colors, a great many numbers have symbolic significance and are intentionally
used that way in Christian literature, including the Bible.
number one, for example, refers to the one God of this tradition, two is taken
as a reference to the dual nature of Christ as being both human and divine, three
signifies the Trinity, is often taken as a reference to the Trinity, four signifies
the four gospel accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, five refers
to the wounds of Jesus on the cross, etc.
In sum ...
1 = one
God 2 = the dual nature of Christ as human and divine 3 = the Trinity
4 = the four "evangelists" or gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke
and John. 5 = the wounds of Christ on the cross and, hence a reference to
the theme of sacrifice.
6 = the six days of creation or
creativity generally. 7 = the number of consummation and rest, for on the
seventh day of creation, God rested. 8 = often refers to regeneration or resurrection
and for this reason the baptismal font in many churches is eight sided. 9
= there were nine choirs of angels, nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, and nine, being
the result of 3x3 also refers to the Trinity or God.
= refers to the Ten Commandments. Note that in Sermon on the Mount there are ten
beatitudes, drawing a clear parallel between Moses and Jesus.
numbers have significance too. In fact, when reading the Bible, it is safe to
assume that almost any number one encounters in the text can have symbolic meanings.
Taking those into account can sometimes influence one's interpretation of a particular
fish has been an important Christian symbol, not only because of the fact that
Jesus included several fishermen in his close circle, but also because The initial
letters of each word in the Greek phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior"
form the word ICHTHUS, which means "fish."
The Ankh Cross
The Ankh Cross is an ancient Egyptian
symbol for life, combining the feminine circle and masculine staff to form the
whole. It was adapted by early Christians because of its resemblance to the cross.
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.