In this examination I will introduce the ancient alphanumerical cipher undergirding the mystical science of Greek Isopsephy, and will show how God utilized this ancient system of numeral representation to create a system of alphanumeric watermarks which authenticate the received text of the Greek New Testament.
What is Greek Isopsephy?
As applied to the Bible, Greek Isopsephy refers to an interpretive method of biblical exegesis which involves summing of the numerical values of all containing Greek letters in particular words and phrases in the Greek New Testament, and reading spiritual meaning into the text based on observed alphanumerical equivalencies. Essentially, it is the ancient Greek equivalent of Hebrew gematria. The practice is founded on the belief that God in his perfect foreknowledge utilized the ancient Greek system for representing numbers in writing for the purpose of establishing, affirming, or strengthening prophetic connections between biblical symbols and constructs which are spiritually or prophetically related within the Logos.
The origins of Greek Isopsephy
The alphanumeric cipher on which Greek Isopsephy is based was not devised by the ancient Greeks for the purposes of encrypting texts or for mystical speculation. Rather, it was devised to meet the very same practical societal needs which gave rise to the Hebrew alphanumeric system among the ancient Jews. Like the Jews, the ancient Greeks simply needed some kind of system for representing numbers in writing. To meet this need, they assigned each letter of their alphabet a specific numerical value. The end result was the alphanumeric system charted in the table below.
|Σ σ ς||200|
|Φ φ ϕ||500|
With but few exceptions (due to the letters digamma and qoppa later being dropped from the alphabet), the Greek alphanumeric system follows the exact same pattern as the Hebrew system. This is probably a reflection of the fact that the Hebrew system was inspired by the Greek one.1
You may have noticed that there is no letter to represent the numbers 6 or 90. This is because the letters which were once assigned these values were later dropped from the Ionic Greek alphabet.2 It is also worth pointing out that the Greek alphabet has letters assigned significantly higher values than the Hebrew alphabet. This is because the Greek alphabet contains four additional letters not found in the Phoenician/Hebrew alphabet. These were additions to the alphabet invented by the Greeks themselves to meet the needs of their own language.
Once the Greek alphanumeric system became universally accepted as the new standard, it was only a matter of time before those whose first language was Greek began adding up the values of names and words, and we have evidence to suggest that this practice was relatively common in lands where Greek was the lingua franca by the time that the New Testament was being written.3
An Example of Greek Isopsephy in the New Testament
In a previous article on Hebrew Gematria, I cited several different examples which I believe prove that God used the Hebrew alphanumerical system to establish connections between prophetically related words, phrases, verses, and so forth. The very same logic undergirding Hebrew gematria in the Old Testament applies to Greek Isopsephy in the New Testament. To demonstrate, consider the following example:
The two lines of Greek text charted in the above table both come from the Gospel of John. As can be seen, when the values of all the Greek letters are summed, Jesus’ statement: “The testimony of two men is true” (John 8:17), is numerically equivalent with the statement that he makes in the very next verse: “I am one that bear witness of myself.” The alphanumeric precision combined with the obvious topical relation makes it statistically unlikely that this is a coincidence.
Although Jesus is only one man (John 8:14), during his earthly ministry he was both God in heaven (Matt. 23:9), as well as God on earth (John 14:9; cf. Rev. 11:4; Zech. 4:14). Not only that, but he was both fully God as well as fully man–having God as his biological father (Matt. 1:18; 1:20; Luke 1:35; John 5:18), yet being a biological descendant of Adam through his mother Mary (Luke 3:23-38). Accordingly, although he be only one man–his witness actually counted as that of two men because of his divinity and omnipresence. This appears to be the spiritual logic undergirding the numerical equivalency between these two statements. For those with eyes to see, this is just one of many examples which bears witness of the reality of Greek Isopsephy “codes” in the New Testament.
How God used Greek Isopsephy to watermark and authenticate the Greek New Testament
One of the most important ways that God utilized the Ancient Greek alphanumerical cipher involves the creation of a system of alphanumeric watermarks which authenticate the received text of the Greek New Testament. These watermarks utilize the modern system of verse divisions devised by Robert Estienne (“Stephanus”), which first appeared in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament.
