Does the Bible have any significance? Does the Bible support numerology?
The Bible’s answer
In the Bible, numbers are often used in the literal sense. Sometimes, however, they can have a symbolic significance. Usually, the context shows whether or not a number is a symbol. Let’s look at some symbolic meanings of Bible numbers.
Number 1 – Unity
Here is what Jesus asked of God about his disciples: “Be all one, as you, Father, are in unity with me, and I am in unity with you” (John 17:21; Matthew 19: 6).
In a legal context, two witnesses confirm the truth of a matter (Deuteronomy 17: 6). Similarly, the repetition of a vision or statement attests that it is safe and true. For example, when interpreting the dream of Pharaoh, Joseph said to him, “If the dream was given to Pharaoh twice, it means that the true God has decided this” (Genesis 41:32). In the prophecies, “two horns” may represent dual governance, as revealed to the prophet Daniel regarding the Medo-Persian Empire (Daniel 8:20, 21; Revelation 13:11).
As three witnesses would firmly confirm a matter, the repetition three times of a thing may firmly establish or accentuate it (Ezekiel 21:27; Acts 10: 9–16; Revelation 4: 8; 8:13).
This number may represent fullness in form or role, as in the expression “the four corners of the earth” (Revelation 7: 1; 21:16; Isaiah 11:12).
Being with a unit smaller than seven, a number that often represents fullness, six may represent something incomplete, imperfect, or may even be associated with God’s enemies (1 Chronicles 20: 6; Daniel 3: 1; Revelation 13:18).
This number is often used with the sense of fullness. For example, God commanded the Israelites to march around Jericho seven days in a row, and to march seven times on the seventh day (Joshua 6:15). The Bible contains many examples of using the number seven for this purpose (Leviticus 4: 6; 25: 8; 26:18; Psalm 119: 164; Revelation 1:20; 13: 1; 17:10). When Jesus told Peter that he was to forgive his brother “not up to seven times, but up to seventy-seven times,” the repetition of the number “seven” conveyed the idea of something unlimited (Matthew 18:21, 22).
This number may represent a whole or a whole (Exodus 34:28; Luke 19:13; Revelation 2:10).
This number seems to represent a complete divine system. For example, in the vision of heaven given to the apostle John, there appeared a city with “twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles” (Revelation 21:14; Genesis 49:28). The multiples of 12 can have a similar meaning (Revelation 4: 4; 7: 4-8).
Several periods of judgment and the application of punishment have been associated with the number 40 (Genesis 7: 4; Ezekiel 29:11, 12).
These symbolic meanings of Bible numbers have nothing to do with numerology, which is to search for hidden meanings of numbers, combinations of numbers, and numerical totals. Some Kabbalists, for example, analyzed the Hebrew Scriptures using a technique called gematria, which consists of searching for a hidden code in the numerical equivalents of the letters. Numerology is a form of divination, which God condemns (Deuteronomy 18: 10-12).