Number Symbolism in the Bible

In Scripture, numbers are used not only for counting stuff, but also as symbols for or indicators of various Big Ideas.

Bible open on blue

Many of these numbers are combinations of the two most important numbers, ONE and THREE.

ONE stands for God and all things divine.

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Eph 4:1-6]

THREE stands for God’s actions. E.g., Three visitors came to tell Abraham and Sarah they would have a son [Gen 18], God came down on to Mount Sinai on the third day [Exod 19], and, of course, Jesus rose from death on the third day.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. [I Cor 15:3]

FOUR, being ONE (God) + THREE (God’s actions), stands for God’s creative works, both as He created them and as sin distorts them. E.g., in the fourth chapter of Genesis, the first human births are recorded, shortly after which the first human murder is also recorded.

Four appears very frequently in Scripture. It is the number of the great elements (earth, air, fire, and water), directions of compass and wind (north, south, east, and west), divisions of the day (morning, noon, evening, midnight), seasons of the year (spring, summer, autumn, winter), and the phases of the moon (new, waxing, full, waning).

SEVEN, being THREE (God’s actions) plus FOUR (God’s creative works), stands for natural and divine completeness. The Bible is so chock full of sevens, it would be silly to try to quote them here. Click on the link after this quote to see a sampling.

“In the Hebrew, 7 is shevah. It is from the root savah, to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word “seven” is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it. Hence the word Shavath, to cease, desist, rest, and Shabbath, Sabbath, or day of rest.”



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9 responses to “Number Symbolism in the Bible

  1. I think (but am not 100% certain) that the number 11 is significant in the Koran. It could have something to do with the choice of the date for the 9/11/2001 attacks, and the choice of targets (the World Trade Center towers looked like the number “11”). It also could have played a role in them attacking in Benghazi (and killing 4 Americans) on the 11th anniversary of the original September 11th attacks.


    • And it just occurred to me that 12 apostlesJudas Iscariot = 11.

      Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them.

      Luke 22:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

      12 apostles was good, but 11 apostles was not good… 11 was a bad number and was a sign of betrayal.

      And the number of apostles did not stay at 11 for very long…

      15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples[c] (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; 17 for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.”

      21 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

      23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen 25 to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” 26 And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

      Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 New King James Version (NKJV)

      I.E., the original 11 + Matthias = 12 apostles again.

      Note that they did not add both Barsabas and Matthias. They did not go from 11 to 13. They cast their lot, the lot fell on Matthias, and he was chosen as the new 12th apostle. It was clearly important to return to the number 12, not one less, and not one more.

      And as I’m sitting here thinking, you’ve already written about the importance of three, the importance of four, and the importance of 3 + 4 = 7… I’m realizing that 12 represents 3 * 4


      • chrissythehyphenated

        One of the articles I read noted that, while 13 is not significant in the Bible, it has been adopted by Satanists as a very special number.

        One site said it’s because Judas was the 13th apostle. I’m thinking Revelation 13 is a good reason, too @

        Also, the juxtaposing of the ONE and THREE and the ONE + THREE = FOUR into a number that is ONE more than 3×4. Kinda fits with the whole Prime Narcissist thing Lucifer has always had going, you know?

        Writing “prime” there got me curious, so I looked it up. It seems 13 is the SIXTH prime number.

        This brings up another topic I’ve read a bit about lately, namely, the Mark of the Beast, which is usually rendered 666. Three Sixes is like “creation is divine without God” or something along those lines.

        However, some of the old manuscripts have it 616, and one source I read (a Hebrew OT scholar) said the 666 is a transcription error. Not sure about that. My new Catholic Bible leaves 666 in the text, but footnotes that 616 is in some manuscripts.

        Franky, I think 616 makes more sense. For one thing, the three digits add up to 13.

        I also think 666 as a mockery of the Holy Trinity doesn’t quite work with the narcissism of “Our Father Below” (aka, Screwtape). Would Satan really use a number that made himself the same as the other two members of his unholy trinity? I’m thinking of the Two Beasts of Rev 13 here.

        However, 616 totally works with Satan’s vanity, putting himself in the center using the divine ONE with his two Beasts as lesser SIXes on either side.


    • chrissythehyphenated

      I dunno about the Koran number symbols. There was loads of other stuff about Bible numerology, but I thought the blog had enough info for one article, so I stopped with just the biggies.

      SIX and ELEVEN can be related to 7-1 and 12-1, meaning man rejecting God.