The logic undergirding these alphanumeric watermarks is fairly straightforward. Essentially, pairs of verses which bear very obvious spiritual relation are worded in such a way that they end up having the exact same numerical value when the values of all of their containing letters are summed. In order to demonstrate, let us consider a few examples.4
Our first example of an alphanumeric watermark in the Greek New Testament involves an alphanumeric equivalency occurring between two verses from the books of Revelation and Acts. Behold:
I think the correlation between these two numerically equivalent verses is fairly self-evident. Both speak of Jesus Christ manifesting himself publicly in his glorified resurrected body. This example is particularly impressive due to the fact that the sum of the two verses is so large, which makes it exceedingly difficult to write it off as a coincidence.5 This is another fine example testifying to God’s use of Greek Isopsephy in the New Testament.
Our second example involves an alphanumeric equivalency between John 11:43 and Hebrews 11:19.
Here yet again, the topical relation between the two above verses should be obvious and need no explanation. Note that in Hebrews 11:19, the writer of the epistle is speaking of Abraham’s demonstration of his unwavering faith in God by his willingness to offer up his son Isaac for a burnt offering. The writer points out that Abraham’s faith was rooted in the fact that God had long ago assured him that in Isaac his seed would be called (Gen. 21:12; Heb. 11:18). By this he is inferring that because Abraham knew that God is bound by his own Word and cannot go back on his promises once he has spoken them (Isa. 45:23; 55:10-11; Esth. 8:8; Dan. 6:7-17; Heb. 6:18), he knew that even if Isaac was killed–God would be obligated to raise Isaac from the dead after the sacrifice was performed.
As can be seen, it just so happens that this particular verse happens to be numerically equivalent with the verse from the Gospel of John in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. And to make it even more astounding–it just so happens that these are the only two verses in the entire Bible that have the numerical value of 5,766. Taken together, the chances of this alphanumeric equivalency occurring by random chance is practically nonexistent. This is another excellent example of an alphanumeric watermark which bears witness of the divine authenticity of the Greek New Testament.
Another excellent example of an alphanumeric watermark which utilizes the mystical science of Greek Isopsephy is an alphanumeric equivalence occurring between John 7:7 and Matthew 5:11. Behold:
As can be seen, the two verses charted in the above table both carry a total value of 10,316 when the values of all of their containing Greek letters are summed. Again, the topical relation between these two alphanumerically equivalent verses should be blatantly obvious. Both verses are statements made by Jesus in which he addresses his followers about being hated by the world. So similar are the statements that you can read them back to back and it sounds like one long quotation from the exact same source.
The two verses in our next example have the greatest total value yet. Behold:
As the above table states, both the above two verses contain a total numeric value of 15,233 when the numerical values of all of their containing Greek letters are summed. Notice that if you read these two verses back to back, it sounds like one unified statement coming from the same person. It’s as if Jude 1:16 is clarifying exactly who it is that Jesus is referring to in Matthew 7:22. Given such obvious topical relation between these two verses, it is very obvious that this numerical equivalency is not a coincidence.
In this particular example I have highlighted the prophetic correspondence between the two verses to make it more plain. In John 19:10, Pilate is flabbergasted that Jesus is not answering him and asks him if he realizes that he possesses the power to crucify him or let him go free. What Pilate didn’t realize is that Jesus was God in the flesh, and he had the power within him to stop what was happening at any time if he so desired. His silence before Pilate was reflective of his submission and surrender to the will of God–which was for him to go to the cross. He had already accepted his fate and his was going to the cross to lay down his life of his own free will. Once this is fully understood, one can easily see the prophetic relation between this verse and the alphanumerically equivalent John 10:15, in which Jesus proclaims that he willingly lays down his life for the lost sheep of the world.
