus' teaching coupled with word repetition and the symbolism of numbers is found in the account of the healing of Jairus' daughter and the woman with an issue of blood in Mark 5:21-43.  The account begins with the petition of Jairus, the president of the local synagogue.  Jairus' 12 year old daughter [Mark 5:42] is at the point of death and he pleads with Jesus to come to his house to heal his daughter [Mark 5:23; 35] before it is too late.  As Jairus leads the way, Jesus follows with a large crowd pressing upon Him.  Suddenly Jesus feels a surge of His healing power pass from Him.  He stops, turns to the crowd and demands Who has touched my clothes?  A woman in the crowd has suffered from an issue of blood which has rendered her ritually unclean for 12 years.  She confesses that she has touched Jesus' garment - probably touching one of the tassels of his prayer shawl, one of the tzitziyoth of His talit [Numbers 15:37-39] - believing if only she could touch Him she would be healed.  Jesus replies to the woman: My daughter, ...your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free of your complaint [Mark 5:34].

 

While Jesus was speaking to the woman some people from Jairus' house arrived with the distressing news that the child has died, but Jesus urges Jairus to have faith.  Arriving at Jairus' home Jesus only allows 3 Apostles to accompany Him: Peter, James and John Zebedee.  Addressing the weeping relatives Jesus insists that the child is not dead but only asleep.  When the assembled relatives ridicule Jesus He turns them out of the house, only permitting the 2 parents and His 3 Apostles - 5 people, to remain with Him.  Together with the child and Jesus there are 7 in the room when Jesus commands the child to "get up!"  Mark records: The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was 12 years old.

 

Do not miss the other significant repetitions.  In addition to the number twelve, and the word "daughter" applied to both the child and the woman, the words "may be saved [cured]" are applied to the daughter in 5:24 and in are spoken by the woman in 5:28, and the word "faith" is spoken by Jesus to the woman in 5:34 and to Jairus in 5:36

 

The central theme which unites both these stories is healing, purification, restoration, and new life - not just of these two daughters of Israel but of the healing and restoration Jesus is bringing to all of Old Covenant Israel.  Twelve is the number of perfection in government and, therefore, the number which signifies the Church.  Just as Jesus raised the child of Jairus to new life, so will He raise up the faithful remnant of Old Covenant Israel to become the faithful New Covenant people of God.  The selection of the three Apostles is a sign that what is about to happen is of theological significance; the five people invited by Jesus to come into the room when the child is healed signifies the gift of God's grace applied through the faith of the believers, and the seven gathered together, including Jesus and the child, signifies the healing and regenerative power of God the Holy Spirit - seven is the number of spiritual perfection.  In St. Mark's Gospel the healing and restoration of these two daughters of Israel signified the healing and restoration of the faithful covenant people of God who embraced Jesus as the promised Messiah.  It is through this faithful remnant that Jesus will establish the New Covenant and the Universal Church through will the whole world "may be saved".

GEMATRIA FOR THE NUMBER 666 IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION

"There is need for shrewdness here: anyone clever may interpret the number of the beast: it is the number of a human being, the number is 666."  Revelation 13:18
[Some ancient manuscripts record the number 616 instead of 666]

TABLE 1

Examples of Gematria for Neron Caesar and Nero Caesar in Hebrew and Jesus in Greek
[Hebrew letters are read from right to left]

nwrn rsq - (Neron Caesar) wrn rsq - (Nero Caesar) Iesous - Jesus
Q = 100
S =    60
R =  200
N =    50
R =  200
W =     6
N =    50
Total  666    
Q = 100
S =    60
R =  200
N =   50
R =  200
W =     6

Total  616   
I  =  10
E  =    8
 S =  200
O =   70
 U =  400
 S =  200

Total  888   

TABLE 2

The gematria of Roman numerals

I 1
 V 5
X 10
L 50
C 100
D 500
Total 666

 

The total of the Roman numbers is 666 [the 'M' for 1,000 is two 'Ds' back to back; there are only 6 Roman numerals].  666 is the number of the Beast.  Caesar was Rome and Rome was Caesar and Caesar claimed to be a god.  The word for "god" in Greek is theos.  Caesar god in Greek is kaisar theos.  The gematria is:

K  20
A   1
I  10
S 200 
A   1
R 100 
TH   9
E   5
O  70
S 200 
Total 616

The number seven, however, represents perfection, fullness and completion - especially perfection through the work of the Holy Spirit.  In Revelation 19:16 there are two titles for Christ which St. John reveals to us form one "name."  Is he telling us to add the words together to determine the gematria of the titles?  The gematria of "King of kings, Lord of lords" in Aramaic (leaving out the "and") equals 777 - a trinity of perfection in contrast to the Beast's number 666 which will never achieve perfection.

The significance of numbers in Holy Scripture is far greater than just the numerical value of each individual number.  Deciphering and discerning that significance only adds to the mystery and wonder of the study of Sacred Scripture.  But Sacred Scripture, the written word, cannot be separated from the Living Word, Jesus Christ.  In the study of the words of God written down for us in human terms that we can understand, we cannot begin to understand the spiritual meaning of the one without a living union with the other, our Savior Jesus the Christ.  And it is through the great and true teacher God the Holy Spirit, who was sent to us by God the Son, that the truth and wonder of God's works will be revealed to us.

