Theology

Biblical Numerology

Many liturgical artists lack concern regarding biblical numerology. Even so, some artists appreciate biblical numerology because it helps us understand certain theological presumptions and traditional art forms. Following are meanings of numbers used in past Christian art and in ecclesiastical art today:

One
Unity, set apart, sovereignty. (Deuteronomy 6:4, Zechariah 14:9); “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4–6).
Two
Confirmation, witness, testimony. “Even in your law it has been written, that the testimony of two men is true.” (John 8:17) Two angels at the tomb confirmed the resurrected Lord and two disciples soon confirmed His resurrection after their trek down the Emmaus road. During Old Testament evening times, the second star shines to indicate the start of a new day. And, today in parliamentary procedure, we still confirm by saying, “I second the motion.”
Three
Divinity. Three is the simplest compound unity. The equilateral triangle images the Trinity. The cube with its three equal dimensions of length, breadth, and height signifies God’s dwelling place — the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle measured ten cubits in each direction; the Most Holy Place in the temple twenty cubits with each dimension; and the New Jerusalem twelve thousand furlongs each way.
Four
World. We refer to the four seasons of the year, the four phases of the moon, and the four directions of the compass. The Bible mentions the four winds and the four corners of the earth. Four by itself represents weakness. Four is the first composite number that can be divided by two and therefore easily broken. Four is incomplete without God and requires His presence.
Five and Ten
Completeness and entirety. Ten fingers are universal to all people of all ages. The Ten Commandments, for example, list the complete moral responsibility of God’s people.
Six
Humanity. Man was created on the sixth day. When Jesus died on the cross, He took our place at the sixth hour on the sixth day of the week. Six, our number, falls short of seven, the holy number; therefore, six also represents failure.
Six six six
Antichrist. Ten, a good number, cannot be mixed with six to intensify it. Therefore, the objectionable number with reference to the Antichrist is not six hundred, but six hundred and sixty-six. (Revelation 13:18)
Seven
The holy number, seven adds the world number of four and the divine number of three, a union of earth and heaven, therefore symbolizing the grace of God.
Our important time markers are based on astronomical movements — day / rotation of earth; year / orbit around the sun; month / intervals between new moons; seasons / equinoxes and solstices — but not the seven-day week. Thus, seven is a holy number not based on human observation. Seven, not a natural number choice, is and has been universally observed since God established it at creation.
Eight
New beginning, new start. The eighth day is the first day of the week. Circumcision on the eighth day marked a new relationship with God; likewise the eight people saved from the flood established a new beginning. Traditional baptismal furnishings often have eight sides symbolizing the new birth of a child.
Twelve
Evangelism. The world and sacred numbers multiplied imply the rule of God.