Here we have not just two, but three topically related alphanumerically equivalent Greek NT verses. Note that the first two verses in the table (Mark 7:10, and Matthew 15:4) both record the same statement of Jesus. Yet, what is remarkable is that Matthew and Mark do not word the statement the same way—and this is even more apparent in the original Greek than it is in English translation 6. Despite the numerous differences in the Greek wording of these two verses—both verses nevertheless somehow miraculously come out to have a total gematrical value of exactly 10,319 when all of their containing Greek letters are summed. This is very obviously indicative of deliberate design. But things get even more interesting when we realize that these two verses are both equivalent with John 19:26 in the original Greek—the verse where Jesus addresses his mother Mary while on the cross. This too, is very obviously indicative of deliberate design.
It is important to note that alphanumeric watermarks like those presented in this analysis rely upon a system of verse divisions which didn’t even exist until the sixteenth century. This system was devised by Robert Estienne (more popularly known by his Latin name “Stephanus”), and first appeared in the third edition of his Greek New Testament published in 1550. They have appeared in every printed English Bible since the Geneva Bible, which was published in 1560.
The fact that the text of the Greek New Testament predates this system of verse divisions by about a millennium and a half is significant for multiple reasons. First, it proves that the New Testament writers could not have deliberately created these watermarks–since the system of verse divisions that they depend upon wouldn’t be devised until the mid sixteenth century. Secondly, it suggests that not only is the actual text divinely inspired, but so too are the system of verse divisions that these alphanumeric watermarks rely upon. This in turn suggests that God was equally as involved in the preservation, restoration, and formatting of his Word in the sixteenth century–as he was in inspiring the actual words penned by the biblical writers in the first century.
In this article, we have seen how God utilized the mystical science of Greek Isopsephy to plant alphanumeric watermarks in the Greek New Testament. These examples collectively demonstrate that God utilized the ancient Greek alphanumerical system (which was originally devised for practical purposes) to authenticate the Greek New Testament through alphanumeric watermarking.
In closing, it should be noted that all of the alphanumeric watermarks I have shared in this analysis are based upon Scrivener’s Textus Receptus (1894). Because of either slightly divergent readings across manuscripts, or more commonly–very minor seemingly insignificant orthographic differences in different Greek manuscripts, the alphanumeric watermarks which I have shared in this analysis are only found 100% of the time in this particular edition of the Textus Receptus. I must confess that it is tempting to interpret this as the Lamb stamping his seal of divine messianic approval on the Textus Receptus generally, and the latest edition of it specifically. This hypothesis would appear to be further supported by the fact that the system of verse divisions that these watermarks rely upon first appeared in an early edition of the Textus Receptus, which would suggest that the Textus Receptus is the official Greek text-form which is sanctioned by heaven. However, more research needs to be done before any definitive conclusions regarding this matter can be drawn.
- Georges Ifrah, “Greek Alphabetic Numerals,” in From One to Zero: a Universal History of Numbers, trans. Lowell Bair (New York, NY: Penguin, 1988), pp. 267.
- The Greek letter digamma (Ϝ) was the Greek equivalent of the Phoenician (and Hebrew) letter vav (ו). Like vav in the Hebrew alphabet, it was assigned the numerical value of 6. However, digamma gradually fell out of use among the Ionic Greeks and was eventually dropped entirely from the Ionic Greek alphabet. Accordingly, there is no Greek letter to represent the number 6, which is why the Greek alphanumerical system goes from 5 to 7. The same holds true for the Greek letter qoppa (Ϙ), which was the Greek equivalent of the Phoenician (and Hebrew) letter quph (ק). It was assigned a numerical value of 90, but was later dropped from the Ionic Greek alphabet, and thus the Greek alphanumerical system has no letter to represent the value 90.
- Psychoyos, Dimitris K. (April 2005). “The forgotten art of isopsephy and the magic number KZ”. Semiotica. 154 (1–4): 157–224. doi:10.1515/semi.2005.2005.154-1-4.157
- Note that all of the examples shared in this analysis are based on the Greek text of Scrivener’s Textus Receptus (1894 edition). Due to very minor spelling differences that occasionally manifest in other Greek manuscripts, I cannot guarantee that these alphanumeric watermarks will be present in other Greek textforms.
- Generally speaking, the larger the numerically equivalent value–the more impressive the finding
- This is partly attributable to the fact that ancient Greek is a highly inflected language—where verbs conjugate and nouns and adjectives decline