Great are the works of Yahweh,
to be treasured for all their delights.

-Psalms 111:2

 APPENDIX:

Greek Letter Number Equivalents

There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet and there are an additional three symbols that are finals not letters.

There are 24 Greek letters but to make up for the necessary number equivalents the final 's', called "stigma", was designated for the number 6.  For some unexplained reason it was taken as a number symbol for 6 out of the letter sequence.  Two arbitrary symbols were also added called respectively Koppa, for 90, and Sampi, for 900.

Qoppa (uppercase Ϙ, lowercase ϙ) is an obsolete letter of the Greek alphabet and had a numeric value of 90. It has been attested in early Aeolic and Boeotian scripts, but became altogether extinct by pre-Classical times. There are two very different glyphs for qoppa: "archaic Qoppa" (Ϙ ϙ) used to write words and "Numeric Qoppa" (Ϟ ϟ) used in modern Greek legal documentation. Qoppa was originally borrowed from the Phoenicians, who had /q/  in their language. It was later imported into the Etruscan alphabet, and was eventually adopted into the Latin alphabet in its current form, 'Q'.  It was also adopted into the early Cyrillic alphabet as koppa (Ҁ, ҁ).

Sampi is an obsolete letter of the Greek alphabet that had the numerical value of 900 when used as a mathematical character. The name "sampi" seems to come from [o]sàn pî: "like pi." Another name formerly used for this archaic letter was Disigma because of the phoneme it represented, /ss/ or /ks/.

Hebrew Letter Number Equivalent

Name

Glyph

Value

Name

Glyph

Value

Name

Glyph

Value

Aleph

א

1

Yod

י

10

Koph

ק

100

Beth

ב

2

Kaph

כ

20

Resh

ר

200

Gimel

ג

3

Lamed

ל

30

Shin

ש

300

Daleth

ד

4

Mem

מ

40

Tau

ת

400

He

ה

5

Nun

נ

50

Koph

צ

500*

Vau

ו

6

Samech

ס

60

Mem

ם

600*

Zayin

ז

7

Ayin

ע

70

Nun

ן

700*

Cheth

ח

8

Pe

פ

80

Pe

ף

800*

Teth

ט

9

Tsaddi

צ

90

Tsaddi

ץ

900*

* last 5 symbols are finals not letters.  The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters.  The 5 finals were added to make up three series of 9 or 27 symbols to provide adequate number equivalents.

5 is the number of "grace" in the symbolism of numbers in Scripture.  The 5 Greek words form the acrostic phrase "Jesus Christ, God's Son Savior," taking first letter of each Greek word yields the word "fish" in Greek: Iota, Chi, Theta, Epsilon, Sigma = ichthys, FISH, an early Christian symbol.

GOD'S ACCURACY

How lovely to think about the way our Creator God planned everything so carefully and perfectly, everything with a plan. 

As His highest creation, "we are fearfully and wonderfully made." 

God's accuracy may be observed in the hatching of eggs. 

For example, the eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days; 

Those of the canary in 14 days; 

Those of the barnyard hen in 21 days. 

The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days; 

Those of the mallard in 35 days. 

The eggs of the parrot and the ostrich hatch in 42 days. 

(Notice, they are all divisible by seven).

God's wisdom is seen in the making of an elephant.
The four legs of this great beast all bend forward in the same direction. No other quadruped is so made.  God planned that this animal would have a huge body, too large to live on two legs. For this reason He gave it four fulcrums so that it can rise from the ground easily.

The horse rises from the ground on its two front legs first.

A cow rises from the ground with its two hind legs first.

How wise the Lord is in all His works of creation! 

God's wisdom is revealed in His arrangement of sections and segments, as well as in the number of grains. 

Each watermelon has an even number of strips on the rind. 

Each orange has an even number of segments. 

Each ear of corn has an even number of rows. 

Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains. 

Every bunch of bananas has on its lowest row an even number of bananas, and each row decreases by one, so that one row has an even number and the next row an odd number. 

The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather. 

All grains are found in even numbers on the stalks.

The Lord specified thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold --all even numbers. 

God has caused the flowers to blossom at certain specified  times during the day, so that Linneus, the great botanist, once said that if he had a conservatory containing the right kind of soil, moisture and temperature, he could tell the time of day or night  by the flowers that were open and those that were closed! 

Thus the Lord in His wonderful grace can arrange the life that is entrusted to His care in such a way that it will carry out His purposes and plans, and will be fragrant with His presence.  Only the God-planned life is successful.

Only the life given over to the care of the Lord is safe (E. W. Bullinger).

Recommended Reading:

  1. The Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Jack Finegan; Hendrickson Publishers
  2. Numbers in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, E.W. Bullinger; Kregel Publications.
  3. The Stromata, Clement of Alexandria; Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume 2; Hendrickson Publishers.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1998, Revised June, 2000; May, 2003; July, 2003; May, 2007, May, 2012 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.